Update from Screenwest Board Chair John Driscoll
It’s been seven months since I was appointed Chair of the Screenwest Board and I am pleased to provide my first industry update.
In the two years since we became a not-for-profit organisation, Screenwest has been bedding down our operations and establishing new structures to support opportunities to grow Western Australia’s screen industry.
The Board is conscious that in order to achieve our goals, we need to work with the WA screen industry.
As such, we are working to implement a range of additional initiatives to regularly engage with the industry through formalised structures. The Industry Advisory Group is a key part of this strategy. They keep the lines of communication open, advising the Board on screen industry matters. We place a great deal of importance on the input we receive on key strategic areas for the screen industry to frame the direction that we set for Screenwest.
A clear example of this has been the ongoing development and implementation of SmartyGrants and the review of our Program Guidelines and Terms of Trade. The Board has taken an active interest in these activities and we are aware of the need for comprehensive and far reaching industry engagement. Following industry feedback, the team revised the consultative process around these activities and provided clarification on the two-stepped approach to engaging industry in the review. There is more information on this project available on the Screenwest website.
One of the key matters of importance to the Board that has been raised by industry representatives is progress with the development of new partnerships and funding opportunities.
In line with our current Strategic Plan, engaging with potential partners and looking at new funding opportunities is a key focus for the Board. With our new status as a registered charity, we will have the flexibility to establish new funds to support our endeavours. Although attracting new funding sources and developing partnerships will not happen overnight, we are confident we’ll achieve real progress towards that goal over the coming year.
Screenwest is privileged to have strong relationships with our principal funding partners: The Western Australian Government and Lotterywest.
Without the funding we receive, we cannot support the industry. This includes established producers, but just as importantly, the next wave of emerging creative Western Australians who are developing and pursuing their craft. It continues to be a concern from industry that Screenwest’s available production funding is under pressure due to production rounds being heavily oversubscribed. This is not a situation unique to Western Australia, but it is something that the Board and management are actively working with industry to address.
We are also pleased to be able to engage in new programs with the support of our funding partners, such as the $100,000 Interactive Pilot Fund for interactive, virtual reality and video games.
The pilot program is now in full swing with five projects selected to receive development and production support. As these projects progress, we know they will confirm Western Australia’s gaming industry can mix it with the best in the world. With the global gaming industry valued at over $200 billion each year, it’s clear that development of the local sector is critical. We will continue to pursue how we can support video games, as well as other “non-traditional” platforms.
As you may know, Western Australia is leading the way in independent film production in Australia.
I was delighted to attend the recent CinefestOZ and be part of the celebrations for H IS FOR HAPPINESS winning the 2019 CinefestOZ Film Prize. There were a number of Western Australian productions featuring at CinefestOZ including THE NAKED WANDERER, WHALE SUPER HIGHWAY, WILD BUTTERFLY and STORM IN A TEACUP, an intimate documentary portrait of Margaret River artist Leon Pericles which has since premiered on ABC TV and iview. It was pleasing to note the high level of support and excitement these productions received from audiences and critics alike.
I am confident that Screenwest continues to receive strong support from the screen industry. I trust that you will continue to work collaboratively with the team on the many projects we have to develop, support and promote our industry.
I look forward to talking with you again soon.
Chair, Screenwest Board of Directors
Listen to our podcast – In Conversation with Screenwest for a behind the scenes look at the world of screen production as world-class film, television, documentary and digital media practitioners share their experiences, insight and expertise.
View the WA Screen Industry Calendar to see what’s happening in the screen industry in Western Australia.