Aussie taxpayers are subsidising talent R&D of US studios: Ginnane

According to the president of the Screen Producers Association of Australia, Antony I. Ginnane, the lack of investment in mid-range films and the subsequent brain drain of creative talent means that Australia is subsidising the work of US studios.

“Films like Wasted on the Young, Griff the Invisible and Red Hill have turbo-charged the careers of their creators. Talent is being forced to move to the US, so Australia’s taxpayer is funding ‘research and development’ of talent for US studios,” said Ginnane.

Ginnane spoke at today’s Sydney session about SPAA’s proposed Producer Distributor Film Fund. Providing an historical context for the fund, he explained that the success of Australia’s film industry in the 1930s and 1970s was based on distributors acting as creative/financial partners from inception.

“Since then, we’ve had exceptional years, but most years we struggle to get five percent of the local box office, with a tabloid-driven impression that there is a problem with the industry,” said Ginnane.

The introduction of the Producer Offset – which aimed create sustainable businesses and reduce Government subsidy – has been embraced and successful at the lower and higher ranges but mid-range ($7-30m) productions, which “can deliver a full theatrical experience” have suffered.

The Producer Distributor Film Fund has been proposed as a new paradigm; a one-off Federal Government initiative of $60m over three years, in a loan fund to stimulate distributor investment in mid-range features.

“It would allow Screen Australia to focus on culture/new talent, and break the commercial/cultural divide that has plagued the industry. It’s an additional funding door that will allow creatives to develop their careers to a larger scale, increase the Australian share of the box office, create jobs and provide a better return to Government,” said Ginnane.

The PDFF would offer matching loans, not equity. It would also offer the same terms for all applicants, managed by Screen Australia. The scheme has been designed to wind up after five years.

“This fund is about ambition”, said David Court.

Questioned whether the PDFF would be capped, limiting the number of projects a producer or distributor could apply for, Ginnane said the model did not contemplate a cap.

“We hope there will be more eligible applicants than the amount of money available. Subsidy is a democracy, success isn’t,” said Ginnane.

The full SPAA Producer Distributor Film Fund forum – featuring Ginnane, SPAA executive director Geoff Brown, feature film councillor Brian Rosen and David Court, as well as the Q&A session – will be available on the Encore website at 2pm on May 5.


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