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Kings in grass castles' last of its kind?

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The Australian epic ‘Kings in Grass Castles’ premieres on the Seven Network nationwide tonight but it may be the last such top quality Australian mini-series to be produced for television, according to the Executive Director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia(SPAA), Nick Herd.

“Unless the Government continues to fund locally-produced top quality TV mini-series in the Budget on 12 May, ‘Kings in Grass Castles’ may well be the last of its kind”, Mr Herd said.

SPAA is spearheading efforts by film producers, writers, actors, directors representing 25,000 Australians working in the film and video production, distribution, exhibition and TV services industries in seeking assurances from the Government that it will maintain its investment in Australian film and TV production.

“There is deep concern about the possible reduction in funding for local production in the coming Budget leading to a major downturn of around 20 per cent.

“In November last year, the Government announced that $20 million a year would be raised through a new FLIC scheme (Film Licensed Investment Company), but the legislation has not yet even been introduced into Parliament. It will not be operative until 1999.

Mr Herd said, “The time has already passed to raise this sort of money for next year’s Australian productions. We would like to see the Government provide direct funding to make up the $20 million shortfall.

“If that funding is not included in the Budget, future top quality Australian television such as ‘Kings in Grass Castles’, the mini-series ‘Kangaroo Palace’, the ‘Medivac’ series and ‘Good Guys Bad Guys’ will be in jeopardy.

“The Government should continue to fund top quality Australian drama for commercial television and SBS otherwise the best Australia can produce will be seen only occasionally,” Mr Herd said.

Nick Herd, SPAA: Sunday contact: 0417669913. Business hours: 02-39604900 Other Sunday contacts: Canberra Liaison, Jon Gaul 0414603133 or Peter Sekuless 02-62958567

NOTE: According to 1996 ABS figures, 25,000 people were employed in the film and video production, distribution, exhibition and TV services industries in 1993-94. There were 1,179 production companies in the Australian film and video industry making around $1.3 billion worth of films and programs each year.