Saturday 29 August 2015

AFTRS - Comments on the quality curve

In an earlier post which you can find here , comment was made about what the school is up to these days and especially about the fall in the numbers of feature film directors being produced by the institution

There has been a bit of comment. I'm not always putting any names to these. More later....

A veteran producer: Gosh.

A former employee: The change to larger numbers of directing students coincided with the move to Moore Park.  The deviation from that model of delivery resulted in no director having made a feature. This also means that the creative teams that assembled for these projects from the relationships formed at film school are largely moot. That same change in direction also saw the dismissal of the craft areas as non creative technicians contributing only to servicing the directors vision with little or no value add. Neil has quite a task ahead of him.”

Scholar, cinephile, economist and film industry observer, Bruce Hodsdon comments: Geoff, the figures that you quote in illustration of the declining productive output of feature films by new graduate directors of the FTRS does seem to contain something of a conundrum. Given the increasingly limited opportunities for Oz features in the face of failing audience interest, as reflected by the bo returns, the maintenance of new grads: feature films ratio would seemingly have to be at the expense of older grads. Yet one of the criticisms over the years has been the apparent failure to address the lack of on-going opportunities for directors with one or two features under their belts, a criticism I think we have both made in the past. In other words addressing one problem ensures the continuation of the other. There is also the question of how many recent grads (not just directors), of the last 10 years or so have found productive work in tv drama, for example. On the face of it, however, it would seem that this would be unlikely to redress the balance.

I dont think this should be considered as a zero sum game. AFTRS was established with certain goals, most notably providing a sound conduit for the highly talented into the film industry.The expectation surely was that the cutting edge and most prestigious part of the industry, the production of internationally acclaimed and successful feature films, would be significantly and continuously bolstered by AFTRS work. If AFTRS isn't doing it then it has no reason to exist. There is plenty more training available which doesn't cost the taxpayer large annual subventions. The odious Abbott Government's most recent Commission of Audit recommended that the place be sold off to a state government, presumably NSW,and incorporated within the state education system. If AFTRS isn't producing elite practitioners then its in trouble and you could see it disappear within say half a decade when sooner or later parsimony, flint-hearted officialdom and the lack of success could combine for its demise.

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