AusFILM is dramatically stepping up its marketing of Australia to the film world. The conglomerate of private companies and government agencies moves into Fox Studios Australia from March 11 and will triple staff thanks to a near fourfold increase in government funds.

There is "considerable scope" to increase the 6% of all runaway US film and television productions shot in Australia now, according to the business plan, providing the country can market itself with more coherence than in the past. Various strategies are outlined, linked to such aims as increasing the spend from non-US sources by 100% within a year and developing the website as a major portal and increasing hits by 300% in three years.

"Our business plan provides extra staffing for both the Australian and LA offices," said Sydney-based Trish Rothkrans, whose term as chief executive has just been extended to mid 2004. "Included will be an industry services executive in Australia, responsible for producing effective information, booklets and guidelines for offshore producers, while encouraging the relationships with key Federal Government departments necessary for a film friendly environment."

LA-based Austrade film commissioner David Pratt has already been provided with an administrative assistant, and an assistant film commission will join him soon. Finally, the appointment of an executive assistant for Australia will give the organisation six full-time staff.

"AusFILM will continue to conduct missions to the US twice a year but also direct resources into missions to non-US destinations in the future," said Rothkrans. "In April this year we will be targeting Tokyo's television commercial sector. Over 20 AusFILM members representing 14 companies and three film offices will take part."

The increased activity is possible because of extra Federal Government funding of $521,000 (A$1m) per annum, provided from 2002/03 as part of a new package of industry assistance. Until now AusFILM has operated on $150,000 (A$280,000) per year but several state agencies also aggressively market Australia abroad.