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The two short films selected for Cannes, Fetch and I Want You, both received direct investment from the AFC. Fetch received script development and post-production funding and marks the directing debut for Lynn-Maree Danzey, the first foray into drama for producer Susan MacKinnon and the first short film for writer Judi McCrossin. I Want You, recipient of three Tropfest Awards including Best Screenplay and Best Actress, received an AFC post-production grant.
The short film Two/Out, based on the Jim McNeil play Jack about two prisoners sharing a cell, was fully funded by the AFC. Directed by Kriv Stenders and produced by Catherine Kerr, Two/Out was selected to screen at the 1998 Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival. Kriv is now developing his first feature film as director.
Radiance, from first-time feature director Rachel Perkins, was launched in the market at Cannes 1998 and closed the 1998 Sydney Film Festival, winning the audience Best Feature vote. AFC support enabled Rachel to take the step from short films and documentaries to features. The AFC previously funded her to direct From the Bush, a documentary in the From Spirit to Spirit series screened on SBS-TV.
Through producer, writer, director and script editing Fellowships under the Distinctly Australian Initiative from 1993-94 to 1996-97, the AFC provided established screen practitioners with the opportunity to develop their projects and advance their professional skills.
Assisted by a Distinctly Australian Fellowship, producer Martha Coleman and director John Curran completed development on the feature film Praise and it went into production in early 1998. Praise is a good example of the AFC's long-term engagement with teams of filmmakers. The AFC provided finance for script development beginning in 1996. At the same time the AFC provided John with the opportunity to make his short film Down Rusty Down. It is worth noting that Praise will be the first produced script from writer Andrew McGahan, based on his Australian/Vogel Literary Award-winning novel.
The process of creative risk-taking to further the careers of filmmakers continues strongly with the feature films Fresh Air and A Wreck, A Tangle, the first two films to be approved by the AFC and SBS Independent under the low-budget feature accord now known as Million Dollar Movies.
Fresh Air was funded by the AFC under the very first round of the New Screenwriters Scheme in 1995. The AFC appointed Kiss or Kill director Bill Bennett as mentor to new screenwriter Neil Mansfield. The producer was Rosemary Blight and the AFC subsequently provided further script development investment and earlier this year invested in the production of the film, which was taking place as this report was prepared.
The AFC's long-term commitment to the project has allowed Neil Mansfield to make the crossover from writing to directing, while continuing to support producer Rosemary Blight's career through two Distinctly Australian Producer Fellowships. Rosemary has now produced several films in which the AFC has been an investor either at development or production stage or both. She was producer of the documentary Hatred, fully funded by the AFC and the feature Mary, which received development and cashflow finance. Rosemary's most recent film, In the Winter Dark, directed by James Bogle, opened this year's Sydney Film Festival.
The AFC has had a similar involvement with A Wreck, A Tangle, assisting with script development finance at treatment stage and on through to production, which will commence later this year. The director-writer team of Scott Patterson and John O'Brien had previously received AFC support for the short films Lessons in the Language of Love and Pact. A Wreck, A Tangle is the first feature film for Scott and John, as well as for the producer Nicki Roller (who was line producer on Gregor Jordan's AFC-funded short film Stitched). Scott's next feature project has already received AFC script development funds.
There has been a contraction of funds committed to development over the past three to four years, from $1,534,000 in 1995-96 to $1,201,920 in 1997-98.
Spending on cinema feature development has decreased by $125,600 to $943,192 since 1995-96 while documentary funding has decreased by $15,830. These funds now represent a bare minimum at which deserving projects can be supported at a useful level of investment. Development funding for telemovies, series, shorts/experimental and animation was discontinued in 1997-98.
While the AFC's commitment to originality and creativity remains undiminished, it is overlaid by a concern that projects in which it invests find audiences and deliver the maximum benefit to filmmakers and to Australian screen culture.
Page last updated 12th January 1999