Screen Australia is to make a substantial change to its rulebook on feature film investment in response to current worldwide financing difficulties.

Instead of requiring an international sales agent and a domestic distributor to be attached in order to be eligible to be assessed for taxpayer financing, one or the other will suffice.

This is good news for Australian producers and distributors, and also for European sales agents, which most commonly represent Australian films.

“The world is tough out there and this move gives producers a bit more of a hand,” Screen Australia CEO Ruth Harley told “It is not that they are finding deals hard to get but the economic climate is forcing them to do bad deals prematurely.”

The adjustment to the Production Financing Guidelines will state that a film has to have a signed deal memo from a sales company or local distributor. It can also have letters of interest from both types of players. In all cases these market players must be “recognised and appropriate”.

Meanwhile, Samson & Delilah, one of Screen Australia’s recent investments and a film that is about to get its international premiere in Un Certain Regard, has recorded the biggest screen average of any Australian film released nationally since Lantana in 2001.

The film took almost $153,000 (A$200,000) from 12 screens for a screen average of $13,127 (A$17,170). Lantana was also a platform release, opening on just 15 screens, but it went on to take $9.4m (A$12.3m) and be regarded as an outstanding success.

Samson & Delilah’s distributor, John Maynard from Footprint Films, expects to at least double the number of screens within four weeks.

Director, writer and cinematographer Warwick Thornton and producer Kath Shelper are currently en route to Cannes with Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson, who play the two indigenous Australian teenagers, who discover their love for each other while struggling to find their way in the desert.