SPA CEO Matthew Deaner.

SPA CEO Matt Deaner.

The initial findings of Screen Producers Australia’s survey on the impact of COVID-19 estimate the damage to the sector is greater than $2 billion, affecting more than 20,000 employees, freelancers and contractors.

Of the 60 productions surveyed, 19 per cent were scheduled to begin production this year but have yet to commence, 24 per cent have been delayed until a set date and 37 per cent have been delayed indefinitely.

With budgets ranging from $50,000 to $50 million, SPA calculates that if production is unable to re-start in a timely fashion that means a combined budgetary total of almost $387 million is on the line: $195 million in actual spending and $192 million in estimates.

“This number is likely the tip of the iceberg as data continues to be collected and as more productions shut down or delay,” SPA says.

Other cost implications include an estimated $77 million in lost export revenue thus far in addition to the cost of lengthy re-negotiations, delayed releases and lost sales.

The damage is not restricted to producers: Services and facilities businesses, crew members, cast, publicists, sales agents, editors, cinematographers and casting directors are all taking part in the survey to help estimate the actual cost of shutdowns and delays.

SPA CEO Matt Deaner said: “The responses so far highlight that the underlying theme is one of uncertainty, with many respondents stating it is too soon to tell the full financial impact COVID-19 will have on their business and personal livelihood, while reporting what they know to date and can accurately foresee.

“We thank every person and business who has taken the time to share information with us during this difficult and confusing time.”

The productions affected were intended for release across multiple platforms including festivals, Transmission Films, Universal Pictures, Disney, Umbrella Entertainment, Studiocanal, the Australian free-to-air networks, BBC, UKTV, NBCUniversal and Nickelodeon plus streamers Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Stan and online.

SPA welcomed the measures in the government’s second $66 billion stimulus package designed to help small businesses including cash payments of up to
$100,000 and guaranteeing unsecured small business loans up to $250,000.

However that won’t go far to help the businesses and many thousands of full-time and casual workers affected by today’s closure of all cinemas and entertainment venues, registered and licensed clubs, licensed premises in hotels and pubs, casinos and nightclubs.

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