In­vestors will fol­low big names

Films lack­ing star power

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JOHN AN­DER­SEN john. an­der­sen@ news. com. au

AUS­TRALIAN ac­tors are los­ing out on jobs be­cause their own union has pulled the cur­tain on for­eign stars tak­ing lead roles in lo­cally made films.

Ac­tor Roy Billing, in Win­ton for the Vi­sion Splen­did Out­back Film Fes­ti­val, said the Aus­tralian screen in­dus­try should start think­ing glob­ally rather than con­strain­ing it­self with pro­tec­tion­ist reg­u­la­tions.

“I’m an ac­tor my­self, but there will be more jobs cre­ated in the film in­dus­try if we can open it up to over­seas stars,” Billing said.

“Oc­ca­sion­ally a pro­ducer wants to bring in a big name to at­tract in­vest­ment for a film. I don’t have any prob­lem with that. There are 46,600 peo­ple in­volved with screen work in Aus­tralia and most of them are not ac­tors.

“You look at the cred­its when they roll at the end of a film and the num­ber of peo­ple in­volved with pro­duc­tion. There are lot of jobs. If you are look­ing to get in­vest­ment for a film it is of­ten bet­ter if you have a well- known name.”

Billing said it was time the Aus­tralian film in­dus­try em­braced the global cul­ture of mo­tion- pic­ture mak­ing. He said if more money be­came avail­able through in­vest­ment it would mean more jobs and more fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity for peo­ple in the in­dus­try.

Billing said a re­cent ex­am­ple was the minis­eries The Se­cret River on the ABC star­ring English ac­tor Oliver Jack­son- Co­hen. The BBC had agreed to partly fi­nance the ven­ture if Jack­son- Co­hen was given the role of set­tler Wil­liam Thorn­hill. He said the ac­tors' union, the MEAA, would not al­low the cast­ing of Jack­son- Co­hen over an Aus­tralian ac­tor, putting fund­ing at risk.

“What saved the day was that the Min­is­ter for the Arts stepped in and over­ruled the union and Jack­son- Co­hen was al­lowed in and this very suc­cess­ful minis­eries went ahead,” Billing said.

Billing, who has had lead­ing roles in a num­ber of Aus­tralian pro­duc­tions like Un­der­belly, Jack Ir­ish, The Dish and Char­lie and Boots, was pre­sented with his very own star on Win­ton’s brand new Walk of Fame on Elder­slie St out­side the ope­nair Royal Theatre this week.

Win­ton’s Walk of Fame at this stage has just one and it is “owned” by a very chuffed Billing. “It is just a start. There will be more,” he said.

Billing pre­dicted a bright fu­ture for the film fes­ti­val.

“It only shows Aus­tralian films and that makes it stand out. It will get big­ger ev­ery year,” he said.

There will be more jobs cre­ated in the film in­dus­try if we can open it up to over­seas stars

Pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD- CHISHOLM

A C T O R R O Y B I L L I N G THE START: Aus­tralian ac­tor Roy Billing, with his Win­ton Walk of Fame star, pre­dicts a bright fu­ture for the Out­back Film Fes­ti­val.

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