So Much To Blog, So Little Time

Creepiness Of Asian Sex Tours

This opinion piece caught my eye in the Herald last week.

Prostitution in Thailand is comparable to cricket in Australia. It attracts legions of fans and armies of detractors, while an ambivalent majority wonders what all the fuss is about. But the most ardent fans of Thai prostitution are foreigners.

About 10 per cent of visitors arrive to get their rocks off. In 2005 a British journalist used Thai Immigration Department statistics to show between 25 per cent and 30 per cent more men than women arrive as tourists, concluding almost a million single men travelled to Thailand for sex each year.

According to World Vision, Australians account for 9 per cent of sex tourists arriving in the region. This suggests that almost 100,000 Aussies descend every year on Thailand alone.

Why the exodus to South-East Asia? In my view, it is simply a matter of taste. Some men – a lot of men – prefer Asians. What lies at the heart of Thailand’s sex tourism industry is the way we sexually stereotype Asians; about the way Asian women perform in the bedroom and act in a relationship.

When I told my squash partner I was going to Thailand, he said: “You lucky bugger. Sure you don’t want company?” He then told me about the good times he’d spent with “tight-bodied Asians”.

Maybe I’m just ridiculously naive – I have yet to set foot in a strip joint – but I was shocked to learn three people I knew had been to Thailand, paid for sex, and thought their actions were sufficiently ordinary to talk openly about it without fear of recrimination.

Aah, good old sexploitation, no? The rest of it is a fascinating read too. There’s a certain mindset that gets explored really well in the film. ‘The Beach’ starring Leo DiCaprio. It’s a really creepy film about creepy westerners who found a colony of pleasure and leisure, sustained on the marijuana trade. They live in a veritable sexual paradise founded on some kind of perverse utopianism. There’s something about Thailand and south east Asia that seems to *inspire* (for want of a better word) this kind of behaviour. It’s the stuff of songs like ‘Khe San’. It just leaves me cold, but it’s interesting it’s actually getting discussed in the SMH of all places.

There are plenty of these creepy Gaijins wandering around Roppongi in Tokyo, loudly talking of the Asian pussy they’re getting, as if nobody can understand their English. There was a mob of these guys in Hong Kong too, in pinstriped shirts, drinking their beer in Lan-Kwai Fong. I dunno what to make of it. It’s as if once in Asia, they know no shame.

More On The Screen Australia Criteria Issue

I found this on Screenhub. I’m sharing it here because more people ought to read it. It’s probably going to be frowned upon but what the heck. I want to show you something:

Screen Australia: where did these numbers come from?
by: Alex Prior

Multiple senior sources have confirmed to Screen Hub that key numbers Screen Australia’s draft guidelines were not the outcome of research.

Specifically, the sources claim that the eligibility criteria for writers, directors and producers applying under the Project By Project feature drama development were not checked against the evidence, and directly contradict the evidence from previous internal Australian Film Commission and Film Finance Corporation research.

The eligibility criteria, which are based on the amount of experience a filmmaker, determine who can apply for development funding. The program allows for multiple tranches of funding up to $50,000 in each round. Under the proposed guidelines, the only people eligible are:

An experienced producer must have at least one credit as producer on a feature film that has been released on a minimum of 10 commercial screens in one territory, or exceptional credits in other genres such as a primetime broadcast miniseries or telemovie.

An experienced executive producer must have at least two credits as producer or executive producer on a feature film that has been released on a minimum of 10 commercial screens in one territory, or exceptional credits in other genres such as a primetime broadcast mini-series.

A highly experienced writer or director must have a credit in these roles on at least three features that have been released on a minimum of 10 commercial screens in one territory OR one feature that has been selected for either Cannes, Venice, Berlin main sections OR Sundance or at least two network miniseries that have received significant ratings or critical acclaim.

The criteria are intended to ensure that finance goes to the filmmakers who are most able to deliver successful feature films. They have been highly contentious, with the Australian Writers’ Guild in particular mounting a public campaign against the writing criterion. The Australian Directors Guild has also questioned their validity.

Multiple senior sources have told Screen Hub that the level of three feature films for a writer was never checked against the evidence.

These sources claim that the level of three feature films for writers was first mooted in a position paper written by Screen Australia Project Manager Megan Simpson-Huberman, and eventually incorporated into the guidelines.

[Please note that Screen Australia has replied to this as follows: “Revisions to the draft guidelines based on industry feedback are being considered at today’s board meeting, so Screen Australia cannot at this stage respond in detail to the comments made in Friday’s article ‘Screen Australia: Where did these numbers come from’. However, we wish to immediately place on record how inappropriate and unprofessional it was for the article to name Project Manager Megan Simpson- Huberman as the ‘author of the ‘3 previous credits’ eligibility criterion’ for writers. This is not the case, although Megan, along with other senior staff, has been participating in the thinking and planning behind the guidelines’. The Executive Management team and the Screen Australia Board take full responsibility for the draft guidelines issued for comment last month, as well as for their eventual final form.”]

They also claim that a number of other Screen Australia staff questioned the validity of this criterion for predicting the future success of a screenwriter, and requested that it be reviewed. It was not reviewed.

Another senior, former employee of the Australian Film Commission also questioned this level. The source told Screen Hub that internal research conducted by the AFC between 2000-05 revealed that first-time Australian writers, directors and producers had a much higher rate of success than second-time filmmakers. “You have to do it [fund second features],” the source said. “But it’s a great way to lose money.”

This research was confirmed to Screen Hub by a second source who had worked for the Film Finance Corporation. The FFC had also concluded that second-time projects were much more likely to fail financially than projects from less experienced filmmakers.

The Australian Film Commission had drawn a startling conclusion from this research: that the level of experience within the Australian film industry was too low for one, two or even three successful projects to act as a predictor of future success. Experience levels needed to be higher for accurate predictions to be made.

Based on this research, the Screen Australia guidelines actively exclude the filmmakers most likely to be successful.

The FFC reached a related conclusion. Screen Hub’s source claimed that part of the research had been incorporated in a position paper prepared by the former CEO, Brian Rosen, and provided to Screen Australia. This position paper argued that the focus of Screen Australia’s guidelines should be on supporting talent, rather than experience.

Multiple senior sources also confirmed to Screen Hub that no research had been undertaken by Screen Australia to determine what festivals [Cannes, Venice, Berlin main sections OR Sundance] should count towards a writer’s experience. “This list is made up,” one source said.

The Sydney Film Festival has publicly questioned the validity of this test as a predictor of future feature film success.

The Australian Directors Guild also provided a submission that questioned the validity of the experience levels. The ADG submission provided a list of films by their internationally famous members (Fred Schepsi, Jane Campion among others) that could not have been made under the proposed guidelines governing experience.

President Ray Argall noted the problem. “The thing is,” he said, “that within the Screen Australia research data – all ours [research] was taken from the Screen Australia databases. It’s not hard to see that our successful films have been made by directors who have worked on their films for many, many years. Some of them for ten years. These were directors that drove the project. Their commitment and driving of the project is not reflected in the current guidelines.”

Argall noted that there was a tremendous willingness to change, and an acceptance of the need to change, among directors. “But we’ve made too many mistakes in the past. We have to get it right,” he said.

In an interview late today, Dr Ruth Harley, the new CEO of Screen Australia, confirmed to Screen Hub that the level of experience required for eligibility had not been determined by research: “I think that is correct,” she said. All development of the draft guidelines took place prior to her taking up her responsibilities on Monday.

The bold bit is something I wanted to highlight; I’m quoting all this just to say, I’m not the only one saying the stuff I’m saying here on this blog.These film bureaucrats are irresponsible idiots with way too much power over the careers of people, and no accountability for their stupid, moronic, imbecilic, retarded decisions. This Screen Australia business is turning into a nightmare from day one.

Look at it this way. If the Australian Film industry has been producing roughly 15 films a year for a decade, that’s 150 films we’re talking about. If there was one credit per film we’re talking about 150 writing credits. divide that by the requisite 3, and suddenly you’re talking about a poll of only 50 writers, assuming the optimal 50 writers who all participated and scored 3 writing credits each. Less so, with shared credits.You’re talking about a pool of 20-30 writers at best.

No wonder the Writers’ Guild is up in arms: it excludes the vast majority of its members, and that means the very future of the Guild is at stake. It’s simply not workable to have the Guild narrow down to a Club of 20-30 and still sustain itself.

The other issue is this: the vast majority of those 150 films would have been market flops. By demanding the 3 credits from that motley crew of misbegotten films, aren’t the Screen Australia criteria REWARDING FAILURE instead of success by holding such arbitrary standards?

2 Comments

Filed under Cinema, Film, General, Movies

2 responses to “So Much To Blog, So Little Time

  1. pleiades1911

    Art

    You’ll have to stay tuned on this as the ‘three credits’ prop was to be discussed today at the first SA board meeting with Harley in the Chair. If they’ve got the likes of Jan Sardi against it , backing up the AWG totally, then short odds are that it will disappear up the orifice of the SA bureaucrats. To be replaced by what – who knows?

    What concerns me is the total lack of balance here in not looking at a whole of industy development rather than playing fictional favourites – and the fact that one of the main criticisms emerging around Baz’s ‘Australia’ is that no strong producer was at the helm to rein in the excesses of said auteur. As a colleague of mine pointed out tonight, David Lean swore he would never work again with producer Sam Spiegel, the cosummate producer of Bridge on the River Kwai. But who does Lean end up with againon Lawrence of Arabia as producer? ‘Play it Again’ Sam.

    So much focus is on writers. But producers? Oh well we have a special $500g deal for them. Or should I say maybe two of them. What a crock

    BTW – re your earlier piece putting the CBA front and centre for being the main finance/ underwriter for films here – well, with current status of the loan book and the exposure to groups like Babcoock and Brown, Allco, and ABC Child No Care, I don’t see an irrational exuberance , to quote A Greenspan one of the belated confessors of partial responsibility for the the current nightmare, in CBA for assumig the mantle of saving such cinema financing.

    I personally have ‘fond memories’ of the CBA pulling out of the underwriting of my first feature which then forced the FFC, as it was in 1989, to step in to be the total underwriter against a distribution guarantee from Village Roadshow for the picture. Nail biting times indeed.

    Believe me this can happen again in this climate. And probably will – like the continuing government bailout of the fallen giants of capitalism

    Watch the Screen – will Australia launch the next wave of astonishing new talent ? Or will Film Bulgaria be totally eclipsed by an all powerful Screen Australia. The underwriter of the so called Oz film industry – or the undertaker?

  2. I meant the CBA only as an arbitrary bank.
    I think what’s important is that the government gets out of development and works towards setting up a proper domestic market for Australian films.

    The government should accept that the top talent will always fly the coop to LA. But that shouldn’t bring down the industry every time it happens – but it can only be this way if the domestic market for films is set up to succeed, not to fail as it is today. If the domestic market is sufficiently strong, then it lessens the need for the top talent to go looking in LA; but the government has never quite seen that as a goal, which it should.

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