Tuesday 8 July 2008

Government Estimates – Legislative Council


1.6 Film, TV and Multimedia Industry Development

Mr FINCH - In respect to this, there is a bit of confusion in my own mind as to this screen area which is apparently not in the Minister for Arts' portfolio but in State Development. Am I in the right section now?
What raises my curiosity in respect to this section is that I wonder whether TAFE would be receptive if it was asked to help establish a comprehensive screen and multimedia training centre. There are unused premises in Launceston in particular at the moment and I know they are owned by TAFE; they could be identified. During the budget Estimates process we suggested there is a clearly identified need and opportunity for training in Tasmania. The State has numerous advantages in the field of screen production. I wonder if there could be some detail on what is being done and what is planned in this area?
[11.30 a.m.]
Mr PARKINSON - Mr Chairman, my advice is that the Government is in discussions with TAFE with particular reference to Launceston. The need for further training in film et cetera is certainly recognised and those discussions are ongoing.
Mr FINCH - Of course we know that there is potential to attract major productions to Tasmania and during the budget Estimates we heard about a golden opportunity with a major production coming here. Would it be easier if we had an established skill pool to draw on when people identify that Tasmania would be a good place to make movies and television programs? I am just curious as to whether any work has been done to identify and quantify the direct financial benefits and tourism boosts that could occur through the development of this idea.
Mr PARKINSON - My adviser indicates that one of the relevant figures is that from a $1 million investment Screen Tasmania generates $16 million income through productions in Tasmania - that is the current position. An industry-wide audit has never been done in Tasmania but one is planned. Screen Tasmania is interested in obtaining the funding to do that. It is important to realise that it is not only Screen Tasmania that is involved in productions in Tasmania but the private sector is as well. In that sense an industry-wide audit would be handy in order to establish exactly what happens throughout the industry in this State.
Screen Tasmania obviously knows what it is involved in - how much money it puts in and how much is generated through its work. As to what a film would be worth for Tasmania, this can really only be gauged on a production-by-production basis. So if Screen Tasmania were investing in a proposed production, it would obviously look at what that would be worth for Tasmania.
Screen Tasmania itself provides grants. There is the innovative FIT - Filming in Tasmania - scheme, which Screen Tasmania introduced in 2007. Through this scheme, Screen Tasmania recognises and addresses the need to augment the skill level of practitioners in the industry in Tasmania, as well as providing opportunities to new entrants to the industry to get important hands-on production experience.
Screen Tasmania has a database, for example, of attachments - crews, actors and so on - people who are available to be involved in productions. The FIT scheme is focused on two areas of support. The first is the island-to-island rebate which provides assistance in the form of a grant to relieve the burden of the freight costs associated with transporting equipment and personnel across Bass Strait. This cost has, for a long time, been both a physical and psychological barrier to companies considering bringing their productions to the State. But since the implementation of the scheme, several productions have been able to take advantage of it. These include the horror feature film Dying Breed , which was shot on the west coast last year and recently had its premiere at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The $1.3 million documentary drama, The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce , was also able to benefit from the scheme, as were the five Tasmanians who filled various roles from wardrobe to camera assistant.
Secondly, the creative Tasmanian attachment subsidy provides financial assistance to an incoming producer to employ Tasmanian practitioners as attachments in key creative roles in the production process.
Are we getting there for the honourable member?
Mr FINCH - Yes, and I thank the Leader. It was interesting to hear you talk about that multiplier effect of $1 million being converted to $16 million, and also your comment about ScreenTasmania recognising the need to augment skill levels in Tasmania. Tasmania's film and multimedia shortages have been identified, as well as the skills that are there with the database, but training requirements have also been identified by Screen Tasmania. A course structure and a training package are ready to go; consultation and expertise are ready to go. All that is really needed is a commitment from the State Government and some funding.
I suppose my suggestion would be that if we have this wonderful multiplier effect of 16 times in the industry perhaps an investment of more by the State Government could see that multiplier effect maintained. That would be a good result for Tasmania. I realise the Leader said in an earlier answer that it was being considered by the Government, but I wonder whether he could reiterate that this possible development is being actively considered by the Government.
Mr PARKINSON - Mr Chairman, my advice indicates that obviously the industry is still growing and the Government is confident that it is currently being funded through Screen Tasmania at an appropriate level. Obviously, as the industry grows consideration will be given to further funding. I could keep going with information I have here in relation to the grants and the effect of them, but I do not think that is the question the honourable member asked.