JobKeeper, JobSeeker and the cracks in between
The passing of the Federal Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper package last night still denies access to tens of thousands of freelance and casual performers and crew – and many of their employers. The MEAA, the union for arts and entertainment workers, says there is still a door open to change this, and continues to campaign for amendments to the Federal scheme as well as for state-based rescue packages for the Arts.
The Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG) has sent its members a handy update summarising the gist of the latest stimulus packages and how it applies to them. With permission we reproduce part of that detail at the end of this article.*
COVID-19 – State Agencies Respond
- Screen Queensland has announced a $3.3M support package of reallocated funding.
- SAFC lining sector up to start quickly in recovery phase. The South Australian screen sector had a Virtual Town Hall Meeting earlier this week. Here’s how it turned out.
- State Screen Agencies Respond to COVID-19. Keeping businesses afloat, fast-tracking development and priming for quick recovery are key for agencies, with smaller states like WA and Tasmania able to respond first.
Screen Australia News
- Screen Australia tips extra $2M into Premium development funding. This sees the agency shifting more funds into development for projects close to production with firm market interest.
- Three short online projects from the 2019 Digital Originals initiative will share in $65,000 of development funds from Screen Australia and SBS. A Beginner’s Guide to Grief, Freewheelers and Iggy & Ace 5eva were selected from the 10 projects workshopped last year and will now be developed further with the intention of at least one going into production for SBS On Demand.
- Screen Australia and youth media company VICE have announced Searching for the Tassie Tiger as the winner of the annual pitching competition Pitch Australiana held at the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) in Melbourne in March. The creators will receive $50,000 in production funding for a short form documentary commission to be released through VICE’s global digital network, and broadcast on local TV channel SBS VICELAND.
Festival Cancellations, Postponements & Screenings Online
- Melbourne International Film Festival 2020 cancelled. Not unexpected, but still heartbreaking for cinephiles and the industry, especially those involved with 37 South and MIFF Premiere Fund. The 69th MIFF will happen next year instead.
- Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2020 has been postponed and is hoping to take place from 24 September – 4 October. There’s a new deadline for entries (1 June) and Rev Fest’s online streaming service Rev on Demand keeps on growing, with hundreds of Indie shorts, features, animations and docs. It could be a good time to delve deep into the eclectic catalogue.
- The Gold Coast Film Festival (15 – 26 April) has cancelled its 12-day event, but moved two of its flagship events to online events and will still announce all filmmaker awards. SIPFEST, the free beachside short film festival will have 13 short films to view for free in isolation comfort over the Easter weekend, with viewers still able to vote for the $1,000 People’s Choice Award; and the festival’s Screen Industry Gala Awards will evolve to a live-stream award ceremony, with almost $20,000 in cash and prizes. The online event will be held on 16 April at 6.30pm, to coincide with the originally planned event date and will feature 14 award categories recognising the best short films, webseries, feature films and scripts that were due to feature at the festival as well as award recognition for Gold Coast screen industry professionals and Queensland screen businesses.
- Film distributor and cinema-on-demand innovator, FanForce this week announced the launch of FanForce TV, a new streaming platform focused on driving the community-led viewing and discussion of films online – partially as a response to the cancellation of actual physical community screenings. The catalogue of films includes Oscar winner Parasite, local documentaries In My Blood it Runs and 2040, as well as Michal Kondrat’s docudrama, Love and Mercy from Sonovision in Poland, and Fat Fiction from WideEye Films in Seattle.
- Parasite has also been fast tracked to streaming in 4K on Stan, from Easter Saturday (11 April), months ahead of its intended online release.
- Stan has also announced a new Stan Original Australian Lockdown Comedy Series, created with Guesswork Television, where fans can see comedians performing material from their cancelled 2020 shows. Filming will take into consideration all current health measures – including comedians setting up and operating their own cameras, with a director on hand via video conferencing. Comedians include Wil Anderson, Cal Wilson, Nazeem Hussain, Dave Hughes, Zoe Coombs Marr, Tommy Little, Geraldine Hickey, Dilruk Jayasinha, Steph Tisdell, Aaron Chen, Sam Campbell, Michelle Brasier and Nath Valvo. Dates are yet to be confirmed.
- Lambs of God will soon bewilder and enchant North American viewers as upstart streamer Total takes the Lingo show on.
- AACTA has announced an online pitching competition for actors and performers. Judges include Noni Hazlehurst, casting agent Kirsty McGregor and actor’s rep Aran Michael. The prize pack for the winner includes cash, mentorship, professional headshot and profiling.
- The SAFC’s Games Innovation Fund is open for round two applications Applicants can apply for up to $25,000 development funding for educational games, narrative and non-narrative games, VR, mobile, tablet, console, PC, multi-platform games and more. Applications close 22 May.
- Eager to learn while you shelter? Local and global videos, masterclasses and webinars are moving online to provide insights, inspirations and clever basics. We’ve compiled a quick list.
- Making Australia’s first show starring a transgender kid. Writer-director Julie Kalceff talks about First Day, the groundbreaking children’s TV series now showing on ABC ME.
- Survival and Creativity: A Paramedic’s Perspective. Working on the COVID-19 frontline as a first responder, Benjamin Gilmour, the director of Jirga offers hope to other storytellers facing big fears.
* JobSeeker / JobKeeper summaries for those working in the screen sector (prepared by Australian Director’s Guild):
- JobSeeker income additional support of $550 per fortnight for those who are unemployed (Total of up to $1,100 per fortnight). Asset testing will be waived but income testing still applies.
- Early release of superannuation payments up to $20,000.
- JobKeeper income support of $1,500 per fortnight for full-time employees, part-time employees, PAYG & systematic casual employees who have been employed at least for one year at 1 March 2020, paid through only one primary eligible employer. The ATO can help determine the primary employer for casuals / PAYG employees.
- Cashflow support for SMEs for up to $100,000.
- Increased instant Asset write-off from $30,000 to $150,000.
- Support for apprentices and trainees for up to $21,000 each.
- JobKeeper income support for $1,500 per fortnight for ABN Contractors/Sole Traders if they can show a drop in at least 30% from a comparable month last year.
- JobKeeper income support for $1,500 per employee per fortnight for businesses that can demonstrate a drop in at least 30% of an annual turnover of less than $1 billion or at least 50% for an annual turnover of more than $1 billion.
Those who are not be eligible
- Employees / Casuals / Freelancers whose primary employer is not eligible.
- Casuals / Freelancers who have been employed less than 12 months at 1 March 2020 with their primary employer.
- Foreign workers who don’t hold a special category visa.
- Production companies / SPVs / Freelancers that don’t have or cannot demonstrate a drop in at least 30% for businesses with an annual turnover of less than $1 billion or at least 50% for businesses with an annual turnover of more than $1 billion.
What can you do instead?
- If you are ineligible for JobKeeper, you may be eligible for JobSeeker
- State & Federal agencies are offering new and continued project, individual and business support. Check the Screen Australia and your local State Agency websites.
- If you are a documentary filmmaker, $250,000 is available through the Field of Vision Documentary Freelancer Relief fund
- Ineligible companies may be able to offer support during this time. Consult with your primary employer.
- Companies can discuss with their relevant bank for extra support or relief.