Filmmaker Michael Thornhill has won this year's Cecil Homes Award in a unanimous vote by the board of the Australian Screen Directors Association.
The award is for a filmmaker who has promoted the art of directing and advocated the role of the director and he has done that tirelessly -- often in the form of interruptions from the floor during conferences.
"The way funding bodies automatically put producers at the top of the food chain is wrong," he told Screendaily.com. He particularly wants Australia's principal funding body, the Film Finance Corporation (FFC), to be more flexible when making decisions rather than using steadfast rules.
This includes not always insisting that writer/directors who have instigated a project sign over rights to a producer, and that young producers must be overseen by those with an FFC stamp of approval.
He is also very critical of the way distributors govern what films get made in Australia, despite rarely contributing more than 5% of the budget. It should be possible to trigger funding without having an Australian distributor attached, for example, if there is substantial interest from an international sales agent.
Thornhill has two projects in development as writer, director, and co-producer. Betrayed, a low-budget film with an unconventional narrative, is being produced with Mushroom Pictures' Martin Fabinyi, one of the executive producers on Chopper. The feminist revenge thriller Personals, with a budget of about $11m (A$20m), is being produced with Tony Buckley.