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MIGW Special Feature: An interview with Jenni Tosi

MIGW Special Feature: An interview with Jenni Tosi

MCV Pacific sat down again with Film Victoria CEO, Jenni Tosi, as Film Victoria again returned as principal partner for this year’s Interface at PAX Australia.

MCV – Jenni, firstly thank you for your support again this year, what were your thoughts on this year’s event?

JT –  Interface @ PAX was another terrific success, led by yourself and the capable team at MCV and we were delighted to be able to support this event. It gave local indie developers the valuable opportunity to connect with, and promote their work, to more than 100 local and international games powerhouses, who were able to see first hand why our games sector punches above its weight nationally and globally. I was especially impressed with the design and innovation coming through the work of the many Victorian developers we have supported.

MCV – The past 12-months have seen some amazing programs rolled out by Film Victoria and the Andrew’s state government. Which have been your favourites, or more to the point, which have been the ones in which you have seen the greatest results?

JT –  We were really delighted to support League of Geeks and Mighty Games through our Screen Business Ventures program. They are making solid plans to transition their companies with an eye to long-term stability and success. Building stronger, more viable companies is going to deliver huge benefits to the industry down the track.

Additionally our Women in Games program and Games Professional Placements remain an important part of our program offerings and continue to yield excellent results for previous recipients whilst increasing awareness of the huge value, talent and potential women can bring to the sector .

At a project level, a highlight is the success of Opaque Space and the incredible rise of a “little VR game” called Earthlight which has seen the studio be referred to as ‘Australia’s space agency.’ It has branched out to collaborate with some big name global companies on a game that educates and enthuses the public around science and space exploration, simultaneously creating a stable, positive workplace, which was just acknowledged as Studio of the Year at the 2017 Australian Game Developer Awards.

It was also exciting to see the crossover of TV and games content through the creation of Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze by Tin Man Games who teamed up with the Producer of the TV series Fiona Eagger and Deb Cox from Every Cloud Productions. It has connected to an audience that would not identify as gamers, but all of whom are huge fans of the iconic Miss Phryne Fisher and enjoyed the adaptation into the games world.

In September we were also delighted to welcome Blake Mizzi to the Film Victoria Board. As director and co-founder of the Melbourne based games company League of Geeks, Blake’s passion and experience at the forefront of game development will bring an informed perspective and assist Film Victoria in continuing to support the Victorian games industry.

MCV – When we spoke last year, you noted that Film Victoria had supported 64 games to date, how has this number grown in the past 12-months?

JT – Since November 2016 Film Victoria has funded another 21 games through its Assigned Production Investment program and six through our Games Release program. The support has seen a number of impressive and diverse projects commence development, including the next innovative game from House House and Wayward Strand 2017 by Ghost Pattern, which is a real-time female-led story.

In general, we are experiencing an amazing increase in quality of content and the applications themselves.

MCV – Last year you also mentioned the Women in Games Fellowship, which was due to be rolled out following our event, how has this been?

JT – We had an extraordinary set of applicants for our 2017 Women in Games Fellowships, and in the end selected four incredible local practitioners: Ngoc Vu (art lead for Route 59, who are making Necrobarista), Marigold Bartlett (art director for Ghost Pattern, who are creating Wayward Strand), Shelly Lowe (User Interface Specialist working with League of Geeks on Armello), and Izzy Gramp (artist/creator of Intergalactic Space Princess, and owner of the company Geeiz, which is making it).

All four recipients have come up with a diverse set of plans to enhance their skills and leadership abilities and also to increase their network of practitioners around the world.

MCV – Looking forward, what are some of the initiatives Film Victoria is looking to run?

JT – I was delighted to host Film Victoria’s Women in Games lunch during Melbourne International Games Week. This year 150 women and non-binary attendees networked and heard from trailblazers in the industry, Shannon Loftis and Jen Maclean moderated by Lucy O’Brien who did a fabulous job in guiding the discussion.

I was very pleased to acknowledge the contribution of Amelia King, Clara Reeves and Giselle Rosman who have been terrific advocates for the sector, and women in particular. It was a great afternoon and I know those who attended left feeling inspired. We look forward to delivering the event again in 2018.

We are again supporting local developers who wish to travel to GDC in San Francisco in March 2018. Applications are now open so please check our website for details.

We will soon be announcing recipients of Film Victoria’s Games Professional Placement program which will see diverse roles on offer for Victorian women in games to enhance their skills and professional experience.

This year the program was only available to games companies who committed to filling the placement with a female practitioner. This drew an extraordinary response to the round – almost twice as many applicants as we normally receive. We continue to be impressed by our local developers who have shown a genuine commitment to proactively addressing the lack of women in the sector.

Through our regular funding programs we’ve seen some incredible applications for game funding in the last year, and we fully expect the trend to continue in the coming year.

We encourage everyone to stay tuned to Film Victoria’s Twitter account and website for some more games related initiatives we’ll be rolling out in the near future.”

MCV – Finally, as the games climate changes, what advice would you give to Victorian developers looking to grow into the future?

JT – It’s never too early to consider the audience for your game projects, and understand how you can reach them, and the appropriate ways to structure your game to provide a solid income to remain viable and enable your company to grow.

Melbourne is home to an internationally-recognised game development community so we encourage practitioners to reach out and make connections whenever possible. The games sector and the broader screen industry is a dynamic one, with new production and distribution models constantly evolving. Our funding programs will continue to evolve in consultation with industry to ensure support is relevant, progressive and responsive to the future needs of the industry.

Film Victoria’s dedicated program manager Liam Routt is available to provide advice on accessing funding programs.

MCV – Thank’s again for your time Jenni.

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