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Podcast – Sally Caplan on the Australian screen industry

Screen Australia’s outgoing Head of Content Sally Caplan reflects on her eight years at the agency, changes in the screen sector, advice to applicants and more.

Sally Caplan headshot.

Sally Caplan

Find this episode of the Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Pocket Casts

Sally Caplan joined Screen Australia in 2014 on a three-year contract and stayed for eight years, in a period that saw the introduction of the streamers, major changes in the film distribution landscape and shifts in the way the agency funded development.

On the latest episode of the Screen Australia podcast Caplan, who left Screen Australia in late January, looks back on her time at the agency, delivering wide-ranging insights, advice and commentary on those seismic changes in the screen sector between 2014 and 2022.

“I think the most obvious thing is fragmenting audiences and film distribution, even before the COVID pandemic… distribution wasn’t working the way it was and that was for many reasons I think but partly because of the rise of the streamers,” Caplan says, remembering the introduction of Stan in 2015, swiftly followed by Netflix.

“I think there’s been a pivot, apart from feature film distribution, (for) feature film itself the number of applications we get is much less than it used to be. And then we saw the rise of the number of TV applications because of the new platforms… we see more pressure now on our TV funds than our feature film funds, which was completely the other way around when I first got here.”

During Caplan’s time at Screen Australia, projects funded have included feature films such as The Dressmaker, Lion and Babyteeth; TV dramas such as Safe Harbour, Upright, Stateless, The Secrets She Keeps and Bump; children’s TV such as Bluey, Hardball, First Day, Mustangs FC and 100% Wolf; and documentaries such as That Sugar Film, The Australian Dream, Revelation and Brazen Hussies. Online projects include Starting from Now, Meta Runner, Cancelled and Superwog and numerous Screen Australia special initiatives such as Gender Matters, Developing the Developer, Skip Ahead (with Google) and Digital Originals (with SBS).

“Overall, I’ve loved it otherwise I still wouldn’t have been here after eight years,” she says.

“I really admire the sector here. Some super talented, smart, bright people.”

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