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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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.

Opinion: Market Failure and the Public Good in the Australian Film and Television Industry

Australia has had some great success and failures come out of the Australian film and television industry. The ‘boom and bust’ era in the 1970’s and 1980’s occurred due to the Government regulations and taxable rebates that they offered producers to help them produce Australian media and continue to produce for Australian audiences. The 10BA tax rebate saw the production subsidy go from 150% in the early 1980’s to 133% and again dropping to 100% in the late 1980’s. This contributed to market failures in the industry and respective audiences as well as political figures questioning the public good of the art that was being produced versus the policies that were put into place throughout the boom and bust era.

In many the ways the market was a success and a failure which can be seen through particular film investments that successfully met their returns in the box office, locally and/or internationally. The 10BA tax rebate that provided producers with a government subsidy proved the unprecedented boom in the industry. An “improved financial infrastructure for screen production [meant that there was a] high risk and low profitability of Australian screen production” (Burns and Eltham, 2010). For this reason, I believe that due to the investment into the industry and the generous rebate that the government was providing, many people joined the industry creating home films at an extremely low quality. Burns and Eltham (2010), support my views by stating “low production and marketing budgets, distribution bottlenecks, and the poor investment decisions of the monopolistic screen funding agencies… created unpopular Australian cinema… [and] low artistic standards”. In 1988 to 2008, there was a negative 80% return on investments into the film and television industry with the Film Finance Corporation (FFC) investing $1.345 billion into 1,165 different film and television productions with a total return of $274 million (Burns and Eltham, 2010). Successful Australian films that contributed to the $274 million return are Crocodile Dundee (1986), Strictly Ballroom (1992), Mad Max (1979), and Wolf Creek (2005). I believe that if the government was not so relaxed in handing out the rebates to producers, and that they had a more controlled and monitored system, less productions would have been produced and we could have put more focus into successful productions which could have possibly reached the international market. In saying that, some of the home videos that were created were successful. The majority however, were not, creating a stigma and bad reputation for the Australian film and television industry. Errington and Miragliotta (2012), supports my claim by stating ‘broadcasters [producers] are crowding out the market… and the market will struggle to deliver [quality]’. With the boom in the film industry it provided a ‘limitless choice to consumers but the quality of the choices on offer was questionable’ (Errington and Miragliotta, 2012). I strongly agree with this statement due to the fact that not all productions that were produced during the rebate boom era were of great quality and is evident through the above financial statistics with a negative 80% return on government investments in the box office.

I believe that the Australian television industry has been more successful in terms of creating a market and engaging audiences. Successful television such as McLeod’s Daughters, A Place to Call Home, All Saints, Janet King, Blue Heelers, Sea Patrol and The Wrong Girl have had audiences fall in love with their characters and their lives, even years after some have stopped being shown on our home screens. These television shows portrayed Australia in their own way, from the outback farming life, to the suburban and city lifestyles, all of which were unique. Burns and Eltham (2010), state that “tourism and related industries also experienced flow-on growth… as Hollywood producers took advantage of Australian locations”. Just recently (2017), McLeod’s Daughters reunited at ‘Drover’s Run’ in the Barossa Valley in South Australia and took to the Today Show to say how great it was to have the cast at the reunion together, particularly with their fans.  Zoe Naylor (Regan McLeod) said “what I find amazing is that 10 years on, it (the show) has still got a life [in the audience]”. The Australian government has slowly come to terms with the success within the television industry. ‘Australian creatives and funding bodies have no doubt realised that they can no longer ignore this trend’ (Dunks G, n.d.). The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts awards (AACTA Awards), as well as the Logies, are proof of the trends that the television industry in Australia is a successful one.

The Australian media industry, specifically film and television, has been debated throughout the years because of the “lack of audience appeal, due to the impoverished ‘domestic culture’” (Burns and Eltham, 2010). The debate between policy and creative art is an interesting one that has evidence on both sides of the argument. On one side, the policies in place for the media industry are great and have allowed for so many productions to be produced, and on the other hand there is the argument of whether or not every production that had been supported by the debate was worth supporting and calling art. I personally think that the policy allowed more creative directors and producers to showcase their works, but I also believe that the government should have been more strict with their 10BA rebate scheme as ‘anything’ can be classified as art, and some productions were not. The low quality in some films struggled to attract local audiences and the government contracted the rebate scheme (Burns and Eltham 2010). While the government questioned the art that was being produced in the Australian film industry, they still supported television and ensured the ‘protections of Australian content’ (Errington and Miragliotta 2012). In 2010, the government announced a $152 million funding to finance children’s television. This ensured producers and the public that all audiences have access to quality television as it has become increasingly important in recent years. I strongly agree with the funding that the government provides to Australian producers and broadcasting agencies although I strongly suggest that the government monitors where and how money is being used in the film and television industry to ensure that it will engage audiences and make box office hits. Thanks to Screen Australia, funding is now selective due to their “Significant Australian Content” review process. Previously it was “difficult to evaluate on the basis of cultural value” whether or not funding was appropriate for some of the productions produced (Ryan M, Goldsmith B, 2017). While the huge production of film and television developed internationally, some productions mislead our Australian culture. Some producers produced art that exploited the Australian culture which “reflects an American perspective of Australia”. This marketed Australia to others as a tourist destination instead of respecting Australia’s national identity. I don’t agree with misleading information, especially when it involves Australian history. The basis of art should respect the level of “quality film and the filmic expression of an Australian reality” (Thomas D, n.d). Genre films or Ozploitation films were classified as ‘alternate’ masterpieces of Australian cinema (Thomas D, n.d). Australian film and television can be seen as contributors to the ‘global exploitation’ industry that created a “construct around our differences in terms of landscape and socio-cultural identity” (Thomas D, n.d). Films of the Ozploitation era were cringe worthy and ‘trashy’ although they have become more widely accepted. I accept that Ozploitation films have become widely accepted that they are ‘so bad that they are good’.

Overall, I do not believe that the Australian film and television has been unsuccessful in the market. While it has not been as successful as Hollywood, I do not wish to compare it to Hollywood as the Australian film and television industry is its own unique industry that has had some great successes. While I do not agree with the 10BA tax rebate discussed, and the rebate rate being so high, it contributed to the boom in the film industry which created some great quality films (and not so great quality) that are still being recognised today. For this reason, I believe that Australia has a great and extremely talented film industry and it is not just for the public good of Australia. Hence, I find it most important that the government has profitable policies that support film makers, directors, producers, actors and actresses so that they can produce art as we know it.

 

References:

Burns, A and Eltham, B 2010, “Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy: 10BA, The Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood’s ‘Race to the bottom’”, Media International Australia, no. 136, pp. 103 – 115.

Errington, W and Miragliotta, N 2012, “The rise and fall and rise again of public broadcasting? The case of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation”, The Australian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 55 – 64.

Hartley M, 2008, “Not quite Hollywood” film.

Ryan, D and Goldsmith, B 2017, “Returning to Australian Horror film and Ozploitation cinema debate”, Studies in Australasian Cinema, Vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 2 – 4.

Thomas, D n.d., “Tarantino’s two thumbs up: Ozploitation and the reframing of the Aussie Genre Film”, Metro Magazine; Metro Feature Section, pp. 90 – 94.

Dunks, G n.d., “Genre is big business on the small screen”, Metro Magazine; Scope and Screen Industry Views, pp. 124.

 

 

Ozploitation

Ozploitation: the exploitation of Australian films and filmmakers taking advantage of the 10BA tax rebate. Typically, genre films such as Horror, Thrillers, corny Romance and Actions films that were made on a low budget with R18+ ratings were classified as Ozploitation films.

It all started in the 1970’s when the government supported the Australian film and television industry. They gave a 150% rebate to producers and film makers which created the Boom in the film and television industry. The government soon caught on to what was happening and soon cut the rebates to 133% in 1981, and again in 1983 to 100%. Ryan (2012), touches on the ‘Boom and Bust era’ that made the industry and it is evident through Australian history and Burns and Eltham (2010), paper that the government has played a huge role in the funding and the creation of Australian film and television. At the end of the 10BA we saw a lowered tax rebate for producers which slowed private investments into the industry.

The Ozploitation of genres in the film and television industry became a problem as years went on because of the content restrictions that were put into place by the government to filter movies. There were great debates between what was classified as art and self-expression against what was going to boost the Australian economy and the Australian film and television industry. Ryan (2012), discusses that if a film was too recognisably Australian, then it wouldn’t make it to the international screens. You may be thinking, what about Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Mad Max (1979) – they were Australian films, yes, although they were co-production films meaning that they had big Hollywood names to the production. Crocodile Dundee was also half set in New York which attracted a larger audience.

 

Image result for not quite hollywood

 

The documentary Not Quite Hollywood by Mark Hartley tells us a lot about the Ozploitation era. The genre era when films weren’t just ‘Australian films’. The genre’s included; violence, horror and action, with some great films coming out of each genre – Alvin Purple, Mad Max, Turkey Shoot, Patrick, The Man From Hong Kong and Long Weekend. Genre’s appeals to different audiences making them successful. For example; Alvin was made on a budget of $200,000 and took $500,000 in the box office.

 

Tarantino, a ‘fan’ of Australian film in the Not Quite Hollywood documentary, said that “at one stage, Australian films were so bang on, that even the Italians were ripping them [Australians] off.”

Action was the currency of the movie market when Australian films were being produced in the 70’s and 80’s. This meant that producers were fearless in these times, they gambled with their lives to get the perfect shot for the films. In most productions, it was lucky that no one died. Producers also started to bring in American actors because they believed it was the way to sell into the American and European market. Although some thought that it was crazy to even attempt to make it into the American market. There was huge controversy over bringing in American actors and actresses because they were taking jobs off Australian talent. Producers had to appeal to audiences in some way so they did what they had to do to get more attention in the market.

 

“This is why we watch exploitation cinema – to ask if this is really happening” Quentin Tarantino

 

References:

Burns, Alex and Eltham, Ben “Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy:10BA, the Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood’s ‘race to the bottom’”. Media International Australia. August 2010, No. 136, p. 103-118.

Ryan, Mark David (2012), “A silver bullet for Australian cinema? Genre movies and the audience debate”. Studies in Australasian Cinema. 6 (2) p. 141-157.

Film: Not Quiet Hollywood, 2008, Mark Hartley

When you assume you put the Ass in Ass’Traya Content

When people are asked about Australian content, it isn’t always favourable. Australian’s view locally produced content as… Bogan, with an outback setting, manly characters, with terrible accents and purely just one big “piss up” in the country we call home. While this doesn’t surprise me, I still think Australia has produced some great film and television, Love Child, Rabbit Proof Fence, Underbelly, Packed to the Rafters, McLeod’s Daughters, The Wrong Girl, All Saints, Wentworth, Muriel’s Wedding, and Mad Max. The box office begs to differ with my personal opinion of great Australian content, I still enjoyed them, and I know that they are crowd favourites from our class discussions.

What classifies Australian Content to be “Australian”?

Screen Australia is the amalgamation of the Government, Australian Film Commission (AFC) and Film Finance Corporation (FFC) along with other agencies supporting the Australian Film Industry. Australian films are funded by the Federal Government to support “Australian screen production, with an aim to create an Australian industry that is innovative, culturally important and commercially stable” (Screen Australia, 2015).

Surprise!

When you think of Australian content in the media I bet you don’t think of The Great Gatsby, do you? Either did I at first, there was definitely no terrible Australian accents and there was nothing but class in the film although our drinking culture was definitely present. One Australian actress (Isla Fisher) doesn’t make it an Australian film, but according to Screen Australia, a film is classified as Significant Australian Content if:

  • the subject matter of the film
  • the place where the film was made
  • the nationalities and places of residence of the persons who took part in the making of the film
  • the details of the production expenditure incurred in respect of the film, and
  • any other matters that we consider to be relevant.

We all love a bit of Leo and Isla but what classifies The Great Gatsby to be Australian is the great Baz Luhrmann – an Australian screen writer and producer (and his team that produced the film). Luhrmann gathered a significant amount of experienced cast and crew members (400 to be exact) over the 17 weeks of filming. While the NSW Government invested 40% of the Producer Rebate to assist with the production and financing of the film. At the AACTA Awards in 2014, Gatsby came out on top.

Creative content and control is a significant indicator to what classifies Australian Content. The clip below from Studio 10 covers the key points in the classification.

It seems as though even our Australian media professionals are confused and they need some clarification themselves.

While Australian’s cringe at the sight of our locally produced content, we hold the history close to our heart, and we will always feel at home with Australian content. Cringe worthy Australian content is being produced, but what Australia really wants is something that is engaging, entertaining and not another boring History lesson from High School that makes us want to fall asleep or worse, not watch it at all – Australian content should be celebrated not cringed at!