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.

 

 

 

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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!