The re-election of a Coalition Government in Australia on Saturday, Nov 10 means that the $48m (A$92.7m) in new assistance for the film industry, promised in September and spread over four years starting from June 2002, is assured. The extra funding encompasses nearly all the federal government agencies and was partly prompted by controversy surrounding, and assistance to, offshore production.
While the increase of $3.9m (A$7.5m) in 2002/3, rising to $5.2m (A$10m) per year, for the Film Finance Corporation's (FFC) is principally earmarked for television, chief executive Catriona Hughes told a conference of writers and directors on the weekend that it would also assist features. The FFC's annual appropriation of $26m (A$50m) per year is geared up to yield about $52m (A$100m) worth of production in features, television and documentary. If the extra money does mean a boost to a certain kind of feature it will be at the low-budget end because of extra funding to the Australian Film Commission (AFC) and SBS Independent (SBSI), both of which operate at this end of the production business.
The AFC gets $1.6m (A$3m) more in 2002/03, increasing to $2.6m (A$5m), and while it will be spread across the range of development programs revised and introduced two years ago, there will be particular emphasis given to production according to chief executive Kim Dalton.
Meanwhile, SBSI head Glenys Rowe told the conference that, in line with her interest in distinctive projects and in filling gaps within the industry, she would welcome projects with mid-career directors attached who have skill and craft that they do not get to exercise. She used Steve Jodrell, who made Shame, as an example. SBSI, the commissioning arm of the smaller of Australia's two public broadcasters, will get $17.3m (A$33.4m) for the next four years compared to $10.1m (A$19.4m) in the past four years.
The election, won on the basis of the government's tough stance on refugees and national security, is the third win for conservative Prime Minister John Howard.