Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason has flagged an increase in development investment from next month in order to help the industry weather the coronavirus crisis, and the agency is looking at how it can enhance other industry support measures.
In a letter to industry published on the Screen Australia website, Mason wrote: “This time of industry struggle will pass, and when it does the global hunger for content will be great and the need for productions will be large. We want to support Australian creators to be ready for that moment. We are also aware that sources of funding are severely limited at this time. As such from April 2020 we will be focusing on increasing our development investment.
“Our goal will be to get projects that are in advanced development and already have market interest, production ready. This should enable producers, writers, directors, showrunners, and some crew to be collectively engaged in an intensive development process. We will be looking initially at how we can back projects that can have the most impact to assist the broader sector.”
Mason also sought to once again reassure creatives that Screen Australia is open and continuing to process applications, with funding rounds continuing as normal. However, development placements can obviously not proceed at this time.
Screen Australia also held an emergency board meeting this week to agree what resources could be available to assist active productions now in hiatus – all Screen Australia-funded projects that were in active shoot have stopped as of Monday, and anything due to shoot imminently has been delayed.
“Over the past fortnight our immediate focus has been working with these productions one-by-one to ensure they were in the best possible position to go on hiatus and able to continue shooting later in the year,” said Mason.
Screen Australia is also working with the Office of the Arts to prepare an industry support directory.
Signing off, Mason said: “I am aware of the deep emotional and financial pain many in our industry are facing. I’ve been in this business a long time, and I have never witnessed such hardship, and for that I want to say I’m incredibly sorry. For the country that made the world’s first feature film, our resilience is undeniably being tested.
“Screen Australia will continue to evolve our response to how we best deal with the existing and upcoming issues that COVID-19 has wrought on sector. Be assured we are working closely with our industry partners to provide support and assistance.”
“If I can offer you any certainty at this time, I want to once again give you my assurance Screen Australia remains open for business.”