June 27, 2011
Australian actors’ guild, Actors Equity today launched a campaign to halt the passing of a drafted proposal by the Federal Government which would affect local actors’ job prospects in Australia.
“Save Spaces for Aussie Faces” aims to stop the new draft of the Foreign Performer Certification Scheme Guidelines, proposed in late May by Office for the Arts, and Minister Simon Crean, which would permit Australian producers to import more international performers for Film and Television than currently allowed.
In an open letter to Mr Crean, published in today’s Australian newspaper (p7), Equity points out the effects of allowing international actors to encroach on valuable screen time of Australian productions, funded by Australian taxpayers that are made as an investment in the nation’s culture.
The letter highlights that under the proposed changes:
Below, more than 120 actors including Toni Collette, Alan Dale, Isla Fisher, Hugo Weaving and Asher Keddie signed the document.
Simon Whipp, Federal Director of Equity told Encore, “the Australian Government has decided to produce distinctly Australian content that resonates with Australian audiences and international audiences looking for Australian content.”
The proposed changes, Equity argue, would dilute those efforts. A role such as Geoffrey Rush’s German priest, Father Benedictus in Bran Nue Dae for example, could go to a German. And while most Australian producers would use local actors said Whipp, there is a minority who would import talent to further draw an international audience, harking back to the day where the authenticity of Australian accents was less of a concern for producers.
Whipp added, in the current climate, with precious available positions, Equity wants to make sure “the choice for a career in acting in Australia is economically viable – so the union must fight for every Australian job we can.”
The discussion revolves around Australian productions. Whipp said that Equity accept that a US production like Spielberg’s Terra Nova, which does not receive funding, may employ whoever they like.