by Don Groves, Creative Content Australia - Monday 26th April 2021
Every April 26, The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) – a global forum for IP information and cooperation – celebrates World Intellectual Property Day to highlight the role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity.
This year the event will spotlight the critical role of the millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they use IP rights to build stronger, more competitive and resilient businesses while global economies recover from the pandemic.
SMEs make up around 90% of the world’s businesses, employ around 50% of the global workforce and generate up to 40% of the national income in many emerging economies, according to WIPO.
In Australia’s case, that includes the dozens of film, TV and multimedia production companies and content creators who are the backbone of the screen sector.
To mark the occasion, Creative Content Australia asked three renowned industry players – producers John Edwards and Sheila Jayadev and producer-distributor Sue Maslin – to record clips on the value of IP to their businesses and their advice to emerging creatives.
John Edwards is the country’s most prolific and acclaimed drama producer whose 43 series credits over five decades include Offspring, Gallipoli, Puberty Blues, Rush, Love My Way, The Secret Life of Us and Police Rescue.
Although almost all of those shows were developed internally, he did not control the IP until 2016 when he and his son Daniel Edwards launched Roadshow Rough Diamond, where they have produced Bump and Romper Stomper for Stan, Les Norton for the ABC and the yet-to-premiere Australian Gangster for the Seven Network.
“Now we’re retaining our ownership of the fundamental equity in our IP”, Edwards says. “Copyright is the entirety of our business, it’s what we develop and what we sell and that’s what leads to the employment of people; it’s 70% to 80% of what we have”.
“The execution of the material is then another stage but it’s very much the foundation idea and the execution of that idea that becomes our wealth”.
“The wealth that’s generated from previous IP isn’t all just money. It’s very often reputational and the sense that you give those around you that you’re capable of executing, so that they listen to your pitches for the next stage. Sometimes it’s cash as well but mostly it has that effect of enabling those who’re going to invest in you to trust you”. (WATCH John’s clip HERE)
In 2008, Sue Maslin and Daryl Dellora created Film Art Media as a development, rights management and distribution company rather than as a production company. The reason? “Because we recognised the value of intellectual property that we’d amassed over 30 years of producing documentary content”, Maslin says.
“We realised that, if we were to exploit that intellectual property and connect directly with audiences, we would actually be able to build revenue streams”.
“Film Art Media has been able to negotiate projects going forward, not just with a producer’s hat on but also with the mindset of a distributor. We’re in the business of connecting ideas that matter to audiences and it makes sense that we understand that IP and how to monetise it with audiences”.
Those revenue streams enabled Film Art Media to develop projects such as feature documentaries Brazen Hussies, Jill Bilcock: Dancing the Invisible and The Show Must Go On, and to take more risks creatively. As an example, on their 2015 hit, Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker, the company retained the non-theatrical, educational and exhibition rights.
Maslin says: “My advice to young filmmakers is to recognise that what you create in an on–screen work is just one audience experience of many. If you hold IP that sits outside of the immediate experience, whether it’s cinema or television or streaming, that enables you to build alternative platforms, alternative story rights and alternative experiences so you can build alternative revenue streams that help you live a sustainable creative life. So, recognising IP and owning as much as you can is absolutely crucial to keeping your business alive”. (WATCH Sue’s clip HERE)
Sheila Jayadev co-founded Emerald Productions with Lyn Norfor and Prue Williams in 2009. She has also worked as a features development producer at NBCUniversal’s Matchbox Pictures. Her producer credits include the upcoming anthology feature drama Here Out West, directed by Ana Kokkinos, Leah Purcell, Julie Kalceff, Fadia Abboud and Lucy Gaffy; the ABC’s Stateless; writer-director Miranda Nation’s debut feature Undertow; and Jeffrey Walker’s comedy/romance Ali’s Wedding.
“My top tip for emerging creatives would be that, at some point along the way, you may be asked to assign your IP to a producer or a production company in order to get your work made”, Sheila says.
“Don’t think that your meaningful creative involvement or creative control necessarily has to end at that juncture. There are so many ways you can still protect what’s important to you creatively, even when you have to assign your IP. So having those discussions early on with your producer or production company about what’s important to you – whether that’s the writers, the directors or where your project is shot – all of that is so important to lay out honestly at the outset to ensure it’s going to be a smooth creative journey for everybody involved”. (WATCH Sheila’s clip HERE)
For more info on World IP Day go HERE