The Australian Film Institute (AFI) has announced that it will launch an ‘Australian Academy’ in order to improve national and international recognition of Australia’s screen practitioners.

Industry Consultation Forum - Sydney

Industry Consultation Forum - Sydney

The move comes following overwhelming support for the AFI’s proposed changes, with key industry organisations and 84 percent of screen industry members surveyed supporting the core principals of the Academy.

AFI CEO Damian Trewhella says, “The ‘Australian Academy’ will draw upon some of the well recognised and understood elements of the AMPAS (USA) and BAFTA (UK) models, while tailoring these to meet local  industry needs and traditions, and to ensure that our Awards are still distinctly Australian.

“By drawing on international models, we anticipate greater recognition both here and abroad for Australia’s most talented screen practitioners.  We envisage that this will lead to greater opportunities for those working in the industry, as well as greater audience recognition and connection with Australian screen content.”

The Academy, which is yet to be named, will comprise of accredited professional members only. Trewhella also confirmed that the AFI would retain its name in recognition of the strong heritage of both Australian screen culture and the Institute itself, and all past AFI Awards nominees and winners will be recognised under the new Academy.

One of the key changes to take place under the new Academy is the establishment of an “Honorary Council” consisting of key industry members, including representatives from each of the crafts and Guilds.

The Honorary Council will explore new ways to identify and recognise excellence in each industry craft, as well as ways to increase the national and international prestige of Australia’s film and television awards.

According to AFI Chair, Alan Finney, “A key driver behind the proposed Academy and Honorary Council is a desire to be inclusive of and to better represent all screen professions.  Ultimately we want to foster a community which connects those working within the industry, but which also connects our screen enthusiast public with the industry and the fantastic content being creating.”

The move follows a 12 month AFI review that culminated in an industry consultation period last month. Areas identified for further discussion include the need to explore ways in which the industry can better support students and early career industry professionals, and greater inclusion of new media within the industry.

Clarity regarding general membership entitlements were also raised, with Trewhella commenting:

“Connecting with the ever-important screen enthusiast community remains an integral part of the AFI remit, and we are committed to nurturing our general member base and the Australian public by continuing to engage them with great Australian content.”

When asked about the timing of the new Academy, Trewhella said:

“Based on the overwhelming industry support we have received, we are now confident that we are moving in the right direction, and therefore that we can move briskly to establish the initial phase of the Academy.

“However, we also recognise the ongoing duty to continue to work with industry leaders to ensure that the policies of both the new Academy and the AFI are as relevant as possible to the interests of our talented screen industry and the demands of its audiences.”