Australia’s independent film and television producers have a new chief advocate in the form of Matthew Deaner, who is currently manager of strategy and research at government agency Screen Australia.

Deaner will replace Geoff Brown as executive director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) from November 12, the first day of the annual SPAA Conference, which is this year being held in Melbourne. Brown has put in 16 years of services at SPAA and will get a warm send-off at the event.

The news has taken many by surprise as this is Deaner’s first time in a leading role. That said, he has worked for several media entities including subscription television’s representative body and the Nine Network. He has also worked as a lawyer and as a business consultant and has run a documentary film festival.

“After an exhaustive search we are delighted to have someone of Matthew’s experience and passion to help steer SPAA into the new converged digital media future thatlies ahead,” said SPAA president Brian Rosen in the media release issued this afternoon.

“With the Government’s Convergence Review and Cultural Review to be implemented, there is a momentous task ahead for SPAA to ensure that our screen industries are not sidelined and that Australian independent producers’ content is absolutely front and centre in the outcomes that emanate from these important reviews. We are at an important cross roads and are thrilled that Matthew will be leading the organisation through this next critical phase.”

The Convergence Review was an all-encompassing investigation of the regulatory and legislative settings required in the converged broadcast and media landscape of the future. One of its recommendations was that a new Australian content regime be introduced that applied across subscription and free-to-air television, as well as internet service providers. The government has not yet issued its response.

“Independent producers are responsible for creating the finest and most successful Australian content – whether that be feature film, television or digital media. Their work is not only key to the ambitions of the Government’s cultural objectives, it is key to the business success of traditional and emerging content distribution platforms,” said Deaner.

“There are significant challenges and changes ahead for the entire content industry. This is a time to be collaborative and energised.”