Antony I. Ginnane.

After 50 years in the business of producing films, Antony I. Ginnane is calling on the screen industry to fight to help the next generation of creatives.

Ginnane slammed key measures of the Federal Government’s media reforms including lowering the Producer Offset for films to 30 per cent and exempting producers’ overheads from the minimum qualifying Australian production expenditure (QAPE), coupled with the failure to impose local spending obligations on SVOD services.

“It’s vital that we push back on these changes to film regulations,” he said in a webinar with Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner. “We have to fight to help the next generation so they don’t come in and get screwed from the get-go.”

The producer who has more than 70 screen credits fears many films won’t get made because the ensuing funding gap of 15 per cent – 25 per cent will be impossible to fill.

Typically the producer’s fee on a film which may take five or more years to develop and finance would be $200,000, with a similar overhead. Now that overheads are no longer eligible for QAPE, producers whose average earnings were $80,000 a year might now get half that, he suggested.

While he welcomed the additional allocation of $30 million over two years for Screen Australia in the Federal Budget, and raising the Producer Offset for television to 30 per cent, he said the latter measure would only be of benefit if “broadcasters don’t steal that [extra] 10 per cent.”

Ginnane sees a great opportunity for Australian films to fill gaps in distributors’ release schedules over the next two years as the Hollywood studios keep postponing launch dates and as each cuts back on the volume and scale of productions.

‘Never Too Late.’

“It’s incumbent on producers to help exhibitors get through this difficult time, and hopefully distributors will look more kindly on Australian films,” he told Deaner.

He added the caveat that this will only advantage producers, writers and directors who make movies that audiences actually want to see. “We have to stop making movies for ourselves, be tougher on ourselves and tougher than ever before on the stories we want to tell,” he said.

The producer is looking forward to the October 22 launch on 185 screens of Mark Lamprell’s Never Too Late, a comedy-drama about four heroic Vietnam veterans who plan to break out of their nursing home.

It took him six years to package the project after meeting the writer, crime novelist Luke Preston, at a ‘speed-dating’ session at the MIFF 37ºSouth Market.

Wrangling the cast led by James Cromwell, Dennis Waterman, Jack Thompson and Roy Billing as the vets and Jacki Weaver as the former flame of Cromwell’s character took two years.

Ginnane and fellow producer David Lightfoot raised the budget from Screen Australia, the South Australian Film Corporation, Screen Queensland and private investors sourced from executive producer Craig McMahon.

The distributor, Richard Becker and Robert Slaviero’s R&R Films originally planned for an ANZAC Day launch before COVID-19 intervened.

The film was then scheduled for October 29 until Roadshow chose that date for Jeremy Sims’ RAMS, so it moved up by one week.

Ginnane had long wanted to make a film for seniors and is confident Never Too Late will deliver.

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