Richard Harris, who is currently executive director of the Australian Directors Guild (ADG), has been appointed head of the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC).

He will leave what was formerly called the Australian Screen Directors Association in mid-July, after nine years at the helm, and relocate from Sydney to Adelaide to take up his new post.

ADG president Ray Argall said Harris had given the organisation a strong industry, political and international profile, and had achieved what many thought was unattainable: legal recognition of directors copyright.

The SAFC name is probably the best known of Australia 's state agencies because it was once a producer in its own right on such iconic 1970s and 1980s films as Gallipoli, Breaker Morant and Storm Boy.

Now, like the others, its role is in supporting the independent film industry with development and production investment and attracting offshore film. Recent production investments have gone to such films as Ten Empty, Hey, Hey It's Esther Blueburger, Lucky Miles, Dr Plonk, December Boys and Disgrace.

The SAFC is expected to become part of a new film and television precinct in the heart of Adelaide when the lease on its current home in the suburbs expires in 2008. This will mean new facilities but they are expected to be modest compared to those in east coast cities such as Melbourne and Sydney.

Harris changes hats at a crucial time in the Australian film industry's history: only last week he chaired the first public seminar on the upcoming structural overhaul announced in the federal government's budget last month.

That overhaul is expected to shift the industry's focus towards bigger films. It will see the government deliver most of its assistance to Australian films through a production rebate, rather than directly, and the amalgamation of Film Finance Corporation Australia, the Australian Film Commission and Film Australia into one organisation, tentatively called the Australian Screen Authority.