PUBLIC DEBATE DERAILED BY ILL-INFORMED LAWYER
Mr Alan Anderson, Melbourne lawyer and Liberal Party member*, reveals his ignorance of
the subject matter in his misguided article in the Sydney Morning Herald (Less not more,
government help may be better for the box office, April 28, 2005). He begins by referring
to filmmakers as "the artistic classes" which is an oddly antiquated phrase
– and an oddly nonsensical idea. But it’s his disparaging reference to
bureaucrats at the Film Finance Corporation making the creative decisions that sticks out
as one of the most uninformed comments in the article. By Andrew L. Urban.
If he knew anything about his subject he would know that the FFC last year hired two
industry practitioners with fine track records to make script assessments on which the FFC
would make financing decisions. The head of the FFC, Brian Rosen, also comes from the
private sector, with a decade of it spent in Hollywood. Hardly the bureaucratic picture Mr
Anderson is trying to paint.
Mr Anderson then comes up with this gem of an observation: "Perhaps, given the
insularity of our cultural elites, the bureaucrats would achieve a better commercial
return. Yet even if the man from the ministry does know best, would that be a film
industry worth having?" What does that mean? The bureaucrats he is talking about come
from the world he describes as ‘cultural elites’ – meaningless jargon being
used in the absence of information.
Mr Anderson has set his mind to finding the solution: he proposes a dramatic shift in
funding: "One solution is to move from a producer-focused to a consumer-focused
subsidy, proportional to box office takings. This would give filmmakers an incentive to
appeal to wider audiences than the small coterie of like minded activists and jaded post
modernists who inhabit their narrow world, without curtailing artistic freedom." Note
how ‘cultural elites’ have now become ‘small coterie of like minded
activists and haded post modernists’. But his name calling aside, his suggestion for
box office related subsidies doesn’t suggest a rigorous mind at work; it certainly
hasn’t been taxed thinking that idea through.
It is to the detriment of public debate – which is to be encouraged on the subject
of Australian filmmaking in its broadest sense – when otherwise serious broadsheet
newspapers publish such ill-informed writers, given them a platform they don’t
deserve. Of course, it’s also just possible that the left leaning SMH has published
his article as a cruel joke on him, setting him up for ridicule.
*He is credited as such at the end of the article.
Published April 28, 2005.