“Australia is a great place to make film and television … entertaining global audiences for 40 years.” claims the Screen Australia website on the ‘Doing Business with Australia’ homepage but is this the case? Aussie producers are very good at creating fish-out-of-water comedies, quality adult drama, animated children’s programmes and intriguing documentaries but in terms of Australian film, the quality as determined by the audience size is questionable. With only 3.5% (Screen Australia) of the total Australian box office being Australian made and an average of 21 Australia films being released locally per year (15 in 2013) the numbers do not create the identity of a world dominating film industry.
From the get go I want to establish my stance on Australian film; there are certainly areas in which growth is needed, where marketing needs to improve in order to receive a higher proportion of local audiences and where diversity needs to be showcased to a higher standard. However, Australian film is unique from any other film industry in the world, in terms of cultural influences, audiences and size.
So how do we know Australian Film is even supported? AACTA (Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts) is committed to connecting Australian and international audiences with great Australian film and television content. “The primary role of AACTA is to recognise, encourage, promote and celebrate film and television excellence in Australia through the nation’s highest screen accolades – the AACTA Awards.” It through the Australian Film Institute (AFI) and the Academy that Australian film is recognised, encouraged and disseminated. These awards, although not an Oscar are held in high esteem within the industry in terms of content production, artistic skill and producer direction. With Internationally known actors Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman being recognised along with Baz Luhrmann’s countless internationally successful film’s, the Institute celebrates the success of the local industry.
It is also vital mention how the Aussie Film Industry caters for and represents diversity in both content and audience structures. With an ageing population it is important for new industries such as Australian film to cater for older generations both in output of content as well as enetertainment mediums such as cinemas. In 2001 Captioned Cinema was introduced in order to appeal to a wider range of audiences in order that they may be able to enjoy the movie-going process. Media Access Australia is a site that makes available information about accessible cinema attendance as well as a vast range of other media technologies. Through this, the website is attempting to break down social barriers that may limit an older generation from attending the cinema.
There is also the identification of Indigenous Australians being represented in the film industry. With a rises in Aboriginal creatives producing hits in the box office such as Samson and Delilah (2009), Bran Nue Dae (2009) and the Sapphires (2012), this historic trend of Indigenous Australians merely being represented is fading away. These movies have created their own genre, building the versatility of the Australian film industry with the Australia Screen site demonstrating just how far Indigenous actions, film producers and content has come.
When the research merely focuses on the numbers and digestible figures, a part from assessing a net worth, it fails to identify causes and opportunities. The Australian Film industry is a gem to the local economy, not so much in monetary value, but in people power and worth. Screen Australia has acknowledge this by providing both quantitative and qualitative research results on their site allowing readers to assess a whole image of the industries position. In order for Australian film to gain greater success in the future, it needs to work to its strengths and focus on highlighting those to potential audiences. There needs to be an increase in marketing through using social media platforms and other new means of disseminating in order to break through the crowd of options for audiences. They also need to establish who is their current audience and who is their future. In this they will find the right means of success.
Oh, and on a side note: Don’t bother comparing to Hollywood’s standards Australia, we’ve got more class than that.
Screen Australia 2014, Industry Statistics, Strategy and Research, Accessed 29th of September 2014, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/default.aspx
AACTA 2014, About AFI/AACTA, Accessed 29th of September 2014, http://www.aacta.org/about-us.aspx
Australian Screen 2014, A short History of Indigenous Filmmaking, Accessed 29th of September 2014, http://aso.gov.au/titles/collections/indigenous-filmmaking/