30/01/2008 - 22:00

Opportunity not to be Wasted

30/01/2008 - 22:00

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Exciting times are likely to continue for the state’s film and television industry, according to ScreenWest CEO Ian Booth, following last week’s announcement of the beneficiary of the 2008 West Coast Visions initiative.

Exciting times are likely to continue for the state’s film and television industry, according to ScreenWest CEO Ian Booth, following last week’s announcement of the beneficiary of the 2008 West Coast Visions initiative.

This year’s winning project, Wasted, by local writer Ben Lucas was granted $750,000 by ScreenWest’s low-budget feature film initiative, West Coast Visions.

Wasted is the third feature film project to benefit from the initiative: Last Train to Freo was the first and the second was Brace, which is currently in pre-production.

Last Train to Freo made its mark in the national and international film industry with four Australian Film Institute Award nominations. It was chosen to screen at the Melbourne and New Zealand international film festivals.

This year’s winning project was described as: “The YouTube generation meets Saw in Wasted, a voyeuristic teen, tech, thriller with global appeal”.

According to Mr Booth, amid an Australia-wide struggle to finance feature films, the West Coast Visions initiative aims to expand the local low-budget feature film industry in Western Australia.

“The feature film industry in WA is not sustainable on its own but provides good profile and break-out opportunities,” Mr Booth told WA Business News.

“We [ScreenWest] need to do both; investing in feature films for their profile and inspirational level, as well as developing production in children’s television and factual programming.”

In 2006, the funding agency released a five-year strategic plan aimed at increasing WA production by 50 per cent and creating a sustainable level of work for film crews.

“It’s difficult to say what stage we are at exactly regarding our target just yet because you need to look at it over a couple of years,” Mr Booth said,

However, the progress made in the film and television industry is perceptible in the amount of money injected in production during the past few years.

“Last financial year there has been approximately $30 million output in production; this financial year we are expecting about $40 million. Five years ago there was only $10 to $15 million spent in the sector per year,” Mr Booth said.

A record five to six WA-produced feature films are in various stages of production, including the indigenous road movie To Hell and Back, Baz Lurhmann’s Australia, and the two West Coast Visions films, Brace and Wasted.

Mr Booth said one of the biggest hurdles to the sector’s growth in the state was finding skilled film crew to keep up with the demand.

“We see a phenomenon where WA expats come back in the state for one-off production and eventually decide to stay when they discover that there are more opportunities,” he said.

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