Less Money, More Angst

Money Is Shrinking
This is a portion of a Screen Hub article wherein they talk about the cuts in funding.

According to the federal government’s budget papers, Screen Australia’s direct investment in film and television will fall from $71.74 million to $63.37 million (an 11% fall), and continue to decline to $56.43 million in 2011. Feature film will take the biggest hit.

Screen Australia’s revenue from government will fall from $93.5 million in 2008-09 to $89.5 million in 2009-10 following the merger of the three original agencies, with staff costs projected to fall from $19.3 million to $15.6 million. Total staff will fall from 169 to 135.

According to the budget papers, “Reduction in cash payments anticipated from 2008–09 onwards result from the 2008 budget decision to decrease revenue from Government with the introduction of the Producer Tax offset. It is anticipated that an increasing source of funding to the industry will be provided by the Producer Tax offset measures. Accordingly revenue from Government to the agency is planned to be reduced.”

That is to say, the government is trying to wean the whole industry off the government grants model. This is going to be very interesting. Here’s another portion:

In a prepared statement, CEO Ruth Harley said, “Screen Australia welcomes the Federal Government’s commitment to increased funding for Australian content on ABC and SBS. We look forward to building on our work with both national broadcasters so that audiences can continue to enjoy quality programs made by the Australian screen production industry,” said Ruth Harley, Screen Australia’s Chief Executive. “The funding will also provide an important stimulus to the industry in difficult economic times.”

The allocation to Indigenous investment will rise from $3 million to $4.6 million, marketing from $9.5 to $10.2, while “Developing screen business and talent” (which includes the Enterprise program) will fall from $11.5 million to $10.1 million.

The writing on the wall says if you’re not the sort of film maker that the AFC would have gotten grant money for, then go find a real commercial career. This is going to be interesting as it plays out because the whole range of not-really-commercial-and-yet-not-really-art-house movies are going to get chopped at the knees and at the neck by this move.

This time had to come, and I think a lot of producers and directors and writers are going to be in for a shock when this thing plays through. Part of the problem is that if the government directly funds a film, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to fund something remotely marketable; besides which it has been established over and over again that the direct investment model always ends up with 10-15 films a year with an audience of 300,000 people.

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Filed under Cinema, Film, Movies

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