For decades I believed I had come from the stars. What I believed to be memories waned in my 30’s, re-surfaced in my early 50’s and came to a necessary halt around the time I turned 56. But it was that first decade when the backyard walks of my childhood fired my imagination so much that Zandor’s adventures across the cosmos lived both in me and the stories I would share with my younger brother and sister. Our mother would have us bed down early — as children we slept in the same room as our parents — and I would recount my outer space memories.

Published on Medium – I AM NOT AN ALIEN

The Saturday Paper – Artistic License

The Saturday Paper – Artistic License

Unlike countries with a fair use exemption, copyright laws in Australia require artists to secure prohibitively expensive licences for even the smallest quotation of others’ work. By Patricia Aufderheide.

Once a year, in early October, about 60 people gather at the City of Whittlesea’s Fountain View Room in the northern fringes of Melbourne to begin 10 weeks of rehearsal for a single concert.

They span generations – aged from eight to over 90 – cultures and faiths. For nine months of each year they never see each other, and then they come together to sing Christmas carols as part of a healing process that began after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. Filmmaker Andrew Garton has documented one year’s worth of rehearsals with the help of a grant from the council and volunteers from First Impressions Youth Theatre.

The result, a 30-minute documentary called This Choir Sings Carols, will probably never be seen.

Published in The Saturday Paper, 10 June 2017

Copyright rules crippling artists _ The Saturday Paper [PDF]

A scene from Andrew Garton’s documentary film 'This Choir Sings Carols'.
A scene from Andrew Garton’s documentary film ‘This Choir Sings Carols’.
InsideAPC  Number 20 – May 2017

InsideAPC Number 20 – May 2017

Andrew Garton on Fair Use in Australia

Over recent months an intense debate has had artists, authors and filmmakers in Australia rail against recommendations made by the Productivity Commission, consisting of a Fair Use provision to be added to Australia’s Copyright Act. Andrew has been one of a few supporting such a provision and he has been a guest panellist at two recent forums on the subject in order to describe how restrictive the Australian Copyright Act can be within non-profit and educational sectors.

A film he completed in 2016 cannot be seen due to the cost of synchronisation rights that would have to be paid for the right to have it screened. “This Choir Sings Carols” tells the story of a community choir that meets once a year in a multicultural, multi-faith, intergenerational setting. The film was made with a local youth theatre group mentored by Andrew to crew the production. The end result is a series of interviews with choir members interwoven with auditions, rehearsals and a public performance. It’s a not-for-profit production commissioned by local government who in turn sponsor the choir.

Even if they could raise the AUD 10,000 to cover synchronisation rights for the music sung throughout the film, there are strict limits to the licence. “This Choir Sings Carols” would be allowed to be screened at Australian film festivals only, no theatrical nor broadcast release, only 100 DVDs could be published, and trailers would have to be negotiated independent from the feature. Another flag: it’s a three-year licence. If they wanted to have it screened at an overseas festival the synchronisation rights fees would increase 100%.

Meanwhile, if Australia had a Fair Use provision, such a film could be screened anywhere at any time. Royalties for rights holders would still be distributed were the film to be screened at festivals. The only people missing out are the publishers which benefit the most from synchronisation rights licence fees. Andrew will be speaking at Sydney’s Vivid Festival in May to further the discussion about these issues and “This Choir Sings Carols”, fast becoming his most popular and least seen film. For more information about this topic, check “The Creative Power of Copying” and the Australian Digital Alliance.

Provisional Fair Use sampler by Andrew Garton and collaborators.