Australian International Documentary Conference: Documentary Australia initiative

This was forwarded to us by the The Caledonia Foundation, one of our Members. Gina Anderson, our CEO, attended the AIDC and overall, we’re very excited at the potential this initiative holds.

...philanthropic funding already goes to the environment and the arts, health, education, indigenous issues and social welfare - all areas of great interest to documentary, areas where many of the issues that filmmakers address are found. In the US philanthropic funding is a well-known supporter of documentary production, but in Australia it’s new ground.

AIDC: Documentary Australia initiative

by: Tina Kaufman

Screen Hub

Tuesday 27 February, 2007

An exciting and ambitious initiative which would open new areas of support and potentially double the amount of funding available for documentary was presented at the Australian International Documentary Conference.

Documentary Australia plans to inform, educate and encourage philanthropic foundations and trusts, charities, and corporate and individual donors of the benefits of supporting documentary, and of working with documentary makers. And they’ll also give documentary makers all the information and assistance they need to apply for philanthropic funding.

About 1500 trusts and foundations in Australia give away over $500 million dollars every year; Documentary Australia sees this as an area that could form the basis of a new and sustainable private funding model. And money obtained in this way comes as a grant, not an investment - there is no financial recoupment.

What the grant maker or donor needs to know is that the film has an impact, that it’s going to have a life and a usefulness beyond its broadcast and festival screenings.

As Ian Darling, Chairman and founder of Documentary Australia, explained, philanthropic funding already goes to the environment and the arts, health, education, indigenous issues and social welfare - all areas of great interest to documentary, areas where many of the issues that filmmakers address are found. In the US philanthropic funding is a well-known supporter of documentary production, but in Australia it’s new ground.

But Ian Darling argues that it’s currently quite hard for Australian grant makers to give to documentary, that there is no simple vehicle to make such donations tax deductible.

Documentary Australia has already put in a submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, supported by the Screen Producers Association of Australia, about the need for such a vehicle, but in the meantime he is suggesting that one solution is to work with and through charities, who have their tax deductible status in place, and would be a good strategic fit.

Mitzi Goldman and Susan MacKinnon took the audience into the excellent website which will connect the world of philanthropy with the world of documentary; it’s at final draft stage, and Mitzi called for feedback, saying that she has held off setting up the FAQs from filmmakers `until I get them from you!’

The website provides an enormous amount of detailed, well-targeted information to both potential grantmakers and to filmmakers, and is well-designed and easy to use. Its already strong catalogue of documentaries to be used as case studies on individual films will continue to be added to (so if your film isn’t there yet - send it in.).

Information for grantmakers includes the shared areas of interest, and the fact that documentaries raise public awareness on issues, that they educate, entertain and comment, that they would add leverage to the philanthropic dollar, and that they have longlasting educational and outreach value. Filmmakers can learn how to work with foundations and charities; what subjects would be a good fit, how to apply for grants, and just what the needs and requirements of the grantmakers are. Once the website is fully operational, Documentary Australia is planning a series of seminars with all interest groups to formally commence the initiative.

Filmmakers will need to understand the difference between working with philanthropy and with their existing partners. There’s a lot of learning to be done, a lot of potential to explore, but Documentary Australia believes that success lies not only with the grantmakers but with the filmmakers, and that it does require a real shift in vision. It should mean, however, that projects could have a longer, more productive life within a community.

As Ian Darling says, `it might fail miserably, but it’s worth a go!’

You can lodge your email address to receive more information at www.documentaryaustralia.com.au

Tina Kaufman

Tina Kaufman is a freelance writer on film and media issues. She was editor of ‘FilmNews’ for seventeen years, a long time Board member of the Sydney Film Festival, and a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia.

news@screenhub.com.au

http://www.screenhub.com.au

Feb. 28, 2007

 Tags: news

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