Screen News in Brief: Big Issues, Small Windows, Some light gets in

Our fortnightly wrap of ideas, announcements, opportunities and stories.

Losses, shutdowns and local content quotas waived

  • Screen Producers Australia (SPA) has announced updated survey results on the impact of COVID-19, saying the pandemic has forced suspension or postponement of 119 screen productions, resulting in a loss to the production sector of $471 million. The survey found losses of $20 million in export revenue, bringing the total to nearly $100 million and estimating total damage to the sector of more than $2 million, affecting more than 30,000 employees, freelancers and contractors.
  • Small bits of good news were there in amongst the bad, with SPA noting that some work continues to be made in genres like children’s animation, light entertainment, documentaries and potentially drama, and that, ‘there are many hours of content already produced and awaiting release on broadcasters and distributor’s shelves.’
  • SPA has also called on the Federal Government to create a $1 billion Screen Content Fund for recovery, and launched a partnership with the Australian Made Campaign with its very recognisable green logo now able to be used on homegrown screen content.
  • The Federal Government has given tax breaks to free-to-air commercial broadcasters. In addition, they will not be required to honour their obligations on local drama, documentary, children’s and preschool programming for the rest of the year. Subscription TV will also not have to obey its expenditure conditions on new eligible drama until the end of 2020. This loss of expenditure will make recovery very difficult and potentially alter the Australian television landscape forever. This is huge.
  • Regional media get COVID-19 lifeline from a Federal Government package, but ABC and SBS remain in peril
  • On Wednesday April 15, the Commonwealth of Australia released ‘Supporting Australian Stories on our Screens –  Options Paper’ outlining four broad options for the future. Read our analysis on what these options are, who wants what, and why it matters so much. Responses can be made during the official consultation period until 12 June.
  • The Federal Government has ordered decisive regulation of the big Internet companies. There’s a lot at stake around Google, Facebook and the other social media companies. Is the battle real? Is democracy at stake? Is this just Murdoch rampant?

Agency Update


  • SPA and AFTRS are running a two-day intensive online Screen Business Essentials course on May 26-27. You can download the course outline (PDF) to see the nitty-gritty of what’s covered and the experts involved.
  • Screen Queensland is offering fully subsidised online consultations with local experts for Queensland writers with film, television and online projects in development. A new Creative Consultations round will open for submissions every month in 2020, with the first round closing tomorrow, Friday 24 April 2020.
  • The Screen Culture V-Fest Initiative, aimed at supporting screen culture events (new and existing) that are seeking to pivot, create, develop and deliver a virtual screen festival in the next 6 to 12 months, primarily for Queensland-based audiences. The V-Fest Initiative will offer five (5) grants of up to $10,000 and applications close at 5pm on Friday 22 May 2020. 
  • Screenwest is calling for applications for the reimagined West Coast Visions program, a long-running industry talent development and production program for low budget features to be produced in WA. Applications close Monday 11 May 2020. 
  • In a canny audience engagement strategy the Classic, Lido and Cameo Cinemas in Melbourne and Sydney’s Ritz Cinemas are encouraging patrons to ‘create while they hibernate’ and submit short films to be part of the inaugural Isolation Film Festival 2020. Films of up to three minutes must be made specifically for the festival and abide by government self-isolation rules. Prizes up for grabs include cash ($1000 for the winner of the 18 and over category, $500 for the winner of the U18 category) and a golden ticket valid for a year of free cinema tickets valid from when the cinemas do re-open. Every single valid entrant receives a double pass. Filmmakers can head to the Facebook event or the cinema websites for full details. Submissions accepted up until 11.59pm on Monday 4 May, 2020. Short-listed films will be posted on the cinemas’ social media channels and the winners of each category will be announced online on Saturday 9 May, 2020.


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