Saturday 11 February 2017

The House of Reps Inquiry into the Film Industry - Here's the solution

Tim Watts MP,
Committee & Inquiry Member, ALP, Vic
But....First some of reactions including a couple posted on the Film Alert blog, One observer made the assumption that given the mindset of the current Federal government any such review will be a cover for rationalising Government support. Work on that basis as your modus operandi.

Andrew Pike, long time exhibitor, distributor, producer, investor, advisor and occasionally member of many of the bureaucratic support structures asked a rhetorical question  "I wonder if this review will speak with indie distributors: none of the others ever spoke to Ronin, even though we've been in the biz for 42 years." I think we know the answer to that one.

Sydney's supercinephile Barrie Pattison also put a comment on the earlier blog entry that's worth repeating. "It's all simple minded. Tinkering with the producers and the bureaucrats will only produce more of the same. Unless there is an informed audience nothing changes. No one seems to have noticed that the point where French movies replaced German as the dominant art film industry was the point where the Cinematheque opened." I dont imagine the Committee, with it's almost non-existent terms of reference and thin research resources will be wanting anyone to go through a re-run of the argument for bringing back a national Cinematheque or National Film Theatre and I doubt the members will want to be contemplating the future of the National Film & Sound Archive and its continuing or otherwise contribution to Australia's film culture as part of their remit. I imagine in fact that if anyone managed to get those things on the agenda, the Committee would be very smartly told to mind its own business.

So.... A dozen years ago when yet another view of the Oz film industry was taking place Bruce Hodsdon and I put in a submission which made a few recommendations. Needless to say nobody wanted to know, at least to the extent that anybody contacted us to ask us to speak, discuss or debate our thoughts. But in having another look at what we said then, it seems to me still quite relevant. Here's a section.

(We recommend) that future funding and administrative activity by the Federal Government and its film agencies should be directed to ensure the following:

  • there should be a clear recognition that the comparative box office performance of Australian films has been unfairly denigrated by the use of inappropriate comparisons;
  • the focus of assessment criteria to judge success should be shifted from percentage return on investment and market share to comparative subsidy per consumer. This shifts the conceptual emphasis from a film as a product to a film as a work with intrinsic cultural value with an enduring outreach across national boundaries;
  • Australia’s film agencies need to radically rethink the attention given to the process of scriptwriting, the funding of writer/auteurs and the relationships that exist between writers, producers and directors in the Australian film industry; and
  • there needs to be a strong, forthright and full commitment on behalf of all funding and investment bodies to ensure that our best film-makers, those whose work has been internationally or locally recognized and rewarded, and our best writers, are working more fruitfully and more often.        
Simple really. but please dont hesitate to send in any thoughts. You probably have a greater chance of somebody reading them if they are published on the Film Alert blog than if you send them to the bureaucrats supporting the Committee's work. ....But as Donald Trump would say "So cynical".

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