Film industry tries to avoid an apocalypse now

With COVID-19 forcing film productions across the state to shutdown, the WA film industry is doing its best to stay both financially and creatively healthy.  

Filming ‘The Heights’ on Matagarup Bridge. Photo:Screenwest.

Screenwest has announced the WA Screen Industry Sustainability Package that will see the state government pump $2.5 million into the sector in addition to previously committed funding.  

The package will not only target existing productions but also the creation of new ‘on demand’ content that can be viably produced in the current environment. 

Screenwest CEO Willie Rowe says this allows directors and crews to keep working and developing their skills but admits he anticipates the number of unemployed to rise.

“Screenwest’s primary objective is to keep practitioners creating and developing their skills within the industry, so they can continue to work within the screen sector on the other side of this period,” Mr Rowe says.

The WA film industry has already lost more than 2,600 jobs and $1 million of income, contributing to the 20,000 jobs and more than $2 billion lost nationally. 

Despite the federal government passing their $130 billion JobKeeper subsidy on Wednesday night, many of those 20,000 unemployed will not receive a cent as the allowance does not apply for freelancers or short-term casuals.

MEAA Director of Communications Mark Phillips on screen workers and JobKeeper subsidy.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance intervened by creating the social media campaign #noworkerleftbehind which features hundreds of affected screen and arts workers pleading for help.

MEAA Director of Communications Mark Phillips says the campaign was designed to bring the issue to public and government attention.

“The majority of people who work in the arts and entertainment industry, particularly in screen and theatre who are short term casuals or freelancers, (have) fallen through the cracks,” Mr Phillips says.

Mr Rowe says Screenwest is unable to provide funding to individuals for their personal living expenses.