Friday, 10 February 2017

Another Government inquiry into the Australian Film Industry....or... is Luke Howarth a grandchild of Senator Vincent?

Its been quite some time since the Film Alert blog carried unflattering and unwelcome stories about what some part of the Government was up to. So, it's quite a pleasure to hear that a trusty band of your representatives are embarking on yet another inquiry into the film industry (details below)...

Luke Howarth MP, Committee and Inquiry Chair
So...just a few early random thoughts...

The certain points in the cycle of Australian film production include the following though the order may change to suit circumstances:

1. There will be years when triumphalism will occur. These years will usually coincide with the release of a single title produced by either George Miller or Baz Luhrmann that goes gangbusters at the box office. The records get set when this success is accompanied by some solid commercial performances by one or two other films. (Note below the chest thumping taking place over the record box office receipts in 2015.)

2.  There will be years when notwithstanding the production of a couple of dozen or more films, there will be near to no interest. The numbers attending Australian films in theatres will be quite small. Putting things this way is a problem in itself. The measurement of audiences is an arcane thing.

3. Reviews of the industry are frequent - these may be independently commissioned or as in the current case just beginning to unfold, may be conducted by a Federal Parliamentary Committee. They all have the same purpose though in the case of the current inquiry the resort to the words 'compete' and 'competition' might flag some danger.

4. The end result of many reviews has been to embark on changes to the structure of government support for the industry. Sometimes it will result in more people being employed by Government screen bodies, sometimes less. The words 'compete' and 'competitive' might flag some danger.  Oops I said that already...

5. Reviews are also likely/almost certainly followed by changes to the taxation and direct financial support arrangements currently applying. These changes will be designed to support increased production and greater private sector investment and employment in the sector. The words 'compete' and 'competitive' might flag some danger.

6. Whatever taxation concessions are settled on, there will be opportunities for big end of town financiers, brokers, bankers and investors to make money. Without putting too fine a point on it, this group is probably the only segment of the film industry which makes money with complete certainty.

Here is the text of the announcement by the Committee....and the first question who is Luke Howarth and who can get to him first to put a flea in his ear about what is to be done. More soon and any thoughts for posting are most welcome....

Here's the text of the Press Release

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts has received an inquiry into the Australian Film and Television Industry and is calling for submissions.

The inquiry's Terms of Reference are:

Factors  contributing to the growth and sustainability of the Australian film and television
industry. (Editor's Note: THAT'S IT! THIS COULD GO ANYWHERE!)

Committee Chair, Mr Luke Howarth MP said: "the committee wants to hear how Australian independent filmmakers, and major film and TV companies can expand and better compete for investment with producers and multi-platform production companies from ·overseas."

"We also want to hear from investors and the industries that support local production, for example: digital animators and editors, and sound and set production companies," Mr Howarth said.

Screen Australia's Drama Report (2015-16) notes that Australian films have recently performed the strongest in more than a decade, with four titles each earning over $10 million (including: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dressmaker, Oddball and The Water Diviner) and contributing 7.2 per cent to total box office sales. (Editor's Note: Somebody left out Paper Planes from that list!)

Screen Australia's report also suggests that 2015 was a standout year for Australian films - well up on the previous year, when the share was 2.4 per cent, and above the 10-year average of 4.3 per cent.

Mr Howarth added: "As a committee, we believe Australian film and TV can be more competitive, and we will be investigating ways the Australian industry can grow sustainably." 


  1. I wonder if this review will speak with indie distributors: none of the others ever spoke to Ronin, even though we've been in the biz for 42 years.

  2. It's all simple minded. Tinkering with the producers and the bureaucrats will only produce more of the same. Unless there is an informed audience nothing changes.No one seems to have noticed that the point where French movies replaced German as the dominant art film industry was the point where the Cinematheque opened.


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