Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Putting business back into the Australian film industry

Interesting article on the ninemsn site by Alyssa Braithwaite quoting the President of the Screen Producers Association of Australia, Anthony Ginnane. In his opening address to the SPAA conference in Sydney, Ginnane put the debate about the state of the industry front and centre:

"Industry and government need to accept this is a business, not a culture fest.

"In the film industry government intervention has been consistently used to assist in the creation of product the market does not want, and the market tells us that, year in, year out, by rejecting it en masse.

"We don't listen and we don't want the government to notice."

He goes on to cite Mao's Last Dancer, which has grossed over $13 million dollars at the Australian box office, as an example of the sort of films we should be making instead of social realism dramas.

There's no doubt that the debate about "art versus commerce" is due to come to a head in this country. The raft of depressing, bleak, miserable social realist dramas that no-one goes to see yet are heavily subsidised by taxpayers money through screen funding agencies is choking the industry. Films like Australia, however, resonated with the local audience ($30+ million) but are derided by the film intelligentsia as crass commercialism.

The good news is that genre films should be able to re-assert themselves instead of the oblique art-house fare traditionally favoured by the screen agencies. A critical mass appears to be slowly building to reintroduce a key element in the film-making process - yes, the audience!

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