Why don’t the majority of Australian films attract Australian audiences? Metro Screen in Sydney threw down the gauntlet before a panel of industry players, while Dominic Case picked through the shifting and diverse opinions.
“We are a lying, hypocritical, duplicitous group”, says Tony Ginnane, giving the audience the results of his mature reflection on an industry he has inhabited longer than most.
It was a packed house at the Chauvel cinema in Paddington for Metro Cinema’s forum discussion on “Oz Films versus Oz Audiences”. Some fireworks were expected from the glittering panel of speakers, and Tony Ginnane, recently re-elected as President of SPAA, didn’t disappoint. His point was the bipolar nature of the film industry – was it art or was it commerce? When a film is a commercial success we praise it, when it wins prizes and bombs at the box office we still praise it. What is the benchmark for success?
OZ FILM VS. OZ FORUM presented by Metro Screen from Metro Screen on Vimeo.
Andrew Urban, from Urban Cinefile, introduced the session with a video of vox pops. It appeared that most Australians have clear views about Australian films (not all negative), but when later asked what was the last Australian film they had seen, few could remember. Those that did almost universally mentioned Australia though they weren’t entirely sure that it was Australian.
“Audiences should be more supportive of their own culture.”
Susan Hoerlein of Tsuki Marketing, spoke in Marketing Language about Australian films as a Brand. Clearly people recognised the brand, and if the brand had failed, then it would have to be changed and a new marketing campaign launched: not for a specific film, but for Brand Australia. But Troy Lum of Hopscotch, scotched the idea that people saw a film because of its country of origin: “Oh, we’re too late for the Swedish film, let’s see if there’s a Canadian one showing instead”.
However, both Margaret Pomeranz (At the Movies) and Rachel Ward (Beautiful Kate) felt that Australian audiences should be more supportive of their own culture. “Bloody lazy” said Pomeranz. “Could be more embracive” said Ward.
And so discussion moved to the content of Australian films: often seen recently as” dark”. Garry Maddox of the Sydney Morning Herald noted that most successful films were “hero films”: they didn’t necessarily end happily, but the main protagonist stood for something important.
“Telling our own stories should not be a driver for making Australian films”
This part of the discussion was brought to a focus with an invited contribution from the audience by Karen Perlman, who is Head of Screen Studies at AFTRS. Her iconoclastic proposal was that “telling our own stories should not be a driver for making Australian films”. This leads, she said, “to a dire state of naturalism in films”. Instead, the purpose should be to “contribute to our own myths”.
In a paper due to be published in AFTRS’s new journal Lumina later this year she will suggest that there are three aspects to good cinema: big scale (cinematics, staging, or emotion); dynamics (variation in tension, pace, scale, movement), and audience ownership: the film must not be the filmmaker’s story, but “our” (the audience’s) story.
Andrew Urban was quick to reflect that Australia had all three boxes ticked: scale, dynamics, ownership.
Later, Clare Stewart (Sydney Film Festival) would note from the audience that programming for the last Sydney Film Festival had also considered the purpose of films: she offered a few such purposes: “make me laugh”; give me a kiss”; “push me to the edge”.
“Big scale, dynamics and audience ownership.”
Representing the Australian Writers’ Guild, Louise Callan spoke in favour of the writer’s key role in the film, and wondered if too much money was spent on the apparatus of script development rather than directly funding writers. But Dr Ruth Harley (Screen Australia) was emphatic on the importance of building a craft-based culture, “otherwise we’ll just have to go on throwing money”.
Returning to the question of benchmarking success, Victoria Treole, also from the audience, said it was meaningless to compare Samson & Delilah with Australia. Many have looked at the overall profitability of each film, with Warwick Thornton’s film so far taking $3.5m at the box office, higher in proportion to its budget than Australia with ten times the box office takings in Australia alone. But she said Samson & Delilah was about giving a chance to a talented team of filmmakers, not about returning a profit.
Margaret Pomeranz wondered if Samson & Delilah” would be considered as much a success (on the strength of its Cannes Festival selection) if it had only taken $100,000 at the box office. Most of the panellists had difficulty in discussing success in terms other than box office success – and Tony Ginnane pointed out that most films all around the world lost money, before moving on to suggest that the industry needed to decide if it was a cultural or a commercial sector. “Why not both?” came from the audience.
Moving on to distribution and marketing, Andrew Urban asked if government tax subsidies (along the lines of the Producer Rebate) would be helpful to distributors. Troy Lum thought not, and Tony Ginnane (clearly from his perspective as a producer) agreed: distributors have no trouble making money, he said.
But Troy Lum was very clear on the trouble distributors had making money on Australian films, that were made or lost on their first day of release in the face of the publicity and distribution juggernauts of Hollywood films like Transformers 2. He conceded that Hopscotch was distributing Mao’s Last Dancer, currently worth $9.7m at the Australian box office. Susan Hoerlein later suggested that film promotion needed to start earlier – during the production – rather than a few days before the (usually too short) release.
Screen Hub asked whether the relative popularity of Australian films in the 1970s and 80s had any lessons for today’s industry: Tony Ginnane recalled a greater degree of cooperation between distributors and filmmakers, while Gary Maddox noted an entrepreneurial sense that showed through in Not Quite Hollywood.
A suitably subversive closing note (or call to arms) came from Jonathan Wald – leader of the campaign to save the Chauvel Cinema when it was threatened with closure a couple of years ago. He suggested that film industries rarely made money, and why should they? “We subsidise the army, we don’t expect it to make a profit: why can’t it be same for the film industry”.
Dominic Case, until recently the Director of Communications for Atlab and an Australian Film Commissioner, has over 30 years experience in the film industry. He is the author of Film Technology in Post Production (Focal Press) and a Fellow of both SMPTE and BKSTS. In 2002 he was awarded SMPTE’s Presidential Proclamation for his dedication and outstanding reputation in the industry.
Reprinted with permission from ScreenHub.
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Karel Segers wrote his first produced screenplay at age 17. Today he is a story analyst with experience in acquisition, development and production. He has trained students worldwide, and worked with half a dozen Academy Award nominees. Karel speaks more European languages than you have fingers on your left hand, which he is still trying to find a use for in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. The languages, not the fingers.
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25 thoughts on “OZ Filmers: “If they only loved us.””
Had a ticket to go to this event, but when I saw the final lineup of speakers, I decided to stay at home and wash my hair that night. Absolutely delighted I made that decision, as I’m sure a lot of people have now realised that that was two hours of their life they won’t get back.
I’m too busy writing a script to give a full reply to all of this, but I’ll just pick up on Margaret P and Rachel Ward’s points. Seems like Australian films are actually great, it’s just that the bastard audiences won’t go and see them! Brilliant!
So let’s get rid of the audience and get a new one! Can we have some public money to pay for that as well, please? I’m reminded of the gynecologist character in Croneberg’s Dead Ringers, who complained that women were the wrong shape for the medical instruments he’d invented.
I confidently predict that
1) nothing will change
2) anyone with real talent will decant to the US, where they understand that films have to made for a real audience, not an imaginary one
3) the same people will be having the same discussion in 10 years time.
I’m from Antwerp, Belgium and excuse me for some mistakes in your language. Thank you. Also in my country it’s the same problem. You can see it every week at the box office. Most people like the American films and there’s a lot of rubbish in it. For me, mostly the good films are as they call it, arthouse, cineart or independent films. They show life like it can be and make you think !
In my opinion, the mass like entertainment and this kind of films are something else !
I realy hope I can see “Beautiful Kate” !
Thank you for your comment. To help you, I’ll reply in your own language (Vlaams).
Clive maakte een grapje. Hij is het wellicht niet eens met jou en vindt dat films als Beautiful Kate GEEN overheidsgeld zouden moeten krijgen, omdat er simpelweg niet genoeg mensen dat soort films willen zien.
Het is niet eerlijk om belastinggeld te gebruiken om tegemoet te komen aan de smaak van een minderheid.
Hollywood films zijn misschien minderwaardig in jouw oordeel, maar de mensen betalen tenminste voor hun eigen amusement en dat lijkt me fair.
Antwoord gerust in ‘t Vlaams als je dat wil. Ik vind het zelf prettig om nog eens in mijn moedertaal te kunnen schrijven!
Bedankt voor je reactie in het Nederlands.
Waarom zou het niet eerlijk zijn om belastinggeld te gebruiken voor een minderheid en wel voor een meerderheid? Ik begrijp dit niet goed. Persoonlijk vind ik dat kwaliteit er voor iedereen moet zijn. Mensen moeten kunnen ontdekken wat er in de wereld leeft en de meeste cinéart films kunnen dit zeer goed weergeven. Dit kan onze dagelijkse vooroordelen verminderen. Dus wat mij betreft kunnen ze niet genoeg overheidsgeld krijgen.
In alle geval is het prettig om van jou iets te lezen.
There’s something fatally pretentious about the Australian film industry. Some lofty, nebulously artistic ideal at odds with the fundamental objective of storytelling; to transport audiences to another reality. Prioritizing this “noble” artistic ideal over the impetus to enthrall is putting the cart before the horse and nailing the horse’s shoes to its ass.
Imagine if “Chinatown” had been made in the present in Australia. *SPOILERS* (anyone not having seen this film has no business being on this blog anyway) “Chinatown” would have been a heartfelt drama about a PI (Ben Mendelsohn) answering the oblique call for help from a victim of incestuous rape (Sophie Lowe) by her aged father (Bryan Brown), who froths with venomous bile at the interference of this young man opening old wounds and revealing dark secrets. No iconic conspiracy, no unexpected twist, no impish wit, no compelling characters driven by internal and external forces.
The best film scripts seem to be first sketched to captivate audiences, with “art” colouring between the lines.
I agree with the principal of creating myths rather than telling your own story, espoused by Karen Perlman. Andrew Dominik understood this in making “Chopper”, then going on to mythologize Jesses James in the US. But its relative success (or lack thereof) may be the result of a languid pace meditating on the earliest cult of celebrity.
But Jonathan Wald likening the importance of revenue of the film industry to the armed forces is astoundingly idiotic. First off, its a question of attendance, not profit. The many poorly attended Oz films are failures, for whatever reason (i.e. lack of marketing, boring, unappealing, etc). Telling Oz stories, cultural enrichment, supporting the industry, etc are all moot without viewers. The military has an entirely different and multifarious purpose, but when enlistment dropped 7 years ago, there was an audit and a massive recruitment (i.e. marketing) drive to fix the problem.
And “Film industries rarely make money” – I’m not even going to go there.
The Audience is King. Theres a value chain in the business and unless you respect it you should stick to working with your own money. You’ll learn quicker that way.
Hear hear from over here Anthony!
The aussie culture is dying, not much use denying it. People using american words all the time and even sounding american (watch any commercial tv promo). Our culture will be completely dead the first time I hear an Australian born child call for “Mom”.
As for the movies, if they weren’t so far up their own backsides, and were actually a joy to atch, then perhaps people would go and see them once in a while.
When I heard about this debate taking place my first thought was, are we still discussing this, after all these years? Reading the summary above is even more infuriating as they fail to see something that seems so obvious to me.
A quote from Robert McKee’s ‘Story’: ‘As story design moves away from the Archplot and down the traingle toward the far reaches of Miniplot, Antiplot, and Non-plot, THE AUDIENCE SHRINKS’.
In otherwords, art-house films have a smaller audience. Don’t get me wrong, I like art-house films, but as a writer and audience member I recognise the fact that the majority of people don’t like them so much. Don’t we want people to enjoy our films???
I’m sure there are also several other factors that affect the issue but I believe this is a significant one.
What if there were allocations in funding to different types of movies, eg. 10% of funding goes to art house and the rest goes to classic stories. That is, unless we don’t care if Australian audiences watch our own films, which we obviously do or we wouldn’t be discussing this at all!
So where is “Australian Film” in it’s “Hero’s journey”?
Was this forum the “inciting incident/call to arms”?
Or is it at it’s nadir?
And those on stage in theirs?
Fractal or friction,
it depends on ones POV I guess.
On Oct.22, with my new, 6-day old babe in arms, I took my seat at Metro Screen’s long-awaited forum. I was excited. Finally, we, the up and coming filmmakers with big stories to tell would get our say. But, as the Chauvel’s air conditioning grew chillier, I grew hotter – new, bubbling breastmilk and narrow-minded ‘film people’ will do that to you. The same old tired arguments were dusted off –
‘We don’t have Hollywood’s marketing budgets.’
‘Bleak isn’t a four-letter word.’
‘Even foreign films don’t make money in Australia.’
‘No, but they make tons of cash in their own countries.’ Came the voice in the commercial wilderness, SPAA head cheese, Tony Ginane. Then there was a rather incoherent ramble by the marketing ‘expert’ on the panel – something about ‘brand’ and the Aussie film. Please. As an advertising chick with a few hundreds years’ of marketing campaigns to my name, I’m very suspicious of non-advertising folk who use terms like ‘brand’ – a bit like a toddler wielding a chainsaw at ‘show and tell’. Don’t do it. You’ll hurt yourself. As the forum wore on, one thing became clear. These so-called industry heavyweights have lost sight of ‘story’ in cinema. And the word ‘art’ is still flung about as if we’re all angst-ridden film ‘artistes’ in corduroy caps and shapeless, colourless clothes camped out on the steps of the Dendy.
Once again, the untested, talented would-be filmmakers who CAN write the BIG STORIES, who ARE ready to MAKE MOVIES THAT SELL – we were ignored by the forum. The future of film in this country was pushed aside in favour of political jostling by funding bodies and empty rhetoric by film types who don’t seem to know any better. Are these people going to inspire the small filmmakers with the big dream? Really? Are they the innovative, business-savvy filmmakers who will help us revolutionise the industry and sustain us all consistently?
But, by far, the person who boiled my bile the most that night was Ms Pomeranz with her ‘stuff ’em’ reference to Aussie film-goers. Hm. The audience keeps you employed Marg. Seems to me the wrong people, with the wrong, small, elitist attitudes are in the positions of power. This old guard has to die – quickly. Or Tony Ginane’s prediction will come true – we’ll be having the same conversation in five years time. I should’ve stayed home and followed the forum on Twitter. I may have been less frustrated by the talk… oh and my nipples would’ve been a lot, lot warmer.
FOR THE FULL RANT er, ARTICLE go to: http://www.phyllisfoundis.com/fys/My_Big_Mouth.html
There will always be two types of industries in film:
You will find these in the film industry in any country around the world.
Why is that?
Because there are lots of different stories that need to be told. Some have a more mass appeal and some have more a personal/cultural/philosophical nature (art).
There are also different types of audiences – those who prefer mental stimulation/challenge and those who want to be entertained.
As well as different types of filmmakers – those who want to express a higher truth and those who want to emotionally stimulate.
And different purposes to making the film – to contribute to art and the other to make money (commercial)
Now these two camps can crossover and meld –
A film that had a purpose for cultural/philosophical significance makes a lot of money in the box office, and a film made for commercial purposes becomes culturally significant.
But the bottom line is:
Know your audience, know your purpose.
The story and the way it is told (produced & directed) will appeal to a certain type of audience. Identifying which of the two camps it belongs to, is crucial to know whether or not the film fits into your purpose for making it in the first place. It is also a way to measure the success of the film.
The comparison between Samson & Australia in this article drives that point extremely well.
Samson & Delilah was “about giving a chance to a talented team of filmmakers, not about returning a profit.”
It’s goal was to tell this particular kind of story, which appealed to a certain type of audience, and be told by a certain type of filmmaker. So wether or not it made a profit, it fulfilled it’s initial purpose – the box office success was just a bonus.
Australia on the other hand was made with a commercial purpose. It’s main design was to a story with mass appeal, told in a way that would attract a mass audience. Now wether or not it succeeded in its venture is another story. The point is that it’s was designed for that.
There will always be different types of stories – and that’s a good thing.
We all have a big blockbuster story in us as well as a smaller more personal and culturally significant story in us.
Let us just recognize that each type of story will appeal to a particular type of audience – and create it for that purpose.
Small personal and cultural stories are important, and big blockbuster stories are important.
Both are equally valuable.
Both fill a need.
The only prerequisite is that they both have to be well thought out and well told.
Well I agree with Clive about the audience. But I disagree with the moving to America to make it. I think we should see ourselves independently of the “Australia film Industry”. I believe that if you have a crew and a good story you can be successful. I would like to remind you of a director from New Zealand who was able to film the movies he liked in his country but still get international recognition. I think our perception of movies being pigeonholed as Australian thus having to be low budget and dark suburban stories is a crock, I think we should write whatever genre we feel like. If you have a good story, get it off its feet. Look at Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste. He shot that over weekends and it was a hit. I believe the only thing that stops a person like me from becoming a person like Peter Jackson is the attitude; if I want to make a film how far am I prepared to go. If I get to the point where I’m not prepared to complete the movie then I should never have tried to start it in the first place. It’s everything or nothing.
Hi, For weeks now I have tried every avenue until another pops up…I’m a nobody with a story…..written over 8 years, Long Tan is a script close to my heart. I served in a unit that was there, my Father was there, I have spoken to the lads that were there,,,the amount of research I have compiled to complete this is huge…At one stage I had the actual radio transcripts from the battle out of 6 RARs museum ( on loan ) ..Q pix was not impressed without a credit..the writers guild want money for an opinion ,,,money I don’t have….Justin Monjo has a script that i cannot believe is on par as I have recontacted old boys that fought and none of them have heard of him….My point is ..how the hell do you tell this story without the actualities … this requires and demands to be told right……….Please dont discount this as some freak wanting to be noticed…pass this to anyone who can …..well,…..help. This story is my Grail. It’s worth a look,,
Any true contact would be good…..any..!!
Dan I think you should talk to Martin Walsh at Red Dune films they have a Long Tan project that has been trying to get into development for the last nine years and I know of another team also working on a production, also check out a doco called Eyes of the Tiger by Lets Play Productions
All that aside..Tony Ginnane..what are you on about? What a cat chasing his tail he is, he seems utterly delusional as to what is plausible..this panel was a real reflection of the kind of mindless muddle that is the Australian Film Industry at present…I mean what a totally embarrassing waste of time. I think Troy Lum is the only person on that panel speaking anything that makes any sense.
“Lots of films that talk to lots of different audiences” okay Ruth Harley…what kind of script development money are you offering to Screenwriters? Feasible money that aspiring writers can apply for, not money wheeled out to the same “experts” I mean what she is talking about is just hot air, its all total bullshit..she is not building the craft or the expertise..they simply aren’t…what an arrogant hot air load of crap…really annoying…the model..with regard to script development in this country is utterly absurd…change it…don’t validate it
Thank you for your comment to this article.
It sounds like you know everything about Long Tan! But to be noticed, the question really is: do you know enough about screenwriting? It is a very specific craft and without studying it, you will not be taken seriously by those that can help you bring this story to the screen.
You say “for weeks” you have tried “every avenue”. This is impossible. It would take years to try every avenue. And that’s exactly what successful writers do.
But you surely did right posting this comment, as this is one avenue to learn a little bit more. So my advice is: keep going!
And yes, one day you will have to pay money for a professional opinion. How else will you figure out whether your script is ready? Many writers are competing with you who have done all the hard work.
And they have to go through all the same struggles as yourself.
The problems with our screen culture and our inability to connect with local audiences stems, I feel form a myriad of problems and I think Troy Lum from Hopscotch was the only person on that panel to really saying anything of any worth…god knows I couldn’t understand Tony Ginnane…he has a shocking pretension to come across as knowing the answers and then just fumbles around in the dark mumbling figures and Ruth Harley seemed to wax lyrical about craft and to some degree she was right, but Screen Australia, like many funding bodies has become extremely closeted for those in the twilight zone trying to gain enough production credits and build their sense of screenwriting craft, before they can even begin to apply for funding…nobody on that panel seemed interested in delving into the catch 22 most screenwriters face. Can’t get credits, can’t attract a producer, can’t practice craft..oh fuck it..too hard.. I give up.
The problems I see are thus
1) lack of screenwriting craft, people are just writing really bad scripts and are simply not applying themselves to the craft of screenwriting and storytelling and when they are its formulaic, Robert McKee cookie cutting screenwriting as if cut from some pattern. The Americans have moved on from this and we here in Australia are still pushing that boring wheelbarrow with inciting incidents and plot points and all this bullshit. Screenwriting isn’t art its a craft, a screenplay is an invitation to others to collaborate towards the making of a piece of art..the film. Screenwriting is a tough gig…its telling stories, not many can do this confidently or at all well. Troy Lum is right…have 20 ideas…if you don’t…think harder..thats what screenwriting is about..thinking harder
2) Australian culture: sitting idle, lazy, spoon fed for years on crap American product, peppered here and there with brilliant American product, this strange combination of quality and crap has made us lazy and spoilt. Australia is quickly turning into a brat culture, just like England & America. People have less time and new technologies, like video games are changing the way we interact and dissolving our patience levels. Standards are high and low…a toxic mix of confusion Quality films take effort…Australians by and large want escapism and America provides that by the bucket load..we can’t compete..we don’t have the budget or the talent pool…they go and work in America
3) Australian TV: Shocking..boring..local production which should be a training ground for filmmakers, especially screenwriters is puerile and reality drive. The highest rating show is Master Chef..this opinion ends here
4)The red tape and catch 22 booby traps of Australian Film Funding culture mean talent simply gives up, you can’t make a living in this industry, quality writers simply give up or move to the USA…Stuart Beattie is constantly wheeled out as an example…(Tony Ginnane..one successful screenwriter is not an industry) Screen Australia should be paying talented screenwriters/producers with at least 10 quality ideas to live and train in the US for up to five years and by contract bring that writing knowledge back to Australia
5) Snouts in the trough…since the golden years of the 1970’s certain individuals have had their collective snouts in the funding trough and they only come up for air to hear the groan of Australian audiences saying “What crap” before they stick their fat heads back in the trough for more public funds to have another crack at the title (Think the Big Lebowski scene when he’s getting his head dunked in the toilet…”Where’s the money Lebowski?”…”I think its down there somewhere let me take another look”
6)$$ We don’t have the money to make the kind of quality escapist product Australians want to see….we could make some low budget intelligent Sci-Fi like Moon or Monsters…why we aren’t…who fucking knows…see 1) for an answer
Funding bodies and the industry in general needs a major shift in perspective…but then again its an industry where nobody knows anything..so what the fuck do I know?
I’m having a party and all are invited. It’s all about me and I know you will leave saddened and everything there will be like you never left your home. Oh, and it’s $22 to get in.
If no-one shows up, is it everyone elses fault but mine? Hell no!
The reason people don’t go to a film is because the trailer they see turns them off. If there is no story to get enveloped in, no-one will go. It doesn’t matter where it’s from. American films that don’t have a good story don’t do well.
The bottom line here is a good story will do well.
This reminds me of “The Emporers New Clothes”. The scammers tell everyone the Emperor is wearing clothes of the finest thread and if you can’t see that then you are not worthy, so everyone says how good the clothes are and send the Emperor into the streets naked, trying not to look like a dim-wit but knowing something is wrong.
We all know the Emperor is naked, it’s not until the funding bodies and producers can see this that things will improve and we can have something worthy of calling an industry.
Damien Goldsworthy = voice of reason + common sense.
Also, I agree that nothing will change due to this discussion. Its up to us to create the stories, and write them with the audience in mind. A well written, entertaining story will always have an audience, and generate ticket sales.
I’d have to agree with the comment that the Oz film industry is bipolar. Local audiences complain that our films are too dark yet are happy to download such shows as Breaking Bad, Madmen, The Wire etc. Great stories on these shows no doubt but hardly uplifting stuff.
As for the American film industry, are their films really that better considering their budgets and star power? You’d be lucky to find a decent flick on at your local twelve screen metroplex. No one doubts they can churn em out but it’s nearly always quantity over quality. This year’s Oscar selections were amongst the weakest I’ve ever seen. Besides, the Best Foreign Film category is so good that the Yanks usually try and remake most of them (and butcher the remake).
Cinema ticket prices don’t help or outrageous prices for popcorn, choctops etc. I’d rather spend my hard earned cash on live music a good book or watch a doco.
It would also help the local film industry if they changed the tax incentive for investors from $1 Million to $250,000. You’d attract more investment and students and short film makers would get more opportunities to learn their craft. Would it be so bad to return to the days of the late seventies and early eighties and produce more lower budget genre films?
The problem with Australian films is the script. Its also NEPOTISM. How else would crap like Sleeping Beauty get made? Cost ten million dollars. Where did that money go? No way this film cost 10 million. It is Indie format, so badly done and so utterly boring that the film critic for the Herald Sun refused to give it any stars at all!
The list of boring flops that come off the assembly line at Screen Australia grows year by year eg: Road Train, The Loved One, Beautiful Kate, Sleeping Beauty and so on. Accountability is what it should be about…
Wow, we all have a way to go don’t we? Mediocrity has been accepted for quite some time now in Australia in numerous pursuits (except maybe sport and drinking) and the only way out is to strive for excellence and, when someone approximates it, don’t bag them, celebrate them. I’m a pro writer in another field who has decided to try scriptwriting and I’m approaching it as if I’m learning another language. And with that will come failure and possibly success. But most of all, I want to acknowledge just how hard it is. And just how much I admire people who do strive for excellence. That said, you have my permission to fail, but not to repeat the mistakes of the past. I honestly did not learn anything from the panel’s remarks – in fact, the blog comments were more enlightening. Plus, with a plethora of instruction books around, it is nigh on impossible to sort the wheat from the chaff: do you follow Truby’s 22 steps, or Break The Rules? Yes there is Nepotism, but that ain’t the problem… no one seems to know the answer and if they do they really only want to commercialise that IP. Which brings me back to me and doing it myself so that I discover what works. I think there should be a mentor programme – and I think we should not fight the influence of our American cousins. The horse has bolted there so lets embrace their knowledge, attitude and learn how to organically grow our own contributions on a world stage. Lastly, I have a hope that true success will ultimately come to those who do the creating, the originating, the struggling… not those with cartel type attitudes and positions who manipulate and dominate. It just seems from the outside that you Industry Insiders are so inward-looking and therefore prone to imploding. Perhaps looking through the other end of the telescope would help. Blah blah blah blah and on and on and on he goes… thanx for reading this far.
Here’s a big answer for you: writer/directors. Whenever I see a terrible film like Red Hill or The Loved Ones, I KNOW to look for ‘Written & directed by’ at the end. Do they not get script editors? Are these scripts their babies? Every stinker they bring out sets our industry back another 5 years. Do they feel any responsibility?
A new generation of screenwriters is being trained up as I write, with fresh ideas and acknowledgement of the ‘American’ script structure. We want to write damn good scripts, but seeing what this country makes and celebrates we all set our sights on distant shores.
I want to see this country make such amazing films that when people stand at the cinema, they struggle to choose between an Aus film and the latest American blockbuster. I want to no longer hear “We could go see that Australian film, but…”.
Let’s get so good that people forget where films came from, or even better, get EXCITED about a new Australian film coming out.
No more junkies, incest tales, ocka accents, and down endings please. For a while at least.
They have a place, but so does every other kind of damn story that isn’t being told in this country. I can’t relate to that version of Australia and Australians I see onscreen. If there are gritty, almost plotless films about dodgy dealer shits from western suburbs who kill people all the time then let’s get our own Back to the Futures, Labyrinths, Donnie Darkos, Breakfast Clubs. We won’t be mimicking America – we’ll be adding a flavour to these types of films never seen before, cast through our Aussie filter.
If this scene doesn’t change, that new generation of writers I mentioned will be gone, off to London, off to LA. The cream will rise and float away, leaving the lesser talents behind to make the next 20 years of facepalm Australian cinema.
This problem has a solution. It just seems the powers that be don’t want to change. Our film industry needs to become commercial, not only so Australian audiences can be entertained by local films instead of using them as suicide motivation, but so people who work in this industry can actually make a LIVING. There’s no shame in that.