Selling The Reef
Limited public knowledge about Australian films is an issue facing many of this country's most talented directors and writers.
With international films such as Transformers: Dark of the Moon pulling in millions of dollars in box office sales, questions need to be asked about how Australian films can start garnering public recognition in a market full of overseas blockbusters.
With the DVD release of his second feature film, The Reef, Andrew Traucki is a writer/director who is not afraid to take a risk when it comes to marketing his work, which is something he feels is lacking within the current Australian film industry.
“I just think we need to start getting serious about marketing in this country,” Traucki says. “The more I am in this game the more I realise that the success of your film relies on the marketing. When you have got a small budget you need to get in there and get your hands dirty and the best way to do that is on the internet.”
Coming from a background in web design, Traucki played a pivotal role in the initial publicity for his shark attack thriller, The Reef, back in 2009. He developed a website that allowed audiences to see footage streamed live from the film’s set. However, Traucki’s passion for marketing is something that he thinks the Australian film industry does not share.
With The Reef's marketing budget set at just $50,000, Traucki believes that a major problem lies in the lack of available resources.
“We just don’t have the budgets. In Australia, the funding bodies are the major investors and it is hard to ask the producers to cough up more money. On the whole it's just a lack of resources.”
Just how the industry should tackle the problem is something Traucki thinks constantly about – he suggests numerous approaches and, perhaps, an industry think-tank to explore them.
Ideas such as international co-productions and The Tunnel’s recent online publicity, which encouraged audiences to stream the film before its theatrical release via an official online site, are two areas that Traucki believes deserve more attention.
“I think [international co-productions] makes sense because you are upping the budgets and attaching another market onto the film which will provide for a bigger audience," he says.
“Also, what The Tunnel did, managed to generate so much publicity that they were already one step ahead of every other small budget film released this year. If there was a profit to be made, I would very interested in a similar approach."
Nonetheless, Traucki maintains that these discussions shouldn't jeopardise a film's originality by focusing too heavily on commercial success because that is not what makes the Australian film industry great.
“I think its a credit to Screen Australia for funding The Reef, which is really just a genre-thriller. However, I think films should just be films. What matters most is that it is a good story, not that its Australian, and that people want to see it made. As long as the film agencies are open to variety and taking a risk then I think the industry should be OK.”