Tuesday, April 10th, 2018 #MakeItAustralian #MEAACrew #MEAAECS #MEAAEquity Campaigns

For the past month, MEAA has been encouraging screen crew members to contact their local MPs and Senators to call for the offshore film and TV production incentive – the location offset – to be lifted from 16.5% to 30%.

Australia’s location offset is one of the lowest in the world.

Big productions are going elsewhere because despite having world-class performers and crew and incredible locations, studios are unable to make the business case to film here.

The issue has urgency as the federal Budget will be handed down by Treasurer Scott Morrison on May 8.

We have set up an online tool that locates you MP and sends an email on your behalf. More than 400 screen workers have taken up the call. Here is some of what they have had to say:

“Despite working for film and television productions in the first half of 2017, I have since been unable to find work in these areas due to a lack of large-scale film productions taking place in Sydney. As such, I am now intending on moving overseas within the next few months in order to find meaningful employment in the film industry.” Nicolas, Sydney NSW

“My role is as a set Builder and on-set dresser props assistant. It is specialised position that does not exist outside of the film industry.  This is an industry that I truly thrive in as it is challenging and so very diverse but it is very unreliable as a regular source of income with long shutdowns between productions. Many local businesses around the Oxenford studios and the broader Gold Cost depend on a vibrant local film industry to sustain their businesses and provide income for their families. We are however at a significant disadvantage compared to other countries when it comes to incentives to bring major productions here, namely the offset rate of 16.5% which is way lower than any competing countries.” Richard, Fadden Queensland

“I write to you as an individual who is starting his career in the film industry, a career that is going to be cut remarkably short if the offset is not increased. Without larger scale foreign productions coming to this country providing us with opportunity and sustainable work, I fear that continuing in the industry that I deemed to be correct for me is impossible.  By increasing the offset to 30% my future in the film industry will be assured, and my career will be secure, worthwhile and long. Opportunities are not so easily afforded in smaller scale Australian projects, which is why this offset is so important to someone like me.” Louis, Kingsford NSW

“I am a young cinematographer building my freelance career in the local industry. The Australian film & TV industry has always been a small pond, but now more than ever we're experiencing a drought of offshore productions.  Although we have a great arts culture here in Melbourne a lack of big offshore productions nationwide will lead young members of our industry, such as myself, unable to up-skill and learn from the older generations who lead the crews of these larger scale productions.” Charles, Higgins Victoria

“Maybe the film industry isn’t saving lives but it is an industry that deserves to be funded. Thousands of people’s livelihoods are at stake. People with families, mortgages, trucks and equipment to upkeep, work spaces which need the rent paid. The impact on NSW is huge and should and can’t be ignored any longer. A permanent incentive would attract long-term international investment in our facilities as well.” Brooke, Sydney NSW

“I am a film and television sound recordist who is experiencing the worst production drought in 7-8 years. I have been in touch with so many of my peers and colleagues who are also experiencing extremely arduous employment problems within our industry. Many of us believe that the downturn in local large-scale feature film production for foreign clients is having a negative impact on the industry as a whole. We are by large all self-employed and need support if we are going to be able to remain in the sector and contribute our experience to the local Australian film and television production industry.” Christopher, Moreton Qld

“I personally have now gone overseas to work. I am lucky to be able to do this and keep working, many are less fortunate with contacts and cannot leave their families. My tax dollars are going to a foreign country and my daily spending too. Times this by 100 and Australia is losing out in many ways.”  Jasmin, Kingsford NSW

“I've only had the opportunity personally to work on two feature films at our local studios. I know other film graduates who have not even been lucky enough to get that opportunity. I currently cannot work in my field because there isn't nearly enough high scale production. We need to be competitive so me and all the other film graduates around the country can get work in the field that we have dedicated our time and money to learning. “ Keelan, Wright Qld

“I have worked in the screen industry continuously for my entire working life of 24 years. I now work mostly in the local Australian industry - telling Australian stories is my particular passion.  Over the last 2 years this local industry has displayed many signs that it is dying.  Budgets are unworkable, wages have stagnated (in some cases gone backwards), skills levels are dropping, facilities are aging and the work is now drying up.  This is largely due to the slowing of large scale productions coming into the country - which have quietly been bolstered and floating the local industry for decades.” Maxine, Wills Vic

“My husband is a stuntman in the film industry, recently working on Aquaman, Thor: Ragnarok, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, and many more. Because of the lack of films locked in here in Australia he is currently overseas working away from his pregnant wife and 2 year old son. Without films here in Australia he will have no other option except to find work overseas – our family's loss and the Australian film industry's loss. So many talented stuntmen here in Australia are in the same situation and will have to seek overseas work. “ Bianca, McPherson Qld

“I am a working mother of 2 small children and my husband and I are both assistant directors in the film industry. Our wish is to remain in Australia and raise our children here. Unfortunately we are talking daily of moving to America or the UK as there is just not enough work here to support our growing family. I have worked in the industry for 20 years and have never known it to be so quiet.  Last year alone we spent , as a family,  10 months living in Atlanta where the incentives for filming is massive and the city is flourishing. But we don’t want to raise our kids in America, for obvious reasons.” Samantha, Sydney NSW

“I’m an Assistant Director in the Sydney film industry. I’ve worked on everything from television commercials to Hollywood blockbusters. Among some of those pictures are Alien Covenant, Wolverine, The Shallows, Gods of Egypt, Light Between Oceans and Peter Rabbit. I can honestly say that right now this current year has been increasingly grim. To put it simply the work has completely dried up. The film industry is changing as fast as the world is, and Australia is missing out on opportunities to have large-scale films made here because the location offset filming incentive is out of date and uncompetitive.” Xander, Mackellar NSW

“HELP!! I am starving and my family is beginning to break apart due to the lack of work in the film industry in Australia. After 42 years in the industry I am forced to find new employment options, of which there are few after being a stuntman all of my life.” Richard, Fadden Qld

“I am an Australian designer and art director with almost 20 years experience in the film industry. I am currently lucky enough to be working in New Zealand on a major film production, but I can't say the same for my colleagues back in Australia.  Australia hasn't had a major film production for almost a year, which is strange considering how busy the entertainment industry is world-wide. For example there are two big movies in production in Auckland with a third to start shortly. This is in a town where they have to shoot in warehouses as they can't find enough decent studio space! Europe and the UK is also going hammer and tongs. My colleagues who moved there work continuously and have more opportunity to grow in their careers. Australia and Sydney in particular are world class for film production. Talented and skilled crews, purpose build studios, and incredible locations. So why are productions not shooting there?” Andrew, Dobell NSW

“I have worked in the film industry for 30 years. If overseas productions don’t happen. I will be in extra financial hardship with 2 children and a mortgage.” Phil, Richmond NSW

“I am based on the Gold Coast and work in the film Industry. Over the last few years I have been employed as Unit Manager on Unbroken, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Shallows, Kong, Thor, Aquaman and a few smaller productions. In my dept production employ around 8 people full time, we all have not worked since last November as no films have been on the Gold Coast, we all have families and mortgages. In my role is a Unit Manager my duties include set up of Unit base camps and logistics of moving trucks. When we move locations we employ around 40 casuals to move all the trucks. I personally have around $250,000 worth of trucks and equipment that are sitting idle.” Damian, Wright Qld

TAKE ACTION: Add your voice before it is too late.

What do you want to say?

Here are some suggestions about the kinds of things you might want to include in your submission:
  • What is the media like where you live? How much diversity/concentration of media is there in your area? How important to you is media diversity and having a wide range of voices and opinions? Will the takeover reduce competition/diversity in the Australian media sector?
  • What Fairfax and Nine publications and programs do you consume? What attracted you to them in the first place, and what do they mean to you/your family/household? What will be the impact of the takeover on the choice and range of media you consume?
  • How distinct is Fairfax journalism – what makes it different?  Describe a story or stories published by Fairfax over the years which have made a difference to you/had an impact on you/changed the way you think? What would your life/community be like without the journalism that Fairfax produces?
  • Who are the Fairfax journalists you always read/trust?
  • How important is fearless, independent journalism? What will be the impact of the takeover on investigative journalism and does it increase the risk of that independence being compromised by the commercial interests of the proprietor or its advertisers?
  • What else do you think the ACCC should consider when ruling on this takeover, and what would you like the ACCC to do?
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