Gallipoli producer John Edwards describes Screen Australia funding cuts as ‘realpolitik’

john EdwardsThe producer behind major Australian dramas including Puberty Blues, Offspring, Howzat: Kerry Packer’s War, Paper Giants and Nine’s eight part upcoming drama Gallipoli has described recent drastic cuts to industry funding body Screen Australia as “realpolitik”.

In an interview with Mumbrella, John Edwards said the recent cuts which will see $5m lost from budgets this year with measures including lowering its maximum investment in films to $2m, cutting 12 full time staff members and shedding $500,000 from marketing were being handled as best they could.

“It’s realpolitik, but given what they are facing it seems to me they have been pretty sharp,” said Edwards. “Wise, pragmatic and astute. They seem to be approaching it well, they seem to be canvasing views, they seem to be getting a pretty good balance.”

While acknowledging that more than half his funding came from non-Screen Australia sources he said: “From what I see the way they are approaching the situation seems to be a really balanced and considered response to their circumstances.”

Edwards made the comments as part of an interview to discuss the upcoming drama Gallipoli which he described as a “daunting task”.

“It is a hugely daunting task because of the role it has taken in our history,” he said. “There is an assumption of a whole lot of stuff which is not grounded in anything or a genuine responsibility when you do something that is so historically sensitive.”

“We started with Les Carlyon’s book and tried to give it a historical and cultural context. I suppose we took on that (same) task whereas I suppose the (Peter Weir) movie was about trying to capture the spirit where as we are trying to tell a more fulsome story.”

Edward’s drama will be told in eight parts following the life of a soldier in the trenches, a journalist and a commander.

Asked if he was worried about following Peter Weir’s famous movie Gallipoli Edward said the two productions were different.

“We have an eight hour canvas and they had a two hour canvas,” he said.

“We started with Les Carlyon’s book which doesn’t lionise (the history of Gallipoli). It does treat it as being a tragic slice of life but does set it in a political and social context.

“We have chosen a subjective methodology rather than to sit outside and give an objective ‘historical’ view. We don’t try to see the events from the outside we try and see them from the inside.”

The drama is set to screen in April next year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the landing at Anzac Cove.

Nic Christensen 


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