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A message from the CEO: 2023 in review

14 December 2023

Dear Screen Sector Colleagues,

As we come to the end of 2023, I want to take the opportunity to celebrate the many achievements of the South Australian screen sector in what has been another year of incredible progress and international recognition for South Australia’s screen industry.

Boosting film and TV production activity in SA

The South Australian screen sector has seen a strong end to the year with multiple productions underway simultaneously at Adelaide Studios and around the state.

Filming has just wrapped at Adelaide Studios on new ABC flagship drama series Ladies in Black starring Debi Mazar and Miranda Otto, the second production to come from the new ABC SAFC Content Pipeline Fund following the return season of Windmill Pictures’ children’s series Beep and Mort, now available to view on ABC Kids. Launched by Premier Peter Malinauskas in March, the ground-breaking new $5.2 million fund will strengthen the state’s screen industry by supporting a pipeline of production to deliver high-quality Australian stories to ABC TV and ABC iview, as well as consistency of employment opportunities for South Australians over the next three years. 

Ladies in Black was just one of a raft of SAFC supported series and feature films in production in recent months, with many filming in South Australia’s regions, significantly contributing to the state’s economy, including:

Factual production fired up this year with Australia’s Sleep Revolution with Dr Michael Moseley, highlighted by SBS as one of their flagship shows for 2024; Super Shark Highway and Aussie Snake Wranglers S3 from Steven Geddes and Colin Thrupp from SA’s Breakout Productions; true crime documentary Speedway from first time filmmakers Luke Rynderman (SA) and Adam Kamien, with SA producers Anna Vincent and Bonnie McBride of Ringleader Films and Lisa Scott of Highview Productions, also supported by the AFFIF; and Paramedics S5; while Coober Pedy became a hotbed of international filming activity with US reality show Stars on Mars starring William Shatner – the largest format TV series ever shot in South Australia.

And the SAFC was pleased to continue its support for The Mercury, including funding for the Quicksilver Production Initiative, which this year has received a record number of applications – directly enabling more emerging practitioners than ever before to make their mark in the industry. Congratulations to Mercury General Manager Sarah Lancaster and her team.

South Australia taking our stories to the world

It’s been a bumper year for South Australia on screen, with the premieres of many incredible SA made and SAFC supported films, series, documentaries and more, and others releasing in cinemas and on streaming platforms worldwide.

Adelaide filmmaking twins Danny and Michael Philippou thrilled audiences internationally with their feature directorial debut Talk to Me, co-written by SA’s Bill Hinzman, which hit cinemas worldwide in July as one of the biggest films of the year, taking in more than AU$140 million at the box office and becoming A24’s most successful horror release ever.

South Australia’s screen capability was showcased internationally alongside our stunning regional locations in major films such as:

Plus SA director Matt Vesely, writer Lucy Campbell and producer Bettina Hamilton saw their Film Lab: New Voices feature film Monolith released in cinemas after its acclaimed world premiere at AFF 2022; animated feature Scarygirl from former SA based creator Nathan Jurevicius and SA writers Craig Behenna and Matt Everitt had its world premiere at the 2023 Sydney Film Festival; and short film Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black) from SA writer/director Derik Lynch, SA writer/director/producer Matthew Thorne and SA producers Patrick Graham and Duncan Graham of Switch Productions and Other Pictures had its world premiere at the Berlinale.

In television we saw the premieres of:

We saw the premieres of fantastic new South Australian documentaries:

And the 2023 Adelaide Film Festival featured and celebrated a huge range of exciting SA made films, with 11 supported by the SAFC including Opening Night Gala The Royal Hotel, and a showcase of short films from up-and-coming SA First Nations filmmakers.

Major accolades for SA screen in 2023

SA practitioners and projects and SAFC supported productions were honoured at the highest levels internationally this year, including:

Limbo and The Survival of Kindness screened In Competition at the 2023 Berlinale as the first Australian films to do so since 2006, with the latter winning the top FIPRESCI Jury Prize awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics for the best film in Competition, while Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black) won the Berlinale Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) and the Teddy Award for LGBT film. The New Boy was also selected for 2023 Camerimage in Poland, where director Warwick Thornton won the top prize of the Golden Frog for cinematography.

They were among a raft of South Australian made and SAFC supported films selected for prestigious A-List international festivals this year including:

SA made and SAFC supported productions and practitioners were honoured at the highest levels domestically too, earning 50 nominations at the 2024 AACTA Awards across 23 categories, including:

It’s been wonderful to see so many projects supported together with Adelaide Film Festival achieving such great success this year – Talk to Me, Monolith, Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black), The Survival of Kindness, Square Circles VR, The Last Elephant on Earth and The Last Daughter – and we thank AFF CEO and Creative Director Mat Kesting and his team for their ongoing collaboration.

South Australian screen creatives and companies achieved other prestigious accolades within Australia too:

And South Australia’s screen sector triumphed at the 2023 Ruby Awards, the state’s highest honour for the arts and creative industries, with five wins for SA made productions and creatives, including the Stevie Gadlabarti Goldsmith Memorial Award for Ngarrindjeri, Narungga, Kaurna and Noongar actor and filmmaker Natasha Wanganeen, and the Outstanding Collaboration Award for Adelaide Film Festival‘s AFF EXPAND Lab 2022.

Bolstering support for SA’s games industry

The SAFC’s support for South Australia’s games sector was spearheaded by the inaugural SAGE: South Australian Game Exhibition at Adelaide Studios in February. Showcasing 19 South Australian game studios and their latest works, the event attracted more than 800 game developers, gaming enthusiasts and members of the general public – and it’s set to return bigger and better on 16-17 February 2024 as part of the Adelaide Fringe, with exhibitor applications open now, and tickets available via

The SAFC welcomed the 2023-24 State Government Budget announcement of $13.5 million over four years to ensure the extension of the successful SA Video Game Development (SA VGD) Rebate, which enables video games studios to claim 10 per cent of eligible expenditure on video game development work undertaken in South Australia. To date, 27 projects have been supported through the SA VGD Rebate with recent titles including ODD GamesTrucks Off Road, Foxie Games Star Equestrian and Mighty Kingdom’s Star Trek Lower Decks, which this year won the award for Best Storytelling at the prestigious Pocket Gamer’s Mobile Games Awards.

The SA VGD Rebate was also instrumental in attracting one of Australia’s largest game developers Big Ant Studios to the state, which opened city offices in April, as well as Keywords Studios which opened its Tantalus South studios in Adelaide this year as the first AAA global video gaming company to open in SA.

The SAFC facilitated connections between SA game developers and industry worldwide this year, supporting SA games studios to attend and pitch at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany; Games Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP) and PAX Australia in Melbourne; and Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco; and we launched the new SA Video Game Creatives e-booklet, highlighting the depth of talent across the sector.

This month the SAFC bolstered its support for the games sector with the appointment of Patrick Webb as Game Development Strategy Executive, Philip Mayes as Game Development Executive and the appointment to the SAFC Board of acclaimed Hipster Whale CEO Clara Reeves.

SA’s PDV sector in full effect

South Australia’s internationally recognised PDV (postproduction, digital and visual effects) sector continued to thrive, with $83 million spent on PDV in the state in 2022-23. Representing 12% of the national share of PDV expenditure, South Australia retained our ranking as the third biggest PDV spend in the country behind NSW and Victoria, demonstrating the strength of the sector and the continued success of the South Australian Government’s PDV rebate introduced in 2018.

The sector continued to service major international and local productions through the SA PDV Rebate, with the SAFC supporting 14 productions including Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Yellow Jackets S2 and La Brea S2, supporting jobs and production activity across the sector for SA studios including Rising Sun Pictures, MPC, Artisan Post Group, Resin, Beyond Content, Monkeystack and KOJO Studios, which this year celebrated 25 years in the business.

The SAFC welcomed the Federal Government’s 2024-25 Budget announcement extending the Location Offset, as well as the resolution of US strike action in November, both of which will see SA PDV businesses ramp up again in production and export activity in 2024.

Focus on diversity and inclusion

The SAFC made significant steps toward supporting diversity and inclusion in this first year of our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2022-2032, with support for project development by First Nations key creatives and LGBTQIA+ creatives exceeding 10-year targets.

We continued our commitment to growing South Australia’s First Nations screen sector through the actions of our ongoing First Nations Screen Strategy 2020-25, which this year included:

In the final year of our Reconciliation Action Plan: Innovate the SAFC celebrated NAIDOC week 2023 with a tour of Adelaide Studios for First Nations creatives, including a set visit to Beep and Mort S2 and a networking event, and hosted an enthusiastic audience in the Adelaide Studios Screening Theatre for a National Reconciliation Week screening of SA made documentary Close to the Bone, with SA filmmakers Jared Thomas, Malcolm McKinnon and Mike Brown facilitated by award-winning First Nations cultural arts leader Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin.

We’re excited to be launching our new Reconciliation Action Plan in the new year – stay tuned to the SAFC website and social media for more details.

Welcomes and farewells

The SAFC welcomed a number of new staff this year: Emma Henderson as Head of Finance; Elyse Lawson as Production Executive; Tyme Childs as First Nations Industry Development Executive; Philip Mayes as Game Development Executive; Alex Knopoff as Communications and Marketing Coordinator; Anita Kimber as Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network (SDIN) Project Officer; and Julia Light as Program Coordinator; and we welcomed existing staff into new positions: former Head of Finance Robyn Jones as Head of Operations; former Game Development Executive Patrick Webb as Game Development Strategy Executive; former Development and Industry Development Executive Kath McIntyre as Industry Development and Learning Executive; former Program Coordinator Jess Cahill as Program Manager and former Receptionist Danae Flack as Administration Assistant.

This year we also farewelled a number of staff who have made significant contributions to the SAFC including Production Executive Julie Ryan; Communications Manager Jerri Phillips; SDIN Project Officer Kata Fodor and Administration Assistant Ellen Williams-Ralfe.

The SAFC Board welcomed new Chair, former SA Premier Mike Rann AC CNZM, and six new members: Lauren Hillman, Shouwn Oosting, Angela Heesom, Brian Hayes KC, Rachel Gardner and Clara Reeves, and farewelled members Miriam Silva AM, Tony Ayres and Rebecca Summerton whose contributions and service has been greatly valued by the SAFC Board, SAFC staff and the SA screen sector.

So Here’s Cheers to … You!

More than half a century on from its ground-breaking beginnings, the SAFC continues to enable South Australia’s screen industry to reach new heights of excellence, supporting our state’s contribution to the cultural identity and creative and economic vitality of SA and the nation.

As reported in this year’s SAFC annual report, in the 2022-23 financial year alone the productions approved through the SAFC’s funds and programs have enabled South Australia’s screen sector to directly contribute more than $142 million to our state’s economy, creating over 2,000 SA production jobs across crew, cast and extras, PDV and games. Not only that, but all this production also generates export revenue for South Australian screen businesses, attracts new sources of inward investment as well as skilled migrants and expats to the state, and enables the world’s best productions to be made right here in our stunning locations and renowned facilities.

As Australia’s longest running screen agency, the SAFC stands as a testament to the South Australian Government’s continued commitment to our state’s thriving screen industry, and to the Government’s recognition of the screen sector’s significant cultural and economic importance to the state.

And of course, none of it would be possible without SA’s talented, highly skilled, entrepreneurial screen sector practitioners and business owners, as well as businesses and workers from all the sectors supplying the SA screen industry. 

To all of you we say thank you for striving to ensure South Australia continues to tell our Australian stories on screen, and congratulations for your hard work and achievements this year. As we head into 2024, and the launch of the next SAFC Strategic Plan, we stand ready to make the most of the opportunities for South Australia – and for you all – in the next 50 years (and more!) of extraordinary achievement in screen production.

Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday,

Kate Croser
Chief Executive Officer
South Australian Film Corporation

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