Equity’s Save Spaces for Aussie Faces Campaign has been running for over a year now and while there has been no movement for some months the campaign has recently taken a positive turn.
The Minister for the Arts, Simon Crean, has advised he will not be endorsing the revised guidelines on the use of foreign artists in film and TV because of the strong disagreement between stakeholders.
Performers have stood firm throughout the past year and acted collectively to oppose the revised guidelines – through rallies, letters and ultimately a vote to take industrial action if necessary. This is a great outcome for performers. And it’s a great outcome for the film and television industry. It means we can go back to the drawing board and come up with guidelines that work for everyone. The Minister is seeking the industry’s agreement to work together to identify a common approach to the issue. Equity has responded with an undertaking to negotiate in good faith and looks forward to negotiations recommencing.
The fate of the Foreign Actor Certification Scheme has been in limbo for many months now. A series of meetings were held in late 2011 between Equity, the Office for the Arts, the Screen Producers Association of Australia, the Independent Producer’s Initiative, Screen Australia and AusFilm. Following this the Office for the Arts has worked on developing a final draft of the new Foreign Performer Certification Scheme.
Equity understands that a final draft has been provided to the Minister for deliberation. While Equity has been in regular contact with the Minister’s office about this matter, we are yet to see this final draft and no decisions have been made. Equity remains committed to ensuring that a final set of guidelines continue to provide reasonable opportunities for Australian performers on all screen productions in Australia and will keep you all informed of any movements.
Two weeks ago, Screen Hub published an analysis of Australian films by outgoing SPAA President Anthony Ginnane examining whether the use of an overseas performer results in a project being more likely to be successful in the international theatrical market. Contrary to many of your reader’s expectations we wholeheartedly welcome the addition of this analysis to the debate over the proposed new Foreign Performer Certification Guidelines.
You see, one of the key frustrations the Alliance has faced in the current debate has been the extraordinary lack of evidence, economic modelling or analysis to back up the claims, assertions and positions held by producers or to justify the development of the new draft proposals being put forward by the Office for the Arts.
The Office for the Arts has released a draft of the new co-production treaty template which seeks to introduce exceptional case clauses similar to those found in the proposed Foreign Certification Guidelines. Co-productions have traditionally been left out of the Foreign Actor Certification Scheme and have been subject to the rules set out in the treaties Australia has with other countries like the UK, Germany and China. Equity has responded with a submission seeking the removal of clauses that aim to open up the ability for producers to engage non-Australian or non-co-production partner performers in any circumstance they like.
Independent consultant and former SPAA executive director Michael Gordon Smith has responded to an article in Screen Hub. The article, by outgoing SPAA President Anthony Ginnane, examined whether the use of an overseas performer results in a project being more likely to be successful in the international market.
Gordon-Smith has reviewed Ginnane’s analysis and found that his figures actually support our case. They show no “statistically significant relationship between the presence of an overseas performer and a project’s likelihood of success.”
“We could reasonably expect to see at least as much variation if we compared the performance of films with a lead whose star-sign is Gemini with those that used a Piscean as Mr Ginnane’s data shows between films that have a foreign actor and films that do not. It is not clear on what basis Mr Ginnane draws his strong conclusions from the data he presents. The results he describes are consistent with my previous finding that there appears to be little empirical support for the proposition that the presence of foreign performer improves a film’s chances of success.”