Opening Statement to Senate Committee Hearing – August 2021
AGSC President Antony Partos was a witness to the Senate Committee Hearing on 12 August 2021, where the Treasury Amendment Laws 2021 (2021 Measures No. 5) Bill 2021 was reviewed by the Senate Committee into Communications and the Environment.
Thank you for inviting the Australian Guild of Screen Composers to the hearing today. The AGSC welcomes the retention of the 40% producer offset for feature films and the 30% producer offset for non- feature content.
However the amendments to the Bill contain many measures that will have unintended consequences that will adversely affect our Nation’s documentary makers and low to medium budget film makers. These amendments, if passed by the senate, will in turn have a devastating affect on our post production sector including screen composition.
Many documentary budgets are well under $1M and rely on the post production offset, the Gallipoli clause or the current copyright provisions in order to tell stories that range from historical, social and political. The great majority of screen composers working in Australia today derive their employment from documentary and independent film productions. It is rare for local screen composers to get the opportunity to work on the big budget Hollywood films that would meet the proposed raised thresholds in the amendments. Only films with high end visual effects such as the Lego Movie would be eligible. The Lego Movie did not employ an Australian composer.
Much of our work will simply dry up should this legislation pass in its current form.
Let me give you some specific examples.
Sherpa is a feature documentary entirely shot on location in Nepal. It employed an Australian crew and is now one of the most successful documentaries currently screening on Netflix. Netflix purchased the film after it was made. I was lucky enough to be the composer. My role meant that I employed around 40 musicians from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the lead cellist from the Australian Chamber Orchestra. My role as a composer meant that I also employed music arrangers and engineers. Without the Gallipoli clause, this film would simply not have been made.
The ability to claim copyright as a legitimate cost for a rebate is imperative for film makers-especially when the core subjects are historically important. The documentaries about Michael Hutchence, Jimmy Barnes, Gurrumul and the Story of Bangarra Dance Company would not have been able to be made without the ability to source and claim copyright footage. So too would the documentary that I worked on called Fallout that needed to source footage from the iconic film On The Beach which was shot in Melbourne and starred Gregory Peck, Ava Gardener and Fred Astaire.
In light of the examples I raised is imperative that the threshold for the post production offset is not raised, the Gallipoli clause is retained and the 30% cap on copyright material is not implemented.
President of The Australian Guild of Screen Composers