Insiders Say Screen Australia Cuts will “Decimate” the Local Film Industry

The Australian film industry is facing some serious cuts in the upcoming budget, with Screen Australia set to have its funding slashed by up to half.

Thanks to the high Aussie dollar, overseas spending on productions within Australia has fallen in recent years. Though Australian studios enjoy a good reputation, and the country offers a wealth of beautiful filming locations, our move towards parity with the US dollar has made filming here a more expensive proposition, and overseas productions are less likely to bring their business to our shores.

With this in mind, the National Commission of Audit recommended that Screen Australia’s funding, which was $110 million for 2013-2014, be cut in half. The audit suggested that Screen Australia should move its focus towards supporting films with “areas of Australian content, including those with an historical perspective that might not otherwise be funded.”
Emile Sherman, the producer of such films as Tracks and The King’s Speech, spoke out against the proposed cuts, saying that they would “decimate” an industry that’s already teetering on the brink. With international investments already on the decline, Sherman said that the cuts would lead many local producers to simply “pack up.”

“Screen Australia is absolutely essential to any Australian film being made,” Sherman said. He added that there is almost no example of any “decent size” Australian film being made without the body. “It’s always difficult to get films made but the reality is SA is needed as that final piece to get films over the line,” he added.

The Commission of Audit also recommended putting an end to the International Films Incentive Payments program, which has handed out $20 million incentives to films like Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken to film in Australia. Insiders are worried that the cuts will lead to the loss of highly-skilled jobs in an industry that contributes $3 billion annually to the economy.

The camels from Tracks could not be reached for comment but I’m assuming they’re pooping and spitting indignantly at the news.

Photo: Don Arnold via Getty Images