Post-production sector in serious decline

Despite a 30 per cent subsidy that has helped attract foreign productions such as After Earth to Australia, the post-production sector is struggling. Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures. After tortuous debate, the Sydney Film Festival judged Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, starring Ryan Gosling, best film in competition.
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Post-production blues

The difficulties facing the post-production sector have been highlighted by Australian Bureau of Statistics data presented at a one-day Screen Australia conference in Canberra this week. The analysis of the figures show that while the film and video production sector has grown by 38 per cent since 2006-07, the last time the sector was surveyed, to a total income of $2.19 billion, and employment was up by 23 per cent to 13,414 people (no distinction was made in the data between permanent and contract employment), the post-production sector was heading in the opposite direction. Total income in the post-production sector was down 25 per cent in 2011-12 compared to five years earlier, from $444 million to $329.6 million, despite a 30 per cent rebate that has helped attract foreign film productions such as the current Will Smith sci-Fi adventure After Earth to the country. Employment in the sector dropped by 21 per cent over the same period, from 2971 people to 2346. Industry sources suggest some of the decline is attributable to more post-production work being absorbed in-house, but the high Australian dollar is also a factor, at least as far as foreign contracts are concerned. The news comes just weeks after Dr George Miller held a massive auction of the contents of his Dr D animation studio, the last hurrah of an operation that at its peak employed about 650 people.SFF prizes for Only God Forgives, The Rocket

The Sydney Film Festival wrapped on the weekend, with attendances up 17 per cent year-on-year, to 143,050, a record according to organisers. It certainly capped things off in style by awarding the festival prize to Nicholas Winding Refn’s controversial hyper-violent thriller Only God Forgives, a film that has drawn charges of blatant misogyny from some viewers; word is the jury was divided, and spent six-and-a-half hours debating the merits (or otherwise) of giving the prize to Refn’s film. Less contentious by a long shot was the audience prize, which went to Kim Mordaunt’s The Rocket. Shot on location in Laos and Thailand, the Australian-made film – about a boy who enters a traditional rocket festival competition to help save his poverty-stricken family who have been uprooted for the construction of a dam – has already won major awards at the TriBeca and Berlin film festivals, and our own Garry Maddox has gone out on a limb to tip it as a contender for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category. It is due for general release on August 29.Film Vic funds feature docs

The forthcoming documentary Electric Boogaloo from Not Quite Hollywood director Mark Hartley was one of two cinema-destined projects to receive funding in Film Victoria’s final round of the financial year. The other was The Earth Wins, also a documentary. Hartley’s film is about Israeli-born cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the founders of Cannon Pictures, which produced more than 100 exploitation films in Hollywood during the 1980s and ’90s (including Breakin’ 2: The Electric Boogaloo, from which Hartley’s film takes its name). Hartley – whose remake of the 1978 psychological horror classic Patrick is due for release in October – has vowed this will be his last documentary. Sara Hine, though, will be hoping The Earth Wins is just one of many. Shot entirely from the air on four continents over seven years, the film is the product of Melbourne-based Helifilms, in which Hine is producer and Jerry Grayson is helicopter pilot/director. The 40-minute environmental documentary is destined for IMAX cinemas and features music by New Order, the Temper Trap, Coldplay and the Who, among others. Hine told Fairfax earlier this year that the film was ready bar music clearances, and a bid to raise the necessary funds – $175,000 – on crowdfunding site Pozible fell short, so presumably Film Vic has come to the party on that score (so to speak).Adrian Wootton to return to MIFF

Speaking of festivals, the Melbourne International Film Festival is rapidly approaching. The full program will be announced on July 2 and the MIFF program guide will be in The Age on July 5, but some early teasers are starting to emerge. Just announced are the Wendall Thomas Talks Scripts and Adrian Wootton Talks events. LA-based developer, writer and lecturer Wendall Thomas will talk script structure in a series of four stand-alone all-day seminars on such topics as ”voiceover and flashbacks”, ”how to write a great villain”, and ”the three-act structure”. Former British Film Institute and London Film Festival director Adrian Wootton will deliver a return series of his illustrated film talks, this year looking at The Rolling Stones, the jazz age on film, and the screen adaptations of the novels of Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Hemingway.Details: miff杭州夜生活m.au

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.