Responding to the Hector Crawford Lecture delivered by John Edwards at the Screen Forever Conference this morning, Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner made the following statement:
“John Edwards’ lecture is an important wake up call to our industry to consider the challenges facing television drama production this country. The recent Screen Australia Drama Production Report confirmed that production of Australian television drama is at its lowest point in a decade. Contributing to this trend are several factors, including a move to shorter series as well as sharp declines in commercial television commissioning.
“John is without peer in the contemporary Australian drama producing landscape and when he says we have a systemic problem, it is important to listen. Screen Producers Australia shares John’s concerns that the trend away from longer form drama has serious long-term implications. Short form dramas are inherently expensive and necessitate a reliance on Screen Australia subsidy. The high cost of producing short form drama also results in a lack of talent regeneration in our industry as taking a risk on unknown or emerging key creatives and cast is unattractive. We need to work with Government, broadcasters and the wider production industry on policies that encourage a healthy mix of drama forms – high budget and low budget, long form and short form and, as John says, those forms yet to be discovered.
“As an industry we urgently need to conclude the ATRAA negotiations between SPA and MEAA to better enable networks to monetize their drama investments, work with Government on determining the right balance of polity levers including tax offsets and direct subsidy, and work with broadcasters and other investors on creating an environment where drama ideas and their creators can experiment and flourish.”
John Edwards is one of Australia’s most successful television producers. He has produced more than 600 hours of television drama and holds over 30 production credits. A master of the one-hour series drama, Edwards is best known for his rich, complex character dramas that have gone on to become era-defining programs. These include the multi-award winning series Love My Way, The Secret Life of Us and audience favourite Offspring, which enters its sixth season for Network Ten in 2016. Love My Way was a landmark in Australian television production as the first high-quality in-house drama to screen on pay television, and The Secret Life of Us together with Edwards’ six-time Logie Award-winning series Police Rescue remain the only two Australian episodic series ever commissioned for prime time in the UK.
Creating works for major national and international networks including Network Ten, Network Seven, Nine Network, ABC, Foxtel, New Line, BBC, Channel 4 UK and BSky B, Edwards’ further production credits include The Surgeon, Dangerous, Rush, Tangle, Puberty Blues, Party Tricks, and The Beautiful Lie, which currently screens on the ABC. Edwards has also produced mini-series and telemovies including the Golden Globe nominated mini-series On the Beach; Marking Time, winner of 7 AFI Awards, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, AWGIE Award and others; Do or Die; Children of the Dragon; Tracy; six telemovies in the Cody series; Beaconsfield; and Paper Giants.
Previous Hector Crawford Memorial Lecture speakers include Phillip Adams AO, Kim Williams AM, Dare Jennings, Peter Garrett, Lachlan Murdoch, Noel Pearson, Margaret Pomeranz, Harold Mitchell AC and Gillian Armstrong.
SCREEN FOREVER, 17-19 November 2015, Crown Conference Centre, Melbourne