Make It Australian – back on the agenda
Leading Australian actors, directors, writers, producers and crew joined together last night for the national re-launch of the Make it Australian campaign at the Sydney Film Festival Hub in Sydney Town Hall and online.
Joining the industry were the new Minister for the Arts, the Hon Tony Burke MP and Minister for Communications, and the Hon Michelle Rowland MP to show their support for seeing more Australian stories on our screens. Tony Burke addressed the gathering and both Ministers received a rapturously warm welcome for their attendance and words of support.
The screen industry was represented by actor/writer/producer Leah Purcell, director Gillian Armstrong, actor Justine Clarke, director Kriv Stenders and producer/writer/director Monica O’Brien.
The event also saw the launch of new commercials that will run at screenings during the Sydney Film Festival and on other platforms in the months ahead to support the campaign.
All agreed on the importance of keeping Australian stories on our screens, championing our unique culture and asking the government to recognise the value of our creative economy and independent production culture.
Officially launching the campaign, Leah Purcell said: “My career was built from Australian content… Our industry does give back to our nation tenfold – financially, culturally and personally in who we are as a nation. Our stories, especially our First Nation’s stories are our identity.”
In a call to action, Director Gillian Armstrong said: “We have developed many of the world’s best cinematographers, designers, directors, writers, composers, editors and of course actors.
“We have proved we can create good work, we have enormously committed talent in all areas and yet we are producing less,” she said.
Australia’s screen production industry is eager for a pathway for sustainable growth to capitalise on the boom in demand for content but believes that we need fair rules to ensure Australian stories don’t lose out.
Make it Australian is focused on ensuring that global streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+ have some minimum investment levels of Australian content and that all platforms that supply content to Australians improve their support for Australian children’s, drama and documentary content.
The industry is proposing that the major streaming platforms should be required to spend 20% of their local revenue on new Australian drama, documentary and children’s content and that fair ‘terms of trade’ be instituted to enable the development of local IP.
“A requirement of 20% follows similar precedents set in other territories for streaming platforms. It would create up to 10,000 ongoing new local jobs and would unleash the potential of the local industry, which would, over time, double in size,” said Matthew Deaner, CEO of Screen Producers Australia.
“This proposal would create a wealth of new Australian stories, delivered to audiences on the platforms they are using every day,” said Claire Pullen, Executive Director of the Australian Writers’ Guild.
“Governments over many decades have recognised our need to experience our own stories told in our own voices, whether it’s on TV or at the movies. With streaming platforms such as Netflix, Stan and Disney+ notching up 16 million Australian subscriptions, the time is right to ensure Australians can see their stories on those platforms too,” said Alaric McAusland, CEO of the Australian Directors’ Guild.
“Having made drastic cuts to Australian drama, kids and documentary content on commercial free-to-air television, there is an urgent need to reverse the damage from the previous government to avoid a contraction in the local screen sector,” said Paul Murphy, CEO of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
“We need the Government to ensure that our stories are thriving and connecting Australians as our industry recovers from COVID and gets ready to take on the world,” said Murphy.
The industry’s proposal for streaming regulation includes:
• SVOD services will be required to invest 20% of their Australian-sourced revenue into commissioning new Australian content.
• New Australian content obligations to include genres of drama, documentary, children’s by both SVODs and stronger investment obligations for commercial free-to-air tv.
• Fair terms of trade between SME’s and commissioners.
• Obligations to make Australian content discoverable to Australian audiences.
• Robust and comprehensive reporting to the ACMA.