The Australian Directors Guild has slammed the hiring of a Canadian director by FremantleMedia Australia to helm Foxtel’s reimagining of Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Canadian director Larysa Kondracki has been granted a visa as establishing director on the 2017 series, now in pre-production in Sydney.
Her credits include The Americans, Better Call Saul, Gotham, Rogue, Heroes Reborn and The Whistleblower.
The ADG opposed a Visa application by FremantleMedia claiming it did not meet the Net Employment Benefit Test.
In a press release it suggests a number of Australian directors currently working overseas were approached but none working in Australia.
“Australian directors are amazed and astonished at the choice of a foreign director to work on a classic especially as it is not a co-production and is being fully financed in Australia,” said ADG CEO Kingston Anderson.
“The Net Employment Benefit test clearly states that to get a 420 Visa there needs to be a net employment benefit for the Australian industry. As this production was always going to be shot in Australia and is fully financed by Australian money including funds from Screen Australia and Foxtel it clearly does not have any net employment benefit for Australians as one of the major jobs on the production is being given to a Canadian.”
The ADG claims the government has been approving 420 Visa applications for as many as 20 overseas foreign directors a year, especially in the area of television commercials. But the hiring of a foreign director for a TV drama with local funding may well be a first, and also contradicts recent Screen Australia policies addressing gender parity.
“It is clear to the ADG that the government has no interest in supporting Australian creative talent by not upholding their own rules when it comes to Visa approvals and being inconsistent in the way it applies the rules,” Anderson said.
“In light of the recent Screen Australia figures stating that only 17% of Australian feature films were directed by women and Screen NSW’s figure that only 22% of TV drama were being directed by Australian women this is a slap in the face to all the good work that is being done by the industry to redress the balance.
“It’s saddens the ADG to see Screen Australia, Foxtel and Fremantle Media supporting Canadian television directors at the expense of Australians.”
The original Picnic at Hanging Rock was directed by Peter Weir.
FremantleMedia declined to comment.