Virus crisis brings boom and bother for filmmakers

Director of Tasmania's Breath of Fresh Air Festival Owen Tilbury speaks at the conference today, and, inset, film producer Nick Tantaro.

Demand for online film content has boomed but at the same time filmmakers have been hammered by the impact of COVID-19 on finances and from physical restrictions, a media conference has heard.

Speaking at the Launceston Freelance Festival film producer Nick Tantaro said the positives went hand in hand with the problems.

“This is a period of change, times are changing – talk about threats and opportunities – we’re in it,” Mr Tantaro said.

“The insurance companies won’t fund films during this pandemic which makes it very difficult to get a film up. You need that insurance if things go wrong.”

However, the conference heard demand for online streaming content had continued to grow as the lockdown progressed.

Owen Tilbury, the director of Tasmania’s Breath of Fresh Air Festival, said the future of film looked bright post-COVID-19 as the industry got back into its stride.

“We think that the future will be positive,” said Mr Tilbury, “human beings are amazingly adaptable.”

He said BOFA had attracted more than three times the number of viewers in 2020 after being forced online, increasing its audience by 20,000 on last year’s attendance of 7,500, as more people were able to tune in from remote areas.

Film producer Nick Tantaro.

While BOFA’s budget had been slightly impacted and most productions were stopped in Australia, lockdown had made it easier to pioneer the first online film festival in Australia.

Mr Tilbury said technology had made film more accessible than ever and the fragmentation of the film industry had opened up an enormous number of opportunities at a multicultural and diverse level.

“We are aiming to reach 60 per cent of female film makers now,” said Mr Tilbury.

He added the impact of streaming services had combined with the ability to better identify a market.

And while storytelling centres on the individual, Mr Tantaro emphasised the importance of collaboration in film production.

“Film has always been a medium for getting stories across,” said Mr Tantaro. “Film is a collaborative process… as you get larger, you’ll need to collaborate.

“The distribution model is breaking down the exhibition part of the equation.”

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