Doco to examine performance of Australian films Down Under

24 February, 2014 by Emily Blatchford

Three years ago Courtney Dawson had a question she couldn’t answer. Why aren’t Australians watching Australian films?

It was this query that threw the 25-year-old into research frenzy, the outcome of which is 60-minute documentary Advance Australian Film.


“I guess once I started looking into it and researching it all, the figures of how Australian films do fare at the box office got me wondering even more,” she tells IF. “So when I looked at the last Australian film to hit number one at the box office for the year, it was Strictly Ballroom, which was 21 years ago. That’s such a long time ago – it got me thinking, 'why has it been so long?'

“And looking at the yearly box office figures, Australian films grossed under five per cent pretty much year for over ten years. I just think those numbers are so small, it’s such a small percentage, and obviously we don’t make nearly as many films as America does, but I think we really should be supporting our films more than we do. So that’s what really got me wanting to investigate it more.”

Dawson has taken her query to a number of industry experts for their input; including David Stratton, Kriv Stenders, Emile Sherman and red carpet interviews with Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton and Hugh Jackman.

“Russell Crowe was sort of saying that the industry is cyclical so we definitely to go through phases. There are times when Australian films do [perform] really really well, and I think he was talking about the 90’s with Priscilla and Muriel’s Wedding, and those films that really did connect with audiences,” says Dawson. “It may have dropped off a little since but there are new innovative directors coming forth like Justin Kurzel who directed Snowtown and now has obviously gone off to America where he’s directing the new Macbeth movie.

“But that’s the other thing, like Justin Kurzel, he has left Australia, and that’s something else I look at – how we keep on losing our talent to Hollywood because that is continually happening.

“Obviously filmmakers need to take the next step of their career and it’s hard to make a film here but it’s such a shame it keeps on happening, and not only just with directors, with actors and DOP’s and everyone else.”

Dawson also takes into account recent developments in the industry, such as crowd funding and the emergence of VOD platforms, and how these could impact Australian filmmaking in the future. 

"I spoke to some people and a lot of them were saying ‘we cannot blame the distributors and exhibitors because this is show business and they are running a company or a business just like everyone else is. Why should they risk their money on a filmmakers dream?’” she says. “I guess that’s were new platforms like VOD are really opening that window up and hopefully that will catch on and we’ll be able to earn revenue from that platform later."

Advance Australian Film will have its world premiere at the Byron Bay International Film Festival on March 1.

It will also screen in Sydney as part of the WOW (World of Women) Festival on Friday the 7th of March and Saturday the 15th of March at the Powerhouse Museum.

View the trailer below, or visit the website: