Screen News in Brief: producers’ POV, more production funding as government waddles along

Our fortnightly roundup of news as positive opportunities stagger through the flames. Coronavirus coverage is about covering many, many details that add up to a collective roar.

All of us at Screenhub are working from home now, as most of you will be too. We’re watching the news unfold and experiencing alternating waves of grief, dismay and wincing fascination. There’s no denying the gravity of the situation, but we’ll do our best to keep you connected, informed and entertained at this time. Please let us know if you have suggestions or news for us to consider by emailing

In Case You Missed it

Screen Producers Australia (SPA) Updates

SPA is providing important up-to-the moment information, guidelines and advocacy for the screen industry during the current crisis. The website is useful for members and non members alike, and makes for interesting reading as we watch the sector respond on the hop. Updates include: 

  • SPA rejects calls for cuts to Australian content quotas for the broadcasters.
  • SPA releases preliminary results of COVID-19 industry impact survey. An early estimate of damage to thesector is greater than $2 billion, affecting over 20,000 working employees, freelancers and contractors. Producers are invited to contribute to the survey here.
  • A list of productions that have given permission to be listed by SPA as affected by COVID-19.  It’s safe to say every single production in the world must be affected, but those putting up their hands include: Bazmark’s Untitled Elvis Project; Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; Endemol Shine’s Australian Survivor and Masterchef; Fremantle Australia’s Australia’s Got TalentNeighbours and Wentworth; Matchbox Pictures’ Clickbait and Real Housewives of Melbourne S5; Aquarius Films’ Poor Boy and The Usual Suspects; Hoodlum Entertainment’s Five Bedrooms S5 and Harrow S3; and Jonathan M Shiff Productions’ The Bureau of Magical Things S2.

Screen Australia Updates

  • Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department has announced production funding for four documentary projects, with the agency’s contribution to the budgets totalling $745,000. They are: Alick and Albert by Freshwater Pictures for Stan, about the unlikely friendship between art activist Alick Tipoti and Prince Albert of Monaco; Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky, a one-hour doc for NITV from Tamarind Tree Pictures and Roar Films described as ‘ a fresh, funny and provocative look at Cook’s arrival from a First Nations’ perspective; Kindred a feature documentary from Kalori Productions and JOTZ production for NITV, exploring themes of friendship, adoption and belonging; and Maralinga Tjarutja, a one-hour doc from Blackfella Films for the ABC about the history of the Maralinga Tjarutja people and the impact the British nuclear testing in the 50s and 60s.
  • The agency has also announced $2 million production funding for ten documentaries, eight of them through the Producer program and two through the Commissioned program. They include: River, a feature documentary from Jen Peedom’s Stranger Than Fiction Films in collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, exploring the relationship between humans and rivers across six continents; You are Not Alone, a 5 x 5 minute online documentary for that explores the loss and grief surrounding miscarriage, and the impact it has on individuals and families, from South Australian director/producer Lyndal Redman and producers Caroline Winter and Lauren Hillman; and Are You addicted to Technology?, an interactive documentary for SBS On Demand from Western Australia’s Joined Up Films and South Australia’s Closer Productions, examining how large tech companies are changing our behaviour.
  • Skip Ahead applications are now open. It felt quite apt to be watching Michael Shanks’ award-winning Australian short film Rebooted this week when it dropped on Youtube. Funny, touching and extremely clever in its mix of live action and animation, it’s the story of an old school monster movie star, a skeleton, who can’t get a job in a changing business. Shanks is one of the former recipients of Screen Australia’s Skip Ahead initiative for YouTube storytellers, which is now in it’s sixth year and, in a joint funding initiative with Google Australia, provides up to $150,000 per project for five projects. Applications are now open until 7 May 2020.


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Rochelle Siemienowicz is the ArtsHub Group's Education and Career Editor. She was previously a journalist for Screenhub and is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. Her second book, Double Happiness, a novel, will be published by Midnight Sun in 2024. Instagram: @Rochelle_Rochelle Twitter: @Milan2Pinsk