Thursday, April 18, 2024

Free TV’s Film Funding Frustrations

Ausfilm, Australia’s film and TV industry services association, has applauded the announcement by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher and Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash of an additional AUD$400 million added to the Australian Government’s existing screen production Location Incentive grant.

Ausfilm’s CEO Kate Marks said that “international screen production delivers sizeable amounts of expenditure in a short space of time, can tool up quickly, and creates employment immediately. Today’s announcement ensures Australia will now be in a position to secure a significant pipeline of large budget productions across Australia into 2021 and beyond and will increase our market share of global production activity.”

“The global screen sector has been valued at US$177 billion in 2019* and has increased exponentially in recent years – driven by consumer demand worldwide and proliferation of online streaming services. The increase to the Location Incentive enables Australia to tap into this demand and is a strategic driver for economic recovery.”

Australia is highly regarded by international filmmakers. For its talent, diverse locations and comfortable lifestyle, expert crew and service providers who are considered some of the best in the world. The success to date that Australia has had in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic has generated even greater interest in Australia from international filmmakers and studios. Ausfilm estimates it has received A$1.2 billion worth of real production enquiries from US backed feature film and TV series looking to film in Australia. The additional $400 million to the Location Incentive grant will ensure Australia secures some of these productions.

Ausfilm thanks the Australian Government, for recognising the importance of the Australian screen sector; the thousands of Australians who work in it; and the significant contribution it will make to their screen businesses, Australia’s creative industries and this country’s economic recovery.

However, industry body Free TV has expressed frustration at the Government’s announcement to support foreign productions through the $400m location offset package.

Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said “Investment which supports our local production sector, cast and crews is always welcome but we are concerned that this package comes in isolation of the ongoing enquiries into local content, quotas and support for the domestic industry.

“These international productions come here for many reasons, financial support being one part. But the important element of using our talented local cast and crew will be missed if we don’t have a strong, dynamic local industry where these people work day in and day out, honing their skills and ensuring they are match fit to step up to the international stage on bigger bolder productions. This in turn provides opportunities for younger people to get their first leg up on the local production ladder.

“Free TV broadcasters are the source of more Australian production than anyone else in this country. We spend $1.6 billion on Australian production every year and deliver 25000 hours of Australian content into every local market. We are the engine room of the local production sector and yet remain saddled with an outdated framework that hasn’t been updated in almost 20 years.

“We are in the middle of a major review of content quotas and production incentives, including the location offset, so it’s difficult to understand why the Government has made a one-off decision now about a single element of the mix right in the middle of this process. Free TV broadcasters and the broader production industry urgently need a timetable for the decisions from Government, so we have some certainty on when the much-needed reforms can be implemented.”


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