Convergence on the other side of Town.
While Screen Australia's data was still filtering around town, SPAA aired some Convergence thinking of their own, in this case via a smart presentation from AFTRS' screen business maven, David Court, commissioned by SPAA to model the consequences of a stimulus-led approach.
This was the first time that their work had been aired and as such the detail is still being developed. Talking to David afterwards he confirmed that it's a "stimulate more content" approach. That is, if Australian content creators are going to compete in an unregulated online environment, we need to make more stuff.
Rather than focus on quotas and the like, it could be politically more palatable to adjust the existing industry stimuli (like the Producer Offset) to generate more throughput.
They are also proposing that the eligibilty criteria for the Offset should be relaxed to include digital content.
I like this approach – earlier this year I wrote an article talking suggesting that greater throughput should be one of our key industry objectives.
Flashing back to the previous day - at the Screen Australia forum - a Melbourne producer who had recently started working in Australia expressed amazement at the differences between the budgets for comparable Australian and British documentaries. Seems that our content is 3 to 4 times more expensive to produce.
That's got to mean that our subsidy dollar doesn't go as far as it could.
Those lucky Canucks (again).
Andra Sheffer from the Canadian Bell Fund is a regular speaker at Australian industry events. Every time she talks about the bags of money they've got to invest in online content via the Independent Production Fund, we get jealous.
And to rub it in, they've got even more money this year. And it's in the form of grants.I'll stop now.
On the bright side, we may be able to get our hands on some of it, using a coproduction agreement.
As a benchmark for webisode production, they are commissioning series of 10 to 30 episodes of 3 to 8 minutes and paying $125,000 per project.
According to Andra, making money from this sort of content is a tough road. You need at least 100,000 views before anyone will take notice.
What's the money for (really)?
Andra had some very lucid thoughts about what subsidy for content creators actually means for the industry, apart from just producing more content. She sees this money as risk capital for industry development.
All of which made me wonder why we don't see more Canadian stuff here. Presumably they can make it pretty cheaply, they make lots of it, with few restrictions on content and we can buy pretty cheaply. What's missing here?
Are you an opportunistic producer?
Deb Verhoeven, filling in at short notice for Ricky Sutton, could have been taking a leaf from the Four Hour Work Week playbook as she threw out a challenge to the producers in the room to change the way they operate (she assures me she hasn't read it!).
She challenged the notion of a "strategic" approach to producing (working from a fixed location, paying local overheads, using existing funding structures), suggesting that a “tactical" approach (using data mining to identify audiences, outsourcing labour, using a dynamic approach to finance) could be more productive.
Tapping the education market.
Peter Tapp from ATOM, painted a rosy picture of the burgeoning market for educational resources based on Australian titles. He was particularly bullish about iPad apps (they have one in development for Oranges and Sunshine) noting that there is a large (and growing) iPad equipped student population hungry for media rich learning materials.
He positioned ATOM as a world leader in this field, and encouraged producers to develop apps in partnership with ATOM.
Better news from Movie Extra WebFest
Peter Jenetsky from The Movie Network, announced the second series of their Movie Extra WebFest competition. Good on them for sticking with the program.
You may recall we reported on the apparently low numbers of views for last year's winning series, noting that the number of Facebook likes seemed to be out of whack with the number of views for the eps. It's looking more healthy now – Jenetsky said they have around 87,000 views and a quick check of their YouTube channel confirms much more traffic.
Peter had a pretty honest look at the future of cable TV providers, acknowledging that they will need to move into unbundled platforms if they are to thrive.