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Funding cuts hit emerging filmmakers


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South Australia’s Media Resource Centre has been rocked by the loss of federal funding used to support emerging filmmakers.

Director Gail Kovatseff told InDaily the $276,000 funding cut represented 23 per cent of the annual turnover of the screen culture centre.

It may also affect the Mercury Cinema, which is operated by the MRC.

Kovatseff said that in many ways the centre had kept the cinema going as a “labour of love”, through help with funding and staff support.

“There’s such goodwill towards the Mercury that I just don’t believe it will fail … but what has always been a really hard gig will just get harder,” she said.

“We’ve been running on the smell of an oily rag … and now 23 per cent of that oily rag has gone.”

The cut in funding from Screen Australia will take effect from 2016 and will be the first time in 30 years that the Media Resource Centre has not received federal support.

Kovatseff said the main impact would be on programs supporting new and emerging South Australian filmmakers who are provided with funding, access to equipment, mentoring and script development advice through the MRC.

She said such support was critical in helping filmmakers produce their first short films or webisodes to gain a foothold in the industry.

Among those who have been helped in the past and then gone on to achieve national success are Victoria Cocks (writer-director of Wastelander Panda), Dario Russo (creator of TV series Danger 5), Dave Wade (writer-director of award-winning short film Welcome to Iron Knob), and Madeleine Parry (creator of acclaimed ethical eating documentary Murder Mouth).

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said the national funding organisation had introduced changes “to respond to a new budget environment”.

In a document titled Taking Stock, he said Screen Australia was cutting staff by 10 per cent, reducing spending on production investment and project development programs by $2–3 million, and transitioning away from direct funding of screen resource organisations.

Kovatseff said the Media Resource Centre believed Screen Australia’s funding model was fundamentally flawed, taking away critical support from the bottom rungs of the industry. She said smaller states such as SA would be hardest hit by the funding cuts.

“The door is shutting to future generations of this industry.

“Without the support of the programs funded by Screen Australia, new filmmakers have a significantly more difficult task to establish themselves.”

The Media Resource Centre board will meet this week to discuss the funding cut and consider options to continue supporting emerging filmmakers.



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