CJZ co-founder hits out at Screen Australia board, the government and Austrade

The Screen Australia board ‘knows nothing about’ the industry, Austrade is ‘a waste of time’ and the government is no friend of the local screen industry. These were amongst the explosive claims by CJZ co-founder and managing director Nick Murray on stage at the Screen Forever conference last week.

At one point during the takedown of the Australian government and Austrade, Matthew Deaner, the CEO of Screen Producers Australia – the industry body which organises the conference – tried to rein Murray in, however the producer responded with: “No, mate, don’t shut me up”.

Murray: ‘The Australian government can’t be fucked’

“So you go to a meeting in another country and the ambassador will come with you,” Murray said. “Whereas in Australia, the Australian government can’t even be fucked asking Australian producers – no, mate, don’t shut me up – okay, they can’t be ‘bothered’ asking Australian producers who are in Washington on Australia Day to go to the Australian Embassy for Australia Day drinks.

“The British producers are at the British Embassy having drinks on Australia Day, but the Australian producers aren’t. It’s as if they don’t care.”

Deanne Weir, the director of Weir Anderson, came to the defence of the government, noting the work of Austrade and Ausfilm.

“Is that fair though?” Weir asked Murray. “With the support that through Austrade, through G’Day LA and through Ausfilm and what Deb [Richards, CEO], and the team do at Ausfilm.”

Murray responded: “I have never met anyone from that organisation. No-one has ever reached out to us… The New Zealand government is great. Austrade is a waste of time for people like us.”

Murray said there were a number of fundamental issues weighing down the industry – including the need for local content quotas on streaming services – which needed to be talked about, but were being ignored.

The entire precarious state of the industry is further hindered by the lack of insight and knowledge occupying the Screen Australia board, according to Murray.

“Another uncomfortable thought is why the Screen Australia board, who are, largely – there are some good people on it, not very many – are largely made up of bankers,” he said. “The chairman is Nicholas Moore from Macquarie Bank who knows f… nothing – I was going to swear, but I didn’t – who knows nothing about our industry.”

Due to the lack of industry knowledge, he said Screen Australia is picking and choosing who it funds, based on inconsistent criteria.

“They’ve decided that BBC Studios, who have five TV channels in Australia, are an independent producer and are entitled to apply for funding. Now, that is, again, a ludicrous proposition, and Channel Seven are challenging that, and there’s a risk. Channel Seven should either get access to Screen Australia money on their own and on my argument, or BBC Studios shouldn’t have access. They’re the only two options. You can’t have it – there’s no middle ground on that. And as an industry, if you’re not a broadcaster, you can go to Screen Australia. Broadcasters can’t go to Screen Australia. They can’t keep picking and choosing,” he said.

“And that is a very uncomfortable discussion, I know, but it is a fundamental issue for us. Broadcasters should not be getting Screen Australia money.”

Murray also lashed “arsehole” business affairs departments and a recent deal with the ABC, following which CJZ Group CEO Matt Campbell accepted the SPA Award for Light Entertainment Series Production of the Year.

In accepting the award, Campbell thanked the Gruen team and the ABC “particularly the ABC business affairs people who have to deal with Nick Murray”, and apologised to anyone who was offended, according to TV Tonight.

“As I’ve got the stage, if anyone was in the room yesterday when there was a classic ‘Nick Murray rant’…. If he offended anybody, he’s sorry, and so are we.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.