So as I have mentioned previously, Australians have no problem going to the cinema- in fact it’s their favourite cultural activity according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS 2007, 2008). And we know that the content Australians produce is engaging.
So what’s the problem then? Kaufman suggests, the the age old assumptions of ‘make better films’ and ‘write better scripts’ are unhelpful and redundant (2009,p.6). Carroll goes a step further and states that to simplify the issue and insinuate that “all a film need do is tell a good tale” as ‘fanciful’ (2013,p.25). Even in remote areas of Autralia, the culture of going to the movies, has been ‘regionally widespread, economically significant, relatively socially inclusive and certainly more consistent” than the production of film in Australia (Bowles, 2007,p.247). So if it is a good product, and the market is hungry the problem must be in the supply chain.
Distribution and access issues are clear to see when you examine the figures: in 2012, 43 Australian films screened in Australian cinemas, but averaged being shown on only 75 screens across the country, and some only being shown on 20 screens at their widest point of release (Mostyn, 2014).
The distribution model is obviously broken when the audience is having difficulty accessing the products.
However, this is only an issue when discussing film that is viewed at the cinema, and as the recent government agency the Department of Communications and the Arts report indicates- Australians are viewing content more and more online. The old-fashioned supply chain model has traditionally left Australians behind, but with the emergence of the ability of accessing content online, has smashed this model in a way that is causing the film industry to “lose its mind” (Harris 2013,p. 34). With digitization of distribution, and the demolition of the old model of release for productions, consumers have wrestled back some control over access (Harris 2013,p.47). Australians are unafraid of accessing this content illegally, and downloading content through torrenting is more common in Australia than anywhere else (Bogle, 2015). Conversely, but examining the enormous success of iTunes, and Video on Demand, and streaming services like Netflix- people are still happy to pay for content. It appears that it all comes down to access. The online revolution in terms of Media content access is ample opportunity to level the playing field and give more screening space to Australian Content.
An excellent opportunity for Australian Content with a Global Context is the result, but whether the promise it offers will be taken up is yet to be seen.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2007, Attendance at Selected Cultural Events, 2005-06, Cat. No. 4114.0, ABS, Canberra.
Bogle, Ariel, 2015, ‘’Australians are Massive Pirates, and the British Can’t Keep Up’, Mashable, July 22 2015, viewed Januery 27th 2016,<http://mashable.com/2015/07/21/australia-britain-piracy/#K5bE.XJb6kqF>
Bowles, Kate (2007) “Three miles of rough dirt road: towards an audience centred approach to cinema studies in Australia”. Studies in Australasian Cinema. 1: 3 p 245-260.
Department of Communications and the Arts 2015, Australian Communications Use 2015, https://www.communications.gov.au/departmental-news/australian-communications-use-2015
Carroll Harris, L 2013, Not at a Cinema Near You: Australia’s film distribution problem, Currency Press, Surry Hills, NSW.
Kaufman, Tina “Finding Australian audiences for Australian films” Metro. 163, December 1, 2009. p 6-8.
Mostyn, R 2014, ‘Explainer: where’s the audience for Australian films?’, The Conversation, 17 January, viewed 3rd February 2016, <http://theconversation.com/explainer-wheres-the-audience-for-australian-films-20945>.