WA Screen Industry Strategy 2024-34 - Screen Producers Australia (SPA) congratulates the Government of Western Australia on the release last week of the Western Australian Screen Industry Strategy 2024-34.
Matthew Deaner - Screen Producers Australia (image - SPA)

Screen Forever 37 is opened by CEO Matthew Deaner

Screen Forever 37 is opened by CEO Matthew Deaner

Let me again start by thanking Shaun Davis for the beautiful Welcome to Country.

Welcome everybody – to our sell-out SCREEN FOREVER! You are one of the golden ticket holders to this golden day on this Golden Coast.  And you are at the right place – at the right time – right where you should be. 

You have come from every state and territory of our wide, brown, and beautiful land – our island home – our mother earth and father sky to be here on the beautiful coastline of the Yugambeh language people in this incredible part of Queensland.

This was sunrise yesterday morning at front – on the beach. Aren’t we lucky? And yes – I did jump in – feeling very virtuous thank you very much. Water temperature is much warmer – bath like than the outside air temp for those that need to be nudged to take the plunge.

Welcome also to those joining us from overseas. We really appreciate the journey you have made to be here with us.

Can please give a big round of applause for yourselves and each other and a super big cheer for our international delegates? And keep that going for those that are part of the BFI’s UK Connect delegation that is already a day ahead of everyone having kicked off yesterday.  We are delighted to have you all here.

I want to acknowledge and am also delighted to have the Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk with us. Welcome Premier. And I’m also very pleased to have the Federal Member for Moncrieff, Angie Bell MP, with us today, as well as the Chair of Screen Queensland’s Board, the Hon Roslyn Atkinson AO. You all have a great interest in our industry and are great supporters of the people in this room and we are so pleased that you are able to join us. 

And we all here to unite our industry in this the 37th edition of our event – its production and creative tribes, our content distribution and financial partners and platforms, our leaders from government and business, to learn, to inspire and be inspired, to do business and to celebrate our collective success.

And what a week for a conversation it already is! The just announced American writer’s strike, C-11 passing in Canada to regulate the streamers – plus the start of Federal Ministers Burke and Rowland’s streaming roundtables – and right here – Senators Hanson-Young from the Greens and Senator Perin Davey from the Nationals live and in person tomorrow – as well as Minister Burke joining us on Friday and presenting at our SPA Awards. Feels a bit like Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Over the next few days, you’re in for a treat. We pride ourselves on bringing you together with just the right amount of discussion, politics, business, deal making and socialising in a remarkable setting – and honestly – it doesn’t get any better. Let me step you through a few of the treats ahead. And a warning – don’t try to follow the slides here – there is no matching sequence with my words!

In our program, the “Story and Vision” strand shines a spotlight on how we are telling our stories, with cultural and societal issues being incorporated into the script in Storytelling for Change: a Dialogue…, humans evolving environmentally and what this means for storytelling in a Visionary Keynote by Damon Gameau, NIDA Green Ambassador.

We learn how collaboration works musically between the producer and composer in The Scoring Session, including a live musical performance and take some time Celebrating First Nations Storytelling.

We go into the theatre with another Visionary Keynote this time by Kip Williams, the youngest artistic director in the history of the Sydney Theatre Company, whose immersive approach to simultaneously filming and projecting performance in film and theatre is making him one of the most interesting voices on stage and screen. And we meet leading US literary agent Ted Miller, who packages the talent who tell the stories we are all watching.

The “Shifting the Status Quo” strand dives into the issues including the production pipeline in The Critical Mass of Crewing.

We tackle higher prices and economic pressures in Sink or Swim – a survival guide in a rapidly changing market. And how can we create environmental and financial sustainability on set will be covered in The Green Line: The Australian Screen Industry and the Environment.

“Markets, Trends and Finance” sessions bring back the classic Meet the Buyers, Meet the Streamers, and Meet the Funders sessions. We will also hear about what the Future Economics of Streamers really looks like and whether Futureproofing Feature Film is really possible. The Decision Makers brings together executives from the UK, US, and NZ for their take on how Australian content is playing globally and – with the incredible UK contingent this year – we have the BFI represented across multiple sessions – in particular Co-productions & the UK Global Screen Fund where we learn what it takes to co-produce and access the Fund from both the UK and Australian sides.

We have a special one on one with outgoing CEO of Screen Australia – Graeme Mason in Conversation with SPA Council President, Tracey Vieira, and Screen Australia will dissect its recently launched report, Seeing Ourselves, discussing diversity and inclusion on screen.

And if you need a break and some Zen on the Friday morning before getting back into sessions and meetings and kicking off at the SPA Awards, we have an exclusive Breath Work and Sound Healing Experience at 7:30am in the Marquee on Friday. Honestly, that is not to be missed and there will be limited number of spots.

And on top of that there are drinks, lunches, awards and parties to keep you all well socialised, suitably connected and celebrated.

One person who sadly won’t be joining us but for whom I’d love you to raise a glass to throughout the conference is Brian Walsh. Brian was at times a big part of SCREEN FOREVER in its different forms over the years and was set to play a big role again this year.  There have been many tributes which will no doubt continue but I want to honour Brian’s capacity to navigate our sector and its complicated parts and in so doing drive incredible outcomes for Australian stories. He was a real true believer in Australian stories.

I knew Brian in my different roles in this industry and on a personal level – and our relationship evolved to one of great respect and a shared take on many things in life.

While he couldn’t broadcast it – like quite a number of people working on the commissioning side have expressed quietly to me over the years – he was deeply supportive of the work that SPA does to ensure a solid framework exists for our industry to thrive from.

As a small mark of our love, could you join together in celebrating Brian’s contribution to this event and to our industry. Thank you, Brian, from all of us.

There are many people who have contributed to the many aspects of this event behind the scenes, but I wanted to spend a couple of moments to single out a few people:

Let me start with our Event Producer Bee Yurdakul, who is in this picture along with our first SPA baby – Leon – and – having sent this picture to me last week – you will be able to figure out that she is understandably not with us today.

But to give you an insight into the dedication of our team – this is the email Bee sent us all 20 minutes before going into labour.

Then there is the incredible Jessica Giacco who has designed and delivered her second high impact, highly relevant program again. Congratulations Jess.

For SPA Connect Justin Davies and Michelle Hardy have assembled a global marketplace full of new opportunities for everyone to do businesses over what is again the extended market event running tomorrow and Friday on the ground, and then also across two days next week as we connect our local businesses to buyers all over the world.

Our Marketing and Comms Manager Aidan McLaughlin has led our comms across all channels and socials.

Candice Bridger, Simone Hulse and Rob Crawford have taken over the overall production of the event.

And then just a whole heap of wonderful people – some permanent at SPA – and some that have come to help us out for a few weeks: Renee Richardson, Brad Taylor, Aimee Lindorff, Urwa Zaidi, Georgia Croft, Yolandi Franken, Ivria Dubsand and returning legend – Georgia Kinninmont.

Let me also acknowledge all the Session Producers (giving of their valuable time to produce these sessions) and the Market and Programming Advisory Boards (our panel of industry leaders who have helped shape this event and the outcomes it aims to deliver).

I want to finally acknowledge the two leaders in our midst – our Director of Marketing, Events and Partnerships, Samantha Gill, who this year stepped into leading the production team as well as continuing to work with our valued partners.

And also, the steady hands and assured presence of our COO, Glenn Hamilton, who again has calmly and with good humour brought all the threads of what is a very complex undertaking together.

Please join with me in thanking the team.

Now, just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a committed group of partners to be able to deliver this event. There are 34 of them, so I won’t run through every single one but:

Our Major Partner is the City of the Gold Coast, we all know to be a really important production hub and a fantastic – now – Olympic city where the people work hard, play hard and relax hard.

Our Major Government Partner is Screen Australia who are central to this industry and central to our conference today.

Our Key Industry Partners are the ABC, The British Film Institute (BFI), Foxtel Group, Media Super and SBS.

We have a swag of Supporting Partners who care for our conference which in turn shows their care for you.

Thank you to our SPA Connect Partners – Screen Australia and Screenrights, and again our UK Connect Partner, the BFI.

Thank you finally to our music, travel, and media partners – thank you. A special shout out to Audio Network for providing the music you will hear across the next few days and in particular, what will be a fantastic Opening Night party tonight.

But top of my list of thanks is our Principal Partner, Screen Queensland and the Queensland Government, who have been such a great partners to our industry and to this event.

Can I say – I love the way the Queensland Premier loves our industry.

If you have watched Annastacia Palaszczuk over the years, you will know she is 100% in on our industry. I can’t think of another Premier – any other leader in Australian history – of her standing and seniority taking direct carriage of the portfolio and shaping it, building it, as clearly and directly as she has. And she hasn’t just talked the talk, she has walked the walk, driving international production outcomes, infrastructure investment and local industry like no one I’ve seen over such an extended and direct period. It’s deeply personal.

We come together here in Qld – in many ways because of her belief in us, and there is a lovely synergy that we are here in the Gold Coast to ignite the projects that will also be celebrated in the future at the AACTA Awards which have also found their new home here.


Now, I don’t need to tell all of you here how much has happened since our last gathering – there’s a lot to process.

A new Labor Government, a relaunch of #MakeItAustralian, a National Cultural Policy launch, and streaming legislation to be introduced in the next few months.

Consultation is currently underway on the long-awaited and much-anticipated regulation of streaming platforms. This week, we will submit our feedback to government on their proposed models of regulation. Having waited ten years for governments to act, we can surely be forgiven for some impatience here. 

My sincere thanks to all the members who have engaged with us on this project. Both in the last month and over the many years past. Many of you in this room have been part of that effort.

There must be a place for all of us, big and small, for our industry to thrive. Because streaming is now such a big part of our lives, the advent of this new regulation makes this a truly pivotal year in our organisation. You can be confident that all of our efforts are focused on getting the best outcome we can for you.

And it’s not as though there isn’t money on the table, as our UK Colleagues are able to share. Remember our ask for our industry through this regulatory process is less than half a per cent of the streamers global spend.

And don’t think my friends, we are in this discussion alone. With the passing of the C11 bill in Canada, there are important guides now as to how the Canadian industry will be regulated, and they provide instructions to Australia. These are up on the screen.

My colleague Reynolds Mastin CEO of the CMPA in his opener of their conference earlier this year, stated:

We seek fairness. We seek a level playing field, a field that is at least partly owned and controlled by Canadians and where the players on the field are Canadian, not just the players on the bench.

We seek a recasting of terms where everyone benefits. Where global streamers are welcome in Canada, but also obliged to contribute in a way that benefits Canada, and not just in the way that the streamers happen to want.

We are all journeying on this macro reform together.

However, I don’t want to leave this discussion with anyone thinking that SPA has a single agenda item only about streaming. We really have had ten years of wasted time on micro policy reform as well as the macro, and we will be paying for that in years ahead, so we need to keep focused on the detail. Last week we released our policy priorities which touch on some of our immediate focus. But I want to also touch on strategy.

Federally there is no shared strategic plan for the industry or its supporting agencies.

There is no export or IP strategy.

There is no co-production strategy.

There is no research strategy.

There is no genre-by-genre strategy.

There is no interagency strategy.

There is no overarching Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island strategy or for that matter a diversity strategy.

There is no strategy.

So where are the Government and the supporting institutions wanting to take us? 

And therein may just be part of the problem.

Some of our institutions and government-funded bodies that were built years ago don’t fully make sense – some need reform – there is no logic to some of their functions, and there are gaps in others. There is often no joined-up thinking or partnering or real willingness to re-invent and work closely with stakeholders to do that.

Let’s be clear; the industry can’t do all this strategic work itself. It needs agencies and governments and the individuals employed by us to through our taxes or appointed into boards to work with our industry without ego – without self-interest – but with clean strategic thinking and clever policy knowledge and engagement with Canberra and with real commitment if we are going to advance the sector in a thorough and thoughtful way. The best government departments and agencies in our economy do this, and their industries always stand to gain. We should expect nothing less.

Last Friday I had one of the most valuable and reminding experiences of my career.

I was delighted – really delighted – to join the indeflatable Tracey Corbin Matchett and all of Bus Stop Films partners and friends at a reception at Admiralty House with the Governor General.

Tracey has one major policy push she is looking to get the government excited about – and that is reducing the requirement on the film and tv industry to have to employ someone with a disability for 13 weeks or more before they are eligible to receive wage subsidy, financial support for workplace adjustments, for example, modifications and other access provisions to support that person.

Of course, the reason this is a struggle is often the nature of our industry, given the shoot lengths. So, we have one hand tied behind our backs in terms of having a level playing field to being supported as an industry in supporting inclusion.

This is big. And there are 100s of these micro policies that need addressing and working on.

And let’s remind ourselves about why that all matters, how important storytelling is.  Because at a very core level, we all have a need to be seen. WE ALL HAVE A NEED TO BE SEEN. FOR WHO WE ARE. Storytelling achieves this. Either by telling and constructing the story or seeing oneself reflected in a story. Our stories are a window into our own and other people’s lives.

It’s the reason we need to continue to push for ALL levels for ALL inclusion of our community in our industry. To keep opening up the doors for others. It’s the reason we ALL need to show up to our industry as our authentic selves and be allowed to bring that to the screen. And on a macro level, it’s the reason we need to keep fighting to Make it Australian.

I and SPA will continue to, scrap for every last measure or decision that will help to lift the gaze of our members and our industry, clear the air, and let everyone move forward with confidence to get on with the job that is the magic of creation.

I want to end my comments this morning by once again celebrating everyone in the room and congratulating you on the remarkable work that has been undertaken by this industry. It is always incredible looking back over what has been achieved.

Download the transcript here.

Media Release – Screen Producers Australia

TV Central Screen Producers Australia content HERE

Screen Forever 37 is opened by CEO Matthew Deaner

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