- Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have tested positive on the Warner Bros Gold Coast set of Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis film, which is currently in pre-production. Reporting mild symptoms, they’re in isolation now, as Hanks reported in the charming and demystifying Instagram post below that’s now trending on Twitter. What this means for the larger production is yet to emerge.
- Earlier this week, Screen Producers Australia (SPA) issued these guidelines for producers around employee responsibilities, business continuity plans, insurance and contracting. It’s all evolving very fast.
- The World Health Organisation has now officially declared a Pandemic on COVID-19. Series Mania, SXSW and MIPTV are just some of the events cancelled so far. The worst of the virus set to hit Australia mid year, so it’s only a matter of time before our major film festivals respond.
- Screen Daily is posting a regular day by day update of global closures, cancellations and changes to filming schedules and it makes for sobering car-crash-compelling reading. For example, on 6 March we see Italian cinemas advising audience members to sit three seats apart, but less than one week later, all cinemas are closed and film production halted until 3 April.
- Films including the latest Bond instalment No Time to Die and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway have postponed release.
- International travel is contracting rapidly. As reported by TV Blackbox, Network Ten has significantly altered its upcoming season of The Amazing Race to make it a domestic only season. The format, which usually focuses on challenging its contestants by placing them in foreign environments, has also gone local in the US version, in what is believed to be a direct response to the virus. It must be awful to own an airline right now, or media stocks, which plunged Wednesday.
Hello, folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive. Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We’ll keep the world posted and updated. Take care of yourselves! Hanx!
- Just a year ago, the national weekend box office was in a steep climb upwards. This year it has lost $2m in two weeks and is now under every single weekend last year except for one. $8m is a terrible number. Paradoxically this has happened just as two Australian made films, The Invisible Man and Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears are doing excellent business in cinemas.
Moves and Shakes
- AFTRS finally has a new CEO. Dr Nell Greenwood comes from the writing and development sector and has previously been AFTRS head of screenwriting, then the MA course leader, then head of programs, and finally director of curriculum and student registrar. She replaces Neil Peplow who departed AFTRS in mid 2019.
- Ten CEO and ViacomCBS ANZ VP Paul Anderson has resigned, leading to a restructure. Anderson has been with Ten for 17 years and CEO for almost five, moving into the expanded Viacom role in January. He will not be directly replaced. Which means that a major Australian commercial network no longer has a leader and is just two branches of different business units in a multinational.
AIDC 2020 Wrap
- The Australian International Documentary Conference 2020 took place in Melbourne last week, with a record 789 delegates attending across the four-day event, a 91 per cent increase in attendance in the event’s last five years since moving from to Melbourne for 2016. Here’s our report on the conference and the prize winners.
Opportunities & Deadlines
- The Stan and Film Victoria Comedy Fund is open for applications. The joint initiative aims to support Victorian writers and producers to develop Australian comedy, and is seeking ‘stories that respond to Stan’s Creative Brief (PDF) and feature relatable characters with unique dilemmas fuelling the comedy for a multi-season run.’ The successful applicants will receive up to $30,000 to develop a 30-minute pilot episode and series outline. Deadline is 19 March 2020.
- The ABC is calling on year 10 students (and equivalent age) in Melbourne and surrounds to share a video, audio, text or photo story about their life and submit it to the Takeover Melbourne Competition. Winners will work with ABC producers to have their story featured. Entries are open now and close 26 June 2020.
- Imagine Impact, the screenwriting talent accelerator program created by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Tyler Mitchell, will launch in Melbourne this year in association with Gentle Giant, Screen Australia and Film Victoria. The eight-week mentorship program matching writers with internationally established screenwriters and showrunners begins on 8 June 2020, with applications closing 21 March.
Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Calls for Submissions
- Last chance to submit your films to MIFF 2020. Deadline 31 March.
- Critics Campus 2020 is open for applications. The seventh edition of the festival’s emerging critics lab will take place 6 –23 August. Deadline is 30 April.
- Seeking premieres for MIFF 2021, round 49 of the MIFF Premiere Fund is now open for submissions with applications closing 7 April 2020. Operating since 2008, the MIFF Premiere Fund invests in new Australian feature films that premiere at MIFF. For more details about the Fund, including a highlights clip and background information, click here. Round 49 guidelines are here.
- VIC. Joint Guild Social Drinks and all friends welcome to come and network. Presented by the Australian Screen Editors Guild. Thursday 26 March, 6.30pm onwards. Golden Gate Hotel, 238 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, Victoria. No RSVP required.
- QLD. Breakfast Briefing with Kylie Munnich, Screen Queensland CEO, presented by SPA. Tuesday, 24 March 2020, 8am – 9.30am, Brisbane Powerhouse, 119 Lamington St, New Farm. SPA member: $30. Guild: $37. Non-member: $45. Book here.
- Screenwest will host the first WA Screen Industry Networking Night for 2020 on Tuesday 31 March, 6:30pm – 9:30pm at Perth Mess Hall. Free but registration essential at Eventbrite.
- Film Review: Undertow dives into the monstrous feminine, says Mel Campbell.
- TV Review: Chris Boyd says Stateless is gripping to the very end.
- Movie Review: Mel Campbell says Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears is one for the fans.
- Documentary Review: Anthony Morris says The Leunig Fragments depicts a boy who never grew up.
- What We’re Watching in the Screenhub/ArtsHub Office: March Edition