The Running Free Live panel discussed Covid impacts, diversity, the Location Incentive Fund and Quotas.
Overall there was good news: lots of green shoots of production are starting, 90% of documentaries kept production going during the lockdowns and producers have been applauded for being agile and creative in trying times. Screen Australia has had triple the number of applications in the documentary category: creativity definitely hasn’t stalled.
But everyone acknowledged how tough it has been, and continues to be. Monica Penders, CEO of Screen Canberra explained “Yes we can be resilient, but with the fires, floods and Covid, it’s one thing on top of the other. It’s a tough time.
However, as Caroline Pitcher, Film Victoria CEO said, “We have to keep swimming, if we stop, that’s when we sink.”
On the Impact of Covid
Kylie Munnich, CEO of Screen Queensland – We know our industry is built on freelancers and our survey highlighted the huge mental health effects.
Grainne Brunsdon, Head of Screen NSW – Freelancers reported 91% job losses, with an average of 20k. In total we estimated a $50 million loss prediction between March / April to Sept. That’s going to be extended.
Willie Rowe, CEO of ScreenWest – All the surveys galvanised the screen agencies to put in programs to help people.
Kate Croser, CEO of South Australian Film Commission – We have developed a risk assessment tool, to be used in conjunction with the Covid Safe Filming. Producers are doing great but the pressure on them is huge – they’re trying to get things going whilst dealing with so much uncertainty.
Sally Caplan, Head of Content, Screen Australia – We’re reallocating funds to keep everyone going and we’ll keep going until we’re in trouble and then we’ll stop.
Alex Sangston, Executive Manager of Screen Tasmania – We realised that we had to get money into people’s pockets quickly. We had an Arts Screen digital fund - grants up to 50k, for the arts and filmmaking sector working together to do ‘a thing’ that could be delivered digitally. That program was a real eye opener, we saw amazing collaboration, creativity and technical expertise.
On the Federal Location Incentive Fund
Caroline Pitcher, CEO of Film Victoria – Within 4 years the global screen production will be worth - $850 billion. We get to be part of that by exporting great content. But by being a destination for screen excellence – studios, crews, service business etc we have a more robust industry - international production lifts our capacity.
Grainne Brunsdon, Head of Screen NSW – The focus of the screen agencies is local production but this fund will trigger $3 billion of production spend and when internationals come here they love it – and there are opportunities for local industry off the back of these relationships.
Kate Croser, CEO of South Australian Film Commission - Production stage space is in such short supply international productions are interested in talking about other space e.g. warehouse spaces that can be repurposed very quickly.
Diversity & Black Lives Matter
Sally Caplan, Head of Content, Screen Australia – It’s problematic, we weren’t as diverse as we should be. White people with the best intentions don’t always get it right. We don’t want to wait 25 years to get it fixed so we’re doing programs, attachments and shadowing – fast tracking it.
Jennie Hughes, Director of Screen Territory – Our indigenous community is 30% of our community, it’s part of our fabric. We work so closely with our indigenous practitioners; we really get into the community and look at what they want and try and connect people.
Grainne Brunsdon, Head of Screen NSW – We don’t employ creatives, industry does – so how can we help? We can connect people and help companies to really look at who they’re employing. We can also look at who is getting the money and why.
Kylie Munnich, CEO of Screen Queensland – The Everyone Project, which is managed by the Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network is tracking diversity on Australian productions.
Kate Croser, CEO of South Australian Film Commission – Who tells the story? Who is controlling the business of the story? We want to enable producers from diverse communities.
Willie Rowe, CEO of ScreenWest – Without quotas we should pack up and go home.
Jennie Hughes, Director of Screen Territory – It’s fundamental to our identity. We have to see ourselves on screen.
Caroline Pitcher, CEO of Film Victoria – In relation to the Supporting Australian stories on our screens—options paper, Option 3 – is the best step forward, transformation. Ensure quotas remain at a lower level with free to air but they’re stretched to streaming networks. We want to equalise the playing field and to see and consume Australian stories wherever we watch.
You can watch the record on: ACMI YouTube Channel
The panel moderator was Denise Eriksen, co-founder Media
Mentors and featured:
- Caroline Pitcher, CEO of Film Victoria https://www.film.vic.gov.au/
- Grainne Brunsdon, Head of Screen NSW https://www.screen.nsw.gov.au/
- Jennie Hughes, Director of Screen Territory https://screenterritory.nt.gov.au/
- Kate Croser, CEO of South Australian Film Commission https://www.safilm.com.au/
- Kylie Munnich, CEO of Screen Queensland https://screenqueensland.com.au/
- Monica Penders, CEO of Screen Canberra https://www.screencanberra.com.au/
- Sally Caplan, Head of Content, Screen Australia https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/
- Willie Rowe, CEO of ScreenWest https://www.screenwest.com.au/
- Alex Sangston, Executive Manager of Screen Tasmania https://www.screen.tas.gov.au/