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A Letter to the Minister for the Arts

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Closure of Deluxe Film Laboratories.

4 April 2013

Hon. Tony Burke MP
Minister for the Arts,
Canberra ACT

Dear Minister,

Re: Closure of Deluxe Film Laboratories.

I write to you in my capacity as National President of the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) representing over 1300 members both here and overseas.

United States company Deluxe have announced, to a few selected industry figures, the imminent closure of their film processing facility in Sydney on April 19 of this year.

Last year Deluxe acquired of the Australian owned Cinevex and Atlab facilities, in Melbourne and on the Gold Coast. These facilities have since closed, leaving the Sydney facility as the only film laboratory remaining in Australia.

Deluxe advise that film processing services will no longer be available in Australia, forcing the industry to go offshore to their facilities in Hollywood or Bangkok.

This is a disaster for the film & television industry here in Australia, jeopardising future training and employment across all of the industry associated crafts and professions.

Projects will now be restricted to shooting digitally, which will have many diverse negative affects for the Australian film industry, our global reputation, and in turn for the Australian economy.

For example, both local and overseas feature film productions that wish to shoot on film, will have to go offshore, to process their footage. The immediate effect will be loss of employment in film processing, with those having expertise in this field being forced to move offshore in search of employment.

The broader ramifications, with enormous effects on the Australian economy, is that if major international productions cannot process film in here, that they will no longer consider Australia as a viable option for their production locations.

The closure of this final remaining processing facility is just the tip of the iceberg, and the flow on effects are far reaching. Further examples include;

Students at our numerous film schools, in all States of Australia will never experience what film has to offer, because educators will simply remove the practical elements from their curriculums, and film will be relegated to becoming an historical novelty.

Producers across all genres simply won't budget, or even consider processing off- shore, and so cinematographers will be backed into a corner and not have the opportunity to continue shooting on the very best medium...film.

Australia's high profile internationally in the Arts has been achieved by our rich and historic screen heritage, and through the award winning work of our celebrated actors, directors, cinematographers, and editors who have learned their crafts and developed their skills working in film.

The many support services and suppliers of equipment and people, such as camera rental houses, that provide employment and support to the industry, will be directly affected by this closure.

Kodak are still manufacturing motion picture film, and several Australian productions are currently committed to using film. Sadly all that is now in doubt, and the productions will be forced to go off shore for their processing or switch to digital, resulting in loss of business for Kodak.

Kodak sales of color negative film in Australian increased from 2011 to 2012, proving that the impression by some people that “film is dead” is an absurdity. Worldwide several major international motion pictures were shot on film last year including Argo, GI Joe: Resurrection, Anna Karenina, Lincoln; and all indications are that these trends will continue. If we allow the
closure of the only remaining film processing facility, the Australian film industry will miss out on enormous global opportunities.

We fully understand that Deluxe is running a global business and that they, like the automotive manufacturers, have to make hard commercial decisions from time to time. Although this concerns a comparatively small business segment, it will have a devastating impact on the Australian film industry as a whole.

The Australian film industry is not just part of our heritage, it is a large employer, presenting supply chain benefits to many other industry sectors, and has for some time been on the verge of enormous potential growth. The hard work to establish our global presence has been done, and it would be devastating to risk our industry’s future when we are so close to reaping the benefits that will have long-term implications on the Australian economy, and
global industry credibility.

The motor vehicle manufacturing industry has seen the benefit of government support and I would think that the Arts, in this case the film industry, should be considered to be of equal importance.

If this facility closes, it is possible that international productions, whether film or digital, will no longer consider Australia a viable option.

Imagine if the recently announced production of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea were to be shot on film and there was no processing laboratory to support it. The entire production could be lost to another location, along with the jobs and the spin off benefits to support industries and the general economy in the communities where production is based.

I would therefore seek your assistance in keeping this film processing facility operating, and our film production industry alive and viable.

I thank you for your time, and consideration of intervention to
assist, and sincerely hope to have the opportunity to discuss options in detail with your advisors.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely

Ron Johanson ACS
National President
president@austcine.org.au

 

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