If I were to imagine what section your typical Australian film, a film shot in Australia, with Australian actors, that explores and projects Australian issues and values, would be shelved in a JB HIFI in Australia; it would probably be sitting under the World Cinema genre.
Unfortunately your typical Australian films simply do not interest domestic audiences, as Luke Buckmaster states, “Australian cinema is still big, it’s the audience that got small” (Buckmaster 2014).
Consider the film Bait 3D (2012).
The stereotypical marine slasher film was filmed on location in Coolangatta, Queensland. However, it was actually filmed in co-production with Singapore. As Khoo states, the film was able to secure greater financing and distribution by co-producing in Singapore, and as such, created a vaster distribution network amongst Asia (2014). Khoo also claims that the film, although distinctively Australian, was re-edited for Chinese audiences by introducing Chinese characters (2014, p. 8). As a result, the film that was not well received in Australia, but became a huge hit in Asia.Although, not all Australian films are of poor quality, such as the 2010 film Animal Kingdom, directed by David Michod and starring Australian A-stars Jackie Weaver, Joel Edgerton and Guy Pearce . The film was received very well, garnering several major award wins plus a Oscar nomination for Weaver. The film, despite it’s critical success wasn’t a hit at the box office, having only grossed under $7 million (Box Office Mojo 2014). However, it isn’t an issue with Australian cinema attendance. In 2010 Australian cinema attendance grossed $1.13 billion (ABS 2011) . Of this massive sum, I would like to know how much Australian film alone grossed.
So how can we attract domestic audiences to quality Australian cinema? With transnational partnerships becoming more prominent in Asia, such as those with Singapore, it is essential for domestic Australian cinema to strive. If I were to propose a potential qualitative research strategy to secure more funding and greater distribution within Australia, I believe it would be worthwhile to determine what makes an Australian film a success. A content analysis should be undertaken to determine what qualities result in reasonable success domestically. This could be narrowed down to certain actors or filmmakers, perhaps certain genres, or even certain locations. This data could establish a variety of reasons why a film may not perform so well. For example, perhaps films shot and centred around regional Australia do not resonate with the metropolitan populous.
This could be achieved by studying not only cinema attendance, but perhaps also renting habits, amateur reviews and comments made in online blogging or forums, as well as purchases of films both online and in brick and mortar stores. I believe this approach could establish what makes a critical success, and this information could positively assist Australian filmmakers to connect with Australian audiences.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2011, Perspectives on Culture, cat. no. 4172.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra
Box Office Mojo 2014, ‘Animal Kingdom’, Box Office Mojo, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=animalkingdom.htm>.
Buckmaster, L 2014, ‘Australian Cinema is still big, it the audience that got small’, Crickey, 2 September, viewed 29 September 2014, <http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/australian-cinema-is-still-big-its-the-audience-that-got-small/11426>.
Khoo, O 2014, ‘Bait 3D and the Singapore – Australia co-production agreement: from content to creativity through stereoscopic technology’, Transnational Cinemas, vol. 5, no. 1, p.1 – 13.