Television was introduced in Australia on the 5th of November 1956, just in time for Australians to watch the Melbourne 1956 Summer Olympics from home. Ever since then, film and television have been the dominant form of media cultural consumption in Australia (Burns & Eltham, 2010). With smart phones creseeping up the ladder the start of 2010, film and television still hold a position in the hearts of Australians’. In the early 2000s, at least 90 per cent of Australian movie ticket sales (Screen Australia, 2010a). However, 90 per cent of these sales were foreign-movie sales. With this knowledge forever begs the question, why do Australians dislike Australian-made content?
Over the past decades, Australian media content is known to experience a ‘boom or bust’ persona of which the content that we have been producing, whether it be a film or television show, is either very successful or is a major flop in the box office. The Australian government has always been supportive of the Australian Screen Industry, and has defended its institutional legitimacy by stating that ‘Australian films have performed relatively well given their release strategies’ (Screen Australia, 2009). The 10BA period for Australian films resulted in one of the well known ‘boom’ times for Australian film and television. This 10BA period started in the late 1970s and ended in the late 1980s. The 10BA era is thanks to the Fraser government amending Australian tax law (the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936) to enable screen producers to claim a tax deduction for eligible film production of which these tax subsidies became a method in attracting film financing for Australian film production. This era was to encourage the production of Australian media for Australian audiences. This boom era produced internationally recognised films such as ‘Crocodile Dundee’ (1986) and ‘Mad Max’ (1979) of which still get quoted and referenced today. However, within this 10BA period, there were many producers and film enthusiasts who used and abused these subsidies for their own gain, not exactly for public entertainment. This is referred to as ‘Ozploitation’ and the term was coined by Australian film maker Mark Hartley in his documentary, Not Quite Hollywood (2008). This documentary reveals that the late 1970’s and early 1980’s witnessed the production of a number of Australian genre films now labelled as Ozploitation films such as the film Patrick (1978). Many audience members would consider that some films produced in the 10BA period were a success and met their budget in the box office whilst others did not. An “improved financial infrastructure for screen production [could’ve lead to a] high risk and low profitability of Australian screen production” (Burns and Eltham, 2010). This encourages the fact that due to the tax subsidies provided for the Australian film industry that many people were deciding to join in and therefore creating low budget and lesser quality films.
If you ask many Australian citizens and ask what their thoughts are on ‘Crocodile Dundee’ or even ‘Gallipoli’, many will either say that it is ‘stereotypical of the Australian culture and does not depict an accurate representation’ or that it is ‘too serious of a film and lacks the comedic relief that many Australians take pride in’ of their culture. However, both these films were one of the biggest successes from Australian production during the 10BA period when it comes to their box office returns. I believe that many Australians in the modern-day era are more welcoming to Australian produced television over Australian produced films. For example, the hit television show ‘Neighbours’ which aired its first episode the 18th of March 1985 has seen continuous success of the last few decades and will more than likely see continuing success in the future. I believe that ‘Neighbours’ is successful in the same way that the series ‘Kath & Kim’ was successful in that it was a show that many people related to. As stated by ‘the Conversation’ ‘Neighbours’ stories tend to work through issues to regain a state of balance and happiness.’ And ‘A key factor is always telling stories emotionally and within character. I think this is one of the things that makes the show endure: a loyalty to character, plus a sense of hope.’ This statement supports my argument in that ‘Neighbours’ is popular for its relatability to the audience. Furthermore, this statement demonstrates that Australians are more inclined to watch Australian television as opposed to films because the audience is able to connect with the characters over a period of time.
Australian film commission defined Australian content as those productions under Australian creative control. If you are needing to gain funding for a creative project, Screen Australia will grant funding for your piece, it must contain significant Australian content. This is Screen Australia’s way in protecting Australian content. Alex Storer of AWS Productions (2015) states that ‘Australian Cinema needs something else to interweave with these smaller scale productions, we need films that will appeal more broadly and with quality writing, clever marketing, and most importantly – essential storytelling driving by memorable characters.’ Furthermore, I believe that for the Australian content is to reach another ‘boom’ era that Australian producers and writers should stray from hosting extravagant films, unrecognized as Australian due to foreign directors and producers such as ‘Thor’ and use their creative intellect in producing simple Australian films based on the reality that is living in Australia and simply being Australian.
Australian produced media content is far more popular with international viewers as opposed to domestic. Some producers produced creative pieces that is far from the Australian culture which “reflects an American perspective of Australia”, which therefore inhibits the classic ‘Aussie stereotype’ that many foreigners love. This however, marketed Australia to others as a tourist destination instead of accurately reflecting Australia’s culture. It is that of “mateship” and “the freedom of opinion and speech” that Australians provide themselves on. International viewers from countries such as the United States and the U.K. love the satirical and comedic feature film that is “Crocodile Dundee”, however when compared to the Australian culture, it is far from reality which is why I think that many Australians are not a fan of the film. The strong, muscular persona of Australian men that is portrayed in the stereotypical manner in this film is lacking truth of the Australian values as mentioned before. Whilst this film did perform well in the box office dur to the 10BA period’s tax rebate, I do not believe that it accurately reflects Australian culture.
Overall, I believe that the Australian film and television industry has not been successful in the market. It has not been as successful as Hollywood films however I do not believe that these two industry’s should be compared. The 10BA tax rebate didn’t help the Australian film and television industry however I do believe that without the incentive we wouldn’t have seen the successful films like ‘Crocodile Dundee’ and ‘Gallipoli’ reach the cinema. It is because of this that I have faith in the Australian film industry that they can produce quality films, it is however with incentive and drive that they can make it happen.
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.
Cinema industry trends, Gross box office and Admissions, Screen Australia, March 2016, viewed 12th December 2017 <https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/fact-finders/cinema/industry-trends/box-office>
The Conversation, ‘After 30 years, can Neighbours and Australians become good friends?’ The Conversation, 17th March 2015, viewed 10th December 2017 < http://theconversation.com/after-30-years-can-neighbours-and-australians-become-good-friends-38779>
George, S 2017, ‘Local Content: Policy, Pressure Points, Options, Impacts’, Screen Australia, 8th September 2017, viewed 11th December 2017 < https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/sa/screen-news/2017/09-08-local-content-policy-pressure-points-options>
Hartley M, 2008, “Not quite Hollywood” film.
Storer, A 2015, ‘What’s wrong with the Australian Film Industry?’, AWS Productions, weblog post, 13th April 2015, viewed 11th December 2017 < http://www.videoproductioncompany.com.au/whats-wrong-with-the-australian-film-industry/>