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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


Overview

The Australian film and television sector has, over the past year, demonstrated further evidence of consolidation and growth. The AFC's biennial report on Australian film, television and video data, Get the Picture, published in October 1994 and the National Survey of Feature Film and Independent TV Drama Production [1993-94] released in November provided evidence of Australian films achieving critical acclaim and commercial success at the box office and in video release in Australian and overseas markets. Australian television drama and documentaries were increasingly successful in achieving international broadcasting sales. There was also strong support for locally produced programs with Australian television audiences.

Nonetheless, it is also clear, after more than two decades of significant public sector Australian screen cultural support, and as the AFC marks its 20th year of operation, that the key to ensuring the continued development of Australian screen culture is the effective cooperation of public sector initiatives with the private sector.

An understanding of the developing structure of Australian screen culture, the impact of converging and new technologies and local and international market developments have been part of AFC policy development during 1994-95, especially via the AFC's strategic planning process. Emphasis was placed on developing cultural objectives that provide continued support for the Australian film and television industries and increased support for multimedia development, in a rapidly changing audio-visual environment.


Lessons in the Language of Love was written by John O'Brien and produced and directed by Scott Patterson. It received post-production investment from the AFC and was in the Short Film Competition at Cannes in 1995.

During the year Indigenous actor and playwright Bob Maza and writer and producer David Parker were appointed as AFC Commissioners and Liz Mullinar and Laura Jones were reappointed to the Commission.

In August 1994 the AFC moved to new premises at 150 William St. Woolloomooloo.

Creative Nation, released on 18 October, provided an important articulation of the central role of screen culture within a national policy framework. The audio-visual sector received specific support with the establishment of a Commercial Television Production Fund worth $60 million over three years and $13 million over 4 years to SBS.

With the first funding of $5.25 million allocated in Creative Nation to the AFC over 4 years, multimedia programs were considerably expanded with new initiatives in Industry and Cultural Development, Research and Information and policy research.

During 1994-95 new AFC film, television and multimedia project development and production guidelines and more flexible investment policy for narrative drama were developed. Indigenous screen culture support received increased support with the development of the Indigenous Drama Initiative, the Hidden Pictures Touring Exhibition and the Indigenous Employment Strategy.


Research

The second phase of a substantial research paper, Filmmaking and Film Culture in Australia: Development and Renewal occurred during 1994-95. This paper examines the processes of selection and development of key creative personnel in the Australian film and television industry. The first phase of the project involved surveying the career paths and educational backgrounds of 199 randomly selected AFI Award nominees. Interviews were also conducted with representatives of production houses, government agencies and community organisations involved in identification and development of creative personnel.

The current phase of the project involves analysis of the major findings of the survey, discussing the relationship between formal and informal learning and skills development. It will also summarise the work cultures that make up career paths in the film industry. The study provides an opportunity to analyse the effect of policies designed to support industry infrastructure.

Initial findings based on the research were presented by the project consultant, Annabelle Sheehan, at a Cultural Policy-State of the Art Conference in Brisbane on 29 June 1995.

The AFC participated with the Australia Council, Department of Communication and the Arts and the New South Wales Film and Television Office in funding Entertainment Business Review Pty Limited to undertake a research project entitled "Shakespeare's Fortune". The project enquires into the economics of software creation and the steps towards the creation of an intellectual property capital market. In particular, it considers the pattern of risk in reward sharing and the operation of the capital markets for intellectual property and other intangible assets.

The AFC commissioned the Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] to prepare data on Australian Balance of Payments for film and television royalties. This information was published in AFC News in April 1995.


Publications

In December 1994 the AFC commissioned a report by MDMD Multimedia Consultancy on multimedia developments in Australia. Rather than being a detailed analysis of the sector, the report provides an introduction to the multimedia area presenting key issues for future consideration. Multimedia Developments in Australia looks at prospective industry developments over the next 2 to 3 years focusing primarily on multimedia on disc rather than on-line or wireless technologies. It provides an outline of the emerging infrastructure of the interactive multimedia business identifying the need for information sharing, knowledge creation and skills development if prospective multimedia content creators are to successfully engage in this rapidly developing area.

Based on published sources and recent research it provides information on multimedia terminology, the shape and size of the existing Australian market, developments among content owners, finance and government support and business models, strategies and issues. It also provides an outline of computer software and hardware vendors, multimedia and video game producers, media companies, service providers, animation, film and television producers, distributors and other sectors of the multimedia industry.

Funding was provided to assist the publication of Media Information Australia, a quarterly journal for research and information on media, film and communications policy issues including public sector broadcasting, electronic arts and cultural policy.


Submissions

In 1994-95 the AFC presented a number of submissions to various inquiries including :


Organisations Assistance

Organisational support was provided to the Arts Law Centre of Australia, the Australian Copyright Council, the Communications Law Centre, 2 SER FM Media Magazine and the Australian Screen Directors Association. Funding was provided to assist research and related work in key areas of screen industry and cultural policy and in the development and presentation of that work to those working in film, television and multimedia industries, government and the general community. Organisations were also funded to provide information and advice to film, television and multimedia program makers on key policy issues.

Following the licensing of a number of community television stations, the AFC has provided the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia with funding for one year to develop appropriate and relevant policies for community television and to undertake research and prepare information relating to the review of the television broadcasting industry as required under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. It is also envisaged the project will include the development of a national program distribution system for community television.


Trade Policy

Following the completion of the Uruguay Round, the establishment of the World Trade Organisation to replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT] and the development of the Asian Pacific Economic Council [APEC] the AFC continued to monitor the potential impact of international trade liberalisation on Australian audio-visual services. A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade report on the outcomes of the GATT Uruguay Round notes "the Australian local content system and subsidies to film makers represent limitations on market access and national treatment from the perspective of other General Agreement on Trades in Services [GATS] members. Accordingly, Australia did not make a commitment in this sector". This means Australia has not at this time given any undertakings to liberalise our audiovisual trade relationship by reforms to local content rules or filmmaker subsidies. Australia has also taken a Most Favoured Nation [MFN] exemption to cover co-production arrangements.


Interaction with Other Bodies

The AFC consulted regularly with film and television industry associations such as the Australian Screen Directors Association, Screen Producers' Association of Australia, the Australian Writers Guild, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Australian Guild of Screen Composers; federal government departments including the departments of Communication and the Arts, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Attorney General, Industry, Science and Technology, Education, Employment and Training; state film assistance agencies and federal regulatory agencies including the Australian Broadcasting Authority.


Staffing

As at June 30 1995, Executive [including policy] employed five full-time staff.

Consultants

Consultants engaged during the year included The Rea Francis Company, Brian Sadgrove & Associates, Tracey Mair, Jennifer Stafford, MDMD Multimedia Consultancy, Entertainment Business Review Pty Limited, Annabelle Sheehan, Mary Anne Reid and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


Expenditure

Total expenditure for Policy during 1994-95 was $267,558 with a multimedia allocation of $15,000.


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