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Screen Australia has hired high profile executive Richard Harris to be head of its new ‘business and audience development department’.

Harris is currently CEO of the state funding body South Australian Film Commission and will start the new job with the federal funding and regulatory organization from March 2015. Screen Australia’s CEO Graeme Mason has been acting head of the department for the past few months.

Harris is highly regarded as a talent spotter and developer. He set up The Film Lab, which backed innovative films such as “52 Tuesdays,” “The Infinite Man” and “One Eyed Girl,” and also the Adelaide Film Studios.

His appointment comes at a time when local Australian films are struggling to connect with audiences, market share remains low and there has been a string of unexpected box office flops.

“We expect Richard’s expertise will deliver initiatives to increase the accessibility and visibility of Australian screen content and take a proactive approach to talent and business development in domestic and international areas,” said Mason.

“[His] appointment is a fantastic coup for us. His depth of industry experience and relationships across television and film, both domestic and international, will be invaluable. His smart business acumen and ability to deliver strong creative and commercial success will be a great asset.”

“I am enthusiastic about the great potential this new role offers to lead a specialised team in delivering progressive strategic options to the industry for the benefit of the sector,” said Harris.