The Aussie Film Dilemna

This week we’re looking at why the Australian film industry is struggling. What’s wrong? Well, statistics show that Australians aren’t responding well to Australian made films, as swift mentions, “Our biggest Australian films are treated by overseas audiences the way the majority of our films are treated by local audiences: with indifference“. Swift is suggesting that it’s not about the quality of the films, in fact a lot of Australian films have found box office success, the issue lies elsewhere and that is what we’re trying to find this week.

The Problem In Detail

The Australian made film “These Final Hours” was expected to be successful, it was an ambitious project to compete with bigger Hollywood films and it did get quite good reviews but unfortunately while it expected to make $1 million in box office sales in the first weekend it only reached a reported $207,000, considerably less than what could be considered successful.

Seeing the trailer for These Final Hours, I was interested and wanted to watch the movie but this brings me to the first issue, inability to find these films anywhere. Aside from enormous Aussie hits such as The Great Gatsby, The Sapphires or Red Dog, Australian movies seem to be isolated to independent screenings in a few selected areas, I visit my local cinema quite often and I can tell you, I didn’t even hear of These Final Hours. For people like me who can’t really afford an expedition to an independent cinema to watch one film, we’re kind of forced into piracy. As I wrote about in a previous post, the ability to go to the cinema hinges on time and physical capability, things many Australians don’t have especially if you don’t live in big coastal cities.

I’m on the internet probably for the better half of my day and so I often hear of films that interest me before they’re advertised in cinemas or on tv but somehow These Final Hours flew under my radar entirely. This brings me to my second point, Australian films often have a lower budget than bigger Hollywood films and so there is less advertising leeway. Films benefit a lot from hype built up around social media but Australian films appear to have such a weak social media presence. Either by unimaginative campaigns or people not sharing posts because of a lack of necessity.

How We Turn This Around

File sharing and piracy is such a big issue in Australia often because we have no other option. Cinema tickets are becoming more and more expensive and Cinemas aren’t able to show every film worth seeing at the time. In the United States, streaming is a very popular method for accessing the media you want when and wherever, if Australia is not going to invest in better internet to allow for reliable streaming, I suggest that film makers look into distribution tactics that embrace file sharing such as federally funded file sharing. One such tactic could involve intentionally sharing content for free through torrenting or sites such as Youtube then once an audience has been generated, move to a paid platform such as cinemas or paid tv.

In this article Don Groves suggests ways to which Australia could better promote it’s films. Grove writes:

“Utilize social media and content marketing as a low budget way to build awareness and advocacy for Australian films. Social media is an essential tool for combating Hollywood’s domination of the Australian media landscape as it provides filmmakers a way to reach audiences on their own terms” (Groves, 2014)

Groves identifies that reaching out to the audience is raising awareness of the films and so more people are likely to spend money to see them. I’d like to add to this by suggesting campaigns that motivate the spread of awareness such as competitions or witty hashtags would allow Australian film marketing to reach people who aren’t looking for Australian films and raise awareness credibility and hype.

This week, hit me up on twitter @RalphiePeerless and let me know, what’s your favourite Australian film, where did you see it and how did you hear about it?

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