What strikes me is that Screen Australia talks about the feature film and TV industry. However, these are now dwarfed by the computer games industry. The Apple iPod has changed the music industry and the iPad may be about to do the same to the TV industry. However, the way Screen Australia works does not seem to have changed since cameras were hand cranked. They seem to be trying to help set up an obsolete analogue last century industry for Australia, rather than a digital one for the future.
Pressure points identified by Screen Australia:
- Mid range features ($M10-30 ) lack domestic funding. This is an effect of the government offset, which helps both small and large features, but not mid-range.
- Longer documentary series are doing well, but the Screen Australia process is complex for one off documentaries.
- Liquidation of SPV has complex legislative issues. Providing a grant has tax issues.
- SAC test is currently holistic and has no detailed points score type process which leaves producers uncertain as to what might rate well. Details of previous applications are secret due to tax law. "Reality" TV is uncertain as to if it qualifies as "documentary".
- Low budget features may not be helped by lowering the limits on the current tax offsets as this requires a "theatrical release". Low budget films might use other distribution, such as online digital, which does not qualify as "theatrical".
Another attendee asked about support for the gaming industry and Screen Australia replied this was a matter of government policy and that representations should be made direct to the government. I got the impression that Screen Australia did not want to address the gaming industry without additional resources.
In my view, as the gaming industry is now larger than the film industry, at least half Screen Australia's resources and the government funding, should be devoted to it and digital media. Screen Australia appears to be stuck in last century technology and unable, or unwilling to change. The government should therefore abolish Screen Australia and set up a new digital entertainment body, which addresses digital media as a priority and also the legacy film industry as a secondary priority.