After the success of various highly acclaimed feature films, it seems that the Australian film industry remains in a crisis. You would think after the success of popular Australian films such as The Great Gatsby, Crocodile Dundee, Australia and Wolf Creek, our film industry would build some sort of momentum and continue to produce successful films. Unfortunately this is not that case; instead the Australian film industry continues to struggle to connect with its audiences. But whose fault is this? Should the failure of Australian films be blamed on a lack of funding, or is it the lazy audiences and our unwillingness to engage with our own culture that is destroying our film industry’s success and reputation?
Due to its cultural diversity, Australia continues to question its identity as a nation. This therefore is reflected in its films, which further highlights Australia’s struggle to connect with its audiences. Although directors and writers are trying to capture the essence of Australian culture and its associating values, it seems that the films that are produced revolve around an over-generalised culture and over-stereotyped characters, which makes the film itself cringe-worthy and potentially a failure.
“Why are we shocked when an Australian film flops when it’s not accessible, not available, and most cinema goers don’t actually have the choice to watch it?” – Ms Carroll-Harris
Along with a creative script and an admirable cast, a great film must be delivered to the right audience in order for it to be a success. Although Australia continues to produces talented directors, writers and actors, they seem to all travel abroad to prove their talents due to the lack of opportunities Australia seems to provide. Advertising and poor distribution are considered to be the cause of Australian films being unsuccessful in the domestic box office. But while local films perform poorly at the cinema, they do however seem to be more successful on other platforms.
Attending the cinema is still a popular activity for Australians, with a 68% attending in 2012 and an average of seven visits. According to The Conversation (2014), around 25 new Australian feature films are released into the market each year. Research conducted by Screen Australia (2013) confirmed that television and DVD were the dominant platforms that Australians utilised to watch local films. With easy access to continuous programming on free-to-air television, pay TV services, and DVD and Blu-Ray, access to Australian films in these secondary platforms is broader and more flexible than the cinema.
The future of the Australian film industry relies heavily on extensive qualitative research, which should focus on exploring the opinions of Australian and international audiences. In order to completely understand how the Australian film industry can capture the attention of its audiences and improve its success, insight into the current views towards Australia’s film industry should be the industry’s initial step into its rejuvenation.
By conducting both primary and secondary research, Australian filmmakers should be able to distinguish what audiences want and what needs to be changed in order to cater to their needs. The film industry should also focus on selecting a diverse range of audiences from various demographics such as backgrounds, age groups, locations and gender, to review various Australian films and provide feedback. This therefore will expose what Australian audiences are interested in, and it will also uncover what genres and story lines they find appealing. This would therefore reveal what Australian audiences are willing to pay to see at a cinema.