Historical and biographical subjects hit even harder

AMOHG has written to the Minister for the Arts and other politicians expressing its concerns about currently proposed changes to tax incentives for documentary production, as well as the unaffordably high usage rates for archival films (obviously significant for historical or biographical productions). Here’s what we wrote:
 
Dear Minister
 
We write on behalf of the Australian Media Oral History Group (AMOHG) https://amohg.wordpress.com

We are concerned that the budget measures and legislation currently proposed for dealing with the film industry will seriously disadvantage documentary films – in particular those that would deal with historical or biographical subjects that rely on archival material. Already, the high usage fees for archival material place a severe burden on production budgets. Now, not only would the proposed measures put the threshold for tax rebates above the total budget of most documentaries, the new proposals would limit the amount of archival material to which the rebates can be applied. 

We support the position put by Mr Daryl Dellora  – in his recent article in the publication Pearls and Irritations – which we urge you to read –https://johnmenadue.com/changes-to-federal-government-film-funding-could-cripple-production-of-historical-documentaries/
 
In particular,  –
 
“The Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 5) Bill 2021 will have a negative impact on the archival documentary sector in this country. It will limit the production of feature length historical or biographical films which rely heavily on archival material by severely constricting the ability to finance those films.
 
“The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) is tasked with preserving our irreplaceable historical memory in the form of moving image and sound and yet their fees for access and reproduction are often completely prohibitive. And I must stress here this is material often already in the public domain, or government owned, for which no private copyright holder is being reimbursed.
 
“The real issue here, in terms of archival costs, is that federal government agencies are underfunded to a point where their rationale for existence is compromised.”
 
AMOHG’s position is that consideration could be given to the equivalent situation in the United States, where most government audiovisual production goes into the public domain immediately on release, and is free to use.   
 
If the legislation proposed had been in place years ago, many significant Australian documentaries encompassing archival footage would not have been made. We assert that the government should be making it easier for documentary filmmakers to produce Australian stories reflecting on our history. This proposed legislation will have the opposite effect.
 
We seek amendments to the Bill that will obviate the perilous effect of the Bill in its current version.
 
Yours faithfully
 
Dominic Case, Rod Freedman, Geoff Gardner, John Hollands,
Graham Shirley, Malcolm Smith, Storry Walton.
AMOHG
 
Contact Malcolm Smith  – filmsmit@bigpond.net.au

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