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Review of programs and operations
Stage 2 Review
Industry Comments

Comments received Monday 16 February

From Gil Scrine

The most pressing needs are:

Offering producers the benefit of distributors , exhibitors & publicists’ knowledge at script stage. Whether via paid consultancies, workshops or less formal, more social events, the main practitioners in film distribution need to be brought into the tent well before we see bad scripts being made into films which perform poorly. I can’t count the number of times exhibitors & publicists have made valuable comments and shared particular insights with me...and the number of times I’ve thought their knowledge could be harnessed in some way.

Encouraging producers to join distributors in joint ventures. By the time they have made a film, the producer and director are probably the only two people with well-thought out ideas as to who their audience is (or if they haven’t, they are doomed to failure).  If they hand over their film to a distributor and walk away, their ideas are usually ignored and there’s often disappointment and misunderstanding all ‘round. By encouraging joint ventures between producers and distributors, both ends of the business come together: producers learn the hard lessons of distribution first hand and distributors are able to spread their risk. Transparency is achieved on the money front because the joint account is an open book between the partners. This kind of business venture could and should be supported by marketing cash grants or loans from Screen Australia (as was the case between the FFC and joint venture partners on SON OF A LION).

It is important that any support for the direct marketing of films be loaned or granted in cash to allow the many small businesses who service the needs of film distribution to share in this support....a kind of “stimulus package” for Australian films that, because of history, have to compete in a monopolized marketplace.

Screen Australia should also recognize the importance of philanthropy and begin to thrash out ways to help producers and distributors who are seeking and  using philanthropy. There is much education needed, ways of introducing projects that could be facilitated by Screen Australia and the old chestnut of tax deductibility that should be made easy for philanthropy-driven projects.

Gil Scrine.

From Media Resource Centre & Mercury Cinema

Comments submitted via Word document