Local screen stories demonstrate breadth of industry talent
Screen Australia’s Chief Executive, Graeme Mason said that both local and international audiences were responding positively to strong, distinctive Australian content across both film and television, and that 2014 is set to be a great year for Australian stories.
“Ninety-four of the 100 most watched programs on television in 2013 were Australian*, which demonstrates the strong resonance of local content with audiences. Our film and television has reached a level of maturity where there is now a range of projects in terms of scale and content, reflecting our diversity as a nation. The talent, creativity and skills of our actors, filmmakers and crew are world-class.
“Original and high-quality Australian television drama and documentary not only rates highly with local audiences, it’s also strongly resonating with international audiences, as demonstrated by numerous accolades and format sales in 2013. Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake picked up a Golden Globe® Award and a Primetime Emmy®, along with several nominations, and SBS’s documentary series from Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder, Go Back to Where You Came From, won an International Emmy®. Format sales for television dramas included the ABC’s Rake, A Moody Christmas and The Strange Calls, Network Ten’s Secrets & Lies and Foxtel’s Wentworth. Australian children’s drama Mako Mermaids also secured a landmark deal through US-based internet TV network Netflix, premiering in 120 countries in line with the Australian premiere on Network Ten,” said Mr Mason.
“Our industry is in good shape, with our latest annual Drama Report showing us that expenditure on drama production in Australia increased by 9 per cent in the 2012/13 financial year, to the highest levels on record,” said Mr Mason. “The figures are boosted in particular by Australian television drama, with expenditure up 27 per cent on last year. This may be a high watermark for the industry though, and we should not take such success for granted. The challenges of screen economics continue to put pressure on Australian content for our screens."
2013 featured a diverse range of local cinema releases, large and small. Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby was the highest grossing Australian film at the local box office in 2013, taking more than $27 million locally and more than $347 million internationally. Among the top five Australian films at the local box office were the UK co-production The Railway Man, which opened strongly on Boxing Day, taking over $2 million in its first week, the comedy-drama Goddess, which took over $1.6 million, and the adaptation of Tim Winton’s The Turning and the family film Return to Nim’s Island, which both earned over $1.2 million.
“Australian creatives are engaging more than ever in the global marketplace for both film and television, achieving international commercial success and critical acclaim as well as establishing successful collaborative partnerships,” said Mr Mason.
“Sixteen Australian features as well as the television mini-series Top of The Lake screened across the six A-list international festivals in 2013, which resulted in excess of $15 million worth of international sales, despite a contracted marketplace. While we primarily set out to serve Australian audiences, we need to embrace the global nature of the screen industry and the projects are doing this.
“Australians are born travellers and our filmmakers are out in the world telling international stories with their own unique voice. In 2013, Kim Mordaunt’s wonderful film The Rocket, set in Laos, won numerous awards at both international and local festivals, including Best First Feature at the Berlin Film Festival, and Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Michael Cody’s Ruin, set in Cambodia, won the Special Orizzonti Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival,” said Mr Mason.
Among the Australian films coming to local cinemas in 2014 are John Curran’s Tracks, the inspirational adaptation of Robyn Davidson’s memoir, chronicling her journey with camels across the Australian Desert, starring Mia Wasikowska; David Michod’s (Animal Kingdom) hotly anticipated next feature, futuristic thriller The Rover, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson; the science-fiction film Predestination from the Australian directors of the US box office hit Daybreakers, brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, which stars Noah Taylor, Sarah Snook and Ethan Hawke; Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek 2, with John Jarratt reprising his unforgettable role as Mick Taylor; and crime thriller Felony, directed by Matt Saville, written by and starring Joel Edgerton, with Tom Wilkinson and Jai Courtney.
Mr Mason said, “Excellence in Indigenous storytelling continues to deliver high quality, engaging and culturally rich productions to audiences. In 2013 we saw the cinema releases of Catriona McKenzie’s Satellite Boy and Warwick Thornton’s The Darkside, as well as the second series of the ABC’s highly-acclaimed Redfern Now. In 2014 we look forward to more quality Indigenous stories coming to our screens with the ABC’s new series Gods of Wheat Street.
“Australian stories are incredibly important to the cultural fabric of our society and they contribute to our social belonging and sense of national identity. Screen Australia is committed to supporting, promoting and growing quality Australian storytelling for audiences, across all platforms. Of course, this can’t happen without a strong, diverse and skilled screen production industry.
“Screen Australia looks forward to continuing to support and resource Australian screen storytellers to meet the challenges of delivering great content for local and international audiences on all screens and platforms in 2014 and beyond,” Mr Mason concluded.
*OzTAM, top 100 programs ranked by year. All people, consolidated, five-city-metro average audience, 1 January to 31 December 2013. Metropolitan market data is copyright to OzTAM. The data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) in whole or part without the prior consent of OzTAM.