Screen groups present collaborative vision for the future

02 July, 2020

More than a dozen organisations representing the screen industry have called for greater harmonisation and transparency of content quotas and investment incentives across all platforms to secure the future of Australian stories on screens. 

In a joint submission to the Supporting Australian stories on our screens options paper lodged today, the Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG), Screen Producers Australia (SPA), the Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) – among others – have recommended the adoption of the option paper’s Model 3 of platform-neutral obligations and incentives. 

Under the scheme, all service providers would be required to put a minimum percentage of Australian-derived revenue back into new Australian scripted content and adopt sub-quotas for new drama, documentary and children’s programs annually. 

The submission also called for the harmonisation of the Producer Offset at 40%, the Location and Post, Digital and Visual Effects offsets at 30%, streamlining access to and administration of tax incentives, additional funding for national broadcasters and government screen agencies, and powers and government support for the ACMA to administer the scheme. 

ADG President Samantha Lang said, 'Producing Australian stories for our cinemas, and our home-screens gives all Australians the opportunity to see themselves reflected in screen narratives that are heroic, inspiring and joyful. Think of the immense success of a films like Lion and Sherpa or television series' such as Mustangs FC or Total Control. These stories make us understand what it is to be Australian and give us a powerful sense of who we are as a nation. 

'And significantly, producing Australia screen stories feeds into a much bigger ecosystem than the film and television industry itself - enhancing innovation, tourism and cultural diplomacy - whilst employing many thousands of people and generating several billions of dollars of investment each year.'

SPA CEO Matthew Deaner stated, 'Not only do our screen stories promote a sense of identity, pride and social cohesion for everyday Australians, they also play an important role in our nation’s soft diplomacy and support hundreds of local small and medium businesses and thousands of creative workers. It is vital that we capitalise on this opportunity to get the policy settings right so that our industry can maximise its cultural and financial contribution to Australia’s economy – including its untapped export potential - as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.' 

MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy said, 'Changes to audience viewing patterns, new technology and a hyper-competitive global market for screen production all mean that content obligations and production incentives need to be updated to secure the future of Australian storytelling on screen. The government must establish a forward-looking system which builds on the legacy of quality scripted content such as The Heights, Bluey and Mystery Road to support new and innovative Australian stories from a diverse range of storytellers available on each of the platforms that audiences tune into on a daily basis. Establishing such a system would also be a powerful show of support for the thousands of skilled writers, directors, cinematographers, hair and makeup artists, actors and other workers who have dedicated their lives to telling these stories on screen.'

AWG President, Shane Brennan, said the screen and television industry is at a critical crossroad in its history. 'The Federal Government’s decision on how to fund and regulate the industry going forward is critical, not just to our future, but to our very survival. A decision that does not regulate new digital platforms, that does not maintain a fair and equitable quota system for scripted drama, documentaries and children’s programming will result in the long-term failure of our industry with no hope of recovery. With this decision, the Federal Government has the opportunity to secure jobs, grow an industry and make a powerful statement of commitment to our Australian culture.'

The submission closes by addressing the current suspension of FTA sub-quotas due to the coronavirus pandemic, simply stating that the group opposes 'any proposal to extend the current suspension of sub-quotas into 2021.'

To view the Australian Screen Industry's joint submission, go here. 

To view the Australian Writers' Guild's submission, go here