News recap: Government sets date for cultural policy launch, SPA Award finalists revealed

Arts Minister Tony Burke delivering a speech at the Woodford Folk Festival in December. (Image: Facebook)

IF is back from the holiday break and ready to report on all things screen for 2023. Here’s the news that led us into the new year.

Government to launch National Cultural Policy on January 30

The Federal Government will unveil its much-anticipated National Cultural Policy in Melbourne on January 30, with Arts Minister Tony Burke indicating that content quotas will be part of the framework.

The announcement follows a six-month consultation process that has included town hall meetings in every state and territory, as well as the establishment of five expert review panels to work through more than 1200 written submissions.

As part of the submission process, stakeholders were asked to outline their priorities in relation to the key areas of First Nations first, a place for every story, the centrality of the artist, strong institutions, and reaching the audience.

Of particular interest to the screen industry is the potential regulation of streaming services, with organisations such as Screen Producers Australia and the screen industry guilds pushing for a 20 per cent local content investment obligation from the streamers with protection for certain genres in their submissions.

Burke, who told the audience at November’s AWGIE Awards that Australian content quotas were on their way for streaming services, again confirmed streaming regulation would feature in the policy during a speech at the Woodford Folk Festival on December 30.

“There is some great Australian content that’s coming through on Stan and Netflix,” he said.

“If you go out there and look at there’s some really highly produced – like I watched The Twelve the other day, great Australian drama. Foxtel, similarly, is producing great Australian drama. They have a content quota. But Stan doesn’t, Netflix doesn’t, none of the streamers have an Australian content quota.”

“Over the next couple of times we meet during this term, they will have Australian content quotas.”

The cast of ‘Heartbreak High’

Finalists unveiled for SPA Awards

Screen Producers Australia has unveiled the finalists for the 2022 SPA Awards, which will be held on the final night of Screen Forever 37 in May.

Comprising 13 categories, the peer-voted awards are designed to celebrate content produced by SPA members across a range of categories, including Animated Production of the Year, Feature Film Production of the Year, Commissioner of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, and the prestigious Media Super Production Business of the Year Award.

The 2022 SPA Awards encompass SPA member productions that screened between July 1, 2021, to December 31, 2022.

Finalists for the Production Awards categories are listed below, with the finalists and recipients of Individual and Business Awards categories to be announced in 2023.

Screen Forever 37 will take place on the Gold Coast May 3-5, followed by an online global market across May 9-10.

Animated Production of the Year

  • Adventure Beast (Netflix) – Kapow Pictures.
  • Bluey (S2) (ABC) – Ludo Studio.
  • FriendZSpace (ABC) – Flying Bark Productions.
  • The Strange Chores (S2) (ABC) – Media World Pictures.

Children’s Production of the Year (excluding Animation).

  • MaveriX (ABC) – Brindle Films.
  • PM’s Daughter (ABC) – Fremantle Australia.
  • Surviving Summer (Netflix) – Werner Film Productions.
  • First Day (S2) (ABC) – Epic Films.
  • Barrumbi Kids (NITV) – Ambience Entertainment and Tamarind Tree Pictures.

Comedy Program or Series Production of the Year.

  • Upright (S2) (Foxtel and Binge) – Lingo Pictures.
  • Aftertaste (S2) (ABC) – Closer Productions.
  • Rosehaven (S5) (ABC) – Guesswork Television.
  • Colin From Accounts (Foxtel and BINGE) – Easy Tiger Productions.
  • Frayed (S2) (ABC) – Guesswork Television and Merman.

Documentary Series Production of the Year.

  • And We Danced (ABC) – WildBear Entertainment.
  • Old People’s Home for Teenagers (ABC) – Endemol Shine Australia.
  • Miriam Margolyes Australia Unmasked (ABC) – Southern Pictures.
  • People’s Republic of Mallacoota (ABC) – Renegade Films (Australia).
  • Muster Dogs (ABC) – Ambience Entertainment.

Drama Series Production of the Year.

  • Heartbreak High (Netflix) Fremantle Australia.
  • Bump (S2) (Stan) – Roadshow Rough Diamond.
  • The Twelve (Foxtel and BINGE) – Easy Tiger Productions and Warner Bros. International Television Production Australia.
  • Firebite (ABC) – See-Saw Films.
  • Mystery Road: Origin (ABC) – Bunya Productions.
  • Significant Others (ABC) – Fremantle Australia.
  • Troppo (ABC) – EQ Media and Beyond International.
  • Love Me (Foxtel and BINGE) – Warner Bros. International Television Production Australia and Aquarius Films.

Entertainment Production of the Year.

  • Grand Designs Australia (S10) (Foxtel/Lifestyle) – Fremantle Australia.
  • Gogglebox Australia (S16) (Network 10) – Endemol Shine Australia.
  • Tomorrow Tonight (S2) (ABC) – Thinkative Television.
  • The ABC of (ABC) Guesswork Television.
  • Question Everything (S2) (ABC) – Cordell Jigsaw Productions.

Online Series Production of the Year.

  • Latecomers (SBS) Mad Ones Films and Lazy Susan Films.
  • Black As (ABC) – Totem Global.
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Grief (SBS) – KOJO Studios.
  • Krystal Klairvoyant (TikTok) – Example Content.
  • Superwog (ABC) – Century Artists.

Reality Series Production of the Year.

  • The Great Australian Bake Off (S5) (Foxtel) – BBC Studios Australia.
  • The Bridge (Paramount+ and Network 10) – Endemol Shine Australia.
  • Australia’s Got Talent (S10) (Seven Network) – Fremantle Australia.
  • Farmer Wants A Wife (S12) (Seven Network) – Fremantle Australia.
  • Real Housewives of Melbourne (S5) (Foxtel) – Matchbox Pictures.

Telemovie or Miniseries Production of the Year.

  • Christmas Ransom (Stan) – Every Cloud Productions.
  • Bali 2002 (9 Network and Stan) – Endemol Shine Australia.
  • Barons (ABC) – The Two Jons and Fremantle Australia.
  • Savage River (ABC) – Aquarius Films.
  • True Colours (NITV and SBS) – Bunya Productions.


Feature Documentary Production of the Year.

  • We Were Once Kids – Resolution Media.
  • Ithaka: The Fight To Free Julian Assange – Shipton House.
  • Our African Roots – Chemical Media.
  • Watandar, My Countryman – Light Sound Art Film.
  • Incarceration Nation – Bent3Land Productions.
  • Girl Like You – Rush Films.
  • Unseen Skies – In Films.
  • Under the Volcano – Rush Films.

Feature Film Production of the Year.

  • The Drover’s Wife – The Legend of Molly Johnson – Oombarra Productions and Bunya Productions.
  • Here Out West – Co-Curious.
  • The Power of the Dog – See-Saw Films.
  • The Stranger – See-Saw Films and Blue-Tongue Films.
  • Sissy Arcadia.
  • Gold – Deeper Water Films.
  • How to Please A Woman – Feisty Dame Productions and Such Much Films.
  • Interceptor – Ambience Entertainment.


Games, XR and Immersive Media Production of the Year.

  • Sorella’s Story – Soul Vision Films.
  • Lustration – New Canvas.
  • Reflections Of Iwanoff – Frame Labs.


Short Film Production of the Year.

  • Unlimited Ducks – LateNite Films.
  • Mate – October Media.
  • When The Sky Was Blue – Jacaranda Pictures.
  • Wirnitj Komixx Entertainment.
  • MumLife – Claudia Shephard.
  • Voice Activated – Mad Ones Films and Spaceboy Productions.
The 2023 participants of Screenworks Career Pathways Programs.

An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It shortlisted for Academy Award

Lachlan Pendragon’s stop-motion short An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It is one of 15 films in contention for this year’s Short Film Animation Academy Award after being selected as part of the category’s shortlist.

Made while Pendragon was at Griffith Film School, the film follows a young telemarketer who receives a disconcerting revelation about the world from a flightless bird. He must put aside his dwindling toaster sales and focus on convincing his colleagues of his terrifying discovery.

It’s not the first time The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science has recognised the project, which won a Gold medal at the Student Academy Awards in October.

Short Film Animation was one of ten categories to have its shortlist revealed ahead of the 95th Academy Awards, joining Documentary Feature Film, Documentary Short Film, International Feature Film, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Live Action Short Film, and Sound and Visual Effects.

Vale Tony Barry, celebrated film and television actor

Film and television actor Tony Barry, known for his roles in Kiwi comedy Goodbye Pork Pie and drama series The Time of Our Lives, has died following a long battle with illness. He was 81.

In a post published on Facebook, New Zealand filmmaker Gaylene Preston, who directed Barry in 2010’s Home by Christmas, confirmed his passing, describing him as “one of a kind”.

“A fierce fighter for the underdog, working for indigenous rights and as part of rehabilitation programmes in the justice system and for the environment,” she wrote.

“He considered himself an honourary Kiwi being the only Australian to feature on a NZ postage stamp for his role in Goodbye Pork Pie.”

Born in Ipswich, Queensland, Barry made his screen debut in 1968 on an episode of Skippy.

He went on to amass more than 150 acting credits across film and television throughout the next five and a half decades, appearing in the likes of The Box and Matlock Police on the small screen, as well as features, such as Ken Hannam’s Break of Day, Terry Bourke’s Little Boy Lost, Phillip Noyce’s Newsfront, John Laing’s Beyond Reasonable Doubt and Baz Luhrmann’s Australia.

His last screen role was as Gramps in Gracie Otto’s musical comedy Seriously Red.

Barry was diagnosed with melanoma in 2007.

Creatives selected for Screenworks’ Career Pathways Programs

Thirteen regional directors, producers, and screenwriters from NSW and Queensland have been selected for Screenworks’ 2023 Career Pathways Programs.

Expanded to include regional Queensland for the first time, the three initiatives — Inside The Writers Room, Director Pathways Program, and Regional Producer Elevator Program — are funded by Screen Queensland and Screen NSW with support from Fremantle Media.

Jahvis Loveday and Ela Furdas from the Northern Rivers region will be joined by Townsville-based Robert Crispe and Cairns’ Ashleigh Lawrence for the Regional Producer Elevator Program, receiving $3,500 each to support their professional development, while also being invited to attend the Screenworks Regional to Global Screen Forum in March and the 37th Screen Forever to be held on the Gold Coast in May.

The contingent for the Director Pathways Program comprises Bellingen-based Matty Hannon, Newcastle-based Claire Pasvolsky, Cairns’ Angela Heathcote, and Aaron Lendon from Coes Creek in regional Queensland. They will also be provided with $3,500 to implement their career development programs and be supported by the Australian Directors’ Guild with guidance, advice, and industry introductions.

Five regional NSW and Queensland screenwriters have been selected for Inside The Writers Room, in which participants observe a professional writing team working on a television drama production. Of this year’s group, Kimberley Wells from Central Coast will head to EQ Media, Shane Salvador from Tamworth joins Fremantle Media, Emma Myers from Pokolbin is the Goalpost Pictures selection, Ben Southwell from Townsville will sit in at Wooden Horse, and Shideh Faramand from Toowoomba will learn from Tony Ayres Productions.

The selection panels for the three Career Pathways Programs were made up of representatives from program partners, industry bodies, guilds, and independent assessors.