Made in NSW fund triggers more than $300 million worth of production

Please credit Mark Rogers Photographer

Nash Edgerton (left) directs Scott Ryan in ‘Mr Inbetween’.

The New South Wales government’s two-year, $20 million Made in NSW scheme to attract international productions and high-end Australian TV dramas is proving to be a smart investment.

Create NSW CEO Michael Brealey.

The fund has triggered just over $300 million worth of production, according to Create NSW CEO Michael Brealey.

Only about $7 million is yet to be allocated, of which $4 million is likely to be committed to projects that are currently being considered.

The fund runs until the end of the current financial year and Brealey is naturally keen to see it extended.

“It has been very successful,” he tells IF. “For every dollar we spend we get $15 or $16 worth of production expenditure into the state. That’s huge leverage.

“It was the first time the government had given the screen agency a big bucket of money. We will make the case for the benefits of doing that to the government so that they can consider it in the next budget.”

Formerly the acting executive director of Arts NSW, Brealey was named CEO of Create NSW in January in the lead up to the April 1 merger of Screen NSW and Arts NSW.

He brought to the job plenty of experience in broadcasting after spending five years as head of policy, strategy and governance at ABC TV when Kim Dalton was the CEO. That included having a seat at the commissioning table when dramas such as Redfern Now and Rake got the greenlight. Earlier he worked on broadcast policy for the Department of Communications for three years.

He credits the executive team led by Sophia Zachariou, director of sector investment, Grainne Brunsdon, director of engagement, partnerships and development, and Matt Carroll, senior manager screen destination attraction, with helping to ensure a smooth transition from Screen NSW. Sally Regan recently joined as senior screen investment manager from Screen Australia.

Create NSW sits within the Department of Planning and Environment, which has had a number of benefits – not least that staff costs are absorbed and do not detract from the $9.9 million available for screen industry and audience development, investment and production.

The cast of Playmaker Media’s ‘Chosen’ (L-R): Han Pengyi, Jenny Zhou, Deng Jiajia, Lan Cheng-lung, Sam Hayden-Smith.

“That is a massive bonus which will flow through next year in full,” said Brealey. “It means we have much more flexibility to invest and put money out the door rather than supporting activity internally.”

Among the international projects supported by the Made In NSW fund are Animal Logic’s production Peter Rabbit for Columbia Pictures; Heyi Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures Asia’s Bleeding Steel; Playmaker Media’s Chinese miniseries Chosen; Universal/Legendary Pictures’ Pacific Rim: Uprising; and post on Columbia Pictures/Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The TV drama recipients include Lingo Pictures’ Wake In Fright, Bunya Productions’ Mystery Road series, Screentime’s The Secret Daughter, Jungle’s Mr Inbetween and the latest series of Easy Tiger’s Rake and Doctor, Doctor.

“We’ve had $4 million worth of investment in TV drama that we would not have been able to do before,” he said.

In the current financial year the screen agency received $9.9 million, the same as the previous year, while arts funding rose by about $500,000 to $52.7 million.

Create NSW has advocated the retention of the TV drama and children’s quotas and the increase of the TV Producer and Location Offsets. “The TV Offset at 40 per cent and the Location Offset at 30 per cent would be great for NSW,” he said.

Brealey is keen to continue doing more targeted initiatives with ABC and SBS following programs such as the 360 Vision VR Development funding joint venture with the ABC.

Also on the agenda: Continuing to work with commissioners of content to identify and fund the development of new talent.

In the next month or so the agency will announce the two recipients of the 2017 Create NSW Emerging Producer Placement, who will get customised six-month paid internships in industry. This year the program is focused on producers from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.