APVA calls for a post-production incentive tied to production

APVA chair and Cutting Edge head of features and television Marcus Bolton.

The Australian Post & VFX Alliance (APVA) has used its submission to Federal Government’s National Cultural Policy to outline the need for an incentive that greater encourages foreign titles to complete post-production in Australia.

Incorporating more than 30 VFX and post businesses, APVA was formed last June in united opposition to the previous government’s proposal to raise the minimum qualifying Australian expenditure for the 30 per cent Post, Digital, and Visual Effects (PDV) offset.

Members include KOJO, Double Barrel VFX, Blackbird VFX, Boogie Monster, Two Dogs TV, Soundfirm, Stage 23, The Post Lounge, Alt.vfx, Trackdown, and Cutting Edge, among others.

With the rebate successfully remaining untouched, the group has turned its attention to ensuring a higher percentage of international productions utilise local post-production firms.

APVA chair and Cutting Edge head of features and television Marcus Bolton told IF the alliance wanted the new cultural policy to capitilise on the “real opportunities for the domestic sector”, both in terms of incoming Location Incentive and Producer Offset work and Australia being strengthened as a PDV location on the global stage.

“All APVA members, great or small, are able to continue to support and grow our domestic sector,” he said.

“But this is done as a mainstay from international work being able to grow our market beyond our shores by opening our borders and having us being an internationally-focused digital export business.”

APVA has argued that more needs to be done to stop overseas projects from taking post-production home, citing Canada’s Film or Video Production Tax Credit and the United Kingdom Film Tax Relief (FRT) as examples of schemes where productions are rewarded for onshoring their post-production and VFX work.

To be eligible for the former, at least 75 per cent of the total of all costs for services related to producing the production (other than certain excluded costs) must be paid for services provided to or by individuals who are Canadian and at least 75 per cent of the post-production must be incurred for services provided in Canada.

In claiming the FRT, a production must either pass the cultural test or qualify as an official co-production, while also having a minimum UK core spend requirement of 10 per cent, including those made under official co-production treaties.

APVA notes that while there was record expenditure on Australian and foreign feature films in the 2020-21 financial year — the figure totaling more than $1 billion — key foreign titles such as Thor: Love and Thunder and Thirteen Lives had not completed post-production in Australia, although they did employ some of the country’s VFX artists.

As it stands, productions eligible for the Location Incentive Program must utilise the services of one or more Australian post, digital or visual effects providers.

However, APVA’s submission calls for an incentive that ties production specifically to post-production, describing it as a “game-changing opportunity to grow the sector”.

Bolton, who attended one of Arts Minister Tony Burke’s town hall meetings, said implementing an overarching arts framework was an important step in making sure the post sector was “recognised and prioritised”, commending the government for conducting a submissions process broad enough to allow “many voices to be heard”.

“We have had early engagement and are looking to continue a strong partnership with the Arts Minister Tony Burke,” he said.

“Of course, we’re confident [of measures being implemented] but I think it will only be from the sustained engagement of continually having our voice heard that there will be traction.”