Be patient, Better days are coming for the marketing of Australian content

Is it time to give up on Australian content?

When I first began this course, I said that I didn’t actually ‘trust’ Australian content and I would more often than not, search for reviews of an Australian film before I even considered watching it. Now, I’ve opened my mind to the development of Australian content, as it is obvious that we have come a long way from our ‘Boom & Bust’ period (Burns, A & Eltham, B 2010) of Crocodile Dundee and low budget ‘ocker sex comedies’ (Middlemost, R 2017). Australia produces not only impeccable actors but incredible writers as well, the production of our content is looking bright, it’s our distribution techniques and reaching the audience that we need to worry about.

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‘Just Keep Swimming!’ (Finding Nemo, 2003). Maybe Australian content producers should listen to Dory?

This session has completely flipped my preconcieved ideas of Australian content, now of which I greet with open arms. Personally, I believe that the minds of domestic viewers would be changed in regards to Australian content if it were more accessible to viewers. It’s no secret that viewers are moving their way onto streaming services such as Netflix and Stan. ‘More and more, Australians are either complementing or replacing their consumption of live broadcast TV with streamed content.’ (Roy Morgan Research, 2013).

Home grown Australian films aren’t distributed onto as many screens as their international counterparts. If you wanted to view The Babadook in 2014, you would have had to find one of the 13 art house screens that were blessed with the psychological thriller. The reality of one of the 13 screens being within a reasonable distance is ridiculous, we as a nation need to have more faith in our home grown content.

As stated by Screen Australia in 2011, ’79 per cent of people agreed (32 per cent strongly) that Australian stories are vital for contributing to our sense of Australian national identity; while 75 per cent agreed (35 per cent strongly) that they would miss the Australian film and television industry if it ceased to exist.’ Granted it has been 7 years since this was written, however I would like to believe its true.

Screen Australia, 2015, Australian audiences are watching online

According to this infograph from Screen Australia, it displays that one of the main ‘traditional methods’ that viewers use to discover new content is ‘word of mouth’. This could be detrimental to Australian production as the preconcieved views of Australian content is isn’t good, which is more than likely what would be discussed.

It isn’t the Australian content that is ‘broken’ per say, its the way in which we distribute and market our content. ‘As producers seek new ways to reach the sought-after youth audience in particular, some have seized upon mobile phones as offering a renewed possibility of delivering product for the ‘on the go’ market.'(de Roeper, J & Luckman, S 2009, pp.8). Taking this into consideration, Australian producers know how to market to their target market and at a reduced cost, they just aren’t giving marketing and distribution the time for it to work efficiently with the audiences.

Overall, we’ll still have the classic first date at the cinema and my family will still gather around the television to watch My Kitchen Rules. It isn’t that we should give up on Australian content, it’s that we need to be patient with the development of distribution and marketing in order for Australian films to reach their full potential, both in the box office and with audiences.

References

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. August 2010, No. 136, p 103-118.

Screen Australia, 2015, Australian audiences are watching online, Screen Australia, viewed 29th January 2018 <https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/fact-finders/infographics/australian-audiences-are-watching-online&gt;

 

Who needs culture when we have can have JOBS!!!

With new innovations and new technologies, jobs are being created everyday. With this however, comes the demolishing of ‘old’ jobs. Newspapers are slowly creeping their way onto only digital, if it weren’t for the fact I work in a hotel where newspapers are delivered daily I would think they were already only digital. But with this, are we losing our culture amongst the new ways of the first world?

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Laurence D, 2013 (source)

Australian content production is at a high, with the television show Wentworth that gained its popularity after being first aired on Foxtel to Australian audiences May 1st 2013, and since has been picked up by Netflix for international viewing. But when it comes to the Australian production, is that more important than projecting our culture onto the media?

Australia is part of several ‘Co-Production treaties’ with countries including: Canada, China, Singapore and the United Kingdom (Screen Australia). With a co-production agreement between two countries, it opens up a greater pool of resources – by automatically accessing two markets in terms of creativity, finance and audience reach (Middlemost R, 2018), which in turn, creates more economic revenue for Australia. The basic requirement of each Arrangement is that each co-producer must bring a minimum percentage of the financial and creative contribution to the project, and further, these two elements need to be ‘reasonably in proportion'(Middlemost, R 2018), meaning there has to be content related to each country within the film. These co-productions are valuable to the Australian media production and give Australia a voice amongst all of the Hollywood blockbusters constantly taking the headlines.

Movies such as The Great Gatsby (2013) and Babe (1995) are both co-productions with the United States. Whilst Australia doesn’t explicitly have a co-production treaty with the United States it doesn’t mean that they cannot produce with them. However, when you think of these two films, they don’t exactly shout ‘Australianness’ at you, do they? Have we become far too involved in the economic gain of media production that we are losing our national pride in ridding the ‘Australianness’ within our content?

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The Great Gatsby film (2013)

‘Another site where globalising processes are recalibrating Australian content is the
increasingly affiliation of independent Australian production companies with their
global counterparts.’ (O’Regan T, Potter A, 2013, pp.10)

Domestic production companies are being encouraged to morph their view of Australian content of which they believe would appeal to the international market. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop encouraged the filming of Thor: Ragnarok to be filmed on Australian soil, whilst it does involves Australian actors and actresses (namely Chris Hemsworth and Cate Blanchett) it doesn’t exactly justify ‘Australian creativity’ when it is a U.S. production. In her speech that given at the launch of the film she is quoted saying ‘Let’s hope we can find our way clear to continue to support blockbusters of this type being filmed here in Australia.’ (Bishop, J 2017). Is being the landscape of Hollywood blockbusters now more important than projecting our own culture through film and television?

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Julie Bishop at the premiere of Thor: Ragnarok (source)

Ms Bishop was also quoted at the premiere saying ‘It does add a great deal to the Australian economy and it will raise our profile overseas as a sophisticated, creative nation’. A sophisticated, creative nation who is the backdrop for other countries creative exports?

Sure, filming Thor: Ragnarok brought jobs for aspiring producers and media students for a short time and perhaps the production of Aquaman will bring jobs for a short term as well. Bring jobs and bring tourism, we however cannot lose ourselves in the creativity of another nation.

References

Middlemost, R 2018, ‘Cross national casting, transnational co-productions, location incentives and runaway productions’, PowerPoint slides, BCM330, University of Wollongong, viewed 31 January 2018

O’Regan, T & Potter, A 2013, ‘Globalisation from within? The De-Nationalising of Australian film and television production’, Media Internation Australia, no. 149, pp. 5-14

Screen Australia, 2017, Upcoming Production Report, Screen Australia, viewed 1 February 2018 <https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/2e4a1e52-4466-48b7-aad8-ca05e207f8a9/upcoming_productions_report_features.pdf&gt;

 

 

“The way we watch favours global cultural diversity over Australian content”. 

When I watch films, I like to watch content that takes me away to another world or place. For a girl who has grown up in semi-rural Australia, visiting the streets of New York in When Harry met Sally and outer space in Star Wars is a journey for me. So if you were to ask me ‘Do you watch Australian content?’ it more than likely would’ve been a firm no. When it comes to this media content, how have we become far too involved in ‘the way of the Americans’ that we prefer to watch ANOTHER Adam Sandler film as opposed to a new film containing significant Australian content?

I personally believe we are a diverse culture with numerous stems of interests, morals and beliefs, this is not projected onto our screens however. If I was to ask ‘What is your Australian film?’ A typical response would be something like Crocodile Dundee or The Sapphires, many however do not realise that films like The Great Gatsby and Happy Feet are actually Australian written or produced films. This is of course not the audiences fault, the marketing and portraying in these films are that of ‘American’ persona. Happy Feet is tricky as it involves many different accents within the film, the dominant one being American.

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Australia isn’t opposed to broadcasting its content internationally, however marketing and distribution somehow takes a backseat when it comes to new content in the domestic and international market.

‘The ‘failure’ of Australian films is often attributed to deficiencies in the creative processes of development and production, or the funding strategies of government film agencies (Eltham, 2009; Kaufman, 2009; Schembri, 2008; Charlton, 2005); however, these discourses are limited by their tendency to overlook the significance of distribution and exhibition in shaping the reception of Australian films.’ (Aveyard, K 2011, pp. 36)

Free Trade Agreements (FTA) are designed to reduce the barriers between two or more countries for purposes of trade, which are in place to help protect local markets and industries (Middlemost, R 2018). These are aimed to be beneficial to customers as it enables each country to place more products on shelves which in turn creates more revenue for each country. Yet ANOTHER tactic that the government uses for economic gain.

When thinking about the benefits of FTAs, one is the extended reach of our content to more countries. The Babadook (2014) is an Australian film and only aired on 13 screens in Australia, a miniscule number compared to the 147 screens in opened with in the U.K. It’s a shame that The Babadook wasn’t given the opportunity to perform well nationally. Again, not the Australian audiences fault, we just don’t realise that our Aussie films are going abroad before we know that they exist. Producer Kristina Ceyton is quoted by the Guardian “The kind of film that we made, it’s kind of an art house film and a psychological thriller slash horror. These don’t traditionally do that well in Australia”.

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The Babadook film (2014)

Is it that this genre of film doesn’t perform well in Australia, or that Australian content as a whole doesn’t perform well? Despite the lack of ‘Australianness’??

In future, I aim to challenge this notion and will ideally search for Australian content in cinemas in order to develop my own opinion instead of reading an grammatically incorrect iMDb review.

References

Aveyard, K 2011 ‘Australian films at the cinema: rethinking the role of distribution and exhibition’, Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, no. 138, pp. 36-45

 

 

Is any attention good attention for Australian films?

There will always be a spotlight on Australian film and television, whether it be on what Hugh Jackman is doing now or when the new season of My Kitchen Rules is, something is always happening. But is any attention good attention?

When it comes to us representing our country on film and television, we sway a lot towards either the outback or the suburbs. All of what we portray on screen we aim to greet tourists by the masses after the film piece is aired. Uluru almost always making a cameo appearance and ‘the local pub’ squeezing its way into a scene, we certainly know how to depict our values on screen. This could be because the Australian film industry are embracing our history and heritage of the land or because we are ‘the sunburnt country’. For example, The first scene of Australia is a shot of the sunrise in the Australian outback and Uluru makes an international appearance in The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, a scene where the drag queens are shot climbing the heart of the outback, depicted in a rather triumphant way. When this first aired, it brought crowds upon crowds of tourists to the outback to do the same. However now to climb Uluru is disrespectful to the sacred land and is not a tourist activity anymore.

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(source)

Due to the strict guidelines in using Indigenous land in media content, this photo may now be viewed as disrespectful to the indigenous land of which wasn’t viewed that way in the past. The Australian landscape is a precious entity to the Indigenous Australians who founded this land, and some may view this photo as Screen Australia has devised an ‘Indigenous Assessment’ in their report on ‘Pathways & Protocols’ for any producers wanting to use indigenous content in their film projects. Section 2.1. being titled ‘Respect for Indigenous culture and heritage’ (Screen Australia), with this guide it allows Australian filmmakers respect the Australian landscape and indigenous content without being derogatory or racist (historic films not included). But now as a nation, we want to save the Great Barrier Reef and we want to be as respectful to indigenous land as possible. But to Australians, there is something humerous about being portrayed as an ‘ocker, true blue’ Australian in films of which we don’t want to end.

A quote by Tara Brabazon discusses the malleability if Australian cinema ‘During its moments of ‘revival’, Australian cinema has been reflexively (and at times embarrassingly) nationalist. Working against British codes of behaviour, Australian films like The Adventures of Barry Mackenzie (1972) and Gallipoli present a unified national ideology, rather than a contradictory analgam of discrepancy and historical discrepancies grounded in a recognisably national geography’ (Brabazon 2012, p. 151). What I take from this quote? Australian cinema can go from serious, real life events to comedic relief in a heart beat, which in my opinion depicts Australians VERY well.

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Crocodile Dundee (n.d..)

The way in which ‘Australia’ is projected to the world and the way that ‘Australians’ are depicted are very different takes in film and media. Australia is depicted as the country with a beautiful landscape, being able to offer surf and snow and having the hidden treasures scattered across the country.

 

References

Babrazon, T 2001, ‘A pig in space? Babe and the problem of landscape’, in I Craven (ed.), Australian Cinema in the 1990’s, F. Cass, London, pp. 149-158.