#ANIMALSWEREHARMED

I remember the long summer days when I used to visit my Nan’s cottage-esque house in Wollongong as a child. Looking for several hours to kill, I would rummage through her vintage VHS collection of TV-recorded films. Among the library was the staples: The Great Escape, Lawrence of Arabia, she even had the 1925 silent film Ben Hur (but of course, due to the running time it was split up over two separate tapes).

Ben Hur (1925) was a childhood classic of mine, which is why it is heart-wrenching to hear the dark reality of such an appraised film. One of the most iconic scenes is without doubt the Chariot race. Unbeknownst to my younger self, this incredibly magnificent scene resulted in the deaths of at least one-hundred and fifty horses (Baker, 2011, p. 178), which is evident in the clip below.

EDIT: To make the chariot race more exciting, MGM studio put up a US$100 prize to the winner (Kemp, 2011, p. 19).

The director of this specific scene, B. Reeves Eason, is particularly known for his spectacular action scenes for early major-budget films (Reid, 2005, p. 160). Likewise, in the 1936 film The Charge of the Light Brigade starring the Australian icon, Errol Flynn, a scene B. Reeves Eason once again directed resulted in the inhumane death of many horses. As Stillman describes, piano wire was attached to a horse’s front legs, and as the horse would begin to run, “the rider would jump just before the wire ran out, and the horse took a hard and often fatal fall” (p. 216, 2008).

Such volatile standards, as depicted in the clip above, caused an unprecedented outcry in both Hollywood and the public, resulting in the American Humane Society (AHA) to have representatives on all film sets that use animals. The AHA has since remained as a key component to movie sets to this day, ensuring animal safety standards with their famous ‘No animals were harmed’ disclaimer.

Although it would seem.

A screenshot of the email sent by King's trainer and representative for AHA, Gina Johnson.

A screenshot of the email sent by King’s trainer and representative for AHA, Gina Johnson.

As the Hollywood Reporter discovered, the AHA have, in recent years, downplayed various incidents that would most definitely contradict their esteemed disclaimer. During the making of the transnational film Life of Pi (2011), the real life tiger, King, nearly drowned during a take (Baum, 2013). An email sent by King’s trainer and AHA representative was later leaked to the public. Nevertheless, the film was awarded the AHA disclaimer.

In a similar incident, during the filming of the 2005 Disney film Eight Below, the hero dog was severely beaten by the trainer, which included 5 punches to the diaphragm. Once again, the film was awarded the disclaimer.

This undoubtedly questions the integrity and legitimacy of the AHA disclaimer. How can we, as an audience, be reassured that animal safety standards are being maintained and enforced when loopholes are used to earn such a label, regardless of whether “the animals weren’t intentionally harmed or the incidents occurred while cameras weren’t rolling” (Baum, 2013). Should it not be a priority of filmmakers and the AHA alike to respect their actors who didn’t even sign onto their role?

For more information and further reading, check out #ANIMALSWEREHARMED on twitter.

Sources:

Baker, S 2003, ‘In the Literature’, review of Animals in Film by Jonathan Burt, Anthrozoos, vol. 16, no. 2, pp 178 – 180.

Baum, G 2013, ‘No Animals Were Harmed’, The Hollywood Reporter, viewed 23 March 2015, <http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/feature/&gt;

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ 1925, VOD, MGM, California US, directed by Fred Niblo.

Life of Pi 2011, VOD, Fox 2000, Taiwan, directed by Ang Lee.

Stillman, D 2008, Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the West, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, US.

Reid, JH 2005, Movie Westerns: Hollywood Films the Wild, Wild West, Lulu.com, p. 160.

Kemp, P 2011, Cinema: The Whole Story, Thames & Hudson ltd, London UK, p. 18.

Why Australia should Co-Produce Films with China: Transcript

The following is the transcript to a You Tube screen cast that will be released shortly.

Hi, my name is James, and today I will be convincing you why the Australian screen industry should co-produce with China.

What Australian films have you seen recently? Was it Sen’s ‘Mystery Road’? Which was received very positively by critics, but experienced a very restricted release. Or perhaps it was the critically acclaimed ‘Animal Kingdom’ by David Michod, which failed dismally at the box office? Maybe it was the 2008 Baz Luhrmann film/tourism advertisement, Australia.  Perhaps it has been that long since you have since an Australian film, that the last one you saw was Crocodile Dundee – which was actually intended for American audiences.

The future of the Australian screen industry has repeatedly been speculated by the media.  With article titles such as Canberra Times’ ‘Delving into the decline of Australian Films’ (Low 2012) or Crikey’s ‘Australian Cinema is still big, it is the audience that got small’ (Buckmaster 2014). It might lead us to believe that Australians are not as interested in Australian film as, say, 10 years ago; or even that the whole Australian Film Industry is dying. But as Jake Wilson of Senses in Cinema states, “Journalism about the Australian film industry goes in cycles” (2003) where in one part of the year they applaud our Oscar winners, and in the other half “predicting the death of the local industry” (Wilson 2003). As a matter of fact, Film Victoria published a study showing more Australian films are released now at the box office since the golden age of the late 1980s, however, their performance has historically peaked and declined spontaneously (Film Vic 2009).

So what is a good way to fix this? Oddly enough, there is an audience for Australian film outside our domestic boundaries. And no, it is not in America. Reg Diplock of Film Ink magazine makes several arguments to consider a market in Asia (2014).

  1. Asia is an increasing segment of the Australian population
  2. Asia is our closest neighbour
  3. contains a ‘burgeoning’ film and TV industry
  4. size of the Asian market
  5. Co-production treaties with Singapore and China.

These points were also reinforced by  Screen Australia in their response to ‘Australia in the Asian Century Issues Paper’ (2012). The 2012 paper identifies that the Australian screen industry is “well positioned to take advantage of economic growth in the Asian region, particularly China…” (2012). Furthermore, the paper recognises that many Asian nations have a rapidly increasing middle or let’s just say consumer class. EY in their ‘Spotlight on China’ industry report notes that with a growing consumer class, also comes a growing disposable income, particularly towards the media and entertainment industry (2012). For instance, in 2010 spending on the media and entertainment industry was at US$350 billion, by 2011 this rose to US$547 billion (EY 2012).

A very recent film that undoubtedly performed well in China was of course, Transformers: Age of Extinction. Not only did Transformer’s earn more in China then is it did domestically in the United States, but it is also the highest grossing film in China’s history so far. Paramount pictures worked with CCTV’s China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises (Shackleton 2013) to release the film to approximately 12,000 screens in China (Yecies 2014). The film also included several Chinese actors and locations, such as Hong Kong.

This kind of practice is actually becoming common for Hollywood. Some of 2014’s blockbusters such as The Amazing Spiderman 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla all feature China is some form (Homewood 2014). This can range from Chinese actors, locations, production teams, inserting localised scenes or localised content.

As Chris Homewood states, a recent incorporation of Chinese elements within popular American film is not only an attempt to pull in larger Chinese audiences, but also to “garner favour with China Film Group (CFG), the state monopoly that runs cinemas, produces, finances and distributes films, and controls the import of foreign titles”(2014).

That last point is very important, as China only allows 34 foreign films to screen throughout the country annually. And considering films such as Transformers 4 earn more in China than anywhere else, that makes those spots very valuable. However, films made in co-production don’t count towards this quota. In fact, Transformers 4’s extensive use of including localised content qualifies for ‘unofficial co-production’, which allows for greater creative freedom, whilst also “circumventing the ‘official co-production’ processes” (Yecies 2014).

But how can Australia take advantage of the booming media and entertainment industry in China? In fact, we already have. The Australian-Singaporean film, Bait, is a recent example that proved to be very successful in Asia. I guarantee that most Australians haven’t even heard of this film, let alone seen it. Nevertheless, Bait is the most successful Australian film ever released in China to date, having earned over AU$20 million within the first 2 weeks of its release (Soundfirm 2012). Bait, was exhibited in over 28 countries total, where in China the Chinese distributors, “Yunnan Film Group and Enlight Media, produced a special localised version for the Chinese market” (Yecies et al. 2014).

Which, by the way, isn’t the first case a film has been localised for the Chinese Market. In 2013, Iron Man 3 included an extra 4 minutes of footage which featured notable Chinese actors Wang Xueqi and Fan Bingbing, as well as some Yili Milk for product placement (Yecies 2014).

To gather a deep understanding of how major films are using localisation to appeal to international audiences, I decided to show the Chinese Transformers: Age of Extinction trailer to both Australian and Chinese students. As assumed, none of the Australian students recognised any of the non-Western actors, whereas the Chinese students most certainly did. Furthermore, the Australian students could not identify the locations used within the trailer, which the Chinese students recognised as Kowloon, Hong Kong. I then asked the Australian students if they could recognise any Chinese elements. Most noticed the random calligraphy and the oriental imagery.

So the Australian film industry needs to decide whether we continue to, and to a greater extent, co-produce with China. We are already seeing the overt influence Chinese soft power is having on the media, particularly in Hollywood. And it is up to Australia to take advantage of this overwhelming market or sit in this historical limbo of ups and downs.

Sources:

‘Bait 3D Highest Grossing Australian Film To Date In China’ 2012, Sound Firm, 26 October, viewed 25 October 2014, < http://www.soundfirm.com/industry/bait-3d-highest-grossing-australian-film-to-date-in-china/&gt;.

Buckmaster, L 2014, ‘ Australian cinema is still big, it’s the audience that got small‘, Crikey, 2 September, viewed 24 October 2014, < http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/australian-cinema-is-still-big-its-the-audience-that-got-small/11426&gt;.

Diplock, R 2014, ‘What’s Wrong with the Australian Film Industry?!’, Film Ink, 14 July, viewed 27 October 2014, < http://www.filmink.com.au/news/whats-wrong-with-the-australian-film-industry/&gt;.

‘Emerging markets middle class: the new consumer / APEC 2012 / Ernst & Young’ 2012, video, ksanlab, 4 October, viewed 1 November 2014, < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UibduT_SXkI&gt;.

Ernst & Young, Spotlight on China: Building a roadmap for success in media and entertainment, http://www.ey.com, 2012, <http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Media_and_Entertainment_-_Spotlight_on_China/$FILE/Spotlight_on_China.pdf&gt;, viewed 27  October 2014.

Film Victoria 2009, ‘Australian Films at the Australian Box Office’, Film Victoria, viewed 28 October 2014, <http://www.film.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/967/AA4_Aust_Box_office_report.pdf&gt;.

Homewood, C 2014, ‘ Transformers 4: China is using Hollywood to take on the world’, The Conversation, 4 July, viewed 30 October 2014, < http://theconversation.com/transformers-4-china-is-using-hollywood-to-take-on-the-world-28817&gt;.

Low, C 2012, ‘Delving into decline of Australian films’, Canberra Times, 24 January, viewed 31 October 2014, < http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/delving-into-decline-of-australian-films-20120124-1t6jf.html&gt;.

Screen Australia 2012, ‘Response To Australia In The Asian Century Issues Paper’, Screen Australia, viewed 20 October 2014, < http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/d96483a2-9104-419b-b062-7aeb21db9133/AsianCenturyWhitePaper_2012.pdf&gt;.

Shackleton, L 2013, ‘Paramount Partners with China on Transformers 4’, Screen Daily, 3 April, viewed 30 October 2014, < http://www.screendaily.com/paramount-partners-with-china-on-transformers-4/5053525.article&gt;.

Wilson, J 2003, ‘ Unpopular Populism, or The Decline and Fall of the Little Aussie Battler: Notes on Australian Film Comedy in 2003’, Senses of Cinema, no. 29, < http://sensesofcinema.com/2003/australian-contemporary-cinema/australian_comedy/&gt;.

Yecies, B 2014, ‘Product Placement and that Sucking-Up Feeling in China’, Asian Creative Transformations, 25 September, viewed 17 October 2014, < http://www.creativetransformations.asia/2014/09/product-placement-and-that-sucking-up-feeling-in-china/&gt;.

Yecies, B, Yang, J, Berryman, M & Soh, K 2014, ‘Marketing Bait (2012): Using SMART Data to Identify E-guanxi Among China’s ‘Internet Aborigines’’ in M Nolwenn, C Tirtaine & J Augros, Film Marketing in a Global Era, London: British Film Institute Publishing.

Google headlining the Internet of Things

HAL-9000

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an exciting, and perhaps at first a little worrying concept. I am a big cinephile. Admittedly, when someone tried to explain to me what exactly the ‘Internet of Things’ is – the first thing that comes to mind is the terrifying Hal 9000 of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

However, I think it is a bit better summed up in the following video.

As stated within the video, with the current internet protocol IPv6, it is possible to “…live in a world filled with sensors, with data reacting to us, changing every moment dependent on our needs” (FW: Thinking 2013). So essentially, the Internet of Things is a concept of technologically advancing our previous ‘analog’ items to an unimaginable level. Not only is that idea not far off, it may have already arrived.

Some of these seemingly unrealistic ideas or products might appear optimistic to skeptics, particularly since we are still waiting for a working Hoverboard. However, technology mastermind Google is already in the works of revolutionising the IoT. Just this year, Google bought Nest, a thermostat company, for over US$3 billion (Clark 2014). This move is Google’s first step to market the ‘connected home’. As Miners states, by taking control of Nest, Google is able “to link heating systems, lighting and appliances to the Internet, so they can be made more efficient and be controlled from afar.” (2014).

Than, in June this year, Google’s Nest bought DropCam for US$555 million (Barr & Winkler 2014). DropCam is a “internet-connected video-monitoring service” (Barr & Winkler 2014), that when combined with the Nest hub, will further produce services and products to interconnect the household via the internet.

It is evident that IoT is becoming a very viable market, and Google’s interest in developing and marketing products is, as Kovach states, “…just the beginning of the ‘Internet of Things'” (2014). And if you believe you own a few too many devices now, according to Business Insider Intelligence, that number is expected to grow exponentially with the IoT to become the dominant internet devices in the near future (as depicted in the graph below).

GRAPH: Business Insider Intelligence's projected Global Internet Device installations.

GRAPH: Business Insider Intelligence’s projected Global Internet Device installations.

Sources:

2001: A Space Odyssey 1968, DVD, MGM, Shepperton UK, dir. Stanley Kubrick.

Barr, A & Winkler, R 2014, ‘Google’s Nest to Buy Dropcam for $555 Million; Deal for Video-Monitoring Security Startup Is a Push to Dominate Connected Home Devices’, Wall Street Journal, 20 June, viewed 24 October 2014.

Business Insider Intelligence 2014, ‘Global Internet Device Installed Base Forecast’, Graph, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://static.businessinsider.com/image/52d46f41eab8ea664bb245af/image.jpg&gt;.

Clark, E 2014, ‘Media companies must prepare for the “Internet of Things” with Big Data’, INMA, 26 January, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.inma.org/blogs/value-content/post.cfm/media-companies-must-prepare-for-the-internet-of-things-with-big-data&gt;.

FW: Thinking 2013, ‘What is the Internet of Things?’, YouTube clip, 1 March, viewed 24 October, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVlT4sX6uVs&feature=youtu.be&gt;

Kovach, S 2014, ‘Google’s Multibillion Purchase Of Nest Is Just The Beginning Of ‘The Internet Of Things’, Business Insider, 14 January, viewed 24 October, <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/internet-of-things-billions-of-connected-devices-2014-1&gt;.

Miners, Z 2014, ‘Why Google wants to sell Thermostats’, ComputerWorld, vol. 48, no. 2, p. 2.

The Darknet: Just Name Your Poison

A little while back, I discussed the idea of Niche Markets, and their very successful performance on the internet. Well, another very popular Niche market until recently was, of course, the Silk Road.

The only difference between your regular niche markets and the Silk road is that, firstly, the Silk Road is located on the Deep Web, and secondly, Anything was available on the Silk Road.

As discussed by Neal, the majority of internet users frequent the Surface Web (basically anything accessible through search engines such as Google), whereas a small percentage of users can be found on the Deep Web (2013). The Deep Web, as Neal states, is “content hidden from these indexes… meaning they could be accessed only via Tor(2013). Located on this Deep Web was the notorious Silk Road.

So what exactly was available on the Silk Road?

PHOTO: Screenshot of Silk Road on the Deep Web.

PHOTO: Screenshot of Silk Road on the Deep Web.

Of the 10,000 or so items that were readily available on the Silk Road, more than 7,000 were illegal drugs (ranging from MDMA, Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin ect.). Dubbed the ‘Amazon.com of drugs’ (NPR 2011), the site also sold various items from high-powered weapons and armor, to tutorials on hacking ATMs, counterfeit goods, child pornography and even hitman contracts (Ball 2013).

How were goods bought and sold?

Items available on the Silk Road were tradable with the very controversial Bitcoin, a internet-based currency.

As revealed in the video above, Bitcoin is essentially the world’s first global currency. It is stateless and therefore uncontrolled. Although the use and ownership of Bitcoins is legal, as the currency of choice by Deep Web users, it has concerned many government and law enforcing agencies globally. However the use of Bitcoins is not only restricted to the Deep Web. In fact, sites including WordPress, Reddit and Wikileaks all trade in Bitcoins (Ball 2014).

Despite the Silk Road shutting down last year, DarkNet markets are still a booming business. There are subreddits dedicated to providing subscribers the latest Deep Web site to buy certain goods and items, such as DarkNetMarkets. As well as Explain Like I am 5 (ELI5)  posts that detail how to get on the Deep Web in less than 10 minutesFurthermore, the arguable news site, DeepDotWeb provides the latest news regarding DarkNet Markets, as well as various tutorials and guides informing internet users about the Deep Web.

With a global consumer market, sellers/dealers located globally, as well as a global and uncontrollable currency, I don’t see the FBI shutting down the Dark Network anytime soon. Particularly when the hackers the FBI hope to hire would benefit from the Dark Net Market.

Sources:

Ball, J 2013, ‘Silk Road: the online drug marketplace that officials seem powerless to stop’, 23 March, The Guardian, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/22/silk-road-online-drug-marketplace>.

Ball, J 2013, ‘Silk Road 009’, Image, The Guardian, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/3/22/1363967178098/Silk-Road-009.jpg&gt;.

Estes, AC 2014, ‘The FBI Is Struggling to Hire Hackers Who Don’t Smoke Weed (Updated)’, 20 May, Gismodo, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://gizmodo.com/the-fbi-is-struggling-to-hire-hackers-who-dont-smoke-we-1579183208>.

Neal, RW. 2013, ‘What Is Silk Road? 4 Things You Need To Know About Underground Black Market Shut Down By FBI’, 2 October, International Business Times, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.ibtimes.com/what-silk-road-4-things-you-need-know-about-underground-black-market-shut-down-fbi-1414042>.

NPR 2011, ‘Silk Road: Not Your Father’s Amazon.com’, NPR, 12 June, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.npr.org/2011/06/12/137138008/silk-road-not-your-fathers-amazon-com>.

Swearingen, J 2014, ‘A Year After the Death of Silk Road, Darknet Markets Are Booming’, The Atlantic, 2 October, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/a-year-after-death-of-silk-road-darknet-markets-are-booming/380996/2/>.

Media, Audience and Place: A Reflection

The second year of my BCMS degree also commemorates my second year of public blogging. As I stated in my introduction blog post for Media, Audience and Place, I don’t regularly update my activity on social media. However,  I believe this subject was an excellent catalyst in not only developing my writing style, but also emphasising the importance of curating and aggregating. by considering all these elements, by writing has become far more personalised and conceptual. Throughout my public writing for this subject, I have come to appreciate the complex relationship between media, audience and place.

One of my favourite posts was in week five regarding ‘Cinemas – Strangers in public’. In this post I explored the current and changing attitudes towards cinema attendance in Australia. What I liked about this topic was how the cinema is contentiously blurred between what is considered public and private space. In this post I undertook a visit to the cinema, but decided to notice some of the unwritten social rules regarding this activity. One thing I noticed that week, and have continued to notice is that in an uncrowded theatre, most patrons don’t like to sit next to each other. As stated in my blog, ‘How hard is going to the movies?’, my friends and I would rather not sit directly next to or in front of someone if possible. Although I never addressed this in the blog, I would now consider this an extension to the authority constraint, in regards to Hagerstrand’s three classes of constraints (1970). Despite that this isn’t at all enforced by “certain people or institutions” (Corbett 2001), I would consider this a social guideline that, at least in Australian culture, is self-imposed.

Another significant post was in week 8. My post, ‘Being denied to a club is one thing, but a movie?’, explored the legal and ethical regulations in regards to films and audience. I thought that this post was effective as I began with a personal anecdote where I was denied entry to a film as I couldn’t prove my age. I than went into explicit detail about the law surrounding movie classifications in Australia, and how this differentiates in the US. What I liked most about this post is how the relationship between media, audience and place can be restricted by law or ethics. In several of my posts, I have included a short anecdote as Clark states, they “can make people laugh” and “immediately establish the main point of your post” (2006). Furthermore, I believe this post is a great example of using a variety of relevant hyperlinks. Throughout this post (and most others), I hyperlink all sources that are accessible to the general public. Therefore, throughout this post, whenever I refer to an news article, or government publication, I not only reference that evidence, but also provide a means of easy navigation for my readers.

Another key element I have included in the layout of my blogs is incorporating images, videos or graphs to break up large pieces of writing. Both as a blogger and a reader of blogs, I think this is necessary in communicating an argument or idea. For example, in my post ‘Australian Cinema of World Cinema?’, when referring to the film ‘Bait 3D’ I included the YouTube video to the official trailer. Furthermore, when I refer to the Australian film ‘Animal Kingdom’, I included the original poster image of the film adjacent to the writing. I believe these elements are a very effective and simple method to attracting the attention of the reader. As Bullas states, ‘articles with images get 94% more total views’ (2012). As such, I usually included some form of visual content that was relevant to the arguments I made regarding media, audience and place.

Following some feedback from several peers and my tutor, I realised my blog was in dire need of renovations. Conceptually, I perceive blogs as a direct channel to the audience. My blog is a personalised, yet academic source for my readers. As such, I wanted my blog to have a sleek and aesthetic design that assisted my ideas. As outlined by Clarke (2014), I determined to simplify my blog and add a few personal touches. I decided to change my blog design from the default 2013 model, to the ‘Hemmingway Rewritten’ theme. This theme created a more cleaner layout, with a greater amount of white space and a flowing transition from one blog to the next. I also discovered the importance of navigation, as Clarke states, “website navigation should feel intuitive to your visitor” (2014). This was achieved by categorising my blog posts, as well as adding a menu to the top for simpler routing.

In addition to studying Communication & Media Studies, I am also a Mandarin major and prior to undertaking this subject, I had just travelled to Shanghai and Beijing. Having enjoyed this experience, I wanted to share this with my audience. One of the great features of the ‘Hemingway Rewritten’ theme was that the header allowed for multiple large images. Although only one image would be presented at a time, this image would change as the visitor navigated between posts. I believe this provided a visually refreshing experience for the reader.

Media, Audience and Place also taught me the importance of aggregation. In previous subjects I would simply post my blog into the blogosphere and revel in the 3-5 views it may secure each week. However, BCM240 required me to not only post my blog, but also tweet the link. At first I was a little anxious. It is one thing to write in public, but to post and support my writing on social media was, at first, a difficult goal to tackle. It required me to re-evaluate what ideas, links and supporting media would best support my argument – particularly if it was to be criticised publicly. In addition to tweeting a link to my blog, I also discovered the assistance of tagging my posts. With every post, I would often include multiple relating tags to further seek interested readers. As I am new to twitter, I made the mistake of using ‘@BCM240’, rather than ‘#BCM240’. This mistake may have hindered my viewership, but regardless I still was able to aggregate a much larger regular readership by supporting tags to my posts.

I most definitely feel that public writing is a very efficient tool in exploring and presenting ideas and arguments. Throughout this semester, I believe that my skills in public writing, as well as my understanding of media, audience and place have matured.

Sources:

Bullas, J 2012, ‘6 Powerful Reasons Why you Should include Images in your Marketing – Infographic’, Jeff Bullas, 28 May, viewed 28 September 2014, < http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/05/28/6-powerful-reasons-why-you-should-include-images-in-your-marketing-infographic/&gt;.

Clark, B 2006, ‘5 Simple Ways to Open Your Blog Post with a Bang’, Copyblogger, 19 September, viewed 29 September 2014, < http://www.copyblogger.com/5-simple-ways-to-open-your-blog-post-with-a-bang/&gt;.

Clarke, A 2014, ‘8 Blog design tips to make sure people stop to read your content’, Jeff Bullas, 28 April, viewed 28 September 2014, < http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/04/28/8-blog-design-tips-to-make-sure-people-stop-to-read-your-content/&gt;.

Australian Cinema or World Cinema?

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.

[POSTER]: Animal Kingdom, 2010.

[POSTER]: Animal Kingdom, 2010.

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.

Sources:

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&gt;.

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&gt;.

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.