Victoria's state government agency Cinemedia, based in Melbourne, has finally confirmed that John Smithies has signed a 12-month contract as CEO. The former deputy director had been acting in this crucial role since Jenifer Hooks left the post in February this year.
Smithies has the twin challenges of responding to issues raised in a comprehensive government task force, the report of which was delivered a month ago, and overseeing the opening of Federation Square, an ambitious showcase for screen-based media.
Film-making in Victoria has been under intense scrutiny since local representatives of most of the major industry associations banded together more than a year ago to voice their disapproval of falling production levels and Cinemedia's focus on multimedia at the expense of traditional film-making.
A new Labor Government subsequently came to power and commissioned its own report. It recommends a restructuring of Cinemedia and a whole-of-government approach to the industry. This approach includes greater public subsidies, support for the development of much-needed studio space and technical infrastructure, and an insistence on Victoria getting a better share of Federal funding. It is not yet known which of the recommendations will get government approval.