In the Australian film and television production industry, locally owned small businesses compete with huge multinationals: studios and networks such as Disney, NBC Universal, Warner Brothers, German giant RTL, Britain’s ITV and even the BBC. We are all competing for the same eyeballs on screen and the same crews to make the shows.
On Friday, the Morrison government announced a $400 million package to assist the attraction of foreign blockbuster productions to Australia – productions exclusively made by the foreign multinationals.
The Morrison government is to be congratulated for its support of the film and television industry. Despite the perception, over the past three decades Liberal governments have always been more supportive of our industry than Labor governments. But here’s the rub: unlike every other industry, the government is subsidising foreign producers while local productions receive far less, indeed in most cases, no government support.
It will be argued that having big US movies made here is good for local skills. However, I haven’t yet seen an example of international work practices helping a local show get made. What it does do is drive up the cost of production and instil wasteful habits in crews. At a time when we need to become more efficient, the flow-on effect of this scheme is inflationary for the local industry, which must attempt to compete for crew using our much lower budgets versus their cashed-up mega budgets. So an unintended consequence is that it becomes harder for local producers to hire Australian crews and technicians to work on Australian shows.