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.