Liz Stevens to depart Screen Australia

Liz Stevens.

Screen Australia is searching for a head of documentary following the resignation of Liz Stevens, who has served as senior manager for documentary since the agency was created in 2008.

Previously she was a business affairs manager at Film Australia after working in script development, film finance, production, marketing and distribution on factual and drama projects.

Asked why the position has been restructured, a Screen Australia spokesman told IF: “The role has been broadened to meet the needs of the agency into the future.”

The wider remit includes working with head of production Sally Caplan on scripted projects across any genre, format or platform.

Advertising the vacancy, the agency said: “In this newly created role, you will leverage your extensive industry experience to drive the strategic direction for documentary funding programs, manage day-to-day operations of the unit while also working with the head of production on scripted projects across any genre, format or platform and implementing priorities across the broader production department.

“To be successful, you will require extensive screen industry experience in senior executive roles in development and production across documentary and also across scripted drama and other screen content, with high levels of creative, deal making and commercial skills.

“You will have excellent stakeholder relationship management skills, possess a keen understanding of the Australian and international screen industry, trends, evolving financing and distribution models and partners.”

The  budget for developing and producing documentaries in 2017/18 was $15 million- $16 million and Stevens had said she expected a similar amount this  financial year. Of that, about $1 million is allocated to development. The overall funding varies depending mostly on the uncapped Producer Equity Program, which funds up to 20 per cent of the budgets of low-budget docs.

In a recent interview with IF Stevens hailed the overall improvement in productions, observing: “Producers are thinking about audiences more than they ever have in the past and thinking about stories in layers, not just in linear ways. With each round of the Producer Program the applications are coming ahead in leaps and bounds.”

She highlighted upcoming titles including CJZ’s Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy, directed and co-produced by Mark Joffe, which Universal is releasing theatrically on August 23;  Jeremy Sims’ Wayne, a bio of former world motorcycle champion Wayne Gardner (Transmission); Damon Gameau’s futuristic 2040 (Madman); and Richard Lowenstein’s Michael Hutchence profile Mystify (Madman).

Applications for head of documentary close on July 23. Stevens is expected to depart later this month and has not revealed her career plans.