In good news for the industry, the government has announced a $400 million incentive to attract film and television productions to Australia.
The expansion of the Location Incentive over the next 7 years will capitalise on Australia’s
relative success in managing COVID-19, compared to many other parts of the world.
To date, 10 productions have attracted $123 million in funding through the existing Location Incentive including Thor: Love and Thunder and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in Sydney, Godzilla vs Kong on the Gold Coast, Shantaram and The Alchemyst in Melbourne. These are estimated to generate spending of around $1 billion, support 8,500 local jobs, benefiting over 9,000 Australian businesses.
The additional $400 million will help an estimated $3 billion in foreign expenditure and create 8,000 new employment opportunities.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “This investment is key to our JobMaker plan to create jobs, boost local business activity, and provide training and skills.
“Behind these projects are thousands of workers that build and light the stages, that feed, house and cater for the huge cast and crew and that bring the productions to life. This is backing thousands of Australians who make their living working in front of the camera and behind the scenes in the creative economy.”
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher said, “The Location Incentive is an economic multiplier. It will sustain the vitality of Australian screen production and support jobs and local businesses.
“Through this additional commitment, the Government is telling the world that Australia is a desirable destination for screen production – with great locations, skilled crews, world-class talent, post-production expertise and state of the art facilities.”
The boost follows heavy campaigning by industry organisations for incentives and practical support by Screen Producers Australia, Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance and Australian Writers’ Guild, amongst others.
The expansion of the Location Incentive comes on top of $250 million over the next 12 months to help restart the creative economy, including $50 million for a Temporary Interruption Fund.
Screen Producers Australia welcomed the announcement but also sounded a note of caution.
“We acknowledge the support the Government has provided in this announcement and welcome the jobs it will create, not just in the production sector, but also in the myriad of other industries which service and benefit from production activity, such as hospitality and tourism. International productions also offer great opportunities to enhance the industry’s reputation and capability,” it said in a statement.
“Whilst inbound productions are an important part of the overall Australian production industry, at this critical time we also need to ensure there is balance in Government assistance for the whole ecosystem, and that there are also appropriate support measures in place that will allow us to continue to make Australian stories, told by Australian voices, supported by sustainable Australian production businesses.”
It added, “We urgently need the Government to release the demand hand-brake imposed by the uncertainty regarding 2021 quotas. Given the lead times for production, the market needs a signal regarding 2021 quotas immediately, to allow for delivery in 2021. A failure to make a decision in the coming weeks will effectively result in an inability to supply, despite the industry’s readiness and capacity to deliver the content broadcasters need to meet their quota requirements.”
Free TV Australia also expressed frustration.
Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said, “Investment which supports our local production sector, cast and crews is always welcome but we are concerned that this package comes in isolation of the ongoing enquiries into local content, quotas and support for the domestic industry.
“These international productions come here for many reasons, financial support being one part. But the important element of using our talented local cast and crew will be missed if we don’t have a strong, dynamic local industry where these people work day in and day out, honing their skills and ensuring they are match fit to step up to the international stage on bigger bolder productions. This in turn provides opportunities for younger people to get their first leg up on the local production ladder.”
She noted Free TV broadcasters spend $1.6 billion on Australian production every year.
“We are in the middle of a major review of content quotas and production incentives, including the location offset, so it’s difficult to understand why the Government has made a one-off decision now about a single element of the mix right in the middle of this process. Free TV broadcasters and the broader production industry urgently need a timetable for the decisions from Government, so we have some certainty on when the much-needed reforms can be implemented.”
Seven West Media:
Managing Director and CEO, James Warburton said, “While we support increasing the location offset for foreign productions it is frustrating and disappointing to see this seemingly given higher priority than fixing the broken regulatory regime for Australian Content.
“Local broadcasters continue bear the burden of antiquated regulatory obligations that render us unable to fairly compete with foreign online competitors. This was recognised by the ACCC in its Digital Platforms Inquiry and the Government has committed to addressing it. What is needed is for the Government to act with the same urgency in implementing reforms to our Australian content obligations and production incentives for local Australian productions.”
“This is a billion-dollar industry for our state, supporting nearly 10,000 jobs and while it’s been hit hard by the global pandemic, we’re in the box seat to get it back up and running again,” Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“Right now, due to the measures we have set in place and the amazing efforts of Queenslanders, I am proud to say that Queensland is one of the safest places to film not just in Australia, but in the world.”
The Premier said she’s been been calling for more federal assistance in this space for years.
“I’m glad the federal government has finally responded,” she said.
“Queensland can now attract more international feature films and high end television series into our state, creating more jobs for Queenslanders including a flow-on effect for the wider community including tourism and accommodation, catering and hospitality, transport, construction industries and many more.”
CEO Kate Marks said, “The global screen sector has been valued at US$177 billion in 2019* and has increased exponentially in recent years – driven by consumer demand worldwide and proliferation of online streaming services. The increase to the Location Incentive enables Australia to tap into this demand and is a strategic driver for economic recovery.”
Ms Marks added, “the additional $400 million will deliver significant employment and growth for our screen service export businesses, our crew and Australian cast. Thousands of Australians will now have the ongoing opportunity to work alongside – and collaborate with – some of the most experienced international filmmakers and screen practitioners at the top of their game. This sector also positively impacts other sectors such as tourism, hospitality and retail, to a significant degree.”