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 AFI ANNOUNCES MAJOR REVIEW
 Introduces idea of an ‘Australian Academy’

Introduction

Now in its 53rd year, The Australian Film Institute (AFI) is announcing a period of consultation with its constituents and the wider community as we prepare to embark on a period of significant development.

Acknowledging the growing success of our talented creative community, the AFI is reviewing its strategic objectives and programs with the aim of establishing an ‘Australian Academy’. We want to build a more inclusive and refined professional structure that best represents the diversity and talent of our screen industry.

Our objectives are to:

  1. Encourage the Australian public to get to know the Australian film, television and screen content production industries more broadly;
  2. Work with our industry to raise its profile, and promote its productions, both to the Australian public and internationally;
  3. Promote awareness of the history and presence of the Australian screen industry.

Below follows:


Supporting statements

To view the proposed developments and to complete the AFI Survey and submit your comments to the AFI, please scroll down.

The importance of community, screen culture and the pursuit of excellence, driving forces of the AFI for over 50 years, cannot be underestimated.  These factors were pivotal to our industry’s acceleration from the late 60’s and are certainly no less important today.  The 21st Century offers immense opportunities and the AFI’s proposed development of an ‘Australian Academy’ cleverly adapts successful elements of the world’s leading screen organizations to local traditions. This unifying of common purpose and effort makes such good sense. It’s a very exciting proposal.

— Dr George Miller
AFI Patron

Since the 1970's renaissance the Australian screen community has grown exponentially and its potential is undoubtedly immense. More than ever it's critical that a national and international Australian screen community is nurtured. With a long and rich tradition, the AFI Professional Membership is well placed to be developed into a more universally recognizable and understood model, an 'Australian Academy'. The establishment of an 'Australian Academy' is not just overdue, but eminently possible and extremely useful.

— Greg Coote
AFI Advisor

The AFI and the AFI Awards are an important part of the Australian film industry, providing support in connecting films with audiences and in recognising their achievements.  We support their initiative to review and evolve the AFI into a more inclusive professional structure.  I encourage all interested members of the industry to participate in this valuable consultation process.

— Ruth Harley
CEO
Screen Australia

SPAA endorses the proposed ‘Australian Academy’ and its draft constitution and will assist in the further development of this important initiative.

— Geoff Brown
Executive Director
Screen Producers Association of Australia

The ADG supports the initiatives and new directions proposed by the AFI. In particular we commend the AFI's commitment to raise the public profile of our screen industry with the Australian public and to honour and celebrate our rich cinema and television history. We look forward to working collectively with our industry colleagues towards the goals the AFI are proposing.

— Ray Argall
President
Australian Directors Guild

The Australian Writers’ Guild is pleased to support the Australian Film Institute’s new initiatives, in particular the great potential of their proposal for an ‘Australian Academy’  to harness the collective talent and experience of screen practitioners in celebration of their craft.

— Jacqueline Woodman
Executive Director
Australian Writers’ Guild

For more than seven decades Actors Equity Australia has been committed to ensuring the excellence that abounds in Australia’s arts and entertainment industries is adequately recognised and rewarded.  As such, we support the Australian Film Institute’s (AFI) efforts to encourage diversity, creativity and quality in the screen industry via a new and more professionally-focused structure, such as the AFI’s proposed ‘Australian Academy’.
We welcome the AFI’s attempts to raise the profile of our industry and the performers who play such a pivotal role in it.

— Simon Whipp
Director - Actors Equity Australia
Assistant Federal Secretary - Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

It is with great delight that on behalf of the National Executive of the Australian Cinematographers Society, I endorse in principle, the proposed changes the AFI are suggesting as part of their internal structural review. The objective to establish an Australian Academy, for us all to share in, is a challenging one indeed, but one the ACS would be in support of.
Any organisation that has the collective capacity to unite us all, for the right reasons, has to be a good thing. We at the ACS look forward to further collaboration with all concerned.

— Ron Johanson ACS
National President
Australian Cinematographers Society

The ASE wholeheartedly supports the AFI's endeavours to formulate an Industry Council. Not only will this help to bring the craft Guilds together, it will offer more relevance and therefore appreciation from our local audiences.

— Jason Ballantine ASE
President
Australian Screen Editors Guild

The Australian Screen Sound Guild is greatly in support of the AFI's intent to establish an ‘Australian Academy’. An excellent idea to bring all the Guilds and others together with the formation of an HONARARY COUNCIL and the ASSG will be the first to offer member names for consideration.

— Trevor Harrison
President
Australian Screen Sound Guild

The AFI plays a pivotal role in the Australian film industry by acknowledging excellence and those who contribute to making Australian film and television.

— Clive Harrison
President
Australian Guild of Screen Composers

The Australian Production Design Guild welcomes the changes proposed by the AFI. They constitute a viable way to bring various guilds and industry professionals together and they reinforce the idea of a film and TV community dedicated to excellence. We hope the establishment of an 'Australian Academy' will help raise the public profile of the local industry and bring a greater audience for locally made productions. The APDG is happy to be a participant in this important endeavour.

— George Liddle
Director
Australian Production Designers Guild


Proposed AFI Developments

What are our key aims?

These are defined as:

  • Increasing the profile of Australian film and television
  • Building constructively on more than half a century of AFI heritage and achievement
  • Developing our established and emerging industry sectors/individuals
  • Developing opportunities that are relevant, meaningful and useful for industry (established and emerging)
  • Identifying, celebrating, promoting and nurturing excellence
  • To be a communications and community hub for the industry
  • To develop global networks and involve our international members
  • To develop an industry/audience interface
  • To encourage and support the development of diverse content across the spectrum of shorts, documentary, television and feature film. To support diversity, creativity and excellence at all industry levels – from specialty projects through to mainstream commercial work.

What is the context in which we are considering these aims?

Australia has some of the finest creative talent in the world. Arguably the extent of our talent, as represented on the global stage, is disproportionately large and the potential for this trend to grow appears to be significant.

Many of these achievements have been acknowledged through the annual AFI Awards and with many more successes likely, it’s time to take stock and consider how the AFI can deliver even greater value to the screen industry and to audiences at home and abroad.

What are some of the developments in consideration?

A number of strategies are being considered in order to achieve our objectives. These changes include to elevate the status of Australian film and television talent and achievements through the creation of an ‘Australian Academy’ that brings the industry together and demonstrates its skills, diversity, achievements and history.

What is the proposed ‘Australian Academy’?

The ‘Australian Academy’ is the evolution of the AFI Professional Membership into specific chapters that include all key professions in order to better serve each profession.

What are the aims of the ‘Australian Academy’?

  • The primary aim is to improve the way in which our industry identifies, rewards and celebrates its successes, excellence and achievement – and in doing so, enhance our screen industry’s profile and prospects.
  • To nurture a community of screen industry professionals that transcends formats, genres, professions and geography.

What are the proposed chapters?

Chapters will include: Actors, Animation, Cinematographers, Composers, Costume Designers, Directors, Editors, Executives, Make-Up Artists & Hairstylists, Producers, Production Designers, Public Relations Specialists, Sound, Special Visual Effects and Screenwriters.

How will it be governed?

Through the establishment of an inaugural Honorary Council (of the Academy) made up of a number of representatives of each chapter including a representative of each of the guilds or professional organisations. In the selection of the inaugural Honorary Councillors, consideration will be given to achieving a balance of feature film/television/documentary/short film, gender, experience/youth and geography. The primary tasks of Honorary Councillors will be to support their designated chapter and to work with the AFI staff, board and the industry to develop strategy.

Proposed ‘Australian Academy’ outline

Academy Honora

 

‘Australian Academy’ Voting Model

While it is expected that peer assessment of television, documentary and shorts categories will remain primarily with professional industry juries, there is an opportunity to review the Feature Film voting model moving from a single vote to a more rigorous two-step voting process.

The two-step voting model will allow for a more consistent and equitable approach to voting. This has successfully been achieved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS®), whereby the first round of voting (to be shortlisted) is undertaken by each specific profession and when the final nominations are announced, all chapters are able to vote across all categories. This multi-step model is further advanced than the existing process and more in line with international best practice.

Global engagement

As movements of people, technology and finance continue, the global production industry increasingly exceeding traditional geographic boundaries.

The AFI’s founding role included showcasing great content from around the world and these broad ranging foundations had a significant impact on the subsequent development of Australia’s film industry. We believe that it is again important to appraise (from an Australian perspective), what we believe are the world’s finest motion picture achievements and why. Whilst we have not yet determined precisely what these acknowledgments will be, we are considering some level of acknowledgement for the finest achievements in film regardless of geography. This will not only raise debate around what should be regarded as the finest universal achievement, but also positions Australian achievements within a broader context and in doing so creates a much larger global spotlight on our industry.

Television

Television has been an integral part of the AFI (including the AFI Professional Membership and AFI Awards) since the 1980’s.

Our intention is to formerly recognise Television (along with Film or Cinema) in the title of the new Academy structure.

Documentary

Documentary continues to form a critical component of the peer assessment and annual awards program. Following significant industry consultation, the introduction of additional documentary awards in the past two years to specifically acknowledge production in short, feature and series forms alongside practitioner awards has proved very successful.

Short filmmaking

Short filmmaking remains an integral component of the overall peer assessment program. With another AFI winning short, The Lost Thing, going on to take an Oscar, we are considering additional means to bring greater attention to this ever important genre including a dedicated event to screen nominated films and present awards for this category.

AFI TV

AFI TV has provided unique opportunities to assist short filmmakers (both emerging and accomplished) to showcase their achievements in a secure and high quality online channel, visible via the AFI reputation and AFI Awards marketing activity.

Since 2009, members of the AFI have been able to view the nominated short fiction and short animation films on AFI TV for the purpose of judging the AFI Awards, along with a carefully curated collection of short films, for the viewing pleasure of the AFI membership.

Following significant enquiries, we are currently considering changing this subscription model to a pay per view platform that also supports the online distribution of longer form content such as documentaries and feature films.

AFI Professional Development programs

In past five years the AFI has been the custodian of numerous professional development prizes and fellowships. With generous support from Kennedy Miller Mitchell (the Byron Kennedy Award) alongside many other philanthropic and corporate donations, approximately $250,000 in career development funding has been provided. We aim to continue working with our existing partners as well as identifying new supporters to carry on nurturing future talent.

Building the Australian Film and Television brand

Considering the strategic and public identity of the ‘Australian Academy’– for the 21st century – the AFI will seek an identity (Name, Logo, Awards Statuette) that is closely related to the rich traditions of the AFI, but is more broadly representative of all modern forms of the moving image. The proposed 'Australian Academy' would exist in relation to the AFI, not instead of, and the many talented people recognised for excellence as AFI Award winners and nominees throughout the AFI's long history would constitute the founding heritage of an ‘Australian Academy.’

These proposed changes are designed to:

  • Provide greater industry engagement and leadership in the process of identifying, celebrating and nurturing excellence and success;
  • Build community through an enhanced structure that better supports each specific profession and also augments connections across all professions;
  • Creates broader and deeper connections between our talented screen community and audiences.

Next Steps

The Industry Consultation phase of the AFI's Major Review has now concluded. We thank everyone who took the time to have their say, particularly through our online survey, and we look forward to keeping you posted on our next steps over the coming months as we review all feedback and ideas received.

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