Orgs protest funds agency

Oz Film Finance Corp under fire

SYDNEY — Australia’s main filmmaker orgs have again voiced concerns over the management of the government’s chief funding agency, the Film Finance Corp.

Separate confidential letters to the FFC — from the Australian Screen Directors Assn. and the Screen Producers Assn. of Australia — are the latest in a six-month campaign for greater transparency and accountability from the organization which annually invests $A50 million ($29 million) in public coin in film and TV productions.

In a letter to FFC chairman Geoff Levy, dated May 17 and obtained by Variety last week, ASDA accused the board of failing to find and appoint a new CEO in a quick and open manner. In January, Levy told Variety the contract of current CEO Catriona Hughes expired in July, but the job, which pays approximately $115,000 and is broadly considered the most powerful in the local industry, wasn’t advertised until May.

A secret deal struck in March saw the board extend Hughes’ contract until December. Levy didn’t inform ASDA until April, spurring the org to accuse the FFC of handing it “a fait accompli.”

Moreover, in a letter to Hughes dated June 20, and obtained by Variety a short time later, the screen producers org warned of several potential breaches of the FFCs charter in the film financer’s intention to co-invest in a slate of films substantially funded by a public fundraising organized by Macquarie Bank and Kerry Packer’s Channel Nine. The FFC responded confidentially to the SPAA, which planned a July 2 strategy session.

Earlier, in mid-June, a member of the producers org who had a pic on the Nine/Macquarie fundraising slate, leaked a draft copy of the letter to the FFC, spurring Hughes to attempt, unsuccessfully, to derail the planned correspondence.

Meanwhile, the directors org is unhappy with the FCC’s Levy’s response to its own missive, and org chairman Donald Crombie vowed to maintain its vigilant monitoring of the government film financer..

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