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Private Investment in Feature Films

Films in Australia are mostly financed by the government. You need a distributor and around 40% of your budget sourced from the private sector before you can make a $2m+ feature film here. In an effort to keep the riff-raff out, the FFC have added another requirement to their list - a very high quality, developed screenplay. To this end, they employ a team of readers (usually writers) to vet scripts which ultimately land on the desks of two assessors.

In other words - your screenplay had better be tight . . . and interesting.

But do you think the private sector know any of this? Do the Mums and Dads of Australia know that by investing in Australia's film industry, they can write off 100% of their tax bill under the Taxation Department's 10BA tax-incentive scheme? No. But lawyers do and it's probably why the film industry is suffused with them. That and intellectual property protection.

As you know, I had someone approach me recently with a whole lot of cash - like this lady here. A lot of cash . . . and an undeveloped screenplay which they wanted to go into production with. These blokes were moving from property investment - to film production. They seem like good, honest investors and they have a huge portfolio of clients.

But they also had a very undeveloped screenplay.

To get a screenplay into a condition where it is even eligible for government agency development money takes about 3 full-time months of writing with a good script editor by your side. The money is spent on fees for; the writer, script editor and producer and the odd airfare for deals and meetings etc. (Anywhere between about 20 and $50,000).

Naturally, there will be many more conversations as we all got on really well and want to work with each other on film projects in the near future. In fact, Friday's meeting with the FFC advisor (Tait Brady) and the Fortissimo Sales Agent (Ashley Luke) couldn't have gone better. Beware the Stingray is definately something that the FFC would be interested in pursuing. I was quite surprised. And relieved. What the hell would we do if they weren't?

So it's nose to the grindstone today for Phil and I.

None of the FFC's enthusiasm, of course, was put in writing - despite many pleas from our producer. I feel good about things . . . today.



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