Metro Screen’s plea for the screen industry to take the lead on talent renewal
Following devastating cuts by federal screen agency Screen Australia, flagship NSW screen resource organisation, Metro Screen will close its doors in December having provided essential support and development for emerging screen practitioners for more than 34 years.
As its final contribution, Metro Screen launched Emerging Visions: Career Pathways in the Australian Screen Production Industry, the first significant research into talent regeneration in the screen industry, at the VALE METRO SCREEN last night.
The landmark research shows that since 2007 federal government support to the screen industry has increased by 90% to $419 million per year (including the Producer Offset), yet targeted federal funds for emerging screen practitioners is set to reduce by 80% to $2 million next year.
Federal funding of tertiary screen media education stands at $250 million per year.
“It appears a very inefficient model, to invest so heavily in both education and the established screen industry, but to virtually overlook the bridge between the two – the emerging sector that occupies the space between learning and earning,” said Christina Alvarez, Metro Screen CEO.
“We’re deeply disappointed that Metro Screen won’t be here into the future but the real concern is whether the screen industry is committed to ensuring that new and diverse voices are given opportunities to shape our vision of Australia in the way that previous generations have had. We simply don’t accept that all new talent can develop with crowd funding and YouTube – in this day and age there needs to be a choice of pathways to ensure diverse opportunities. The screen industry will benefit from a thoughtful and strategic investment in making these choices available”.
The Emerging Visions report aims to inform an appropriate strategic response by the industry to the changing landscape so that the talent of tomorrow is given the time and opportunity to prove itself equitably and sustainably.
For almost 40 years, state based screen resource organisations have provided dedicated support services for aspiring screen professionals to transition into the professional industry. The screen network organisations include Metro Screen (NSW), Open Channel (VIC), Media Resource Centre (SA), Wide Angle (TAS), FTI (WA) and QPIX (QLD). Due to the loss of federal funding QPIX closed last year, Metro Screen will close in December and Wide Angle will close in June 2016.
Screen Australia has stated that the emerging sector is now the responsibility of the State screen agencies and the tertiary education sector.
The emerging screen sector consists of aspiring screen professionals building their practical profile, making screen content and seeking recognition from the professional industry.
Kath Shelper, Metro Screen President says: “I worry about the decision-making regarding the emerging sector without an overall industry strategy around talent renewal. The impact on our screen culture may not be felt for another 10 years but the new voices of a diverse generation of Australian storytellers may be lost. There is a pressing need for national leadership”.
POINTS OF NOTE
- The annual production output of the emerging sector includes;
- 700+ short films
- 100 low budget web series
- 24 low budget features
- More screen practitioners now have a formal screen media qualification
- In 1991 it was 17%
- In 2011 it was 45%
- Each year 7000 screen media students graduate from a tertiary institution.
- The federal government provides $250 million in federal funding support for tertiary screen media education each year. In addition, the average cost to the student is $20,000 for a three year degree.
- 36% of producers surveyed believe that emerging screen practitioners are over-qualified and under skilled. 24% disagree.
- On current analysis, in order to produce ONE creative filmmaker with five feature film credits, 80 emerging filmmakers need to have the chance to make their first feature.
- While overall federal support for the screen industry has risen by 90% since 2007, targeted federal funding for emerging screen practitioners is projected to fall by 80% in 2016/17.
- The research identifies six success factors required for a career in screen production:
- Practical production experience
- Education / training
- Access to resources
- Personal qualities
- State based screen resource organisations are the sole organisations that focus specifically on providing support to the emerging screen sector.