What is wrong with Australian films?

I’m not sure if there’s actually going to be a definitive answer to this question in this post, but I’d like at least to advance some ideas as to why so many Aussie films flop with punters, and often with critics too.
First of all, there is, with several honourable exceptions, a strange disconnection from the reality of Australia, and a consequent cartoonisation of this country. Either it’s cack-handed, unfunny comedy, or puppet-show agenda-setting, with good characterisation a long way down the list of must-haves. Then there’s a tendency to go for the supposedly quirky, which is often just lame and embarassing. The stories just don’t hold water(that’s so even for enjoyable films like Gettin’ Square, which are redeemed by the great acting of people like David Wenham and Timothy Spall, and some marvellous one-liners, like the immortally larrikin ‘Piss off, birds!’) The less said about most of the dialogue in most Aussie films, the better.

Then there’s little of that certain something–that thing I can only describe as the ‘hand in your chest cavity, gripping at your heart’ feeling which just rivets you in place. Of recent films, Lantana had it(though I disliked some aspects of that film, mostly to do with certain underlying things, it’s a brilliant piece of work); Till Human Voices Wake Us,Michael Petroni’s strange ghost story had it too. Blue Murder(though a tele-movie, not a feature film)had it in spades, as did The Shiralee.
When novels are (rarely)adapted, it’s not often done well–eg Ned Kelly, based on Robert Drewe’s much more poetic and subtle novel. But then of course there’s Picnic at Hanging Rock–the film is even better than the book, in my opinion. There’s not enough use of Australian novels–there’s some brilliant stuff there, much better-constructed stories than the original screenplays of all too many films. And why do Aussies restrict themselves so much in subject matter? Why not tackle fantasy, for example? There are lots of wonderful Australian fantasy novels around–which have done really well overseas too–and which could translate well to the screen. There’s not enough good wartime films, certainly not in recent times. Of course, these are usually big-budget films, and that’s a problem, the money situation being what it is with films here. But you can get around that with good characterisation, good dialogue, a gripping story. That requires imagination, a priceless thing.
Crime usually works much better than anything else in Australian films. I think that’s because criminals are, as it were, the last bastion of the non-politicallycorrect. They still embody the larrikinism of traditional Australia, too, so maybe writers feel freer to create their characters. But there too there’s a danger of falling into sentimentality–the sentimentality of the petty thief who’s ‘really’ a victim of society, instead of the contemptible predator they often are, preying not on the wealthy but the helpless. Still, crime works much better than anything, it’s at least watchable: from the sublime Blue Murder to the deft Two Hands to the iffy but still enjoyable The Hard Word and Gettin’ Square, there’s more nerve and guts (pun intended!) in these sorts of stories than in most others. Even Lantana falls into this genre, in a way. OK, there are a couple of dire ones, like Dirty Deeds, but in general, they are watchable films.
I’ve been invited as a guest speaker at the Australian Film Television and Radio School, and I was very impressed by the openness of the scriptwriting school there to all kinds of ideas. I don’t think the problem is coming from what’s being taught. I think that partly (and this is becoming true for novels as well) too many film-makers have no experience of any kind of work except in their industry; too often, they’re based in the city (hell, we need some regionally-based film and Tv production centres, like they do in Britain!) ; too often they never move out of their circles of friends. There are tons of good stories out there, amazing true stories as well as fictional ones–it’s not talent, story, or character that’s lacking. It’s a moving out of a comfort zone.

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Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Sophie

I haven’t seen as many Australian films over the last 2 or 3 years as I would have liked, so my evaluation is a very partial one. But I generally agree with your comments. Mostly the problem comes down to poor script writing and self-indulgent editing (leading to flabby, overly long films with slight story lines).

Mostly the acting is excellent as is the cinematography. But that isn’t enough. A beautifully filmed and acted piece of rubbish is still rubbish. This year’s AFI best film award winner Somersault (which jen and I saw the other night and were disappointed by) is a good example. I wouldn’t quite call it a piece of rubbish but it certainly didn’t merit a best film award (althought the acting and cinematography were generally excellent).

I hate to sound like a stereotyped RWDB, but I reckon part of the problem flows from the narrow, urban middle class latte left background of many if not most current Australian film-makers. As you commented, they seem to have little connection with and no sympathy for real Australian characters and situations (or even real life situations, dilemmas, nuances in general). There are, of course, honourable exceptions, and Lantana is one of them. But I don’t find it easy to recall many other examples in the serious drama genre.

Comedy is a slightly different picture. Some films of a few years ago (e.g Muriel’s Wedding; Strictly Ballroom) worked really well. But cartoonish cardboard cutout characters and situations don’t really matter all that much in that genre.

Your suggestion of adapting Australian novels is an excellent one. There are numerous novels by people like Tim Winton, David Malouf, Peter Carey and others that would make excellent movies. And they’d be a lot more bankable than some of the scripts that actually get turned into films at the moment. I wonder why this doesn’t happen more often?

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

I don’t relate well to Australian films either. I find them to be too camp and overblown, almost histrionic. Even when they start well, something seems to happen towards the end and the writer loses the plot (so to speak).

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

yes, it’s bizarre, that more Australian novels are not adapted by Australian film-makers. I actually had the annoying experience of having a couple of novels optioned (one of them twice!) but though the producers who took them on were very keen, they simply got no joy at all from the powers that be, funding bodies etc. That happens often, I think: many of the people who decide things simply don’t have a clue about what people would really like to see.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

BTW The other night I saw the shorts of a new Australian film called A Man’s Gotta Do, that stars John Howard as a standover man with a troublesome daughter and a heart of gold. It looks like it might be worth a visit. Has anyone else seen it yet?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Sophie, part of the problem might be the size of the market. There seems to be a desperation to produce Aussie films which will also appeal to the US market – hence, an over-emphasis on comedy, campishness.

I don’t know too much about this, but I seem to remember that a speaker at a recent industry forum attributed the decline of Oz film to the funding model for industry support.

Rex
Rex
2022 years ago

There does seem to be an abundance of quirkiness in Aussie films, or at least the successful ones. Strictly Ballroom, The Castle, Muriel’s Wedding, Pricilla.

Perhaps that part of the problem, and yes there is a problem. Too many films try to be quirky these days and they end up instead being cringeworthy.

The problem also may have something to do with believability. Would we believe in a ‘big’ story? One with lots of guns and violence? Mostly this stuff happens elsewhere, not in Australia, and although there might be a few Australian participants, there’s bound to a lot more Americans running around calling the shots.

The only big successful shootem up that I can remember being set in Australia is Mad Max, and the only reason that worked was that it wasn’t this Australia.

There was of course, Gallipolli, which was pretty good, and personally, on this Rememberance day, I’d like to see a good historical war movie called “Kokoda” or “Pashendale”

The recent spate of underworld murders in Melbourne would have to make a pretty exiting story, and come to think of it “Chopper” was brilliant.

Sophie, I endorse your call. Its time to ditch quirky, its time to get bloody.

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

yes, that’s right, Rex, the Melbourne underworld wars would make a great Godfather-style saga. I’ve kept clippings of stuff related to that–an extraordinary photo of an underworld funeral for instance–which struck me immediately as the basis of a good story. And there’s the ethnic angle too, there–the old time Anglo-Celtic crooks, the Italian ones, the Lebanese, etc..and some interesting sexual politics and family stuff, like around Carl Williams’ wife, or the matriarch of another clan..
BTW a US production company has bought the rights to reformed crim Gregory David Roberts’ action-packed autobiographical novel ‘Shantaram’..it’ll star Johnny Depp..

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Sophie

Sorry, I should have included the fantasy genre. There are numerous fantasy works, especially yours, that would also make excellent movies. And Australia has the digital production and editing skills (Finding Nemo, The Matrix series etc) to make fantasy films that stand up with the best in the world (as does New Zealand, with LOTR being undoubtedly the best fabtasy films ever made).

Jen and I also went last week to see a local youth theatre production of a play derived from The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Australian author Isobelle Carmody. It’s more children’s sci-fi than fantasy, and I haven’t read the books. But judging by the play it would certainly be possible to make an excellent film from this material.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Generally the best work in recent Australian film seems to have come from quasi-outsiders, especially TV comedians. Chopper with former funnyman Bana is an example. Another one is Bad Eggs, which was a competent and unpretentious little comedy thriller.

I figure that comedians must understand their subjects to satirise or recreate them. Good comedians have an instinctual skill at striking towards the human condition for a laugh. It’s their job.

Actually comedians tend to be excellent actors, I’ve noticed.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Anyone thinking of writing a script based on the melbourne gangland murders could do a lot worse than starting their research by browsing the excellent and very comprehensive Melbourne Crime website.

Robert Merkel
2022 years ago

You might like to look at my blog posting on this issue. The big question seems to be “why are dud scripts getting filmed before they are fixed”, and I offer some modest proposals for dealing with this problem (most involving making sure the FFC doesn’t finance dud scripts).

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Robert

I didn’t even realise you had a blog. I’ll add it to the Troppo blogroll next time I muster the motivation to update it.

Graham
2022 years ago

OMG it’s another local!

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

Ken, glad to hear there’s a play based on the Obernewtyn Chronicles–and yes, I’ve read em’ all, they’d make a great film or two–or TV series. Others to include(besides those of yours truly, of course–I reckon my latest, Indonesian-flavoured fantasy,Snow, Fire, Sword would make a great film, either live action or anime!)would be Patricia Wrightson’s The Wirrun Trilogy–magnificent books featuring Aboriginal heroes and a richly-textured background of Aboriginal folklore; Sara Douglass’ books; Garth Nix’s books; Sean Williams’ parallel-Australia novels; Sean Mc Mullen’s grand operatic science fiction novels, and tons more. There’s also lots of beautiful kids’ fantasy that could work as animation.

Guido
2022 years ago

It always seemed to me that the blessing and the curse of the Australian film industry was that it talked English.

Unlike continental Europeans, who can create a niche market with their ‘arty’ films, Australia is much more easier to swamp and penetrate from Hollywood because we share the same language. Sometimes this works the other way (Shine) but it very rare.

While we are happy to see ‘our’ Kates, Nicoles, Rachels etc. (and in the past directors) making it big in LA, this does create a talent deficit which is hard to be breached.

So the question is should Australian films concentrate on the Swedish model, making art-house films that are critically acclaimed and win prices in Venice etc. But may not have popular appeal. Or should we follow the New Zealand path of basically become an Holywood off-shore a la Lord of the Rings? (which employs plenty of editors, technicians etc).

The other thing about being popular and so on. ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’ was on TV last night. It was one of the most popular Australian films when it came out and was on top of the TV ratings last Sunday beating a Lord of the Rings movie on Channel 9. We hear about people switching off in movies that confront our past but this seems not to be the case.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Or could it be that it’s the same old hacks writing the some old cliche’ riddled tripe to be translated by the same old crews and played by the same old actors, all of whom are reliant on public funding to get the project off the drawing board? I watched the IF awards last night, and it was always “whine we were up against Shrek 2 grizzle”- the big difference being films like Shrek 2 Had people put their own money up to finance, and other people spent their own money to see. There were almost catcalls and hissing when the box-office award was announced, as if success is a sign of failure to the luvvies. Admittedly the award winner was appalling, but at least people paid to see it. Highlifgr was John Saffran slagging off the assembled culture commissars in pre-recorded vignettes.

jOZEF
2022 years ago

Heaps of food for thought

Hope this entry gets widest readership …

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Great stew of responses here, bubbling with ideas. I am going to do a post about this and kick it around for myself carefully. I’ve done my time in film bureaucracies and I am just as frustrated as everyone else.

Generally speaking, in the thinking bits of the film industry like the independent producers, the guilds and associations, the bureaucrats and the FFC, there is a general consensus that something needs to happen a lot better. There is a very big problem and the business seems to be going down the toilet.

Whether that translates to a heartfelt search around the question: What am I doing wrong? is another matter of course. And here we are no more or less honest than any other sector. Sugar production? Want to talk about cotton and water useage?

To some extent the current industry and community questioning has been obscured by recent politics. The industry has had to defend itself in public at the same time as some ruthless internal analysis has gone on. It is very wise of the industry to recognise that audiences, like the people on this blog, approach watching Australian films with hope and affection.

There’s a huge number of issues in here. One of the big ones is cash; almost all our films are ludicrously underbudgeted which cramps the mind all the way back to choosing which book to option.

The careers of Australian directors are very salutary. We have a lot of great directors, but they don’t work here. Imagine what the AFIs would be like if there was a Noyce film up against an Armstrong against Weir etc, all set here and telling our stories. No more lame, half assed shit.

The halcyon days of director creation ended with the end of 10BA, and the removal of protection on Australian commercials. Made even worse by the slow collapse of training in television by Grundy’s (so I am told) and the ABC.

So the pressure is on the bureaucrats – the AFC and state agencies – to provide the support for development of people and talents. But there ain’t enough cash, and the government should anyway only have a subsidiary role – it is better if the marketplace makes the running and provides the practice. Even if it is an artificial market.

It is important to recognise that no-one makes a living or is fully employed in creative origination in the Australian film industry, at home. It just isn’t that big. There is a terrible lack of practice, and we all rely on work in other sectors. Mostly television, which is suffering from falling real budgets, and the ruthlessness of commercial proprietors, crossed with the dilemmas of the national broadcasters.

Over the last ten years, I reckon we can fairly say that the crap factor is no worse than anyone else’s. We don’t get to see the ghastly, talky arthouse movies that the French and Germans put out in great quantities; a lot of the serious films at film festivals are fascinating but wouldn’t find a larger audience. And Hollywood’s strike rate is low too – we’ve done the research on that.

The trouble is, of course, that it is one thing to identify the issues, and quite another to fix it. All the above just makes people feel really grim.

I don’t have any answers either, except to note that people like the Canadians really do put a lot more government money in than we do, and they are a pretty comparable society. The per capita subsidy rate in Britain of the motion picture arts, including television, is at least five times ours. That is a bloody big difference. Generally speaking, we can say that the solution is to put in significantly more money, while agreeing on the disciplines that the industry should adopt.

I suggest that would mostly take the form of subsidising top level television production, for telefeatures, minseries and the initial run of eps for series. The Commercial Television Production Fund from 1996-99 was pretty successful at this and killing it was a big mistake.

My particular plug is this: it is virtually impossible in Australia for a screenwriter to get a script made which was written independently. I think that is a terrible indictment, which shuts out some of our most creative and independent people. And the cheapest to develop.

Do you know what Chopper grossed in the US? $236,185
The Boys? – no sale
The Castle? – $877,621
The Rabbit Proof Fence? – Six mill; sixteen mill world wide.

Figures from Box Office Mojo. These are gross numbers, not amounts to the investors, and wouldn’t cover the marketing budget. Even the ..Fence is pretty bad.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

I assume, David, that you’re involved in the “industry”, hence your idea of siphoning a further bucketload of other people’s money into a floundering supposedly commercial enterprise. Great plan- we’ve seen the result of similar action, with basket cases such as Mitsubishi and Queensland sugar.
People involved in the industry and the very few who go to Australian movies think this is a great plan- the vast majority who have to stump up the dibs don’t share that view.
Film, like art and music are industries, and should sink or swim on their merits, not on their nationality.
If the Aust film industry folded overnight 99% of the population would neither notice, or care.
If someone chooses a life of “creativity”, fine- I’m all for freedom of choice- however I don’t expect to be press-ganged into subsidising that lifestyle.

Graham
2022 years ago

If you’re not concerned about funding “culture”, then I guess I shouldn’t be concerned about funding a military to protect that “culture”.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

“most involving making sure the FFC doesn’t finance dud scripts).”

Bingo! Too many half hour long scripts packed into 120 minutes, nervously sheparded through a self-interested establishedment.

Bring back the 10BA. Sure crap films got made through it but so did good ones. The thing was a lotta films got made and a lotta careers got launched -from name directors to world-class techs. Let the market decide. After all the audiences will.

Working on a film project m’self now and we feel fuck Australia. We’re going straight to Singapore, Honkers and South Korea for the money.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

You’re right Graham. Either way, America would step in to fill our needs if we cut off all funding. But that would make us a US “client state”. Isn’t that a fate worse than death for you people?

Tony.T
2022 years ago

A fate worse than death is being forced to watch Japanese Story.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

The last three NZ films that I’ve seen have left most Australian ones for dead. ‘In my father’s den’, ‘Whale rider’ and ‘Once were warriers’. (I’m ignoring Lord of the Rings as it was more of a Hollywood film even if it was filmed in NZ and directed by a NZer.) That spans a fair bit of time but I can’t remember an Australian film that came close to any of them. Anyone who hasn’t seen ‘In my father’s den’ – do. Best film I’ve seen in years. Of note given the discussion above, is that at least two of them (I don’t know about ‘Whale rider’) were adapted from well known novels.

In checking that ‘In my fathers den’ was adapted from a novel and not a short story I came apon this from a website review. “The New Zealand-UK co-production In My Father’s Den is an adult drama-mystery in the vein of Lantana”. It might be in the vein of Lantana, but they’re chalk and New Zealand cheddar in achievement. Lantana was a quite good mood flick. I thought ‘In my father’s den’ was awesome in its reflective but relentless depiction of some of the deepest feelings us poor little critters have. (I have to admit for about 5 minutes I thought it lapsed into melodrama but then that was easy to ignore). Go see it before it leaves our screens.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

David’s call for more purloining of Other People’s Money would convince more if he hadn’t missed the money part of sophie’s post – that the acting and cinematography of many Oz films are world class, but the scripts and editing are usually shithouse. I’d have thought scripts and editing were the cheap parts of the business.

I’m not really sure why we can’t find competent scripts, though maybe its because there are too many wankers writing who underrate the need for technical competence rather than ‘artistic vision’. I’m sick of scripts that combine creaky plotting, a complete tin ear for how people speak and ham-fisted propaganda that destroys complexity (Re that last point, does anyone else think the portrayal of Neville as a cardboard villain in “Rabbit Proof Fence” spoiled the film? Giving him more imagination and ambivalence would have opened up potential for a tragedy in the Greek sense.).

But there are plenty of wankers trying their hand at novels too, and sophie is right to note that a fair number of good Oz books still get found and published. So I dunno – maybe whoever’s making the money decisions in Oz movies can’t tell shit from diamonds.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Graham- you have put in print exactly what we want. People can choose to fund FA18s and F111 Pigs that cost an absolute poultice, but can drop bombs and strafe any sod in cooee who would do us harm, or we can pay for another movie that no bugger goes to, and wankers in Sydney and Melbourne can congratulate each other about how culturally aware they are, then go home and watch Kath and Kim and snork on at the antics of the bogans.
You tossers just don’t learn.

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

Nicholas, I agree with you re NZ films. I haven’t seen In my father’s Den(but will defintely look out for it) but the other two were fantastic. Interesting that both were about Maoris–and both much more convincing than Aussie films about Aboriginal people have been, in my opinion. The only one that gets at least close to Aboriginal realities, in my opinion, is Ivan Sen’s ‘Beneath Clouds’, but although that was pretty good, there were a couple of extremely jarring notes: that the boy didn’t know the girl was Aboriginal(she had quite an Aboriginal accent and manner, though she was so blond etc. The reverse can more likely be true–eg I’ve often been called ‘tidda’ and asked what mob I’m from though I don’t have any Aboriginal ancestry at all). And also the constant likening of rural northwest NSW to the old Deep South or South africa–showing only Aboriginal cotton-chippers, and slaving away(when heaps of people from all backgrounds do cotton-chipping, which is actually quite well-paid if backbreaking and deadly dull), and a guy in a pub calling the central character ‘boy’–as if he were a Boer. Rubbish! I’ve never ever heard anyone calling an Aborigine ‘boy’ in these parts–and it’s in this region the film was set. Still, the film did have a lot of good characterisation to recommend it. Rabbit Proof Fence was good, but as was said, suffers rather from the skewed portrayal of Neville. Australian Rules was ridiculous, Black and White boring.
Problem is Aussie film-makers inevitably, boringly, tell Aboriginal stories in terms of racism. They fail to get inside the communities in the way Once were Warriors/what becomes of the Broken-Hearted and Whale Rider do. I loved Whale rider–an incredible feeling of lightness, magic, melancholy and beauty in it. What I’d love to see is a film based on Patricia Wrightson’s ‘Wirrun trilogy’ –nothing about racism, but Aboriginal guys as fantasy-adventure heroes(facing not bad white men, but elemental forces), a magnificent and chilling love story with an otherworldly girl, and an extraordinary feel for the huge diversity of Aboriginal folklore(note, not sacred stories, but those about ‘Little People’, tricksters and the like.)And a feel for this country which is just so deep..Wrightson’s books should be number one candidate to film, in my opinion (Nargun and the Stars, another beauty of hers, was filmed as a tele-movie by the ABC several years back, but that’s all.)That one of our greatest ever writers is so ignored by film-makers beggars belief, esp given her stories have sold extremely well overseas as well.

TimT
2022 years ago

Nicholas, the fact that you deliberately snub The Lord of the Rings as ‘a Hollywood film’ is probably part of the problem. Made by a New Zealander, filmed in New Zealand, with Australian, British, and, yes, American actors; and doubtless staffed by many of Peter Jackson’s regular production team. To insist that one of the most popular, successful AND best film projects of recent years be classed as ‘Hollywood’ simply because it fails to set some arbitrary standards set by you reeks of parochialism – the same kind of parochialism that sets ‘local content’ standards. The trilogy is a perfect example of the ability of film to cross boundaries – to be truly intercontinental.

I’d be interested in seeing some of Patricia Wrightson’s books filmed Sophie – possibly they’ve been ignored because of the usual sensitivies surrounding portrayal of Aboriginal people? What Wrightson does is essentialy take Aboriginal stories and interpret them in an European fashion – this sort of thing is very vulnerable to attack. I’m not entirely comfortable with it myself – I usually prefer straight-out European fantasy; seems more honest, somehow.
Anyway, I’d suggest A Little Fear as the perfect candidate for film. Requires little special effects, a small cast, has an empowering GRRRL figure in the main role (always attractive to the lefty-luvvies who run the film industry), and extremely well-plotted.

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

Tim,I agree re A Little Fear–a gorgeous book, very tight, funny, clever and magical. But i don’t think there’s any problem really with Wrightson’s depiction of Aboriginal characters–I remember being told once by an Aboriginal guy that in the particular community he came from, Wrightson’s books were some of the few that were actually liked by Aboriginal readers. It’s true that people are kind of paralysed about it–but I think that is coming from non-Aboriginal people setting themselves up to police the boundaries and not Aboriginal people at all. Her non-fiction book, ‘The wrightson List’ which does for Aboriginal folklore what Katharine Briggs did for British folklore, is a classic too–though ignored by the literati, it is an extraordinary resource–which was compiled with the help of Anoriginal people. Wrightson is a humble person who is well aware of the sensitivities, and who has been supported by many Aboriginal people, including playwright Jack Davis. She was well ahead of her time–and is ahead of it even now.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Have to agree regarding Aboriginal movies- depressingly formulaic and totally in step with the “progressive” attitudes of the film-maker and their miniscule audience. There’s plenty of material in the deprivation and abuse in remote communities throughout the country- and if such sexual abuse, violence and entrenched misogyny were present in white Australian societies there would have been myriad earnest treatises decrying such behaviour. Rousseau is alive and well in Australia’s self-appointed cultural elites.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Tim. For the record I like Hollywood films.

Its lucky for you that I’m such a nice guy. Otherwise I could have taken offence. I might have already had a bad day and your comments might have tipped me over the edge. Right now I might be taking beta blockers. I might have taken the life of a pet. A dead loved one. A stricken conscience wondering to itself ‘why was I sugh a meanie?’

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Sophie, I agree with what you say about Australian films with Aboriginal themes. They’re mostly about whities not Aborigines. I thought ‘Beneath Clouds’ was really good.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Derrida is making a point that is often made in the industry – the problems start in the cheap bits. They are bound up with money and we can demonstrate that this part of the process is very badly funded against other benchmark countries, but it is still stupid to piss four million dollars against a wall for the sake of a hundred thou.

“The other people’s money” meme is a bit sad. Who pays your pay cheque? The government? The shareholders?

And as for PB – a miniscule amount of my taxpayers money was probably spent on your education, or at least to subsidise your bus ride to school. This “tosser” thinks your education turned you into a foul mouthed barbarian. But I don’t begrudge it.

The Aboriginal film thing is fascinating. At least where they get government money, Aboriginal film has been supported for a long time with a philosophy that Black stories should be told by Black filmmakers. Ivan Sen, and a number of other directors, come from a strong program to support indigenous filmmakers, and “Beneath Clouds” for good or ill reflects his Aboriginal sensibility.

It is not fair to say that the problems in scripts come from a baby boomer sensibility, because many projects are not from that age group. But I do think a lot of damp projects got around and were made, and that the work I see in twenty year old students has a bit more energy.

Here’s a scarey question: to what extent does our film storytelling reflect the fact that our larger culture has lost its way?

mallrat
2022 years ago

I agree with Graham.
i’d love to see far less public money spent on sport in this country and more on cultural production. we deserve it.
people would want to see Australian films if they were better made. Of course money has a lot to do with it.
Up to here with quirky. That’s why i don’t go to see many australian films. someone said, i forget who, that films allow us to exercise the emotions, big emotions. absolutely. i want somehtign that will shake me, soemthign i can feel empathy with. i think the worst film of all time is th eroad to nhill. kath n kim is pretty fucked too, because while elements of the pisstake of suburbia are funny, there’s nothign threatening about it – it’s deeply patronising.
now i will track down sophie masson’s book and read it and regret the fact it hasnt been made into a film.

kyan gadac
kyan gadac
2022 years ago

Ivan Sen’s film still hasn’t had a national release nor is available on video. That says something abut Aboriginal films.

The film industry shares the fate of other skilled industry’s in this country. The destruction and corruption of training and apprenticeship by a succession of governments at the behest of the god of productivity aka Midas.

Today’s ‘Background Briefing’ on the skill shortage took my breath away with the revelation that the fast food franchise operators and the Woolworths/Coles duopoly are being subsidixed in the name of ‘training’ to the point where the effective wage rate for these business is $4.50/hour.

The destruction of the local retail industry and the ‘corner shop’ businesses throughout australia has been acheived with government backing and funding!

So no wonder we haven’t got a film industry – we haven’t got any sustainable industries. So forget about stories to tell – there’s plenty of them – concentrate on the practicazl consequence of the major priority of skills training in this country being ‘burger cooking’.

BTW It’s a bit rich hearing people talk about how films about racism are ‘boring’ etc. – tell that to the people on Palm Island today and so how far you get. That’s the criticism that is justified for electing to make nice films based on Patricia Wrightson’s books – not that she’s a white author.

You can’t make an honest film, without at least refering to racism in this country – the reason that racism isn’t so much of an issue in NZ films is because most Kiwis don’t actively despise their indigenous heritage – unlike most Aussies who do.

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nz
2022 years ago

I would like to point out that in my fathers den whichc someone mentioned earlier isn’t even made in Australia it’s from New Zealand

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2022 years ago

in war the most powerful weapon is seduction

Time to post on the state of play in the Australian film industry. I’ve been involved with the Australian Writers’ Guild, been a project manager in the Australian Film Commission, worked close to the action in Film Victoria, done a…

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2022 years ago

in war the most powerful weapon is seduction

The “in war… ” line is the advertising tag for The Quiet American, directed by our very own Phil Noyce. Time to post on the state of play in the Australian film industry. I’ve been involved with the Australian Writers’…