News & Events
A message from the CEO: 2021 In Review
15 December 2021
Dear Screen Sector Colleagues,
As 2021 draws to a close I want to take the opportunity to celebrate the many achievements of the South Australian screen sector in what has truly been a milestone year.
On the eve of the South Australian Film Corporation’s 50th anniversary in 2022, South Australia’s screen industry is more active than ever, and positively thriving with record levels of production and significant opportunities for South Australians.
We’ve seen a consistent run of production activity in South Australia this year, reaching a peak in October when a record six productions were shooting simultaneously across the state, employing more than 400 local cast and crew, with a further three productions in post – an unprecedented level of activity.
Proudly led by South Australian producers and production companies with bold and original projects, this statewide screen boom is a thrilling high point in what has been 18 months of continual production activity through the evolving challenges of the COVID pandemic.
Since ABC comedy Aftertaste officially kicked off COVID-safe screen production in South Australia in August last year, the SAFC has enabled more than 20 feature films, TV series and VR projects to get underway in the state.
And SAFC supported productions are employing significant numbers of South Australian crew, with productions in 2021 averaging 73% local crew and 68% local HoDs.
These achievements are a result of the SAFC’s focus on enabling a consistent pipeline of screen production for South Australia – something we know is of the utmost importance to industry, and crucial for the sector’s continued growth.
That pipeline has seen 2021 become our busiest year yet, with the SAFC’s Adelaide Studios production facilities booked back-to-back, and several exciting production “firsts” for the state:
- BBC One, Stan and HBO Max drama series The Tourist, produced by South Australian producer Lisa Scott of Highview Productions and premiering 2 January, 2022 on Stan, became the first South Australian project to attract the Federal Government’s Location Offset, and the state’s biggest TV production ever;
- Young adult drama series Gymnastics Academy: A Second Chance! from Glen Pictures – produced, directed and written by Clay Glen, co-produced by Sally Clarke, co-written by Kristian Leadbeater and with Kelly Schilling and Stephen Devilliers directing – became the first Netflix series commissioned from a South Australian production company;
- Windmill Pictures’ ABC Kids series Beep and Mort, produced by Kaye Weeks, directed and produced by Rosemary Myers and co-produced by Peta Astbury-Bulsara, commenced production as the first studio program for children made in South Australia for over a decade;
- and Warwick Thornton led vampire series Firebite, with SA producer Paul Ranford on board, premieres tomorrow (16 December) on AMC+ as the first South Australian production from US studio AMC.
And there were some exciting “seconds” too, with production beginning this year on:
- Season two of International Emmy Award winning ABC children’s series First Day from South Australians Kirsty Stark of Epic Films and Kate Butler of KOJO Studios;
- Season two of Aussie Snake Wranglers from SA producer Colin Thrupp of Breakout Productions for National Geographic;
- and a second Embrace documentary from South Australian body image activist Taryn Brumfitt in Embrace Kids, produced by South Australian producers Anna Vincent and Bonnie McBride of SLA Films;
- as well as the exciting announcement of a second season of Aftertaste from Closer Productions coming in 2022, produced by Bec Summerton and Erik Thomson, co-produced and written by Matthew Bate, and written by Matt Vesely.
It is fantastic to see so many South Australian producers maximising the value of their original IP and securing marketplace investment for repeatable programs and formats.
This year also saw production commence on Rolf de Heer feature film The Mountain, with SA producer Julie Byrne of Adelaide Studios based Triptych Pictures; ABC and Netflix series MaveriX; and SBS series A Beginners’ Guide to Grief from SA writer Anna Lindner and produced by SA’s Kate Butler of KOJO and Julie Byrne, as well as the premieres of many SA made and SAFC supported productions including:
- Closer Productions’ Aftertaste for ABC;
- World first SBS interactive documentary Are You Addicted to Technology by SA producer and director Matthew Bate of Closer Productions;
- This is Port Adelaide by SA’s 57 Films, produced and directed by Nicole Miller, with producers Paul Ryan and James Moody, now streaming on Stan;
- Virtual reality work Thin Ice VR produced by Justin Wight and executive produced by Rhys Sandery and Troy Bellchambers of Adelaide Studios based digital studio Monkeystack and directed by James Calvert – now on at SA Museum until 6 February;
- and Square Circles VR from SA’s Mark Patterson of Go Patterson Films and Anton Andreacchio of Jumpgate VR.
We also saw the premiere in March of the multi AACTA Award winning SAFC supported feature documentary My Name is Gulpilil, a poignant coda to legendary actor David Gulpilil’s magnificent half-century career in Australian screen.
And South Australia shone in the international spotlight in April with the global release of New Line Cinema / Warner Bros blockbuster Mortal Kombat, the largest screen production ever made in the state, which rose to number one at both the US and Australian box offices in its opening weekend as one of the biggest R-rated openers of all time, and went on to win multiple AACTA Awards at last week’s ceremony including Best Sound in film, with South Australians Adrian Medhurst and Des Kenneally named in the honours.
In 2021 the SAFC continued its support for the games sector, funding 10 games projects through our industry-leading SA Video Game Development (VGD) Rebate from South Australian studios Mighty Kingdom and Foxie Games.
Strengthening the state’s screen workforce was a keen focus for the SAFC in 2021 – and it’s an issue we know is of critical importance to industry.
We launched a range of skilling, training and employment initiatives including Australia’s first screen sector micro credential training program Skilling SA, supported by the State Government through the Department for Innovation and Skills, with the guidance of our Heads of Department Working Group; and our Film Lab: New Voices talent escalator initiative created in partnership with Adelaide Film Festival (AFF), Screen Australia and in collaboration with Mercury CX, and also continued our Master/Apprentice Mentorship, presented with Mercury CX.
And we’re excited to announce that we’ve recently established two expert industry taskforces to identify short, medium and long-term workforce development needs and strategies for screen production, post production and visual effects, and games development.
Initiatives like this don’t just create jobs and training and skilling opportunities within our industry – they also lead to employment for South Australians across other sectors including tourism, hospitality, services and trades, generating significant economic impact for South Australia as a whole – and that’s great news for the state.
This year we strengthened connections with industry, launching a new partnership with Australian streaming platform Stan and expanding our partnership with Australians in Film while continuing our partnerships with Mercury CX and Adelaide community TV broadcaster Channel 44, and we entered into the second year of both the SAFC’s First Nations Screen Strategy 2020-25 and our Reconciliation Action Plan: Innovate 2020-22, reaffirming our commitment to supporting and amplifying the extraordinary stories and creative voices of South Australia’s First Nations screen sector.
SA screen creatives and SAFC supported productions were honoured at the highest levels this year, with ABC children’s series First Day from SA’s Epic Films and KOJO Studios awarded the International Kids Emmy for Best Live Action Series; SA PDV studios Mr X nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for Love and Monsters, and Rising Sun Pictures nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for The Boys; SA produced film When Pomegranates Howl selected as Australia’s official submission for Best International Feature Film at the 2022 Academy Awards, and multiple wins at the AACTA Awards and the South Australian Screen Awards for practitioners right across the local sector.
And we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Adelaide Studios, which officially opened in October 2011 as the state’s first purpose-built screen production facilities – the new home of screen in South Australia, and the new home of the SAFC. Watch our special end of year wrap video to see some heartwarming anniversary messages from icons of the Australian screen industry such as Jack Thompson, Scott Hicks and Kerry Heysen, Rolf de Heer, Damon Herriman, Susie Porter, Tilda Cobham-Hervey and more – or click below to watch the messages in full in our Youtube playlist.
All this exciting sector-wide activity comes as a direct result of the incredible depth and breadth of screen talent in South Australia, and the resilience, resourcefulness, and entrepreneurship of the businesses and practitioners who make up our thriving industry, as well as the continued support of the State Government through Premier Steven Marshall and Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni.
All of us at the SAFC are so proud to play our part in supporting and driving the continued growth of the state’s screen sector, and to see how the screen industry continues to create jobs for South Australians, and contribute so significantly to the creative and economic vitality of the state.
Finally I would like to welcome new SAFC Chair Julie Cooper and new Board Member Austin Taylor OAM who started in their roles this month, and once again thank outgoing SAFC Chair Peter Hanlon for his leadership over the last three years.
I also thank the SAFC Board, as well as the SAFC staff, for their hard work and commitment this year and always. It is my pleasure to lead such a highly skilled and dedicated team, and I thank them for their passion and professionalism.
And to everyone in the sector: congratulations on all your wonderful achievements in 2021!
We at the SAFC recognise that the constantly evolving challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to create a level of uncertainty for the sector and the businesses and individuals within it. We also know that over the last 18 months our sector has continually risen to those challenges with determination and regard for each other’s well-being, and we will continue to do so, so that our industry doesn’t just survive but thrive.
We’re thrilled to be capping off 2021 with the US and Australian premiere of new South Australian filmed and produced series Firebite tomorrow on AMC+ (16 December), and starting 2022 strongly with the premieres of new Jamie Dornan series The Tourist on Stan on 2 January, and Zac Efron feature film Gold in cinemas on 13 January and on Stan on 26 January.
While 2022 is the SAFC’s official golden anniversary year, we’re excited that a new golden era of South Australian screen production has already begun.
On behalf of the entire SAFC team, I wish you all the best for a safe and happy festive season, and we look forward to working with you to build on our industry’s successes in 2022.
Chief Executive Officer
South Australian Film Corporation
Main image: Firebite, photo by Ian Routledge; Beep and Mort, courtesy Windmill Pictures; Mortal Kombat, photo courtesy Warner Bros Pictures; My Name is Gulpilil, image supplied; Thin Ice VR, image supplied; MaveriX, photo by Anna Cadden; The Tourist, photo by Ian Routledge; Love and Monsters, photo courtesy Mr X; Gold, photo by Ian Routledge; Square Circles VR, image supplied; First Day season two, photo by Matt Byrne; Aftertaste, photo by Ian Routledge.