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Australian Screen Producers Look To International Opportunities For Business Growth

Research exploring the growth opportunities for the Australian screen industry, conducted by Screen Producers Australia, has revealed a radical transformation in the producer landscape over the past decade with producers increasingly positioning their businesses in the global marketplace for screen content. 

Executive Director of Screen Producers Australia, Matthew Deaner, said that, like never before, the world is looking to Australia for creativity and innovation in screen content.

Shows such as Rake, The Dr. Blake Mysteries, Dance Academy and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries are being snapped up and marketed very successfully across the globe from the US, to Argentina, to France, while shows including Secrets and Lies, Laid, Moody Christmas and Review with Myles Barlow are being re-versioned for international markets including the US, often with their Australian originators in the creative hot seat.  At the same time, the recent success of films such as The Rover, The Railway Man, The Great Gatsby, 52 Tuesdays and The Babadook at the Box Office and at major festivals combined with record numbers of films being released internationally shows a new buoyancy in the feature arena.

“There’s a level of optimism in the screen industry matched by virtually no other Australian industry and we can put that down to the sheer entrepreneurial acumen of our producers and screen creatives and their confidence in dealing on a world stage,” said Mr Deaner said.

Maintaining business confidence has been a central theme in a series of initiatives led by Screen Producers Australia this year which are aimed at setting the policy agenda for the next decade and beyond.

Notably, the recent Screen Producers Australia’s National Roadshow shared findings from its Annual Business Survey and gave a comprehensive overview of the industry’s strategic priorities: the need for responsive market-driven incentives; stronger oversight and modernization of commercial foundations; support for public broadcasting; the nurturing of innovative distribution and commissioning opportunities; and, the need to increase our foreign engagement.

The survey found that 76% of the businesses believed their business would grow over the coming year, withmost businesses looking to the global market for production and distribution partners, for both their creative and financial objectives. Forty-eight percent are actively seeking international investment in their companies and a staggering 76% are actively developing co-productions.

“Our research has revealed a compelling story. The new reality is that our producers are increasingly entrepreneurial and engaged in the international marketplace. This is an imperative to ensure business growth,” Mr Deaner said. 

“Our international focus will become even more important as Australian producers seek to broaden their funding and distribution base. Confidence comes from a stable business environment and, in our industry, this is affected to a large degree by government policy interventions. These Government mechanisms are working, but ongoing review and refinement is important to ensure they continue to help producers capitalise on market opportunities and support business growth

Screen Producers Australia’s initiatives also included a recent high-level think-tank policy forum held in Sydney during May, moderated by the St James Ethics Centre Executive Director Simon Longstaff, and attended by more than 50 senior representatives of screen businesses, broadcasters, distributors, financiers and other industry creatives. 

Later this month, Screen Producers Australia will also host its annual Screen Stories screening and policy breakfast for political and industry leaders in Canberra.

“Screen Producers are realistic about the pressures evident in the recent Federal Budget, however we need to be mindful that it is the framework of our local incentives and Government support levers that enable us to drive international engagement which pays an economic, cultural and diplomatic dividend to the Australian community,” Mr Deaner said.

Mr Deaner said that Screen Producers Australia is supporting many international efforts, including recently inking a Memorandum of Understanding with Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television in the UK as well as the Canadian Media Production Association. This builds on Screen Producers Australia existing agreement with the Producers Guild of America in the US.

"Each year at Cannes, Berlin, London, SXSW, Kidscreen and Shanghai (to name a few) Screen Producers Australia organises member-only initiatives and forums at the major festivals targeted at enhancing opportunities in the international market. Membership of associations, including the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), has provided further exclusive opportunities for future collaborations,” Mr Deaner said.

“Screen Producers Australia will also continue to pursue coordinated ways of working with AusFilm, Screen Australia, AusTrade and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as we seek to strike a balance between industry-led initiatives and Government supported events.

Mr Deaner said it was important to consider the critical role of strategic, targeted Government interventions in building a strong and optimistic industry that contributes substantially to Australia’s economic wellbeing and cultural life.  

“As Screen Producers Australia returns to Canberra on June 17 for its annual Screen Stories breakfast meeting with industry and political leaders, we firmly have in the frame consideration of the local content standard, a strengthening of the successful Producer Offset and the impact of cuts to the ABC and Screen Australia,” he said.

"Australian producers bullish, looking offshore" Karl Quinn, The Age, 4 June 2014

"Most local filmmakers confident about future, despite budget cuts" Michael Bodey, The Australian, 2 June 2014

"International opportunities high on producers' agenda, SPA reveals" Emily Blatchford, Inside Film, 2 June 2014