Investors will follow big names
Films lacking star power
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
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.