Politicians hold the key to the survival of Australian screen stories

ABC Mystery Road Judy DavisLeading lights of Australia’s film and TV industry from in front of and behind the camera will today urge federal politicians from all parties to act to ensure Australian stories continue to be told on Australian screens.

“More needs to be done to ensure original Australian content hits our screens,” said Paul Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance – the union representing performers and screen crew. “Without real leadership from government to recognise how viewing patterns are changing and to properly support local production, we will no longer see Australian stories on our screens, both big and small.”

A group of actors, directors, producers, writers and crew will be in Parliament House for a series of meetings about the threats to the Australian industry’s future.

Actors Judy Davis, Richard Roxburgh and Deborah Mailman, directors Philip Noyce and Gillian Armstrong, screenwriters Andrew Knight and Ellie Beaumont, and producers Jo Porter, Anita Jacoby, and Michael Tear as well as production designer Fiona Donovan are among those taking the fight to save Australian screen stories directly to the politicians who have the power to do so.

Their visit to Parliament is part of the Make It Australian campaign spearheaded by the Australian Directors’ Guild, the Australian Writers’ Guild, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and Screen Producers Australia to ensure government support for the sector. It follows an open letter published in March calling for urgent action by many of the biggest names in the industry such as Cate Blanchett and Chris Hemsworth.

The Make it Australian campaign is fighting for:

  • Australian content rules to evolve to cover new media like Netflix, Amazon, Telstra TV, telcos and ISPs;
  • Existing quotas for Australian drama and children’s content by commercial broadcasters to be maintained;
  • Well-funded public broadcasters and screen agencies; and
  • Competitive tax incentives.

“The Australian public are right behind Australian content and the need to tell our stories,” said said Kingston Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Directors’ Guild. “They understand how important it is especially for our kids. The screen industry will continue to support this view and we hope that the government will join us in ensuring Australian content on all our screens.”

“Federal politicians are the custodians of Australian screen stories,” said Jan Sardi, President, Australian Writers’ Guild. “They must act now to ensure existing Aussie content rules are first preserved, and then extended to cover streaming video on demand services, which are making millions of dollars from the Australian viewing public, without any obligation to invest back into the market they profit from.”

“There is momentum building around the Make it Australian campaign and in particular, extending local content obligations to the new media and streaming services,” said Matthew Deaner, Chief Executive Officer, Screen Producers Australia. This momentum comes from industry, the public and today we’re asking the Parliament to join us.”

For more information about the Make It Australian campaign, visit: www.meaa.org for details.

Image: Judy Davis in the ABC drama, Mystery Road