Is it time to say goodbye?

It’s time to rethink how Australians are creating content. The funding from the Australian Government is not sufficient; not enough money is put into the marketing of films. Creating less Australian content and more genre films and finding new ways to distribute films are all necessary to reach Australian audiences that “have turned their back on them [Australian Media Industry]” (Roach, 2014). These are aspects that were discussed as Australia’s Box Office returns were poor. By improving on these elements it suggests, the Australian Film Industry will be able to reconnect with audiences and produce an ‘industrial transition into a niche market’ (Verhoeven D et al. 2015).

The industry has struggled to keep up with the constant changes in technology and the shifts in media consumption. De Roeper and Luckman (2009), suggest that the industry has responded to changes in four ways – denial, panic, embrace and co-create. De Roeper and Luckman (2009) propose that rather than denying the past and panicking about the future, the film industry should embrace opportunities and co-create in the ‘shareable world’ (p. 12). Co-creation has seen emerging patterns of media consumption and digital storytelling become an ever-expanding feature in the film industry. With the expansion of Netflix, Stan and other streaming websites as well as illegal downloads, the Australian Film Industry has not been able to embrace the changes to the way that people are viewing content online. This has become a problem for the film industry because the Australian audience has kept up with the technological changes and have chosen to continuously watch content online. Australian content has lagged in securing spots online and on streaming services.

In 2017, the Australian government released a parliamentary inquiry discussing how to grow the media industry and balance international and national productions in a way to benefit the Australian Media Industry. More specifically the parliamentary inquiry recognised that the technological advances within the industry have significantly changed the way that audiences are viewing and accessing content through digital platforms instead of cinema experiences. Therefore, these digital changes are shifting release patterns and audience behaviours. For example, ‘streaming online via Netflix, Amazon, Hulu (and Stan in Australia) have impacted these behaviours as most films are not making the cinema screens and are going straight online for a wider range audience’ (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Chapter 2). Chapter 2 concluded that the 40% offset is not enough because producers ‘simply do not have the budget to release their productions in a cinema and cannot make money if they do’ (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Chapter 2).

Chapter 4 in the parliamentary inquiry discusses the international aspect and co-production of the media industry. Significantly, they note that the competition to gain funding from Screen Australia is extremely hard. This suggests, going offshore is the way to go for emerging talent for more opportunities. Treaties are welcomed by the government as Verhoeven et al. (2015) suggests that it “promotes improved international relations between nations”. Australia already has treaties with 12 countries which is an “important source of finance and training and opportunities… making cultural connections both domestically and internationally” (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Chapter 4). While barriers, such as language and cultural differences, can prove a challenge for productions, co-productions are highly regarded and considered beneficial to the future of the Australian film industry. Productions may also be considered as “‘footloose productions’, productions that are not made in their country of origin, bring considerable economic benefit” (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Chapter 4).

The Australian Film Industry is just as successful as any other film industry although the quality of the films lags, compared to Hollywood films. With the provided funding given to producers specifically for “Significant Australian Content”, producers don’t have much of a chance to bring out their creative skills, market effectively and distribute the films efficiently reaching a wider audience.

References:

Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Report on the inquiry into the Australian film and television industry, Chapters 1, 2, and 4, Last viewed 31 January 2018, <https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Communications/AustralianfilmandTV/Report>.

De Roeper, J Luckman, S 2009, Future audiences for Australian stories: industry responses in a post-web 2.0 world, Media International Australia, no. 130, pp. 5-16.

Quinn, K 2017, More for TV, less for film, foreign actors OK: Inquiry recommends sweeping changes, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 2017, last viewed 31 January 2018, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/more-for-tv-less-for-film-foreign-actors-ok-inquiry-recommends-sweeping-changes-20171208-h01bl0.html>.

Roach, V 2014, Local audiences snub Australian filmmakers yet Hollywood loves them, News.com, September 2014, last viewed 31 January 2018, <http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/box-office/local-audiences-snub-australian-filmmakers-yet-hollywood-loves-them/news-story/95338f7d82412c0ea02688fc8952d0d0>.

Verhoeven, D Davidson, A Coate, B 2015, Australian films at large: expanding the evidence about Australian cinema performance, Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 7-20.

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