Screen Australia Cuts Staff, Revamps Production Support

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HONG KONG – Screen Australia, Australia’s federal support body for the film and TV industries, is to cut staff numbers and streamline its programs.

The moves were announced by CEO Graeme Mason on Wednesday, after the federal government recently required the organization to save A$25 million (US$23.6 million) over the next four years.

Mason said the organization should use the cutbacks and enforced reshuffle to become more industry focused.

Staff numbers will be lowered from 112 at present to 100, saving approximately A$1 million (US$945,000) per year. The marketing department will be eliminated, as will the state and industry programs section and three from the legal department. The marketing department will be replaced with a new ‘Business and Audience’ department. The new head count means that Screen Australia is nearly half the size it was when it was established in 2008 and had 180 staff.

The ceiling for direct investment in film productions and project will be lowered from A$2.5 million (US$2.36 million) to A$2 million (US$1.89 million) in order to make funds go further, while saving A$2 million-A$3 million per year. And funding support under A$500,000 (US$472,000) will in future become non-recoupable grants, where previously the grant ceiling was $A$200,000 (US189,000). Screen Australia will no longer hold any copyright in productions receiving less than $500,000 and only a 1% share above that.

Other cost savings will come from reductions in P&A support, professional development programs and support for ‘screen resource’ programs.

“We have recently reviewed our funding programs to adapt our approach to both the evolving needs of industry and shifts in audience behaviour. The Enterprise Program now supports three strands – People, Stories and Growth – with a focus on industry attachments, the creation of original IP through high-level writing initiatives, and new business development models to extend the capacities of our industry,” Mason said.

“We will back our creative talent to capitalise on opportunities and take more Australian stories out to the world. We will grow the pie for Australian production by facilitating international collaborations, using advantages such as our talent and our world class production reputation. We will reduce process as much as possible and step out of the way of industry, providing more funding as grants, with no copyright interest, so that producers keep more revenue from their productions. We will encourage new models of digital production and distribution that ensure our industry continues to evolve with its audiences.”

Where Screen Australia has previously been criticized for some of its production funding choices, Mason says there is now a clear policy line.
“Production funding will sharpen its focus on stories that matter: innovative, risk-taking projects that identify and build talent; culturally significant, intrinsically Australian stories that resonate with local audiences; and high-end ambitious projects that reflect Australia to the world,” he said. And to speed decision making, letters of intent for production funding will be signed by Mason as CEO, rather than the Screen Australia board.

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  1. harry georgatos says:

    Screen Australia gave 20th Century Fox $40 million in funding to The Great Gatsby and indie Aussie films only received a meagre $5 million in funding. An absolute disgrace by Screen Australia. The powerful looking after the powerful. A major Hollywood corporation getting $40 million from Screen Australia is an absolute disgrace and ignoring home made talent! The CEO of,Screen Australia is probably nurturing a position for himself at Hollywood! At the end its the tax payer who is the loser in securing staff of,Screen Australia in getting high profile positions at Hollywood with sweet deals from Screen Australia and private sector Hollywood studios with Australian tax payer funded money. Disgraceful!

  2. Harry Georgatos says:

    Its time for a changing of the guard at Screen Australia as this mob is clueless of sophisticated mainstream cinema. Proof! I’ll give you proof. There’s not one Australian film in mainstream cinemas. Last Australian turkey to grace indie cinemas was the amateur The Rover. Imagine spending $25 to watch that depressive film which will be quickly will be forgotten from the cinematic landscape. There’s no escapist entertainment factor to Australian films. One film I’m looking forward to is the Spierig brothers PREDISTINATION.

  3. mathew jones says:

    With Screen Australia the lunatics have taken over the asylum!

    • eyejeff says:

      Troll!

      • mathew jones says:

        Let them make films worth the price of a ticket and I’ll be the first in line. Films Such as The Rover Animal Kingdom and Wolf Creek films are for losers on the fringe of society! Harrys comments are valid and if you don’t like them look elsewhere instead of big brother, like Screen Australia in censoring free speech.

  4. harry georgatos says:

    Screen Australia is run by sleazy used cars salesmen masquerading in the Australian film industry. They’ve become conceited elitist and lost touch with salt of the earth filmgoers. Appointments within this segragated film body are relatives, friends and business people of prominent politicians! They have little understanding of popular culture and are appointed for substantial salaries. No wonder the Aussie film industry is a disgrace due to nepotism.The Aussie film industry has it’s own head stuck up it’s arse!

    • I have to say first off I’m surprised that Variety has allowed your comment even to appear. What you say has no basis in fact, and clearly you are waging some kind of personal vendetta on Screen Australia for purely personal reasons. Your abusive comments of Screen Australia and the Australian Film Industry are disgusting. Screen Australia has always assisted quality Australian content being created, whether it be to a cinema screen, television or mobile device. I suggest your comments would be more at home in the rag called the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

      • harry georgatos says:

        Screen Australia should look at the highly successful South Korean film industry which produces classics each year in their own market. Films such as OLDBOY, THIRST, THE HOST, THE WAILING, MOTHER and TRAIN TO BUSAN are some of the best sophisticated genre films to hit the world stage and have become financially and creatively successful. This can’t be said about the Australian film-industry. The level of in-depth writing with these South Korean masterpieces and direction are missing in Australian films!!

      • eyejeff says:

        It’s so sad that comments can be made by trolls like Harry (Not real name) and yourself who wouldn’t know a piece of film if you fell over it. If you’re so concerned about making the Australian Film Industry better, Instead of degrading it, maybe you should put up or shut up!

      • ang says:

        Speaking from personal experience I happen to agree with Harry’s comments. With this film industry it’s who you know that matters and with the quality of local films made here have failed miserably and are so bad can’t get local release in mainstream cinemas. Screen Australia has got it wrong and good on Harry with his spot on the mark comment. If the truth hurts get out of the buisness

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