Breathe Life Back into Victoria's Advertising Community

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Dear Minister,

As Victoria went into Stage 4 Lockdown and filming was not permitted in Victoria - with some motion film and tv show exceptions - the Advertising production sector was left baffled.

The Victorian Government had its “Victorian Roadmap” discussions at the end of August.

Given the most recent outcome, we have no reason to believe the advertising community had any representation in those meetings at all; it was simply left out of the discussion. And considering that we are often the loudest and most visible agents of change, it’s nothing short of bizarre. No one promotes Victoria like we do, and no one can promote Victoria without us.

This is despite the fact that the industry’s standards of care and adherence to COVID-19 protocol are at the highest level of adherence and professionalism. There have been no cases of infection or examples of a cluster connected to an advertising production.

The fact is that the advertising production community of Victoria has received nothing in terms of support; production in Sydney and Brisbane is busier than ever, while the industry in Victoria is on its knees.

We have simply been ignored and left at the gates to wait, because we’re not on the list.

As a community, we are a resilient, resourceful and infinitely flexible one. We don’t require 200 cast and crew in a studio to create content – and we create every single day. Since the inception of digital cameras and smaller budgets we have gotten what some would say, “match fit,” working with smaller crews years before COVID-19 landed on our shores.

Lately we’ve done so from our makeshift studio apartment offices; over hundreds of depressing Zoom chats; outside a Datsun with one talent holding an iPhone that’s remote-controlled by a guy in a nearby van, streaming live to15 interstate account managers who wonder if the talent can “look warmer”. We change 24/7 because that’s the nature of our industry.

But now we’re learning that somehow, we’re not part of the industry. We’re told our work is less essential than mowing a lawn or getting a manicure. It’s not just degrading, it’s dangerous – costing jobs and wasting creative talent - and it’s unfair.

We need to start having a real discussion about how we can make permits and permissions fast and affordable, help Victoria become a viable option again, and most of all: help our incredible crew back on their feet. Sydney has become busier than ever during the last 6 months and unless we promptly address the Victorian industry’s way out, this temporary move will become a permanent shift. At the moment, Victorian creatives and technicians are either out of work, or they’re looking at classifieds in Sydney and on the Gold Coast.

it’s widely estimated up to 26% of the Australian workforce are likely to lose their jobs due to pandemic shutdowns and restrictions – but this rises to 75% for those employed in the creative and performing arts. We can only speculate how this number inflates for Victorians.

Our stronghold in the creative industry of Australia is eroding before our very eyes, and while advertising may not be the first thing on anyone’s mind when they consider creative content, we are the only industry that ensures sure great photographers, gaffers, soundies, grips, best boys, production managers, actors, writers, directors and producers always have an accessible and regular job in their field of expertise.

It’s also worth mentioning that encouraging Victorians to spend will stimulate our economy, something our state desperately needs right now and likely will for a long time to come.

So what is the strategy for Victoria to support advertising’s creative community?

We urge you to consider how to revive the advertising production community of our state, and to consider it now, because the incredible nature of our industry is also our greatest challenge: we are immeasurably flexible and mobile, and right now, that mobility is seeing our creative talent leave Melbourne.

We need support from the Victorian Government. This is an opportunity for the community to rally and truly come together, to strengthen the industry.

And we’re not just talking about ads. International talent across the screen industry has emerged from Victoria over the years. Too many to count.

And beyond our export, the industry consists of endless streams of talent...

Cinematographers, Camera Operators, Assistants Directors, Agency Producers, Caterers, Sound Recordists, Art Coordinators, Production Managers, Creative Directors, Receptionists, Accountants, Camera Assistants, Art Assistants, Location Supervisors, Safety Officers, Traffic Coordinators, Grips, Gaffers, Colourists, Offline Editors, Online Editors, VFX Specialists, Motion Graphic Artists, Animators, Musicians, Sound Mixers, Photographers, Hair and Makeup Artists, Wardrobe Coordinators…

And a whole mix of other dedicated professionals that pour their heart and souls into our industry….

Let’s continue to build the rich creative history Melbourne brings to our nation as, right now, our industry is broken.

 

Let’s save our creative industry before it’s too late.

Open the doors.

Let’s talk.

 

Finally, to quote an industry professional of note;

“If Jim’s Mowing can get an exemption, and the cutting of grass stands up to the scrutiny of Covid Safety, surely the Advertising Production Community matches and excels these standards out of the proverbial back yard.”

 

Regards,

Verbose communicators, screen-engrossed technicians, and passionate Melburnians