Is Australian Cultural content a higher priority than Australian jobs?

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The Australian Film industry has strict conditions for films that receive taxpayer support. They currently require fifty percent of the lead roles to be played by Australian actors, with support roles sitting at seventy five percent required to be Australian (Middlemost 2016). This is an excellent criteria to ensure that Australian jobs are protected within the local film industry. However, this doesn’t mean that we are seeing a large amount of Australians with continuous employment within the industry.

It is apparent that Australian jobs are important to Screen Australia, though it is also apparent that the portrayal of Australian culture is a high priority. For taxpayer support to be granted for a film project it firstly needs to demonstrate that it displays significant Australian content that will be beneficial to Australia as a nation. Though it is clear that Australian audiences are not interested in viewing typical Australian films. Films such as Babe that do not depict the country it is set in are often more successful. Therefore, before we have even considered the percentages of Australians working on projects, Australian film projects numbers have the potential to have been cut in half.

In regards to television series what was remarkable is that after a series has aired sixty five episodes they are no longer eligible for funding (Middlemost 2016), they are also only entitled to twenty percent funding compared to a film receiving forty percent. This has led to shows only being able to continue through sponsorships; for example Masterchef had to rely on sponsorship from Coles (O’Regan and Potter 2013 p.149). Whilst shows like The Voice generated revenue from Itunes downloads and the Underbelly television series gained profits from its DVD sales (O’Regan and Potter 2013 p.149). Instead of continuing to fund projects or granting projects with potential, regardless of their Australian cultural impact, their funding subjectiveness may result in the decline of Australian jobs.

Similarly shown through Screen Australia’s lack of support for women in the industry. In 2006-2011 only eighteen to thirty four percent of key creative roles were filled by women (French 2014 p.189). Furthermore only fifteen percent of Screen Australia’s investments in productions had a female director (French 2014 p.189). Whilst many other companies have implemented programs to see more women joining careers and having equal opportunity, Screen Australia does not have a gender based programme or targets to increase female involvement (French 2014 p.190). Gender issues have also not been reported in Screen Australia’s annual report (French 2014 p.190), therefore, women in this industry are still underrepresented.

It is clear that the Australian film industry considers Australian culture more important than jobs. Their selective funding schemes only consider projects with significant Australian content rather than focusing on maintaining a strong Australian presence and ensuring jobs on quality productions. They are merely focusing on cultural identity. Similar with their lack of programmes to try and increase the number of female creatives within the industry. Australian jobs are a key priority, as whether the content they create is visually Australian or not it is still created by an Australian. It is clear that Screen Australia needs to take a greater stance to ensure jobs within the Australian film industry.

References:

French, L 2014, ‘Gender then, gender now: surveying women’s participation in Australian film and television industries’, Continuum: Journal Of Media & Cultural Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 188-200.

Middlemost, R 2016, ‘Cross national casting, transnational co productions, location incentives and runaway productions’, lecture notes, BCM339, University of Wollongong, 12th January.

O’ Regan, T & Potter, A 2013, “Globalisation from within? The De-Nationalisation of Australian film and television production”, Media International Australia, No.149, p.5-14.

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