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Scroz sucks the kumara

Screen Australia has announced the decisions it’s taken as it comes to terms with the federal government slicing into its budgets.

It’s all a bit deja vu for Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason, and some of the coming changes will look very familiar to NZ, for example a lowering of the cap on Scroz investment in features from $2.5 to $2 million.

Graeme Mason

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason at the SPA Conference, Screen Forever

Mason has issued a statement Taking Stock, which beats the drum for local content and Screen Australia’s efforts in supporting that.

Cuts to funding programmes were inevitable after the Australian budget and the agency has decided to spread those around rather than making a grand sacrifice to achieve them in one or two hits.

In a second document, the cuts (called “Savings”) are outlined, with the note “Overall, funds will be retained on screen as much as possible.” However, the largest single cut announced takes $2-3 million out of production and development spending.

The Scroz team will take a hit, with a 10% reduction of staff to reduce numbers to 100 FTE.

P&A spend will drop, as will spending on Escalator (which is a talent development scheme not low-budget filmmaking in Australia). The agency will also “transition away from direct funding of screen resource organisations”, an approach tried and reversed here.

The timing of the announcement, coming early in the new financial year and the week before many producers gather in Melbourne for MIFF’s market events, will mean revisions to quite a few plans.

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