Screen Australia focuses on documentary Stories that Matter

Louise Duffy | 04-03-2014

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason has launched Stories that Matter, a discussion paper on Screen Australia’s documentary funding programmes, in a keynote at the Adelaide International Documentary Conference (AIDC), as the first stage of consultation in the revision of the programme guidelines.

Mason said: “This is a really key moment for documentary in this country, and perhaps globally. We are seeing significant changes in the way viewers interact with content – with new players, new platforms and technologies shifting habits – and we need to think carefully about how we can preserve and extend documentary’s unique and important qualities in this landscape.”

Screen Australia’s discussion paper draws on 16 years of documentary production data to explore trends and themes of the form in Australia. The release of the discussion paper seeks input from the industry and documentary-making community on the best ways to reach audiences, the opportunities created by new platforms and the best ways to ensure that quality documentaries continue to be made in Australia.

During the keynote, Mason said: “We would not seek to be too prescriptive about approach, subject, or format in defining ‘stories that matter’, but the key thread is stories that resonate with audiences; that have meaning that can endure beyond the moment of broadcast (or download or streaming); that draw on a depth of research or thinking about the subject matter; and that rely on craft and skills beyond the now ubiquitous ability to point and shoot.”

Last year, Screen Australia provided just over AUD$19 million of direct funding and administered AUD$20 million of producer offset funds for documentaries. In 2013, it provided support for 49 one-off single documentaries, four two-part series and 18 longer series. Screen Australia funding underpins a significant amount of Australian documentary production. Since 2008/09, 51% of documentaries produced by production companies included finance from Screen Australia. Screen Australia also supports the sector through enterprise funding, travel grants, promotional material for festivals, resources, production data, professional development and sector support for events and conferences.