It's the end of an Aussie era


Australia's Film Finance Corp. on Thursday announced its final slate, ending 20 years of direct subsidies for Aussie film and TV projects.

The slate — the last the FFC will fund before being wrapped into new mega-agency Screen Australia — includes 11 features, three TV dramas, two kids' TV dramas and 14 documentaries, with a total production value of AUS$310 million ($282 million), its largest-ever budget.

Beginning in July, Screen Australia will administer the new 40% producer rebate as the key financing mechanism for the industry.

Director Fred Schepisi, who will return to Australia for the first time in 20 years to co-produce and direct the Vietnam War film "The Last Man," paid tribute to the FFC, saying that financing the feature would have been "impossible" without the agency's assistance.

"It has become increasingly difficult to finance independent films, not only in Australia but everywhere in the world," Schepisi said. "Money has to be cobbled together from many sources, not always as reliable as they seem and almost always conditional on securing one of the 10 top international stars of the moment, a difficulty that has been exacerbated by the recent worldwide tightening of credit and the threat of recession."