Australia is developing too many feature projects according to Australian Film Commission (AFC) chief executive Kim Dalton.

Presenting preliminary results of new AFC research to the National Screenwriters Conference, Dalton said that projects spend longer in development in Australia but the time and resources directly committed to the task is usually less.

The AFC estimates that 1,200-1,400 features were in development in the three years to mid-1999, including new first drafts by uncredited writers. This is believed to be far higher than the figure for any single European country and possibly more than half the total for the whole of Europe.

Dalton said about 480 of these scripts had government support. The AFC, which provides less than half the development funds available in Australia, is funding 23.5% of the applications that come to it, which is about double the ratio exercised by the European Script Fund.

The AFC also found that Australia has more production companies than any country other than Germany, yet an output of about half that of the European average.

One of the key questions being considered in the research is whether the first feature is an expensive testing ground for relatively inexperienced new writers, directors and producers. It is being compiled for the Government and is part of an ongoing overhaul of the AFC.