Victoria Treole and Matthew Dabner leave Screen Australia as Tristram Miall returns as assessor

Tristram Miall

Seven screen veterans have been added to the roster of Screen Australia’s project assessors, as two depart, and a revised set of Feature Film Production Guidelines is announced.

The change sees the departure of assessors Victoria Treole and Matthew Dabner after serving out their contracts as Tristram Miall producer of Strictly Ballroom, Children of the Revolution and The Black Balloon returns.

Treole came under fire last month in the Encore comment thread when a film that she was executive producing, Galore, received funding while she contributed on the assessment board.

Screen Australia followed up the industry concerns of nepotism within the agency by publishing a statement defending its Conflict of Interest Policy.

Glen Boreham, chair of Screen Australia said: “Screen Australia has a rigorous conflict of interest policy to ensure that Board members and industry specialists employed by Screen Australia are not advantaged by their involvement.

“In essence, where an external consultant or Board member declares a conflict of interest in a project, they are then excluded from consideration of and decisions about that project.”

Miall has been working with the agency for the last 18 months on and off as a feature film consultant and this part time position to will see him participate in the consideration all letters of Interest and production investment applications and advise on projects after investment is confirmed.”

Miall will be joined in each round of production investment applications by a second specialist from a group of six film-making practitioners that include screenwriter Andrew Bovell, Lantana producer Jan Chapman, Tomorrow, When the War Began editor Marcus D’Arcy, Babe director Chris Noonan, AFTRS director of screen content, Neil Peplow and producer, script consultant and screenwriter Joan Sauers.

In a statement regarding the appointment of the six industry specialists, Ruth Harley, Screen Australia’s Chief Executive said: “External industry specialists bring an independent industry perspective to Screen Australia’s decision-making processes. Having one consistent person available for all funding rounds contributes to a context and depth of knowledge across Screen Australia’s feature film slate. Drawing the other from the group of industry specialists will enable Screen Australia to work with experienced senior practitioners from various disciplines who are actively working in the industry.”

Changes to the Feature Film Production Guidelines will see financing decisions at more board meetings per year, from eight to four. The screen agency said this was to reduce the need for producers to rush a project submission before it’s ready just to make a deadline.

Another change will see Letters of Interest available at an earlier stage in the financing process so that producers can attempt to respond to the marketplace feedback without already being locked into deals.

Harley said: “Screen Australia believes the revised approach will make Letters of Interest a more useful tool in the marketplace by making them available at a slightly earlier stage. The less onerous application process will also be beneficial to producers.”

Harley said the LOI program will be monitored and re-assessed after a period of operation and accept feedback from producers.


  1. Harry
    27 Apr 12
    11:06 am

  2. This whole process is fraught with issues of conflict in an small industry where all compete for Screen Australia feature funding. For 22 years when Screen Australia was know as Film Finance Corporation Australia the system was based upon market place attachments. This meant that no government bureaucrat or panel of creative assessors was used to overrule the corporation’s investment in a film. If it fulfilled the guidelines it got a tick. The new system has provided no certainty to producers. You can spend years on a project and despite the market place attachments still have a bunch of assessors reject you project. It is time that a review was made into the effectiveness of the new regime and a comparison made with its predeccessor. The continuing poor domestic box office of Australian films would suggest that putting a bunch of industry assessors as quality controllers has made no difference to the box office and just antagonised many people in the industry.

  3. Anon. E. Mous.
    28 Apr 12
    10:11 am

  4. Check SQ deep involvement with Iron Sky – check board members – go figure?

  5. WWIP.
    3 May 12
    6:58 am

  6. Just when you think commercial film production in this country couldn’t possibly get sillier – it just did. AUS commercial film making – by committee.
    Curious about one small detail in all this? All these ‘specialist’ people engaged by SA (Tristan Mall included) – this all ‘pro bono’ – or are they ‘retained consultants’ ?