WA-shot (clockwise) ‘Mystery Road,’ ‘Thalu,’ ‘100% Wolf,’ ‘The Heights’ and ‘Itch’.

The Western Australian screen industry has already lost more than $1 million in revenue with nearly 2,700 job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s according to the initial findings of Screenwest’s WA screen industry COVID-19 impact survey.

If the crisis is prolonged, the study estimates the total loss of income to September 2020 at $7 million. The estimated current loss of income is $1.096 million with 2,676 job losses.

In 2018/2019 Screenwest’s funding triggered a 12 per cent spike in production in the state. CEO Peter ‘Willie’ Rowe tells IF: “The second half of this year was looking really strong for the sector, both in documentary and drama, before COVID-19.”

Head of production and development Matt Horrocks says: “Once we come out the other side of the pandemic and people are starting to push go on productions and it ramps up really quickly, it’s going to be really crazy.

“We’re looking at how we can manage that effectively with no uncertainty as to when it will be resolved.”

The WA government is expected to unveil imminently a substantial support package for the sector.

In response to the crisis and the suspension of theatrical distribution, the agency has amended the current round of the Feature Track: Scripted Development Fund to include all scripted feature-length projects regardless of the intended distribution platform.

Feature-length projects must be destined for broadcast/distribution to an Australian audience and have a clear strategy on the intended audience and distribution platform. The deadline for submission for this round has been extended to Monday April 6.

Anticipating the need for production companies to focus on developing new and current factual projects, the deadline for applications for the Documentary Development Investment Fund has been extended by two weeks to Tuesday April 14.

Through this round, applicants may be offered up to a maximum of $25,000 per application.

‘Aussie Gold Hunters.’

Among the WA-based productions affected by the shutdown are Blueback, Robert Connolly’s feature film adaptation of Tim Winton’s novel, which was due to start pre-production mid-year, supported by Screenwest, the Western Australian Regional Film Fund, Screen Australia and Film Victoria; and Jub Clerc’s coming-of-age movie Sweet As, to be produced by Arenamedia’s Liz Kearney with funding from Screenwest’s West Coast Visions initiative.

Still shooting are season 5 of Electric Pictures’ Aussie Gold Hunters for Discovery and the eighth series of Prospero Productions’ Outback Opal Hunters and Outback Truckers .

Also continuing is the initiative from Screenwest, Pink Pepper Productions, Ramu Productions and Kiwi company Brown Sugar Apple Grunt to enable eight WA Indigenous female writer-directors to develop an anthology feature film (working title RED) that will explore the impact of missing Indigenous women from a female Aboriginal perspective.

However a workshop that was intended to be held in April as part of the selection process is on hold. The intention was to go into production in late 2020, with each creative writing and directing a 10-minute short on that theme.

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