SAFC names Courtney Gibson as CEO

Courtney Gibson.

The South Australian Film Corporation’s incoming CEO Courtney Gibson is determined to boost screen production in the state, including getting a bigger share of the nation’s TV series output.

“I want to build capacity, have a multiplicity of voices and to try to grow the sector to deliver more jobs,” Gibson told IF today.

The former CEO of Screen NSW and ABC, Nine Network, Southern Star and SBS executive, she starts on April 3, succeeding Annabelle Sheehan, who now heads the New Zealand Film Commission.

Gibson said SA has never been better positioned since moving to a 100 per cent grant model, removing the funding cap for drama production in both TV and features and introducing an uncapped, non-discretionary 10 per cent PDV rebate to be used in conjunction with the 30 per cent federal PDV Offset.

The SAFC received a tad over $6 million from the State government in 2017-18 but can also seek additional funding on a project-by-project basis.

Sophie Hyde’s SAFC-backed comedy Animals is now shooting in Dublin, Screentime’s Pine Gap is underway in SA and Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding will soon go into production. Funding for several projects will be announced soon.

Last year the agency supported Antony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai, Grant Sputore’s I Am Mother, Marion Pilowsky’s The Call Back, Shawn Seet’s Storm Boy, Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale and Screentime/Emu Creek Pictures’ Wolf Creek 2.

Gibson collaborated with South Australian filmmakers when she was commissioning editor for documentaries at SBS Independent and as head of arts, entertainment and comedy at the ABC. During her time at Screen NSW the agency co-funded Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling’s Cargo with the SAFC.

“I know the sector up to a point and am looking forward to completely immersing myself, including travelling to regional areas to see practitioners who live outside Adelaide and to check on locations,” she said.

One of her first tasks will be to review the agency’s existing programs and to figure out which should continue and whether new programs should be added.

She is looking forward to working with the state’s new Premier Steven Marshall, who showed his interest in the arts by taking responsibility for that portfolio.

SAFC chair John Hill said: “South Australia is proud to have attracted someone of Courtney Gibson’s calibre. She has a proven track record in delivering industry growth, securing local and international production and launching agenda-setting initiatives, all of which result in jobs and economic impact.“

At Screen NSW she significantly increased levels of production in the state, attracted numerous international film and TV projects, introduced a gender equity initiative and a Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality development program.

Last year Gibson spent seven months as MD of Jungle, working with CEO Jason Burrows. She departed at the end of the year after realising the structure was top heavy but believes she succeeded in broadening the production company’s remit by putting three TV drama series into development.

“I left on good terms; we remain friends,” she said.