Thursday 23 April 2015

Hansard of the Legislative Council

Wide Angle Tasmania


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, my special interest talk is about Wide Angle Tasmania and Abi is the very proud general manager of that organisation.  There have been many attempts to set up a sustainable Tasmanian film industry.  Some may recall that a film about the book For the Term of His Natural Life was one of the first feature films made in Australia.  Although technically very primitive, it helped establish Tasmania as a subject, or feature, in other films.

At the centre of the continuing efforts to promote Tasmania as a place to make films is this small organisation, Wide Angle Tasmania.  With a small amount of funding Wide Angle Tasmania - WAT - accomplishes plenty.  Probably one or two of you may remember that in a special interest speech in 2008 -

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - Or was that 1908?  I am not sure.  I repeated a revelation that from a $1 million investment Screen Tasmania generated $16 million of income through production projects.  Screen Tasmania is one of the funders of WAT and the state government too, I might add, has been very supportive.  WAT also creates a great return from its work, helping emerging screen talent in Tasmania.

One is a young filmmaker by the name of Tom Waugh, who started learning at Rosny College and obtained a VET certificate in film and television.  His varied career has led him into aerial cinematography using drones.  Tom's partnership with drone developer Chris Fox is leading the way in Australia.  Tom Waugh has nothing but praise for WAT and I quote from an email he has sent to me this morning:

Wide Angle Tasmania helps support grassroots filmmakers who are looking to take the next step up and I can honestly say that without their support, advice, employment and hard work I would not have the career that I have now.  Wide Angle Tasmania is a hub and a stepping stone, particularly for college graduates, between college, getting experience, getting work and, for some, going to film school.

Wide Angle funded short films bringing the discipline of a professional shoot with deadlines, OH&S responsibilities and a mentor producer.  Without the Raw Nerve initiative through Wide Angle Tasmania there will be no way to get any funding for short films.  Screen Tasmania ceased funding shorts a few years ago.  Screen Tasmania cannot provide the services that Wide Angle Tasmania do, just as Wide Angle do not provide the services that Screen Tasmania do.  They are both very important parts of our local industry.

WAT has built a very special relationship with practitioners with international expertise and award-winning works.  Some of the ABC personnel I have worked with - and the member for Derwent might know of some from the commercial field too - also want to contribute back to the industry through WAT.  Their expertise and knowledge is made available to the emerging talent in Tasmania.  They are available as mentors and craft specialists to filmmakers at little or no cost.  You cannot buy that, or if you could, you would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars.  WAT is the only organisation that currently gives emerging talent access to on set experience through provision of film events, such as Raw Nerve, where processes and skills are fostered, from the genesis of an idea through to distribution and screening.  I believe there are three of those opportunities per year.

WAT provides access to equipment for emerging screen practitioners that would otherwise be unavoidably expensive, and simply not available in Tasmania.  In its short 10-year existence, WAT has provided expertise, facilities and opportunities not available anywhere else in Tasmania.  At a recent reception at Government House, Wide Angle Tasmania's general manager, Abi Binning, spoke about a WAT project to raise $30 000 to introduce the Step-Up Film fund to support a new initiative for early career filmmakers in Tasmania.

It was interesting, as you would have noted, Mr President, that Government House was nearly full of Legislative Councillors.  We do take an interest in -

Mr Valentine - And not a camera in sight.

Mr FINCH - Not a camera in sight.  We thought they were going to be there, didn't we?  Why was it at Government House?  Well, the Governor's daughter, Meg Bignell, has been helped by WAT.  She recently presented two films at TASshorts on SCREEN, which has just concluded its season at the State Theatre.  It was sold out.

It will go on tour.  Wynyard is next on the agenda, then to Deloraine and to other venues, as they can be sold on the idea.  Abi explained that for every dollar raised before 29 May 2015, Wide Angle Tasmania will receive matched funding from Creative Partnerships Australia - formerly the Australian Business Arts Foundation.  You might consider that, members, as you are allocating your funds - that they need your support.

The State Government is very supportive of WAT, through the minister, and they thank her very much for that.  They are also looking to convince the federal minister to reconsider a recent cut to their funding.  It would pay off in helping to develop a stronger Tasmanian and Australian film industry.  I salute Wide Angle Tasmania.

Mr Valentine - While the honourable member is on his feet, I thank him for highlighting such a wonderful organisation in the electorate of Hobart.

Mr FINCH - Happy to help.