Coin org changes tactics

Brady and Ikin hope to turn around lagging film industry

SYDNEY — In the past couple of years, distrib Tait Brady was exasperated that some of the best Aussie scripts he read never got made because the producers could not secure the hefty advances from sales agents required by funding agency Film Finance Corp. Australia.

Starting next month, Brady will have a direct say in funding as he joins the FFC as one of two new evaluation managers.

The FFC has hired Brady, who spent the last eight years at Palace Films, and Bridget Ikin, a producer and former head of pubcaster SBS’s production arm SBS Independent, to evaluate the creative merit and audience potential of films.

This is a radical departure from the FFC’s traditional model of funding films based primarily on pre-sales and distrib guarantees.

“We had to find a different mechanism because of the changing global landscape in which films are funded and made,” says chief exec Brian Rosen, who will exercise a casting vote on projects, which will then go to the board for approval.

“You can’t get (the level of) pre-sales that were once obtainable. Unfortunately there is a negative perception of Australian films, so sales agents are wary about committing to anything until they’ve seen the finished film.”

Producers can still apply for investment based on market attachments, but the FFC has raised the bar by insisting these deals cover at least 25% of the budgets.

Rosen expects around eight films per year will be evaluated for funding, and four via the traditional route.

Brady and Ikin (who starts in February after she wraps her pic “Life Story”) will have two-year contracts, with a one-year option that the FFC can exercise.

The industry has lauded the appointment of those two, noting they have complementary skills and impressive track records.

And there’s a widespread hope that the FFC board will resume greenlighting films at its July 21 meeting, the first in the new financial year, after a prolonged production downturn.

“We want to see a quick transition between the old and new system,” says Screen Producers Assn. of Australia exec director Geoff Brown.

Acknowledging that, Rosen already has started to evaluate scripts using an interim advisory team including John Politzer, previously manager of buying and programming for exhib Greater Union. He’ll ask Ikin and Brady for their recommendations before any project goes to the board.

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