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Proposal may end up on the cutting room floor

A PROPOSED $12.4 million dedicated film precinct, including studios, accommodation and a cinema complex is hanging in the balance despite the results of an independent review of Screenwest.

While the review urges implementation of the bold initiatives outlined by the Court Government’s Screen Industry Taskforce, the Gallop Government’s push to cut costs and streamline operations has raised concerns the recommendations could be set aside.

The review results have, however, been given a lukewarm response from some industry sectors, with many analysts claiming the report doesn’t address key issues, such as Screenwest’s controversial push for feature film production in Perth.

A mini Hollywood was one of the key recommendations, including an $18.85 million screen industry incentive package and a training and education scheme, set out in the Industry Taskforce Report.

The results of the independent review have been put out for public comment until early August, at which time Screenwest will collate replies for Arts Minister Sheila McHale.

“The minister will then give a direction on how it (the recommendations from the independent review) could be implemented, some of which may or may not accord with current government policy,” Screenwest business affairs manager Ian Booth said.

Peter Du Cane, chairman of the WA chapter of the Screen Producers Association Australia, also was critical of the review.

“It’s a little bit too early to say but across the board we’re a little bit disappointed. We felt it was very soft and didn’t take a critical look at the organisation and what it has been doing,” Mr Du Cane said.

“We feel, as the Screen Producers Association, that there’s been a really bad relationship with the local industry.

“They tend to throw lumps of state money on interstate productions.”

Many local operators feel the local industry is undervalued and overlooked by Screenwest, which is more focused on bigger eastern states productions.

Mr Du Cane said that, while the association was proud of its achievements, there was a general perception that “anyone not from here must be better”.

“If we’ve got outside productions coming in that’s a plus but we don’t throw $250,000 at foreigners and say that’s going to have a trickle down benefit,” he said

A push for feature film production in WA is a waste of time if it’s not adequately funded, according to Film and Television Institute chief executive officer Graeme Sward.

“There’s been a lot of money poured into attracting feature films that have never actually been made,” Mr Sward said.

“It’s a bit of an anomaly to call it a screen industry when it’s not funded as an industry. It’s funded as an agency of government. To kick start the film industry you’ve got to put money into it.”

Mr Sward is upbeat about the results of the independent review because he claims it supports the total restructure of Screenwest and, in particular, its role as an incubator for new productions.

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