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NSW FTO – A NEW DIRECTION

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					                        NSW FTO – A NEW DIRECTION
                                                               INDUSTRY DISCUSSION PAPER
                                                                              MARCH 2008


A TIME OF FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE

A number of fundamental matters have changed in the audio-visual world. The future of the
screen and creative digital content industry (and its relationship to partners, audiences and
consumers) will differ significantly from the past!

FTO believes these fundamental areas of change include:

•   Audiences increasingly are relating to screen content in a more active way. While some
    continue to “sit back and watch” as in the past, many people now choose as part of their
    screen experiences to be more actively involved – whether downloading and discussing
    screen content online; creating their own content or adapting others’ or interacting through
    group or community activities via social sites, games, mobile content etc. Some view the
    term “audience” as too passive to describe this new relationship with creative content – new
    terms include “participant” and “communities of interest”. There is increased competition for
    a share of people’s leisure time from screen content on a range of different platforms. While
    the strength of the story remains critical, story engagement and interactivity are now as
    challenging as storytelling.

•   Screen content has been separated from time and platform. Increasingly, you can watch what
    you want, when you want, on the device you want and share it with others. This is a
    significant change leading to new means of accessing target and/or niche markets, the
    development of new revenue models and especially new means of accessing advertising
    revenue.

•   Improved broadband speeds and other infrastructure changes mean that digital distribution
    across world markets becomes a reality. The opportunity to connect directly with audiences,
    without distribution intermediaries now exists as an option.

•   Digital technology allows common-interest groups to connect online across international
    boundaries. Increasingly, these communities of interest are generating significant revenue for
    creative screen content.

•   A changed concept of ownership of content. When people interact with screen content,
    (creatively collaborating in its production, or subsequently adapting a created work) the
    challenge arises of fairly remunerating people so that their enterprises can be sustained, while
    still encouraging audience interaction. Rights management will become a significant and
    complex issue.

•   Vast new markets are emerging for screen content. Geographically, the new opportunities in
    India, China and Indonesia, for example, were not available in the same way five years ago.
    High-quality, high-value digital content is increasingly being created by corporations,
    offering new opportunities for independent producers to expand their slates and cash-flow
    potential.
                                               -2-

•   The increasing fragmentation of audiences will create major challenges and opportunities for
    the financing of new productions.

•   In Australia, new or increased Federal financing incentives have been introduced: the
    Producer Offset, the PDV Offset (Post-Production, Digital and Visual Effects) and increased
    Location Offset. These incentives create new opportunities to generate additional production
    activity in Australia, however, we need to develop new relationships with financial partners
    and enhance our skills to deal with a sophisticated financial world.

In response to all this change, the NSW Film and Television Office (FTO) must itself change to
provide leadership to ensure that the NSW screen industry fully benefits from the potential of
this changed world….

THE FTO AS WE KNOW IT

The FTO has been supporting some areas of the creative media sector for many years. Some
view FTO’s role in the past as having been primarily focused on the assessment and allocation of
Government funds to the industry (it’s all about the money). FTO’s activities can be
summarised as follows:

•   Traditionally FTO has provided finance for the areas that qualified as “Australian Content”
    for television and for tax concessions under “10BA”:

    •   Production finance is directed to feature films, documentaries and documentary series,
        television drama and telemovies, official co-productions, and animation series. Financial
        support from these programs may be sought if the project has specific NSW benefits or
        elements. Regional film production is another area of production finance assistance.
        Together, the largest amount of the FTO’s funding is allocated to this support.

    •   Currently, development assistance is primarily for draft funding for individual projects
        and travel to key markets. FTO also coordinates and funds the Aurora intensive script
        development workshops and other script development initiatives.

•   Early/Mid-Career practitioner development is directly supported through Young Filmmakers
    Fund (short films) and the DFX trainee scheme (digital creation and postproduction) and
    indirectly, through key media organisations part-funded by the FTO (eg. Metro Screen,
    Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE)).

•   Production liaison services to local and international producers to attract, support and
    facilitate screen production in NSW. This area prepares pitch documents and provides expert
    advice on crew, locations, Government contacts and financial options.

•   The Industry & Audience Development program offers grants to a wide range of NSW
    organisations that provide services (including training), support screen culture (including
    festivals and events) or support practitioners (such as writers’, directors’ guilds etc.)

FTO also provides services that extend beyond grant programs. It provides expert policy advice
on the screen industry across Government and to the media, liaises with Federal and State
funding agencies and represents the NSW screen industry at key international markets and
conferences.

NSW FTO – A New Direction
Industry Discussion Paper March 2008
                                                 -3-

While FTO has worked to introduce industry members to other key decision makers and
potential partners across industries, this role has not been a key function in the past, a role which
will be critical as digital and distribution avenues expand.

In summary, FTO has primarily focused on a project-by-project funding model, responding to
applications received. Slate development finance and company infrastructure support has been
minimal. Talent outside the pool of applicants has not been actively sought or incubated and
partnerships across industries have not been rewarded. FTO has only had a limited role driving
debate about digital content and new models of increased business viability.


THE NSW SCREEN INDUSTRY AS WE WANT IT TO BE IN 5 YEARS


Here are some specific outcomes that FTO would like the NSW screen industry to achieve in the
coming five years:

•   Both the Government and the community will value the NSW screen industry for its
    economic, cultural and social contribution to the State.

•   The NSW Screen industry will:

    •   be known locally and internationally for its creativity, innovation and excellence;

    •   have harnessed new technologies;

    •   be comprised of highly skilled creative professionals;

    •   have developed viable business models for creating and financing robust, agile and varied
        businesses and creative content in the digital environment;

    •   have developed strong partnerships and collaborations locally and internationally;

    •   be engaged in 360 degree commissioning, so that creative ideas are developed to be
        suitable for a range of media and platforms.

•   NSW will offer an environment that is friendly to the screen industries in terms of
    availability of skilled professionals, financing, distribution and the ease of doing business

•   NSW community will have increased engagement with all forms of screen content.
    Metropolitan and regional audiences will benefit from flourishing screen culture, with access
    to a wide range of product (and high speed broadband) with increased immediacy.

•   Industry will be diverse (in terms of size of companies, type of output, industry creative
    personnel and workforce).

•   Local and international production will be increased, with NSW capturing an increasing
    share of this production activity.




NSW FTO – A New Direction
Industry Discussion Paper March 2008
                                                -4-

A NEW DIRECTION FOR FTO – SOME IDEAS


The ability to adapt and make exciting quality digital content will require creativity and new
ways of doing business in our screen sector – innovative ways of dealing with the screen
business as we knew it. The NSW screen industry will need to constantly raise the bar to ensure
that its creativity and innovation is truly world class in an international marketplace.

But creativity and talent is not enough to make a robust screen industry. The key to success in
business is relationships: connections between talent, business skills, finance, the
audience/community and the marketplace. FTO believes it should take the initiative and connect
the industry with key players, so the industry can develop and strengthen these relationships.

As around fifty percent of the Australian screen industry is currently based in New South Wales,
FTO believes it has a responsibility and a real opportunity to be one of the leaders in motivating
the industry to develop viable companies with a broad spread of revenue.
As the screen industry changes in the next five years, so too the FTO needs to change, in order to
be a valued leading player in this industry. FTO believes there are a number of options for how
FTO can contribute to the industry’s growth and competitiveness. We would appreciate your
views. Some roles we propose as most valuable are:

•   Taking the initiative to stimulate new creative and business opportunities:

    FTO would be a catalyst for the NSW screen industry identifying, pursing and achieving
    more creative and business opportunities. FTO would be a key Co-Ordination Point,
    researching, sourcing and connecting potential new partners, across industry sectors, in the
    areas of finance, skills development and location filming matters.

    To achieve higher revenues back to creative talent and investors and more viable businesses,
    we need to create more valuable digital content and pursue new distribution avenues. We
    propose that FTO has a role to encourage collaboration across platforms and to inform the
    screen industry about new markets generating revenue for our sector.

•   Promoting innovation and the use of new technology by NSW screen businesses:

    In order to be and remain world class, we need to encourage businesses that take risks and
    succeed in linking creative screen content to markets and audiences. This includes adopting
    new technologies and techniques from unrelated industries and finding ways to apply them to
    the screen industry.

•   Being a champion to increase the standing of our industry:

    The screen industry needs more respect and recognition for the contribution our sector makes
    to our society: socially, culturally and economically. As an industry champion, FTO can
    articulate these contributions, both across Government and to the broader community.
    Government needs a trusted source of accurate industry knowledge to assist it to make
    valuable policy and strategic decisions for our State and industry and we see FTO as
    continuing to have a key role in this regard.



NSW FTO – A New Direction
Industry Discussion Paper March 2008
                                                -5-




The way FTO operates on a daily basis will need to change to drive these industry outcomes. We
want FTO to:

•   Be more direct. We want to communicate clearly with the industry and Government;

•   Be more dynamic and flexible, so we adapt to a constantly evolving digital content industry;

•   Find new bridges across industry sectors and across industries. We all know that the industry
    is changing and new business models are unclear at present. We believe FTO can help find
    and build new relationships and creative communities, so that the industry can have greater
    success;

•   Actively encourage smart, creative, talented people and companies in the creative screen
    sector, rather than endeavouring to be all things to all people. This is a shift in emphasis and
    assumes that some of the talent less known inside our industry is valuable to its future and to
    audiences;

•   Financial support to the screen industry will continue to be significant, but opening doors to
    new business avenues may generate a great deal more revenue and success for talented
    industry partners.




The FTO Board and Staff would appreciate your feedback on this range of possibilities for
FTO’s role over the next five years. Write to us and we’ll ensure that the Board receives your
views (email: mccreadies@fto.nsw.gov.au).




                                         NEW – FTO…

                                         NSW TALENT
                          NEW STORIES, NEW MARKETS, NEW SCREENS




NSW FTO – A New Direction
Industry Discussion Paper March 2008

				
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