Australian Content and why it struggles

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Cinema is one of the most significant forms of Art that has been produced and developed for over 100’s of years, and the most interesting part of this type of art is how it can be produced and crafted to show different types of filmmaking and storytelling. Films can follow themes that are inspired of generations of film making, like the golden age of Italian neorealism, the dark and depressing aspects of German expressionism, and the experimentation of French new wave of cinema.

But, with all these themes of filmmaking, there is one that only one country that can pull off their own unique style of storytelling, humour, and culture. This being Australian Films. Australia is known for its uses of strong use of slang and almost inside jokes that only Australians can relate too, this is shown in such films like The Castle, Chopper and Muriel’s wedding.

The problem is when it comes to Australian media, is that it is not as successful as other countries when it comes to filmmaking, funding, and audiences. This is mainly because of the identity struggle Australia faces due to the content it pushes. Broadcasting in Australia has been managed by the AMCA since July of 2005. The reasoning for this is because of the 1992 Broadcasting Services Act which focuses on displaying Australian content to free-to-air television, being 55% of Australian content between 6am to midnight. This was put in place to show audiences that Australia has a sense of identity when it comes to its content. This would include culture, diversity and community inclusive content that was moderated by Australian creative control. The reasoning for Australia to have creative control when it comes to its media is because of the monopoly of businesses that can force content on its viewers.

So, with all of this in mind I would like to talk about Australian content and why it struggles.  

As there are 25 Million people in Australia alone, you would think Australian films would be fine with the potential audiences that would buy tickets, watch content, and support the Australian film industry. But as shown in an example by Screen Australia, total overall Box Office tickets sold worldwide, Australia only makes up 4.5% of sales made, with 80.5% being America from 2018-2020.

Because of the target audience and how much income Australian films turn over, funding for film projects can be difficult ever since the 10BA Tax Law, which would allow Filmmakers to claim up to 150% in compensation and only to pay half back from the income made from the film. This Funding compensation meant that Australian film makers were taking advantage and producing low-tier films as the there was not a penalty in doing so.

Since the change of law, getting funding through screen Australia has become tighter as the funding from this organisation is not there as the Australian Film Industry barely makes a profit compared to its counter parts. Films are more likely to be produced by America and pushed onto Australian audiences.

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As more audiences are now seeing the convenience of streaming at home from services such as Netflix and Stan, Australians are now more inclined to watch more homegrown content. A study from Bigger Picture shows that from 2016, Australia has peaked when it comes to consuming content though the use of SVOD. Free to air TV are reaching 57% of viewers where SVOD media are reaching up to 70%. This study shows that times have changed when it comes to consuming and producing content, as now platforms such as YouTube are being used to produce and share content.

A problem I think the industry faces is the use of advertising when it comes to Australian film and Australian Distributors. The advertising used for Australian films are limited compared to other countries, as Australia has a population of 25 Million whereas the US has 300 Million, so the funding must be cut as for the potential audiences that would go to a cinema or stream at home. The amount of money Australia can spend on advertising can be up to $4 Million, which would hopefully encourage audiences to watch on the box office weekend of a new film. Nelson Woss, the producer for the Australian film ‘Red Dog’ explains “You have to create awareness and also a desire to see it. You have to get people into the cinema. If no-one goes in the first weekend the film is dead in the water”. So, if a film does not do well in the box office, Cinema exhibitors cannot allocate the film as many sessions in its season if it is not performing well, there for the cinema industry relies heavily on the budget spend of the distributor to get it in audiences mind’s eye.

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The problem with Australian Cinema is the urgency to show the rest of the world we have a culture, if it is our red deserts, beautiful country sides and stories that explore the native custodians. We barely make films that just tell a story that anyone could relate. Films like Two hands I feel are a great example of a story that could be told anywhere, yet it is filmed in Sydney with its iconic landmarks.

So, the question must be asked, is it worth having the Australian film Industry? Australian media is easily my favourite content to watch, as the relatability and story telling is shown as its own. No other country can create wit and show culture like us, even though a big part of Australian content I consume now is through YouTube like content creator Jarrad Wright, who wrote and directed his own series on YouTube called “The Big Lez Show” were some of his videos would reach over 5 Million views, mainly being an Australian audience. I just think the way we engage with content is different, but the audience is still there.


Australia, S., 2021. Cinema Industry Trends Box Office In AUSTRALIA, 1977-2020. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 21 March 2021].

Australia, S., 2021. Screen Australia Content Regulation. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 27 March 2021].

Australia, S., 2021. Television industry content regulation. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 27 March 2021].

George, S., 2021. NFSA. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 27 March 2021].

Picture, B., 2015. Australian content on broadcast, radio and streaming services. [Online]
Available at: file:///T:/internet%20downloads/Sub12_Att3.pdf
[Accessed 28 March 2021].


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