In a significant change to the way it delivers services to clients, the Australian Film Commission (AFC) has announced the formation of an integrated Film Development and Marketing Branch.
The AFC also has announced revised Development and Production Guidelines for 1999/2000 which include a new General Development Investment fund aimed primarily at assisting producers to develop a slate of feature film or documentary projects, and an Attachment Scheme which will provide opportunities for producers to work overseas in the script development and creative management of feature films.
The new Film Development and Marketing Branch will provide an integrated approach to the development and marketing activities of the AFC.
"The new structure will allow for improved and more informed decision making with regard to development and will encourage emerging producers to engage directly with the marketplace. It will also allow financial resources to be reallocated away from administration and into expanded Film Development and Marketing programs," said AFC Chief Executive Kim Dalton.
Additional initiatives of the Film Development and Marketing Branch will include increased in-bound visits from key international festival directors, an expanded program of marketing seminars for emerging filmmakers preparing to travel to international markets and festivals and, in addition to an AFC staff presence at markets and festivals, improved facilitation of producers at these events.
The AFC will develop a program of targeted international events to platform and profile Australian films and filmmakers including documentaries, upgrade its website to provide detailed information about festivals and markets, and improve collection and dissemination of statistics and other information about the international performance of Australian short films.
An expanded cashflow facility will provide fast track funding for features and documentary projects which have secured the support of the FFC and/or broadcasters subject to further development work.
The new General Development Investment program provides experienced and developing producers and, in exceptional circumstances, writers/directors with funds of up to $70,000 to develop feature film and documentary projects. Funding will be available for both the general on-going and project-specific costs associated with developing one or more films. Funding will be applicant-linked, rather than project-linked, and assessment will focus primarily on the applicant's track record and current career path.
The new Attachment Scheme will provide funding of up to $15,000 to producers who wish to work on attachment to an overseas production company, studio writer or script consultant or attend overseas script-based courses or workshops.
Continuing activities of the Film Development and Marketing Branch include a Project Development Program, which will provide funding to features and documentaries for script and project development, research and the securing of production financing and a Professional Development Production Program providing funding to features, shorts, experimental projects, animation and documentaries. The New Screenwriters Scheme will continue through 2000.
The AFC will also continue to provide marketing loans to assist producers with the production of key marketing materials and travel grants and loans to directors, lead actors and producers to enable them to attend international markets and festivals.
Project Managers will assist filmmakers to develop marketing strategies and will deal directly with filmmakers requiring financial assistance for travel and other international marketing activities. This approach is consistent with services offered by the State film funding agencies.
The AFC will also maintain a staff presence and provide facilities and support to Australian producers and filmmakers at a number of key international events annually including MIP, Cannes, MIPCOM and AFM, and will continue to manage the annual Cannes Film Festival selection preview process.
The marketing services unit within the Film Development and Marketing Branch will consist of four staff including the Manager International Market Development. Three positions will be based in Sydney and the fourth at the AFC's Melbourne office.
"Over the past 20 years the AFC's Marketing Branch has played a critical role in promoting awareness internationally of Australian film. But the time has come to look at ways in which the AFC can better direct its activities. Over the past decade we've seen the creation of the FFC, the formation of locally based international sales companies, the development of strong links between producers and overseas based sales companies, local representation by overseas players, international investment in local production and the expansion internationally of a number of Australian companies," Kim Dalton said.
"This environment has led to the growth of a more sophisticated body of producers, assisted by a higher volume of visits from established international players. In addition, there have been significant developments in information and communications technology which allow for different approaches to the collection and dissemination of information and market intelligence.
"The new Guidelines also are an expression of the AFC's commitment to the central role of producers in the Australian film and television industry.
"The formation of the integrated Film Development and Marketing Branch in tandem with the new Development and Production Guidelines heralds an exciting time at the AFC. This new structure enhances the AFC's ability to provide a sound basis for the future creative and commercial success of our industry," Kim Dalton said.
The AFC anticipates an additional $750,000 available to program funds in 2000/2001 as a result of its restructure and the integration of the Film Development and Marketing Branches.