Distributor and producer Antony Ginnane has been voted president of the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) in what is believed to be the first three-way contest in the organisation's history.

Ginnane defeated the incumbent, Trish Lake (Gettin' Square), and Michael Bourchier (Lucky Miles). His one-year term starts from September 25.

'I am pleased and excited, and a little struck by the immensity of it,' he told Screendaily.com. 'It is a privilege and I do not have quite as much need to be enthralled to the funding agency so I am going to throw myself at it and see if I cannot do some good things.'

Ginnane has produced or executive produced 60 films and television productions, nearly half of which were made in Australia during the 1980s when filmmaking activity was buoyant because generous tax deductions attracted significant investment. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1991, around the time that the tax-based system was replaced by direct funding via the recently disbanded Film Finance Corporation.

Ginnane told Screendaily.com he was prompted to re-engage with Australia to see if he could get the producer offset to work: it pays back producers 40% of their production expenditure but there are still many questions around its operation. He now intends to spend about 50% of his time in Australia despite IFM World Releasing, the distribution company he runs with Ann Lyons, being based in LA.

Ginnane said SPAA is an 'intensely democratic' organisation, not a fiefdom, but he did not think that anyone would disagree that some of the priorities were: bedding down the new producer offset; ensuring there was a smooth transition from three organisations to Screen Australia and that a good working relationship was set up between the new agency and producers; securing better terms of trade with broadcasters; and strengthening local content legislation.

An administrative priority was building the membership base: 'I was troubled when I saw the list of voters because a significant number of senior producers and younger producers are not SPAA members We have to find out why this is the case and find ways of bringing them in. We cannot speak coherently and convincingly if everyone is not a member.'

Some Australian producers belong to the Independent Producers Initiative and some to the Australian Directors Guild.

At the time Ginnane threw his hat in the ring, Lake was not planning to stand, he said, but she was later persuaded to by several fellow producers.