Thursday 10 July 2008

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, another good-news story too.  The House noted the Leader's exciting revelation earlier this week that from $1 million of investment Screen Tasmania generates $16 million of income through production projects.  The Leader also revealed that the Government is involved in talks about the establishment of a comprehensive screen and multimedia training centre and that an industry-wide audit is being planned to evaluate the benefit of the screen and multimedia sector to Tasmania.

Tasmania has many obvious advantages for a film industry.  This is recognised by Screen Tasmania.  Some members of this House will be aware of the three-part documentary on SBS television over the past three weeks.  The last in the series of Passionate Apprentices created by film-maker Roger Scholes was screened last night.

Seen around Australia, it was tremendously valuable publicity for our scenic State and our lifestyle.  It has attracted scores of favourable reviews and it will certainly attract visitors to Tasmania and, I dare say, even new residents.

Tasmanian-born Roger Scholes has long recognised Tasmania's screen potential.  He has seen it from the perspective of working in France and the United States for nearly a decade before settling back here in 1997.  You might remember that he wrote and directed the feature film The Tale of Ruby Rose which established his international reputation back in 1987.  The film is about a Tasmanian family living in a desolate Tasmanian wilderness in the 1930s and was shot partly in blizzard conditions in the Walls of Jerusalem.

I remember too some filming done in the township in the member for Apsley's electorate of Mathinna and how excited our local actors were to be involved, particularly from the Launceston Repertory Society who managed to score a part in that film.

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - When are they coming back to Mathinna?

Mr FINCH - Back to Mathinna, that is a good idea.

Mr Wilkinson - Did you get a gig? Were you one of those?

Mr FINCH - No, no I was far too modest.

Mr Hall - Where are the Walls of Jerusalem?

Mr FINCH - In Tasmania.  Up there in the hills in the Western Tiers, the member for Western Tiers has that in his electorate.  Ruby Rose gained inestimable publicity for Tasmania.  Roger Scholes is presently working on a number of Tasmanian projects.  One is a documentary about the Palawa Aboriginal people of Cape Barren Island.

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - Another part of my electorate of Apsley.

Mr FINCH - Absolutely.  And it is going to incorporate stories that have never been told before about the Tasmanian community's first contacts with Europeans.  Assisting the project is the first Tasmanian holder of an indigenous PhD, Patsy Cameron.

Another large project that Roger Scholes is involved in is in Rumney this time.  It is an international co-production on Port Arthur and this major series is based on the first person -

Ms Thorp - There is a lot more to Rumney than Port Arthur.

Mr FINCH - Yes, but this is a special feature.  It is going to be about the first-person accounts of convict experiences at Port Arthur.  There is an international fascination with Port Arthur and that part of your electorate, although there is so much more to it.  I am sure that it will attract people's attention again to Tasmania.  It is expected to attract attention in Europe, the United States and worldwide.  Again, that will be great publicity for Tasmania.

Roger Scholes says that there are many Tasmanian stories that have never been told and we understand that.  He says Tasmania faces a very delicate balance between attracting large productions to Tasmania while at the same time encouraging our small film-makers who are based here now.  There are only four Tasmanian production companies and a few sole traders who are operating in Tasmania and they need to be very carefully nurtured as the basis for a Tasmanian industry.  A screen and multimedia training centre would be of great benefit in this regard.  If I might quote from a document on the Tasmanian industry and skill base from Screen Tasmania:

'There is little that is holding Tasmania back from building a vibrant and lucrative Screen industry.  One of the main obstacles to going forward is the presence of a skilled and experienced crew production base in Tasmania. 

Whilst production activity has increased exponentially, the state is unable to keep up with the growing demand for skilled and experienced technical and production crew positions. 

This has resulted in productions importing the majority of these crew positions from interstate and in some cases productions having to limit the period in which they are able to carry out production activity in Tasmania.

Therefore less money is being spent in Tasmania than would otherwise be the case and there are less opportunities for local crew to expand their experience, skills and gain that elusive and vital screen credit.'

A compelling case for screen training in Tasmania - Tasmania has many advantages over other places and we need to be more aware of them and concentrate on exploiting them.  To do that effectively, we need the appropriate skills base and with screen and multimedia training we seem to be moving in the right direction.