Recently I was asked to provide feedback towards a Strategic Review Paper put forth by our State’s film funding body the South Australian Film Corp.
Personally I have a mixed attitude towards governments handing out funds especially if it is a commercial venture, however investing into a project that has merit for the common good might win my permission. Regardless careful consideration to its portioning is needed.
The elements of the paper I had largest concern with was the SAFC’s hope to get more bang for their buck by avoiding the new players who are trying to prove themselves and instead put it in the hands of those who are recognised as mature practitioners.
My point is that in the turbulence generated by emerging technology new players need to be considered, even looked to for the direction of story telling.
I would like to take the opportunity to provide some feedback on behalf of AIMIA towards the Strategic Review Paper.
This email is my personal summation of the feedback.
On the whole I agree with the proposals of the Strategic Review to best deploy the reduced available funds.
However I would like to challenge the use of some key terms to help the SAFC consider the future of this industry.
The use of the term “emerging” development is quite understandable but I would briefly like to touch on the use of the word “speculative”.
I apologise if it seems a semantic argument, but all production is speculative and I am not just referring to the speculation related to establishing and pleasing the eventual audience.
Those of us who operate in the technology industry are familiar with the dynamic and turbulent evolution of both the technology and the resulting culture surrounding its use. It is these factors which are having a direct impact on Filmic storytelling.
The trouble begins with the Strategic Review describing the South Australian industry as showing signs that it has matured.
From a global perspective we can demonstrate that it is this evolution of technology which is bringing even mature players (with a few exceptions) to be no more ahead of the curve than those just graduating or even those with amateur skills.
More importantly and through my personal conversation with a few, there is an aspect of infancy to these mature SA players. Conversations have demonstrated an understanding of the old models of film and TV production but show considerably less ability to make sense of the factors caused by evolving technology. These factors relate to funding methods, digital distribution, transient social memes and overcoming zero earnings through trends of “sharing” (piracy).
This is before you even consider broader interactive / second screen implications of which traditional business models cater little, but are yet beginning to be expected.
As a demonstration, within 4 years of the emergence of the app stores three considerably differing business models have already transitioned. With the long lead times of production there is no guarantee that the model perused at the outset will remain the presiding one at the end.
There is also a considerable mismatch between the traditional models of production financing, and the demands placed on producers by digital practitioners who operate in a demanding fee for service model.
Currently we do not propose a firm solution and as I have said we agree with removing the silos and ceasing the separation between the distribution channels.
The future is in flux and it belongs to those who make it. As such we do agree it will be the entrepreneurial producers/ groups that will continue to cut this path.
Thus we recommend there should remain a strong investment in programs (not projects or producers) that help foster this experimentation on a multifaceted front, investigating aspects of storytelling, platform choice, funding methods, and building links between entrepreneurial practitioners across industries.
Should the creation and management of this activity be best carried out by partnering entities such as the MRC or industry groups such as AIMIA, then we more than welcome these funds. We would also appreciate the assistance in creating some of these new initiatives. It will be this assistance which can help ensure synergies between the SAFC and partners. Simple facilitation of collaborative exploration with the SAFC and interchange between the partnering entities would be a simple example of this.
It is hoped that this investment and facilitation by the SAFC may actually prove more fruitful than funding mature players who’s business models are being disrupted.