View Full Version : [1971-1-SSA] Focus On Films - Don Saunders

06-09-2003, 09:17 AM
In early 1971 Script Screen and Art did a survey of heads of various film industry bodies asking how they viewed the coming year for the industry. This is Don Saunders' reply:
(pictured: DON SAUNDERS, President - Film Editors Guild of Australia 1970,
Supervising Editor - Fauna Productions)


"Being one of the fortunate few employed by a company that has been continuously and fairly successfully in production for nearly four years, I look back on the past with a great deal of satisfaction and, being an optimist, look forward to the year of promise, 1971, hopefully.

However, rather than make a personal statement, I would prefer to express the views of the Film Editors Guild of Australia with which I am closely associated. The object of the Guild is to ensure that the true value of film and sound editing is recognised not only by those engaged in it, but by the whole of the film industry, as an important part of the creative and artistic aspects of film production.

Though perhaps the youngest of the professional guilds within the film industry, F.E.G.A. is represented on the Australian Film Council, and has been playing an active part in a lot of the spade work needed to get the industry on a surer footing for the seventies.

FEGA's view is that the beginning of 1971 appears to be a lean period for motion picture production, although the year should see the first loans to f ilm producers from the Film Development Corporation. It is on this point that FEGA is most concerned. Some local film executives have been recommending the importation of American directors and writers to handle the films which may get off the ground through loans from the CFDC. The executives' reasoning being quote: "They have a track record". Track records may be all very well, but how are Australian writers and directors ever going to achieve a track record unless they are allowed a place on the starting blocks?

FEGA urges the CFDC to watch this situation closely and to ensure that, as is the case in Canada, loans from the CFDC to local and/or overseas co-productions must only be given if the writer and/or director of the film is an Australian. Unless this happens and protection is also given to cameramen, editors and other technicians, the 70's could be prosperous for studios and distribution groups, but just as bleak as it has been for the past thirty years for Australian technicians.

We sympathise with the technicians hit by the slump in production in Hollywood and London. However, this could bring about a demand for product to fill screen time from other English speaking countries, and why not Australia. This opportunity for employment of local talent could be marred by a mass influx of unemployed overseas technicians with outstanding track records on paper but unproved in working conditions in Australia - which are unique because of generally smaller and more versatile crews which visiting directors, producers, cameramen and editors often find confusing.

All major film producing countries have protection for their technicians: roughly that no foreign technician is allowed in to do a job which can be done by a national. The alternative being that a national is employed as a super numerary to cover the position filled by an import. This is something that Australian production budgets cannot afford but some protection must be devised for local technicians.

FEGA applaudes the establishment of the CFDC, the Australian Film School and the Experimental Film Fund, and feels these give the greatest opportunity to date to bring about improvements in the industry and will certainly go a long way in developing an active and truly indigenous Australian cinema and television by 1975. For 1971 we can only hope.

- Don Saunders