IanSutton, founding chief executive of The Winemakers Federation of Australia, hasbeen hired as a consultant to the working party advising on the creation of anAustralian Screen Council (ASC).

Suttonis credited as the architect of the evolution of the modern Australian wineindustry.

Usingthe first day of the annual conference of the Screen Producers Association ofAustralia (SPAA) as his platform, he outlined the steps taken to turn anindustry in crisis into one held up as a model of global success by theAustralian Government.

Thewine industry in the 1990s shared very similar problems to those of thecontemporary independent production sector, he asserted. It launched a 30-yearstrategy in 1996 but achieved worldwide sales totalling $3.5bn (A$4.5bn) about20 years ahead of schedule.

Suttonis working closely with ASC working party chair Hal McElroy (The Sum Of Us,Razorback), one of Australia's most articulate and personable producers.

Theidea behind the ASC is to have one national unified body of content producersthat can articulate a clear vision, speak to government with one voice, and setrelevant and achievable goals related to government policy, production levels,audience support and capital investment.

Sutton,McElroy, producer Sue Maslin (Japanese Story), and the heads of all thelikely member bodies including SPAA, were present at the forum also aimed atflushing out issues and winning the support of conference delegates.

Otherorganisations on the working party are the Media Entertainment & ArtsAlliance (MEAA), the Australian Writers Guild, the Australian Screen DirectorsAssociation, and the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association.

Theplan is that no issues will be championed or strategies implemented by the ASCunless there is consensus.

Aformer SPAA president, Nick Murray, laboured the point that there were dangersin involving MEAA, which represents actors and technicians, but his oppositionseemed to have the effect of galvanising other delegates to support the wholeconcept.