About 100 people attended a forum in Adelaide last night to express support for emerging filmmakers and SA’s Media Resource Centre following the axing of federal funding.
Screen Australia announced in July that from 2016 it would end its support for the national Screen Network through which programs are run to help emerging filmmakers enter the industry. For the MRC, the move will mean the loss of around $276,000 a year, or 23 per cent of its annual turnover.
Director Gail Kovatseff said last night’s forum at the Mercury Cinema was “very constructive”, attracting emerging and established filmmakers, as well as representatives of the SA Film Corporation and Adelaide Film Festival.
“There was strong support for the continuation of the Media Resource Centre as an important part of the landscape,” she said.
The MRC outlined its perspective on the cuts, which Kovatseff said would result in a drastic reduction in the number of opportunities for emerging filmmakers to create short films, documentaries and webisodes. The loss of funding will make it more difficult for all Screen Network organisations to provide subsidised equipment, advice, professional development and mentoring opportunities.
“Support for them [emerging filmmakers] is being withdrawn and where support is being maintained strongly is in the established sector,” Kovatseff told InDaily.
“The emerging sector from what Screen Australia understands it to be and what we understand it to be is very different. To get one of its enterprise funding opportunities, you will already be well on your way.”
During a recent visit to Adelaide to speak about the broad changes being made at Screen Australia, CEO Graeme Mason indicated there would be no back-down on the decision to end support for the Screen Network group of organisations, which effectively seek to provide a bridge between tertiary training and the professional film and television industries.
The federal budget saw Screen Australia suffer an 8 per cent cut in its core funding, and the Screen Network members say 30 per cent of the savings have been made by targeting the emerging sector. They fear this will have a far-reaching impact on the future of the country’s screen industry.
“Screen Australia has made it clear that this is not a performance issue, so it can only reflect the priority of the emerging sector in the thinking of the federal funding agency,” said Christina Alvarez, chair of the Screen Network.
Last night’s MRC forum in Adelaide was held at the same time as similar meetings by Screen Network bodies in Hobart, Sydney and Perth.
“The issue is, does Screen Australia have the mandate to walk away from emerging filmmakers? I think that’s a question that still needs to be answered,” Kovatseff said.
“I think it’s a fair question for the young creative industries … and I think a lot of reasoning behind the cuts needs interrogation.”
Meanwhile, she said the Adelaide forum provided encouragement for the MRC to canvass a range of options to secure its future, ranging from reducing services and evolving into a screen incubation centre, to seeking more partnership funding or private-sector support. Some of the ideas will be further investigated with the SA Film Corporation.
“We have to work with them to decide what we do in this space to ensure we have a supply of talented filmmakers in the future,” Kovatseff said.