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The X Problem with Australian Film and The X Solution


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We have a vision for the sort of content we think should be made in Australia, and how it should be exported to the world. It came from years of hearing about the problem, and thus thinking about the solution. It's our idea, and people might disagree, but frankly, we should be more commercial and care less about Australia. We want to build industry.

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The X Problem with Australian Film and The X Solution

  1. 1. I’ve been collecting evidence to help prove the case, or establish the problem. I need to know I’m not just making baseless assumptions. This is what I’ve found.
  2. 2. Australian playwright Louis Nowra had heard about Aussie film’s dire situation. To get a first hand look, he watched every Australian film that came out over a year.
  3. 3. Film Victoria were aware of the disconnection between audience and filmmakers. At a seminar featuring this topic, a man named Tait Brady who worked at both AFC and Screen Australia looked at Australian box office over 36 years.
  4. 4. Australians are making films Australian audiences do not want to see. What audiences do want to watch is being made elsewhere. I read that as the very opposite of supply meeting demand. I think it’s because filmmakers are making movies for filmmakers. That’s how we were taught in tertiary education. Our teachers preferred auteurs to blockbusters. I found someone else who has a problem with that…
  5. 5. David Williamson, another Australian playwright,on Auteurs “I think the best drama in the world is the quality drama being created for cable. I think, um, film leaves a lot to be desired now because a lot of films are not well structured in a story sense. I think film world has swung to auteur type films in which the director writes them and it’s highly unlikely that someone of the skill set of the director will also have the full skill set of a writer. I think they… doesn’t happen often. But in television the writer is really really important and that’s why the best drama by far is on television.” From ABC Radio National Books and Arts Daily 7/8/12.
  6. 6. Jim Schembri, film critic for The Age, wrote a scathing article when three Australian films premiered in one week and all failed at the box office. He collected a wide range of comments from the public, two of which stand out as relevant: “How a debut film director (Gale Edwards with A Heartbeat Away) can be allowed to helm a $7 million production has angered many, and with good cause. You could have made four Wolf Creeks for that. What happened to the idea of earning that kind of budget with a proven track record of successful smaller films?” “Quality script development continues to draw focus. People are clearly tired of industry rhetoric about how "the story is all", especially when those stories simply don't play.” From Australian Film Disaster at the Box Office.
  7. 7. Black Magic The global business has its headquarters in Port Melbourne and ships almost 100 products to more than 100 countries, with other offices in the UK, Japan, Singapore and the United States. Australia accounts for only one per cent of the company's sales, and this is a deliberate business strategy. “I realised the market for products [in Australia] is tiny. To make a good product it's not worth the return on investment unless you sell globally.” -Chief Exec Grant Petty From Aussie who shook up world’s film industry.
  8. 8. Top Box Office Australian Films of all Time 12 or 41% are comedies
  9. 9. Broaden comedy to include Red Dog, Happy Feet and The Sapphires and 15 or 51% are comedies.
  10. 10. Top Box Office Australian Films of all Time 11 or 37% are genre films
  11. 11. Further down the list you’ll find: 35. Knowing 40. Wolf Creek 41. Chopper 42. Two Hands 44. Mad Max 50. Animal Kingdom
  12. 12. Top Box Office Australian Films of all Time 6 or 20% are straight adult dramas
  13. 13. Another way to look at it: Combining comedy and genre (throw in Moulin Rouge &The Sapphires as a musical, Red Dog as family, Gallipoli as war, The Piano as period and Ned Kelly as a crime film about bushrangers) and 80% of the films that took the highest box office in Australia are NOT straight, glum dramas.
  14. 14. The X Hypothesis Audiences prefer Genre and Comedy (GC) Domestic audience is too small ∴ Global audiences (GA) offer more opportunities GC + GA + Marketing = Commercial Success (CS) CS = $ = Investment back into the industry