The South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) is without both a contracted chief executive and a chair following the resignation of chief executive Judith Crombie during Friday's board meeting, effective immediately. The State Government had earlier decided not to reappoint David Minear as chair.
Some mystery surrounds Crombie's decision to leave four months short of the expiry of her second two-year contract in May: she cites "long-term differences" with Minear but will not provide any more information, and he says he "genuinely does not understand what those differences are".
Crombie tendered her resignation straight after Minear told the board that he had learned his term was not going to be extended - he was appointed by the previous government. She was then asked to reconsider but declined. She told Screen International today that she had no prior knowledge that the role of chair was to become vacant but says it would not have altered her decision. At one stage she considered seeking a further one-year term but decided against it.
"It is a very regrettable ending because she has done a great job and has had a long standing association with the corporation over its 30-year history," said Minear.
Crombie said she is proud of the state film agency's achievements, including the decision to push South Australia as "the home of independent filmmaking", and it is in good shape for whoever takes over. Board member and producer Helen Leake is currently acting chief executive.
The small state of South Australia can only ever claim a minor slice of Australia's overall production. It is the home of Mark Patterson, who produces director Paul Cox's (Innocence) films, and directors Rolf de Heer (Tracker, Bad Boy Bubby) and Scott Hicks (Hearts In Atlantis, Snow Falling On Cedars, Shine).
An all-day talkfest is due to be held on February 28 aimed at assessing the needs, goals and desires of the filmmaking community and finding ways of growing and sustaining the local screen-based industries. The agenda is partly being defined by a web-based discussion forum. The fact that the industry is leading the initiative could be seen as highlighting the SAFC's shortcomings or illustrating a new maturity among the production community.