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Australia's richest film prize launches festival program

11 hours ago

Hugo Weaving has been named as this year's CinèfestOZ 2015 Screen Legend with today's launch of the festival's program.

Weaving will be recognised for his achievements as an Australian actor at the Festival.s Gala Night on 29 August at which Australia.s biggest film prize, the CinéfestOZ $100,000 Film Prize, is also awarded to an outstanding Australian film.

.Hugo Weaving is one of Australia's most celebrated actors and a passionate supporter of Australia film, television and theatre in and outside of his work. .

His credits include Stephan Elliott.s classic The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert; Jocelyn Moorhouse.s Proof and The Dressmaker opposite fellow Australian Judy Davis; Rowan Woods acclaimed drama, Little Fish alongside Cate Blanchett and Sam Neill; .Mystery Road directed by upcoming filmmaker Ivan Sen; Strangerland directed by first time director Kim Farrant opposite Nicole Kidman which screened at Sydney Film Festival and Sundance; Glendyn Ivin.s »

- Inside Film Correspondent

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Margaret Pomeranz joins National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

16 hours ago

Margaret Pomeranz has become an ambassador for the National Film and sound Archive of Australia in a bid preserve the country's audiovisual heritage.

As the first face of the organisation's Ambassador program, Pomeranz will raise awareness of the importance and challenges of preserving Australia.s audiovisual heritage.

Pomeranz said she was passionate about screen heritage and was aware of its fragility. .

"In my role as Nfsa Ambassador I want to focus attention on how crucial it is to preserve that heritage so it can be shared and enjoyed not only by this generation but by many future ones," she said.

"It is such an important part of Australia, and I urge people to join me in supporting the Nfsa."

As Nfsa Ambassador, Ms Pomeranz will help promote the Nfsa and its activities, and support the organisation's fundraising and sponsorship campaigns.

Nfsa CEO Michael Loebenstein said: "We are extremely honoured that »

- Inside Film Correspondent

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Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge set for Nsw shoot

29 July 2015 9:26 PM, PDT

Nsw will be the primary filming location for Mel Gibson's, Hacksaw Ridge.

The film is set to generate about 720 jobs and and over $26 million in production expenditure across central Sydney, Western Sydney and regional Nsw.

It will commence production in September and will be based at Fox Studios Australia and primarily filmed in locations across New South Wales..

Producers of the film include Bill Mechanic, Bruce Davey, Paul Currie, David Permut and Executive Producer, James M Vernon..

Pre-production starts this month (July 2015) and the film is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016..

It will star Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Social Network) with screenplay by Australian writer Andrew Knight and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Robert Schenkkan.

Gibson said Nsw was a great place to film. ..

.I can't think of a better place to shoot this film than here in Sydney and Nsw, where I was fortunate »

- Brian Karlovsky

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Distribution doldrums for Aussie producers

29 July 2015 8:18 PM, PDT

Australian producers are facing a triple whammy when it comes to financing and releasing their films in Australian cinemas, with no relief in sight while digital revenues remain modest.

The average advances from local distributors and international sales agents are 50 per cent- 70 per cent lower than 10 years ago.

The dominance of the Us majors, which collectively accounted for 88 per cent of the national B.O. last year, continues to squeeze out independent films.

And virtually no film released on fewer than 20 screens is earning significant revenues in cinemas.

Those are among the findings of a Screen Australia report, Issues in Feature Film Distribution, unveiled by CEO Graeme Mason on Thursday.

.At the cinema the viewing experience is becoming more a special event/occasion where the shelf space is crowded and smaller films — including most Australian films — are finding difficulty reaching their potential,. the report says.

"As content becomes easier to access overall, »

- Don Groves

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Leads set for generational drama

29 July 2015 6:52 PM, PDT

Game of Thrones' Keisha Castle-Hughes and A Place to Call Home's Craig Hall will play the leads in X Was Here, the feature writing and directing debut of Clara Chong.

In the multi-generational drama Hall will play Rory, a talented photographer who, at 42, isn.t where he wants to be, lacking a home, a girlfriend and a successful career.

He meets 29-year-old Ryan (Castle-Hughes), the eldest of three siblings who had led a selfish life until she discovers a talent for cooking. Ryan recognises Rory.s talent and hard work and encourages him to let go, allowing unexpected things to happen.

As If had reported, John Jarratt will play Rory.s father, a baby boomer, with Michael Caton as the grandfather, a pre-boomer.

It.s the debut feature from The Film Bakery, produced by cinematographer/producer Ben Allan. Chong, a commercials and documentary director, started writing the screenplay five years ago. »

- Don Groves

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Pukeko Pictures names new CEO

29 July 2015 5:38 PM, PDT

Pukeko Pictures has appointed of Clive Spink as its new chief executive. .

He will replace Andrew Smith, who will be leaving in August to take up the position of chief executive of Touchtech, a Wellington's software company.

Spink has been with Pukeko Pictures for over a year in the position of chief operating officer. .

He will take up the role of chief executive from August 1. .

In his new role he will continue to drive Pukeko Pictures' business growth including its development and production momentum, according to a company statement.

Prior to Pukeko Pictures, Spink led the commercial team responsible for all of Vodafone New Zealand.s enterprise customers. .

He was also the finance director for Unisys New Zealand and also had time running their Australian commercial team..

Spink's broadcasting and production experience stems from time at Television New Zealand working for their local production company Kotuku Productions which produced »

- Inside Film Correspondent

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South Australian Film Corporation launches new grant

29 July 2015 5:32 PM, PDT

The South Australian Film Corporation (Safc) has launched a new grant to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander filmmakers.

The Safc has also released program deadlines for four other funding initiatives as well as an ABC Comedy Internship.

The new Aboriginal Project Development Grant will see up to $15,000 per project made available to filmmakers for the development of long form drama and factual projects for cinema and television.

Recipients of the new grant can also still apply for other South Australian Film Corporation funding through initiatives such as production investment, project development, professional development and production attraction.

The new grant is part of the Safc.s renewed focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander filmmaking which was highlighted as a key priority for new chief executive, Annabelle Sheehan, on her appointment to the role in January 2015.

It also follows Safc.s funding of five Sa Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander filmmakers to make Micro-Documentaries. »

- Inside Film Correspondent

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Screen Australia provides $170,000 in funding for eight filmmakers

29 July 2015 5:22 PM, PDT

Screen Australia has provided $170,000 funding for eight filmmakers to work as .attachments. on a range of screen projects..

The investment will help develop the skills, contacts and expertise of some of Australia.s gifted screen practitioners, and connect them into the local and international film industry.

Screen Australia senior development executive, Nerida Moore, said talent development was one of the most important aspects Screen Australia's work.

"It.s wonderful to be able to support it in a tangible and meaningful way," she said..

"This funding is very specific — it will enable particular people to work on projects that suit their unique talents and pathways..

"Film is a global industry and it.s important that we help Australian filmmakers find opportunities here and internationally. We look forward to seeing where these opportunities take them!.

Producer Michael Cody (Ruin, Hail) will work across the development, financing, production and distribution slate of Plan B Entertainment (The Departed, »

- Inside Film Correspondent

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Pow Wow Studios joins forces with Digital Sound & Vision

29 July 2015 5:05 PM, PDT

Pow Wow Studios has joined forces with Digital Sound & Vision.

Dsv.s founder owner, Vic Kaspar said it was great to be working together with Chris Fitz-Gibbon again at Pow Wow Studios..

"We successfully collaborated on a job years ago and have been friends ever since," he said.

"It just made sense to merge our talents and provide the Sydney market with an alternative to the norm..

Kaspar said the "creative hub" model provided clients with a choice of top notch industry professionals in an inspiring creative environment that is conducive to getting .award winning production values for their projects.

Kaspar is an Australian sound designer/supervisor with international awards and credits, including three Golden Reel nominations for Inspector Gadget 2 and Kung Fu Hustle and a Golden Reel win for House of Flying Daggers, as well as numerous local awards.

Kaspar has been based on the lot at Warner »

- Inside Film Correspondent

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Oz films set to shine in Venice and Toronto

29 July 2015 3:03 PM, PDT

Writer-director Sue Brooks' Looking for Grace will be the first film by a female Australian director to screen in competition at the Venice Film Festival since Clara Law's The Goddess Of 1967 in 2000.

Australia will have an unprecedented profile at the festival with Michael Rowe.s Early Winter and Simon Stone.s The Daughter selected for the Venice Days sidebar and Bentley Dean and Martin Butler.s Tanna screening in Venice Critics. Week.

This is the first time Australian films will be represented in all three Venice categories. That adds to the prestige of The Daughter having its North American premiere in the Special Presentations section of the 40th Toronto International Film Festival, where Jocelyn Moorhouse.s The Dressmaker will have its world premiere in the Gala Presentations section.

Wayne Blair's Us thriler Septembers Of Shiraz, which stars Salma Hayek, Adrien Brody and Shohreh Aghdashloo, will also screen in Gala Presentations. »

- Don Groves

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Sbs calls on producers to pitch for TV show with $300,000 budget

28 July 2015 6:15 PM, PDT

Emerging producers are being given the chance to pitch a TV show to Sbs and Screen Producers Australia for a $300,000 budget.

Screen Producers Australia and Sbs have launched Kickstart 2015, available exclusively to this year.s participants in Ones To Watch.

Ones to Watch is a mentoring program run by Screen Producers Australia..

The competition was launched by Sbs director, TV and online content, Marshall Heald at a Breakfast Briefing hosted by Screen Producers Australia at Fox Studios in Sydney.

The Ones To Watch Kickstart pitching competition provides the winner with a budget up to $300,000 to develop their original TV series concept to be aired on Sbs 2..

The competition has seen winners develop successful series. such as Lisa Shaunessy.s .Hipsters. which received high ratings and positive reviews when it premiered on Sbs 2 earlier this year.

Screen Producer Australia chief executive, Matthew Deaner, said he was delighted that Sbs continued to »

- Inside Film Correspondent

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Funding cuts revealed at Screen Australia

28 July 2015 5:21 PM, PDT

Facing four years of budget cuts, Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason has challenged producers to think of new ways of funding and distributing content and to scrap projects which have languished for years in development.

Addressing a forum in Sydney on Tuesday night, Mason revealed how program spending will be impacted by the last federal budget, which cut its funding by $3.6 million over four years.

Total investment dropped from $77 million in 2013/2014 to $66.8 million in 2014/2015 and is projected to be $67 million in the current fiscal year.

In the past two financial years funding for features declined from $24.1 million to $19.1 million but this year will be $20-22 million.. "Films recoup more money than everything else we do," he told a packed house at the Palace Verona.

Adult TV drama rose from $11.8 million to $14 million but will be trimmed to $10-12 million while children.s drama dropped from $8.3 million to $6.9 million but will go up to $8-10 million. »

- Don Groves

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Screen Australia rethinks investment in kids' drama

28 July 2015 3:22 PM, PDT

Screen Australia has foreshadowed a more stringent approach to investing in children.s drama in light of the paltry viewing figures for programs aired on the commercial free-to-air networks. digital channels.

Head of production Sally Caplan cited Mako Mermaids, which attracted 200,000 viewers when the. first 15 episodes aired at 4 pm on Fridays on Network Ten.s primary channel in 2013.

Following the change in legislation allowing children.s programs broadcast on the multi-channels, Ten moved the show to 8 am Fridays on Eleven,. drawing just 21,000, which improved. to 41,000 after it was shifted to Sundays at 11 am.

The agency invested $2.9 million in the series, Caplan told a Screen Australia forum in Sydney on Tuesday evening. Jonathan M. Shiff Productions produced a second series and Netflix acquired the rights to both seasons for multiple territories...

Caplan said .we have to rethink. that level of investment which is not justified given the ratings on the multi-channels. »

- Don Groves

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Black is the New Orange

27 July 2015 10:04 PM, PDT

Non-Indigenous filmmakers who are keen to tackle Indigenous stories may want to attend the next session of Ozdox, the Australian Documentary Forum.

Entitled Black is the New Orange, the August 19 session at Aftrs will feature prominent Indigenous filmmakers and two Screen Australia executives.

They will be sharing insights into the storytelling process and the issues facing Indigenous Australia at the event produced in association with the Australian Directors Guild and Aftrs.

The panel will comprise Penny Smallacombe, head of indigenous at Screen Australia; Sam Griffin, an investment manager in the documentary unit of Screen Australia; Blackfella Films. Darren Dale; and factual series producer/ director Jacob Hickey.

Smallacombe is a member of the Maramanindji people from the Northern Territory. She has a Master of Arts (documentary producing) degree from Aftrs. She worked as producer/director with the Indigenous Programs Unit in the ABC and made several series of shorts for the ABC, »

- Don Groves

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MasterChef juggernaut rumbles on with 2.71 million viewers

27 July 2015 7:51 PM, PDT

Network Ten's MasterChef Australia finale drew an audience of 2.71 million as Billie McKay took 2015 title.

The national audience was up 26 per cent on the 2014 final and peaked at 2.86 million.

Grand Final Part 2 (Part 1 went to air on Sunday night) attracted 2.35 million capital city and regional viewers, peaking at 2.85 million.

In the capital cities, MasterChef Australia — The Winner Announced had 2.13 million viewers, up 25 per cent on its 2014 number, and peaked at 2.22 million..

That made it the mostwatched non-sport television program so far this year.

Grand Final Part 2 had 1.84 million capital city viewers and peaked at 2.2 million.

Both The Winner Announced and Grand Final Part 2 dominated their timeslots..

The former captured a 64.3 per cent commercial share in total people and a 68.6 per cent share in people 25 to 54.

The latter had a 50.5 per cent share in total people and a 55.7 per cent share in 25 to 54s.

The series. average capital city and regional audience was 1.48 million, »

- Inside Film Correspondent

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Cinemas raise prices while attendances shrink

27 July 2015 6:06 PM, PDT

Average cinema ticket prices in Australia have risen by more than 22 per cent since 2009 to a 30-year high while attendances have fallen by about 14 per cent in the past 10 years.

Exhibitors are compensating for the decline in admissions by raising prices and through 3D and premium cinemas, but a new study warns the cinema industry may face long-term problems.

Deakin University academics Bronwyn Coate and Deb Verhoeven analysed the gross box-office trends from 2000 to 2014 and found the average annual fluctuation is 0.1 per cent, which suggests the B.O. has stagnated.

.The introduction of new premium class cinema offerings as well as the proliferation of 3D as a popularised viewing format have in part driven up ticket prices,. they write in the report entitled Counting the cost: Exploring the impact of cinema ticket prices in Australia.

.This form of variable pricing appears to be premised on the belief that although less tickets overall may be sold, »

- Don Groves

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Screenwriting as monkey business

27 July 2015 4:12 PM, PDT

Screenwriters who want to think outside the conventional narrative box can learn a lot from neuroscience studies of monkeys.

Huh? Yes, that.s the subject of a lecture to be delivered in Sydney on July 30 by writer, director, actor and educator Steve Vidler.

His keynote talk at a StoryCode event at the Academy of Information Technology in Ultimo is entitled .What monkeys can teach us about screen story- or how I learned to stop worrying about 3 act structure and love neuroscience..

Vidler, who has a PhD in screenwriting at Macquarie University and lectures at Aftrs, will ask attendees, .How many screenplays have you read, and how many films have you seen that suffer from the same problem? Screen stories that are conventionally .properly. structured, and yet are devoid of meaning.

.The big problem shared by most approaches to screen storytelling is that they.re based on the assumption of some »

- Don Groves

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Endemol Shine Australia makes a raft of senior appointments

26 July 2015 8:19 PM, PDT

Global content creator, producer and distributor, Endemol Shine Group, has made a raft of senior appointments to coincide with the formal launch its Australian arm.

Endemol Shine Australia, now the largest television production house in the country, will bring together Shine Australia and Endemol Australia..

It will be will be led by chief executives, Mark and Carl Fennessy, as announced in May.

Peter Newman will leading the unscripted content team as managing director, unscripted content.

Newman was promoted from his current Shine Australia role as director of programming, where he oversaw major formats such as MasterChef, The Bachelor, Gogglebox, The Biggest Loser, Shark Tank and Australia's Next Top Model.

Margaret Bashfield has been promoted to the role of supervising executive producer, unscripted content. She will report to Peter Newman.

Endemol Shine Australia will bring together Australian drama producers, John Edwards (Offspring, Puberty Blues, Love My Way), Imogen Banks (Offspring, Puberty Blues) and Mimi Butler (Rush, »

- Brian Karlovsky

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Ten chief Hamish McLennan steps down

26 July 2015 7:51 PM, PDT

Ten Network chief executive and executive chairman, Hamish McLennan, has stepped down after almost two years at the helm.

Chief operating officer and chief financial officer, Paul Anderson, will replace McLennan as chief executive, while David Gordon has been appointed chairman.

Gordon has been a director of Ten since April 2010 and, as a member of the Independent Board Committee, has been closely involved with the strategic transactions announced on June 15.

Gordon thanked McLennan for his contribution during what had been a "challenging period"..

"He has led a strong and talented management team to effect a turnaround in the Company.s performance," he said.

.Hamish will work with myself and Paul Anderson on a seamless transition and he will continue to advise and assist the company until the end of the year.

.Ten is in an important and exciting phase, as we continue to build our revenue on the back of »

- Brian Karlovsky

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