THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said thousands of small businesses in the screen production industry could be left on the cutting room floor, if Australian content quotas are not reinstated.

Ms Carnell said the emergency quota suspension introduced in response to the COVID-19 crisis has taken a heavy toll on the screen production industry, 86 percent of which are small businesses. She called on the Federal Government and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to provide certainty to the struggling industry.

“As it stands, Australian broadcasters are under no obligation to produce new, locally made content until the end of this year at the earliest,” Ms Carnell said.

“This is hurting thousands of small production companies that would ordinarily be creating Australia’s best drama, documentaries and children’s content. We know that many of these small production companies are ready to return to work, but there are limited projects in the pipeline due to the uncertainty over how long this quota suspension will remain in place.

“It’s very difficult to attract investment under these circumstances, which could ultimately drive many of these small businesses to the brink. That’s devastating for the small businesses involved and the entire production industry," Ms Carnell said. 

“It also has significant ramifications for our culture and the telling of Australian stories. What would we do without Bluey or iconic Australian films such as Crocodile Dundee or Top End Wedding?

“Equally, this could have serious economic consequences. Deloitte Access Economics estimates the Australian film and television industries directly contribute $5.8 billion to the economy and about 46,000 full times jobs.

“The industry needs a clear commitment that the quota suspension period will not be extended beyond 2020. The government should also ensure mandatory Australian-made quotas apply to all other streaming services.

“While the government has invested in attracting foreign productions to our shores, much more could be done to directly foster the Australian screen production industry.”

www.asbfeo.gov.au

ends

By Graeme Mason >>

WE ARE STARTING to see a glimmer of hope that Australia’s response to COVID-19 is working. That positive news has undoubtedly come at a drastic financial and emotional cost, and all of us know someone who has been directly affected.

Out of this hardship, it has been heartening to see how our industry can pull together in a crisis. For those that have been hardest hit, I want you know that in speaking to leaders across our sector, you are in everyone’s minds and certainly at Screen Australia, you are a factor in all our decision making. 

To that end, here is an update on where Screen Australia is in the COVID-19 world.

BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL

Screen Australia remains open for business.

  • In February and March we received 246 applications across all programs, which are being processed as normal.
  • In February and March we processed 22 final certificates for the Producer Offset, with total rebates of approximately $30 million. We also processed 26 provisional certificates for future productions.
  • We intend to expend every dollar in our 2019/20 budget. We continue to provide production funding, with the knowledge some shoots will be delayed. Next week we will announce the latest slate of scripted projects to be green-lit.
  • We continue to fund development in all areas.
  • Applications to the new Premium Plus late-stage scripted development program will open this Friday, April 17, 2020, representing a 230 percent increase in funds available for premium story development.
  • Our board meetings will occur on April 20 and June 22 as scheduled.

We are assessing all requests for assistance for funded titles.

Screen Australia invests in the majority of new Australian drama and documentary productions, so our funded titles represent a sizeable portion of production activity.

Where required, we have been processing variation payments for Screen Australia-funded productions that had their active shoot interrupted, to ensure they come out of hiatus as soon as practical. This intervention is unashamedly about making sure people have jobs to come back to.

For funded productions that had an imminent shoot interrupted, we are assessing requests for assistance as we receive them. Every production has unique challenges, from location issues to cast availability to continuity problems, so whilst you won’t see a branded initiative around this assistance, rest assured this work is being done.

DOCUMENTARY FACES CHALLENGES

Documentary has a unique set of challenges in this current situation and many creators in this space were already operating in difficult circumstances. As such, my focus right now is on giving the documentary sector as much stability as possible.

To that end, we will be postponing the introduction of the revised documentary programs originally scheduled for July 1, 2020 until 2021. The existing documentary programs, including the Producer Equity Program (PEP), will remain in place for the rest of 2020.

The budget for documentary in 2019/20 remains unchanged and our documentary team is working on a very large number of new applications right now.

I realise there was a lot of support for the new programs through the revision process last year, but I feel this short postponement is appropriate given the circumstances.

THANK YOU TO FRONTLINE WORKERS

Finally, on behalf of the Australian screen sector, I want to thank Australia’s frontline workers for their incredible and selfless efforts over the past months in combatting COVID-19.

To put your own health on the line for others is a remarkable act of generosity, and whether that be those working in hospitals, to those ensuring we can put food on the table, we thank you.

It’s because of you that our families, friends and colleagues can stay safe and our sector can have confidence a recovery is on the horizon.

And although we will never be able to repay you, we will continue to show our support by staying at home. 

RESOURCES

  • Browse the COVID support directory here  
  • Join the Australian Screen News Facebook group to share opportunities here  
  • Subscribe to the Screen Australia newsletter to receive news fortnightly here  
  • Support Australian creators by buying and renting Australian screen stories. For some inspiration, start with the Watch From Home guide here  

 

Graeme Mason is the CEO of Screen Australia.This report has been adapted from an open letter Mr Mason sent to Australia's screen industry, creative communities, supporters and fans.

By Leon Gettler >>

UNIKRN, the e-sports, wagering and gaming company – with investors including Mark Cuban, Ashton Kutcher, Elizabeth Murdoch and others – is close to becoming the leading provider for some of the world’s biggest casinos.

Rahul Sood, Unikrn’s co-founder and CEO, said it would be a good fit as Unikrn is pioneering the way forward in gaming with cryptocurrency, something most casinos in the world know nothing about and something that will deliver them new markets. 

“We created it because our platform is more about fan engagement than it is just about gambling and we created a bunch of features on our platform where fans can earn tokens by connecting their video game accounts to the platform and playing games,” Mr Sood told Talking Business.

He said the company had to go through an extensive audit to secure access to cryptocurrency and it is now the only business with a licence from the Isle of Man that allows for betting with cryptocurrency and fiat currency on live e-sports, online casinos and a skills betting platform. This happened because of the way Unikrn handles Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) controls on blockchain.

He said the company had been operating since 2014 and had started out a tech company and had been building out its technology ever since then.

USTILISING ETHEREUM

The cryptocurrency used is an Ethereum-based token and the company has an Etherium-based blockchain system that supports 9000 transactions per second, robots that do the odds trading, computer vision technology and predictive analytics to come up with the odds.

Mr Sood said Unikrn has the ability to operate in over 30 countries around the world and it still hasn’t done any localisation.     

He said casinos have been approaching Unikrn to enter partnerships.

“I would say the largest casinos in the world are now calling us to find ways to partner with us,” Mr Sood said.

He said this was important in the US where gaming companies could only get a licence for sports betting if they owned a casino or were partners with a land-based casino.

“So there are opportunities for us to work with casinos. It starts with bringing in e-sports betting ad building wagering experiences around games people love and then talking about cryptocurrency,” Mr Sood said.

“Cryptocurrency is still something they’re wrapping their heads around but there is natural fit in the casino for cryptocurrency and I think most of them see it, they just don’t know how to apply it.”

WAGERING BUILT AROUND GAMES

Mr Sood said the casinos’ slot machine business was dying in Las Vegas because only older people were using slot machines.

“The fundamental difference between that and Unikrn’s approach is we’re building wagering experiences around games people love,” he said.

Mr Sood said the company diversified its locations to recruit talent.

Unikrn’s management team, its chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and head of product are in Sydney, most of the development team is in Berlin – with satellite offices in Croatia and Poland – the marketing head is in New York, there is a team in Las Vegas and Soon works out of Seattle.

It’s all par for the course for Rahul Sood, who began developing start-ups when he was with Microsoft Ventures. He has also been involved in multiple gaming companies. 

www.unikrn.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

By Leon Gettler >>

HOW CAN a non-profit group or business make a cheap video? The answer lies in team work and crowdsourcing.

Sydney tech start-up Vloggi has developed the solution with a platform that allows marketers with no filming skills or experience to crowdsource video campaigns anywhere in the world. It allows them to create authentic, professional looking video content to help bolster digital marketing efforts.  

Justin Wastnage, Vloggi’s founder and CEO, said Vloggi puts teams at the heart of the video making process, something that is unusual in film making and video production, which has always tended to be a solo pursuit.

He said even when video production did  involve teams, there was still a production person which created a bottle-neck.

The Vloggi model creates the look and feel of the video and then gets people to produce video clips, which are dragged and dropped into the product.

Vloggi has created a video template that users can apply to their videos.

“You make the template once and you reuse it endlessly,” Mr Wastnage told Talking Business.

TEAM VARIETY ENCOURAGED

The model also uses a variety of teams, which can be anything from people travelling together who want to make a highlights videos of their trips, or it can be large corporations wanting to harness community story telling.

Or, it can be a Facebook group seeking to have its members contribute video.

“That’s really what our teams function does,” Mr Wastnage said. “It enables anyone who has a team, large or small, to have one central place where all their video clips go in, and from there, anyone with access rights, can then pull those clips together into videos and download them for free in a template.”  

Vloggi has also created an algorithm that selects the best six clips and puts them into a highlights reel.

“Ultimately we want to automate video production and these are the first steps on that path,” he said.

SMART USE OF THE SMART PHONE

Vloggi was created for video makers using smart phones.

“This was the founding principle of Vloggi,” Mr Wastnage said. “Today, there are 2.2 billion people carrying a high definition video camera in their pocket in their smart phone.

“The quality of video now that’s recorded natively through the camera of the latest smart phones is so superb is that we have done is created a way for people to pool those clips together.”

He said Vloggi doesn’t set out to compete with high end video production.

“We are not replacing video editing, we’re augmenting it,” Mr Wastnage said. “More broadly, there are 85 percent of companies and small groups who are not doing any video at all.”

One key example lies with the 620 million Facebook users out there, where only 15 percent have any video content.

“That’s a lot of people who can’t afford a video or they find it too complex. What we are doing is positioning very neatly in that market,” Mr Wastnage said

This allows people to easily and more professionally create videos for their followers using the Vloggi platform. 

www.vloggi.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness. 

THE FOOTBALL CHAMPION Adam Goodes documentary, The Australian Dream, and Australia’s official submission for the Academy Awards, Buoyancy, have been nominated for the 13th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA).

There are among the 37 films from 22 countries and areas of the Asia Pacific that have achieved nominations, drawn from the 289 films in the APSA competition.

Films from India, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea and Russian Federation will vie for the coveted Best Feature Film prize. 

The awards will be staged alongside the Asia Pacific Screen Forum in Brisbane from November 18 in an exciting program of public and industry events.

Brisbane’s big week of Asia Pacific screen events will culminate in a glittering awards ceremony on November 21 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Competing for Best Feature Film are So Long, My Son, which grapples with China’s controversial one-child policy; Balloon, a poetic rumination of life on the Tibetan grasslands;

Russia’s official Academy Awards submission and post-World War II Leningrad tale, Beanpole; The Gold-Laden Sheep and The Sacred Mountain, which follows two shepherds searching for a downed aircraft in the remote Himalayas; and Korea’s critical and box office smash hit Parasite, which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

REPUTATIONAL EVENT

Brisbane Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner said the Asia Pacific Screen Awards continues to grow in reputation as an event that brings together the many cultures and voices of the region.

“For the local and global screen industry, Brisbane is becoming a hub for screen business each November,” Cr Schrinner said.

“The Asia Pacific Screen Awards is an important week in Brisbane’s cultural calendar, and this year we are thrilled to present free events to the public.”

The program includes free screenings of the APSA-nominated animation films at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), and a special National Film and Sound Archive screening of the iconic Sunday Too Far Away, followed by a rare panel discussion between screen legend Jack Thompson and iconic Australian actor David Wenham.

For industry, the Asia Pacific Screen Forum will present a program of events and opportunities to cement ties between the filmmakers and screen industries of the region, unlocking opportunities for the local industry to connect and collaborate.  

SCREENING THE FUTURE

APSA also continues to be a drawcard for screen-based conferences and events, with this year, the region’s leading computer animation festival SIGGRAPH Asia confirmed for Brisbane, presenting yet more opportunities for industry.

Chair of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and its Academy, Michael Hawkins congratulated the nominees.

“APSA ignites and honours cinematic excellence, across the vast region of Asia Pacific,” Mr Hawkins said.

“The spread of nominees encompasses some of the region’s most acclaimed auteurs and outstanding emerging voices and APSA is proud to foster their development and opportunities through the Asia Pacific Screen Forum and their induction to the Asia Pacific Screen Academy.”

APSA represents the 70 countries and areas of Asia Pacific, covering one third of the earth, and encompassing 4.5 billion people and half the world’s film production.

APSA is an international cultural program supported by Brisbane City Council and driven by Brisbane Marketing. APSA is endorsed by foundation partners UNESCO and FIAPF-International Federation of Film Producers Associations. The awards ceremony is an exclusive presentation unique to Brisbane.

www.brisbanemarketing.com.au 

ends 

TONIGHT BRISBANE is the epicentre for the world’s movie-making creativity and talent as the city hosts the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the culmination of a week of screenings, workshops and forums.

Celebrated Australian star of stage and screen Deborah Mailman will join media personality and actor Sofie Formica to host the 13th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (November 21). A total of 37 films from 22 countries and areas of the Asia Pacific region achieved nominations for the prestigious awards, drawn from the 289 films entered in the APSA competition. 

Deborah Mailman is a popular choice to co-host the awards, renowned for having blazed a trail for Aboriginal actresses by becoming the first to win the AFI for Best Actress in 1998 and in 2017 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for Services to the Arts and as a role model for Indigenous performers. This year she was appointed to the Board of Screen Australia and is currently on Australian screens in ABC TV’s Total Control. Originally from Mount Isa in north-west Queensland, she is a multiple Logie, AACTA, Helpmanm and Deadly Award winner. Her films include The Sapphires, Paper Planes, Bran Nue Dae, Rabbit Proof Fence, Radiance, and television performances in Total Control, Mystery Road, Offspring, Cleverman, Redfern Now, Playschool, Black Comedy and The Secret Life of U.

The 2019 awards mark Sophie Formica’s fourth time hosting APSA, with previous co-hosts including internationally acclaimed New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis (2018), multi-award-winning Singaporean director Anthony Chen (2015) and leading presenter of China’s International Channel Shanghai, Lei Chen (2013). Previous hosts have also included Australian actors David Wenham and Aaron Pedersen. She began her television career at the age of 14 in children’s programming and here  resume boasts appearances on WombatSaturday DisneyJust Kidding and on Now You See It as Australia’s first female game show host. During a stint in Los Angeles, Formica worked as a reporter on Extra, a national entertainment magazine show, interviewing many Hollywood actors. She also acted in Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson’s Queensland-located blockbuster San Andreas (2015).

Host city Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner said the Asia Pacific Screen Awards ceremony honoured cinematic excellence and celebrated both local and international filmmakers from more than 70 countries and areas. APSA is an international cultural program supported by Brisbane City Council and organised through Brisbane Marketing. APSA is endorsed by foundation partners UNESCO and FIAPF-International Federation of Film Producers Associations. The awards ceremony is an exclusive presentation now unique to Brisbane. 

Walking the red carpet tonight will be a who’s who of contemporary Asia Pacific cinema. Among them will be:

  • Iconic Australian actor and APSA Academy president Jack Thompson AM;
  • Renowned Australian film and TV actor David Wenham;
  • APSA patron and Busan Film Festival founder Kim Dong-ho;
  • Producer of Bong Joon-ho’s ParasiteJang Young Hwan;
  • Popular international actresses Samal Yeslyamova(Kazakhstan), Max Eigenmann (Philippines) and Nina Mazodier (Georgia);
  • Popular international actors Manoj Bajpayee (India),Navid Mohammadzadeh (Iran) and Nuttawat Attasawat (Thailand);
  • Writer and director of Australia’s official Oscar submission BuoyancyRodd Rathjen;
  • Producer ofThe Australian Dream, Nick Batzias;
  • Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich;
  • Kazakstan writer/director Adilkhan Yerzhanovand producer Olga Khlasheva;
  • People’s Republic of China, nominated screenwriter A Mei, producer Liang Ying and cinematographer Deng Xu;
  • Korean cinematographer Kim Hyunseok;
  • New Zealand animator Kirby Atkins;
  • Korean-born, New Zealand raised producer/editor/director Zoe Sua Cho (House of Hummingbird);
  • Bhutan director/producer Tashi Gyeltshenand producer Ram Krishna Pokharel (The Red Phallus);
  • Russian director Liubov Borisovaand producer Sardana Savvina from the remote Yakutsk region of Russia, 450km south of the Arctic Circle;
  • Fresh Indian cinematic voice Ridham Janve, nominated for Best Feature Film;
  • Iranian animator Behzad Nalbandi, documentary maker Farzad Khoshdast andscreenwriters Mohsen Gharaei and Mohammad Davoodi;
  • Representing Made in Bangladesh’sCultural Diversity nomination, producer Ashique Mostafa;
  • and Philippe Bellaïche, director and producer of documentary Advocate, which just won Best Documentary at the Antenna awards.

Also at tonight’s awards will be the APSA Youth, Animation, Documentary International Jury chair, Indonesian auteur, Garin Nugroho, and jury member, Animal Logic CEO, Zareh Nalbandian. 

Probably the hardest-working people leading up to right’s gala ceremony have been the APSA International Jury members including: Asia Pacific selector for Cannes and Venice Paolo Bertolin; deputy chair of the European Film Academy, prolific producer and activist Mike Downey; producer of 2017 APSA Best Feature Film Sweet Country, Greer Simpkin and Oh Jung-mi, the APSA-winning co-writer of Lee Chang-dong’s Burning.

“Brisbane is now seen as a world-class venue for national and international events such as the Asia Pacific Screen Awards,” Lord Mayor Shrinner said. “Major events such as these awards contribute $150 million into the Brisbane economy and support thousands of local jobs.

“Over 50 local businesses have been engaged through this year’s awards and we’ll see many more indirectly benefitting, such as tourism operators, restaurants and retail stores.

“This year, we are thrilled to have Australian stars, Deborah Mailman and Sofie Formica co-host the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Both are highly-regarded industry representatives.”

Tonight’s awards ceremony will open with a Welcome to Country by the Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dance Company. 

About the APSA juries

THE 13th Asia Pacific Screen Awards’ three juries are drawn from the industry talent pools of 10 countries: the APSA International Jury, the APSA Cultural Diversity International Jury, and the APSA Youth, Animation, Documentary International Jury.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said, “The talented and diverse people who form the three APSA Juries bring a wealth of experience to the roles.

“This year, the calibre of films nominated from all over the region is outstanding, and I wish the juries every success as they undertake the difficult task of deciding the 2019 winners.”

President of the APSA International Jury is multi-award-winning Singaporean filmmaker Eric Khoo, whose films have been selected for Cannes, Venice, Busan, Berlin, Toronto and Telluride.

Mr Khoo is joined on the five-member International Jury by globally acclaimed filmmakers from Australia, Italy, Republic of Korea and the UK.

They are Australian film and television producer Greer Simpkin (APSA Best Feature Film winner Sweet Country), Cannes and Venice Film Festival selector Paolo Bertolin, Korean screenwriter, theatre actor and Russian literature specialist Oh Jung-mi (APSA Jury Grand Prize winner Burning) and deputy chair of the European Film Academy, UK film producer, journalist and activist Mike Downey (APSA Cultural Diversity Award winner Dede).

The APSA Cultural Diversity International Jury determines the winner of the prestigious Cultural Diversity Award under the patronage of UNESCO. The jury represents APSA’s founding partnership with UNESCO, and the shared goals of the two organisations in the protection and preservation of cultural identity.

APSA Cultural Diversity International Jury chair is Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (APSA Cultural Diversity Award winner The Idol), documentary-maker, actress and founder of the NGO Catharsis-Lebanese Center for Drama Therapy from Lebanon Zeina Daccache, and Dương Bích Hạnh, head of the Culture Unit at the UNESCO Bangkok Office, an anthropologist with a strong commitment to gender equality, cultural diversity and human rights.

The APSA Youth, Animation, Documentary International Jury is chaired by Indonesian auteur Garin Nugroho; joined by Berlin-based award-winning Syrian film director and co-founder of Syria’s DOX BOX International Documentary Film Festival, Diana El Jeiroudi; and world leader in the fields of animation, VFX, film development and production co-founder and CEO of Animal Logic Zareh Nalbandian.

The Asia Pacific Screen Awards ceremony tonight is the culmination of an action-packed week of events for the industry and public in Brisbane presented by the Asia Pacific Screen Forum.

Chair of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Michael Hawkins said APSA brought together “… some of the most significant screen storytellers and key industry figures” and included “special appearances from some of our Jury members at events, and on panels including the Brunch to explore cultural diversity and freedom of expression in Asia Pacific, and the Meet the Programmers session.”

https://www.asiapacificscreenawards.com/asia-pacific-screen-forum

ends

By Leon Gettler >>

COPYTRACK, one of the world’s leading image rights enforcement services, is a service that makes sure photographers get paid for their pictures.

This is a lot more critical now as photos are easier to steal, through the internet. With digital images, the moment they are published, they immediately go world-wide. It’s a completely different proposition to the time when photographers still kept the originals.

Copytrack is a platform for photographers, image agencies, e-commerce companies and publishers. They upload the images and Copytrack will find all the ‘hits’ on them worldwide.

Copyright owners can then look at the ‘hits’ and decide whether it’s legal, or otherwise, and if necessary, take action. The aim is to ensure photographers control their rights and users are not stealing images. 

Speaking from Berlin, Marcus Schmitt, the CEO and founder of Copytrack, said the firm manages this complex challenge through its technology.

“Eighty percent of these hits are (often proved) illegal, so they can click on it and submit a claim to us,” Mr Schmitt told Talking Business.

HI-TECH TRACKING

Copytrack has developed a ‘crawler’ bot that wanders over millions of websites.

“We have a certain technology that allows us to do it very quickly so we don’t have to move big data,” Mr Schmitt said. “We extract certain criteria of an image and compare those. It’s quite smart and a very powerful engine.”

Some of the crawlers look at websites all over the world and other crawlers are directed to certain servers.

“For example, if we have a client who wants to check whether his clients licensed all the images used, then we can point it to certain servers,” he said.

The infringing party is then asked to pay a “very reasonable fee” through a post-licensing process.

FAIR PAY

The photographer gets 70 percent of the fee, and Copytrack clips the ticket and gets the balance. The post-licensing system works in every country around the world.

“If we have to go further and take some legal steps, then currently they get 50 percent of the revenue,” Mr Schmitt said.

He said Copytrack was constantly taking infringers to court.

“We maintain a network of lawyers worldwide,” Mr Scmitt said. “Depending on the countries, sometimes we are very successful with a pre-court settlement.”

The top countries for copyright infringement are the United States, China and Germany.

Prime examples of copyright theft include Rab Lewin, a photographer who captured iconic images of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana and then found they had been stolen; and the case of a hotel chain which took an image and distributed it to all travel agencies to use on their websites.

www.copytrack.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.  

ends

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