Autoethnography of my Cultural Exchange to the Netherlands and other travels

I have always wanted to travel, even from a young age, I was quite independent. In primary school, I started to get bullied and I wanted to go and live with my Aunty in New Zealand, this started my passion for wanting to live elsewhere which led me to student exchange research. When I was 15, my first overseas trip was to New Zealand for my cousin’s wedding. Since then travel had become a big part of my life, venturing out of home every 6 months for the last few years.

Within 6 months of attending my cousin’s wedding in New Zealand, I was on my way to the Netherlands for Student Exchange and had my 16th birthday there a few weeks into my stay. I lived in Eindhoven which is a city in the south of the Netherlands, and this is where my new family of 4, became a family of 5.  I chose to go to the Netherlands because this is where my heritage lies. My dad’s parents immigrated to Australia from the Netherlands in 1957. I always found my heritage fascinating and I wanted to reconnect with other family members that were there as well. My Opa (Grandfather) was sick and passed away a month before I flew out, this was another reason I chose the Netherlands. When I finished year 12, I went back to see my host family and see more of my real family. One year later (November 2015), I found myself in New Zealand again, recovering from a terrible break-up. 6 months later (June, 2016), I was on an aeroplane to the USA to live in New Jersey for 2 months while I worked as a soccer coach on Summer Camps. 6 months after returning from the USA, I went to India for 3 weeks with Girl Guides where I travelled and volunteered my time in a women’s refuge (December – January 2016/2017). Winter of 2017, I found myself a job in the Snowy Mountains at Thredbo where I worked as a children’s program assistant for 2 months during the University break.  Another 6 months later, at the end of 2017 and the start of 2018, I found myself in London and back in the Netherlands for Christmas and New Years with my host family.

All these travel experiences bring me to today, where I write this autoethnography, reflecting and understanding my experiences in a greater depth. Throughout my travel experiences, I have experienced different types of shock – culture, language, role and identity. In each of my travel experiences, I made voluntary transitions into the cultures as a temporary sojourner (those who are exposed to a new environment for a short period of time), a tourist (staying abroad for short period of time to sight-see), or as an expatriate (individuals that engage in employment abroad) (Jackson J, 2014, pp. 183 – 184).  Each day of travelling presented new challenges and differences that I had to overcome to make the most of the experience. Throughout this autoethnography, I will share specific examples of culture shock and intercultural experiences that have shaped who I am today.

Culture shock “refers to the disorientation that many anthropologists often experience when entering a new culture to do field work” (Jackson J, 2014, p. 190). Goldstein and Keller (2015), defines a more simplistic definition stating “culture shock is the process of initial adjustment to an unfamiliar environment” and “the term can be used to describe the emotional, psychological, behavioural, cognitive and physiological impact of the adjustment process on the individual” (p. 188). 15826017_1458859364138629_1993925150899130690_nCulture shock was definitely something that I experienced when I landed in the Netherlands and America but India had the greatest impact of all. As you stepped out of the airport, your senses went into overdrive, the smells were not pleasant, and the sounds were foreign, loud, repetitive and irritating – you knew you weren’t at home anymore. All my senses throughout the whole trip were heightened and it was exhausting by the end. I remember specifically being picked up from New Delhi International Airport late at night. We were greeted by our host at the terminal and walked out of the airport to find the bus that was going to take us to our hotel. The driving style of zipping in and out, not having lanes, people just walking in the middle of the road and screeching horns every two seconds was incredible. I was naturally shocked and frightened worrying about crashing and dying or that someone was going to open the back doors and steal our bags. This is only one example from my India trip that I felt out of place and shocked by the different culture. 15940870_1472050009486231_7060662925383916168_nEven though I had done a lot of research on India and spoken to many people who have been there before, nothing was going to prepare me for the rapid change in culture. Goldstein and Keller (2015) recognise that there are internal causes of culture shock which relates to identity confusion and poor stress management as well as external causes which are more common. They are the physical aspects such as language differences, communication difficulties and the physical surroundings. Since having experienced culture shock to a whole new level it has opened me up to new experiences and has shaped my personality and the way I see the world.

Munoz (2013) wrote a blog “5 reasons why experiencing culture shock is good for you” and states that the best way to overcome overwhelming situations is to embrace the “opportunity to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture, and then emerge as a global citizen”.

Munoz (2013), “5 reasons why experiencing culture shock is good for you are”:

  1. It will shape your personality
  2. It forces you to adapt
  3. Your circle of friends will expand
  4. You’ll never be afraid of culture shock again
  5. It will teach you valuable lessons

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I feel as though I had done this when I was in the Netherlands. I embraced every opportunity that was given to me, I learnt the language, went to school and even got a Dutch ID card. Some might say that I embraced the culture too much when I put on 18kg. Leaving the Netherlands was harder than leaving Australia, I had friends that actually liked me and I had built a completely new identity that I was finally happy with. This is identified by Jackson (2014), as assimilation, ‘where one does not retain their original cultural identity… instead, they seek close interaction with the host culture and adopt cultural values, traditions and norms of the new society’ (p. 188).  I adopted the transportation culture of riding a bike everywhere, even if it was pouring with rain, I would ride my bike to school like it was nothing, and then stand under the heaters for 15 minutes while I dried off and got warm again. To assist with assimilation and learning of the language, I undertook a second Dutch class instead of German and I took an English class, as well as the usual, history, geography, sport, and art. It wasn’t easy learning in a new language, but I assimilated quickly by studying extra hard so that I could communicate successfully.

Because I had assimilated to the Dutch culture, it was extremely hard to return to Australia. This is where I experienced reverse culture shock. Reverse culture shock focuses “on the stresses and challenges associated with moving back to one’s own home culture after one has sojourned or lived in another cultural environment” (Presbitero, 2016, p. 29). The culture shock of returning home was so hard, that I became severely depressed, I would only speak Dutch and I would call the Netherlands ‘home’. Presbitero (2016), also showed through research that with minimal support for returning students, they are more likely to be impacted by psychological and sociocultural aspects of their return home. He also states that individuals are more likely to feel that their overall life satisfaction and coping with the day-to-day stresses of social life is lowered (p. 29). Cornell University (nd.), recognises that reverse culture shock can be difficult in 5 ways; boredom and restlessness, reverse homesickness, no one wants to hear, relationships have changed and identity issues. I experienced all these feelings when I returned home. I would drink secretly after school, home didn’t feel like home, no one wanted to listen to the stories I wanted to share, my friendship circle at school had changed and I didn’t know who I was anymore. The U-curve theory addresses the ‘honeymoon, culture shock, adjustment and mastery’ stages. Gullahorn and Gullahorn created the W-curve in 1963 expanding on the U-curve which assesses the re-entry of an individual into their home culture. Pritchard (2011), says that culture shock can be more difficult in returning to your own country and can often take up to 6 – 24 months to readjust as the traveller has acquired new experiences, attitudes and coping styles. Jackson (2014), recognises the W-curve model and says that struggles can come from missing ‘their independent lifestyle and friends made abroad, and [they] find it difficult to fit back into the rhythm of local life’ (p. 207). It took a good 6-18 months to settle back into school and home and to feel like me again, but even when I had re-settled, I knew that a part of me was still in the Netherlands.

Wcurve
https://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/c56075.ht

Since reflecting upon my experiences and learning about intercultural communication, I have been able to process the struggles that I was faced with throughout my return to Australia after studying abroad in the Netherlands and other holidays. Culture shock is always going to happen when you travel somewhere new because you’re exploring a foreign environment that you are not used to. Reverse culture shock for me is always going to happen when I return home from my travels as I always immerse and assimilate myself into the cultures that I am exploring to the best of my ability – which makes returning home difficult. Reflecting on this has allowed me to be more open with my mental health and understand that reverse culture shock is real.

References:

Allison, P Davis-Berman, J Berman, Dene., 2012, Changes in Latitude, changes in attitude: Analysis of the effects of reverse culture shock – a study of students returning from youth expeditions, Leisure Studies, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 487 – 503.

Goldstein S, Keller S, 2015, U.S College students’ lay theories of culture shock, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, vol. 47, pp. 187 – 194.

Jackson J, 2014, Introducing Language and Intercultural communication, edn. 1,  Routledge, Oxon, pp. 180 – 213.

Munoz D, 2013, 5 reasons why experiencing culture shock is good for you, last viewed 25 May 2018, <https://www.vergemagazine.com/work-abroad/blogs/980-5-reasons-why-experiencing-culture-shock-is-good-for-you.html>.

Presbitero A, 2016, Culture shock and reverse culture shock: The moderating role of cultural intelligence in international students’ adaptation, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, vol. 53, pp. 28-38.

Pritchard R, 2011, Re-entry Trauma: Asian Re-integration After Study in the West, Journal of Studies in International Education, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 93 – 111.

Smith B, Yang W, 2017, Learning Outcomes in an Interdisciplinary Study Abroad Program: Developing a Global Perspective, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Vol. 109, no. 1, p. 43 – 50.

US Department of State, (n.d.), Reverse Culture Shock: the challenges of returning home, US Department of State Diplomacy in Action, last viewed 28 May 2018, <https://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/c56075.htm>.

Wu A, LaBrack B, (n.d.), Re-entry and reverse culture shock, Cornell University, last viewed 28 May 2018, <https://www.cuabroad.cornell.edu/_customtags/ct_FileRetrieve.cfm?File_ID=0E0673704F7A707272720105731F7505797C1B0C0578776B02737677700200007177057207060771>.

 

 

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The Bullies Never Leave: They Haunt

When I was young, I was bullied. I’m not sure why I think it was because I was ugly. I had buck teeth as a kid that were too big for me until senior year, and I had freckles that stood out.
I think it’s because I wasn’t cool enough or daredevil enough.
But I don’t really understand what separated me from the group of ‘friends’ that I thought I had.
Who knew at the age of 8 if someone was cool or not. I really don’t get it.
There was no technology that separated us like there is today, it wasn’t about who had the coolest or the most recent phone, they didn’t exist back then.

I left those bullies behind in primary school as we all separated and went our own ways, made our own new friends, but somehow, I was still the victim of bullying.
I was constantly left out, made fun of, and nasty comments were always made at me.

I was pushed and shoved in the playground, I was called horrid words and I was the subject of bullying.

There are things that never leave you, even when you’re 23 years old, 5 years out of high school and you still get flashbacks to the moments that haunted you the most.
The moments that defined your high school years, that made you lose your lunch breaks because you felt obliged to knee down to those above you.

Years down the track and the words that were said to me in primary school and high school still terrorise me to this day.
The images replay in my mind and the words play over and over on repeat. They bring me down still to this day that I don’t ever want to face those bullies again, to the point that I’m scared to go to the shops some days purely because I am worried I will see them from afar.

One day, I hope the bullies read this and realise how much of an impact they played in those peoples lives that they bullied.
The trauma doesn’t just leave you in high school when you go your separate ways, the memories stick with you and it affects you for the rest of your life.
I wish I had happy memories to take with me from high school, but unfortunately, the bad ones cloud over the few sun shining moments.

I hope that one day, you realise how cruel you were by the little things you said. I hope you realise that you hurt not only me, but everyone else that bowed down to you and you pushed out of your way.

Because of you, I now have the anxiety to meet new people because I don’t have the coolest clothes or the fastest car. Because of you, I feel like I don’t fit in, anywhere, even when I do, I have a voice in the back of my head telling me that they don’t like me and that I don’t fit in.

You may think that your words meant nothing, but I still remember every word that was said, I still remember every tear that was shred.

I hope that one day you read this and show your own children, so they never have an impact on someone’s life like you did on mine.
They should create sunshine for those, even on the darkest of days.

I am nothing more than a withered flower trying to come back to life.

Every thorn I grew from you, now protects me from whom lies ahead.

Image result for withered flower

It’s okay not to be okay

Today is the start of my mental health blog. It’s going to be about my story, and my therapy solutions while I battle depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress (PTSD). These disorders aren’t disorders – sometimes people do you wrong and hurt you, leave you in pieces on the floor and walk all over you instead of picking you up.

I’m going to write about different things that have happened in my life that has impacted how I got to where I am today. From coming home from overseas and being overweight, losing friends, heartbreaks, sexual assault, to everyday pressures in my life that I encountered, I am slowly and willingly going to share my story with all of you to read. Bear with me as this will not be easy, it will take some time. Some things might be confronting, somethings might make you laugh, cry and leave you feeling numb. Some may even help you if you’re looking for solutions.

The amount of healing I have tried, failed and tried again is crazy. I am finally finding solutions that work after 7 years of therapy, 3 psychologists, a break down which led to hospitalisation, medications, psychiatrists and having a constant support from the Community Mental Health Team in Campbelltown, things FINALLY (slowly but surely) are working out day by day. Not every day is better, some days are worse and although they may be inconsistent, I have to remember every day is a new day, be patient and practice what I have been taught over the years.

Today is the first day that I am going to admit that I am not okay.

This is my story.

 

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 13 11 14

Police: 000 or 112

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.

Global Culture over Australian content

The way that Australian film content is distributed has changed to new digital distribution methods, which means that Australian audiences are more easily able to access content from around the globe. This exposes them to a diversity of global cultures which entice viewers to continue watching non-Australian films. It can be argued that the Fair Trade Agreement has an element of protectionism on one side or an offer of free flow content on the other. The impact of distribution and the digital age has a huge impact on how Australians are viewing global films that have cultural diversity, rather than Australian content films.

The Fair Trade Agreement aims to “remove constraints on the free flow of trade between the US and Australia by advocating free market integration as the best means to enhance social and economic development” (Breen M, 2010). The Fair Trade Agreement impacts the flow of cultural products directly which enhanced the information and communications technology between Australia and the US, leading to the creation of ‘digital determinism’ (Breen 2010). The emergence of the digital power is considered a problem by some as they believe that ‘the world dreams itself to be American’ which is related to the media dominance that American has. Digital determinism is largely influenced by technology because of the ‘unequal degrees of power as well as unequal powers of awareness’ (political power) (Breen, 2010). It’s also known as a digital divide and is evident in the Deloitte ‘Media Consumer Survey’ report (2015) and Screen Australia’s ‘Australian Audiences are watching online’ (2015) infographic. Studies show that Australia’s preferred entertainment source and way of watching content is through the internet and the television on any device. Screen Australia (2015) states that 50% of internet users are watching movies and TV online. “The culture and its delivery system are impacted unequally at the level at which everyday life is lived” (Breen, 2010). When Hollywood boomed, the Australian media industry lagged which created the influences we have today within the industry in terms of the power structure. The issue with digital determination is that the power differentiates Australia from America although globalisation should have synced together to gain equal trade agreements. Due to the misfortune of being the lesser power to America, Australian audiences have become problematic to target as they are so immersed in foreign cultures’ that they have forgotten about their own film industry.

Rip Tide Film 2017
Image: Riptide

Watching Australian content has become a thing of the past as the strength of distribution in the film and television industry is weak and almost invisible. If “distributors do not market Australian films effectively [they] therefore fail to maximise their commercial potential” (Aveyard, 2011). Distribution plays a key factor when films are trying to make it into the Australian market and if they are not marketed appropriately, Australians will not know about the content created. The ‘impact of internationalisation on locally made films’ has been more successful for Australian films due to other countries having a cultural interest in Australian content (Aveyard, 2011). For example; Riptide (2017) a film made in Kiama, Australia had more success in the United States (US) than here in Australia. Having Debby Ryan, the Disney star from Hollywood feature in the film helped with its success in the US but was only distributed in minimal cinemas across Australia. Australians have disconnected from the Australian market with limited resources and knowledge. This impacts the ‘strategies for connecting to the market’ (Aveyard, 2011). Online distribution has played a big part in Australian audiences, engaging with more global content and a significant increase in technological advances. It is “undoubtedly a more successful option” (Van Hermert and Ellison, 2015).

The value of cinema has changed and streaming services such as Netflix and Stan have become increasingly popular as Video on Demand (VOD). VOD and online streaming has allowed for easy access to globally distributed content. It has heavily impacted Australian’s viewing habits of homemade content. The Fair Trade Agreement has impacted global/co-productions as Australia is the weaker player in the contract with America.

 

References:

Alcorn, N Harding, C Johnston, S 2015, Media Consumer Survey 2015, 4th Ed., Deloitte, Last viewed 18 January 2018, <https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/deloitte-au-tmt-media-consumer-survey-2015-100815.pdf>.

Aveyard, K 2011, Australian films at the cinema: rethinking the role of distribution and exhibition, Media International Australia, 138, pp. 36 – 45.

Breen, M 2010, Digital determinism: culture industries in the USA-Australia Free Trade Agreement, New media society, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 657 – 676.

Hemert, T Ellison, E 2015, Queensland’s film culture: the challenges of local film distribution and festival exhibition, Studies in Australasian Cinema, 9:1, pp. 39 – 51.

Screen Australia, 2015, Australian audiences are watching online, last viewed 19 January 2018, <https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/fact-finders/infographics/australian-audiences-are-watching-online>.

Australian jobs are more important than Australian culture

Australian culture has played a critical part of the Australian film industry for many years now, although some may suggest that stories of our culture are old and worn out. This has impacted Australian cinema with a decline in audiences watching Australian content and watching more international content. Creating Australian jobs has been a significant talking point in the media and the government, policy makers wanting to increase employment rates in Australia and overall improve the Australian economy. Culture and creation of jobs are a significant influencer of the Australian film and television industry.

Image result for story of the kelly gang
Image: Story of the Kelly Gang

The United States (US) and Australia have been in constant competition within the film industry. Australia started producing feature films in 1906 with The Story of the Kelly Gang. Hollywood didn’t begin until 1910 with the release of In Old California. Fast forward to the 21st Century and Hollywood is the biggest film industry in the world, specifically, dominating Australia. Australian film success is not like it used to be, when in 2008 content creators were restricted by the Screen Australia requirements if they want to receive funding assistance. Australian audiences have taken their eyes off Australian screens and focused them on international screens because “immersion in another culture and society becomes a catalyst for creativity” (Goldsmith, 2010). If the industry wants to stay afloat, producers need to consider other ways to capture audiences and “access global distribution” (O’Regan and Potter, 2013). The films are not the only problem with the Australian film industry, the distribution and marketing of the films need serious consideration as “the culture and its delivery system are impacted unequally at the level at which everyday life is lived” (Breen, 2010).

Due to the decreasing success of the Australian film industry, producers, actors, cast and crew, have gone offshore to succeed. The Fair Trade Agreement has had a huge impact on Australians moving elsewhere to secure work in the industry. The 2007 Labour government has since recognised this problem of not being able to achieve its goals of equal distribution and wealth in the industry. Thus, they created an alliance program enabling more employment opportunities on our local shores, bringing international productions to Australia instead of exporting opportunities (Breen, 2010). We are yet to see significant results. While it is important to support Australian productions and talent, it’s also important to mitigate the influence of multinational opportunities and allow creatives the opportunity to work internationally (O’Regan and Potter 2013). “The Australian Film Commission found that 17% of Australian crew has experience of working on a foreign film or television drama production” (Goldsmith, 2010). Allowing the opportunity to go offshore, they will bring back skills of integration and be able to negotiate the chaotic international media industry more successfully when inspired to return to what will always be called home (O’Regan and Potter 2013).

It may be time to move away from cultural films and focus on more genre films that will attract Australian audiences, revitalising the Australian film industry and boosting its economy. Doing so will create more jobs in Australia and resist Australian filmmakers from going offshore to seek better opportunities in the long run.

References:

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008, Television, Film and Video Production and post-production services, last viewed 2 February 2018, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/8679.0~2006-07~Main+Features~Commercial+television+broadcasting?OpenDocument>.

Breen, M 2010, Digital determinism: culture industries in the USA-Australia Free Trade Agreement, New Media Society, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 657 – 676.

Goldsmith, B 2010, Outward-looking Australian Cinema, Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 199 – 214.

O’Regan, T Potter, A 2013, Globalisation from within? The de-nationalising of Australian film and television production, Media International Australia, no. 149, pp. 5 – 14.

Verhoeven, D 2010, Film video DVD and online delivery, The Media Communications in Australia, pp. 133- 154.

 

 

 

The problem is Australian audiences

The Australian film industry is successful and, like discussed throughout the past few weeks, we have been able to discover just how influential the government is in the film industry by providing funding to producers to encourage higher quality productions. This is despite the fact that it can be argued that the producers forgot to save some money to reach the Australian audiences and market the great Australian films appropriately.

Audiences haven’t known about movies produced in Australian because not enough money was invested into the marketing of the movie. With poor marketing and great productions, films that could have been box office hits weren’t, just like Babadook (2014). “Distributors have difficulty making money on most Australian films… [because] marketing of Australian films is often mis-targeted, underfunded or left too late” (Kaufman T, 2009).

Australians have a “practice of going to the movies in Australia [which] has been regionally widespread, economically significant, relatively socially inclusive and certainly more consistent than the practice of making movies” (Bowels K, 2007). People go to the movies to relax and not worry about anything for a few hours, seeping into a fantasy world looking for an escape. They don’t go out of their way to search for movies that aren’t advertised on the home screen of their local cinema website, hence it is the Australian film industry’s job to ensure that Australian know about local productions. Hollywood is ‘in your face’ with their up and coming productions and “Australian cinema-goers have also seemed to accept the enthusiasms of other international mainstream cinema audiences, in terms of popular genres, stars and fashions” (K Bowels et al. 2007).

 

Image result for choovie images

 

There is a new app on the market, Choovie, created by a Melbourne Economist and his wife that allows you to see what movies are showing and where giving you exclusive deals to watch films at off-peak periods. Ticket pricing fluctuates with session demands for example; seeing a film on a Monday during the day will be cheaper than seeing it on a Friday night. They have partnered with some specific movie cinemas across Australia to provide discount options for audience members. There aren’t many now, but I have no doubt that the numbers will grow as more people hear about Choovie. Who doesn’t want a discount on $25 movie tickets – the price is the reason I stopped going to the cinemas. The app was launched on Today Extra on the 20th of December 2017. It was discussed that Choovie allows audiences to now have the capability of viewing movies in cinemas and knowing when, where and which particular movies are screened, which will subsequently help the Australian Film Industry. Creators hope to use Choovie to boost the Australian screening industry through awareness of Australian films in the mix with Hollywood films which in turn will boost box office sales and the economy.

The problem is Australian audiences don’t go to see Australian movies, but there is a reason why they don’t – they don’t know about the Australian movies because they are not marketed appropriately.

While reflecting upon this topic and what I have learnt already, I thought that if the government is going to continue to support the Australian film industry, should they enforce a division of funds between marketing and producing to make the most out of the Australian film industry. What do you think?

References: 

Bowles, K 2007, Three miles of rough dirt road: towards an audience centred approach to cinema studies in Australia, Studies in Australasian Cinema. 1:3, pp. 245 – 260.

Bowles, K Maltby, R Verhoeven, D Walsh, M 2007, More than Bollyhoo? The importance of understanding film consumption in Australia, Metro 152, pp. 96 – 101.

Choovie 2018, Choovie Home Page, Last visited 20 December 2017, <https://www.choovie.com.au/>

Kaufman, T 2009, Finding Australian audiences for Australian films, Metro 163, pp. 6 – 8.