Daring or Dangerous? Are Co-Productions the Future of Australian Films?

“I don’t know an Australian would have made this film” Andrew Mason (Producer)

I previously watched this film and was completely blown away by the tender provocativeness of the storyline and honest vulnerability of the characters, complemented by the stunning landscape of the NSW coastline. It was unlike any other Australian film I had seen before so I had to do a bit of research on this film. It turns out that Adore (also known as Two Mothers, Perfect Mothers and Adoration) is a French – Australian film that was released at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 (Bodey, 2013). Australians love French cinema which is proven through the success of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival ,in its 27th year in 2016 and the biggest festival of French films outside of France.

Culturally, France is renowned for their unapologetic romance and passion. Bodey explains that they know how to feel and if you love something, go for it’ (Bodey, 2013). The movie And as the producer Andrew Mason confesses ‘I don’t know an Australian would have made this film.’ The film is based on a short story by British author, Doris Lessing and was directed French director, Anne Fontaine. Yet the film features predominantly Australian actors and is set in Seal Rocks on the coast of Australia. This neat fusion of culture and cinematic ideas, create a hybrid film.

I have previously explored the importance of landscape in Australian films (check it out here), and this film is no exception. Bodey states that the isolation of the location – a small coastal town, plays on the idea that it is an Australian film and apart from a few references to Sydney, could be any coastal town in the world.

adore2
Adore. Source

To co produce with France also offers enormous benefits in audience reach, financial support and box office success. France has an extremely strong and unique film industry. In 2013, ‘270 feature films were produced with a combined expendituare of €1.25 billion’ (Screen Australia, 2014). Along with having a significantly larger budget, France also has a huge cinema watching audience. With a population of 66million and 196.3million annual cinema admissions, France is a strong country to co produce with (Screen Australia 2014). France and Australia have a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) which was signed in 1986 and since then have co produced over 32 productions with a total budget of $265million (Screen Australia, 2014). The Australian minimum is 40% but the French minimum is 20% (Screen Australia, 2014) which illustrates the Australian film industry’s need to exercise tight control over our national industry and identity. The benefits of co producing with France are economically and culturally viable and beneficial to both nations.

Critics have said that co-produced films are ‘oriented towards global agendas and systems’ (O’Regan & Potter, 2013) and we could risk losing our national film identity. They are also concerned that internationalising a national film industry can lead to ‘loss of creative freedom and contribute to film distribution, production, post-production and visual effects also being internationalised’ (O’Regan & Potter, 2013). However, others believe that co productions are the key to the future and success of the Australian film industry, with unique and changing stories that can capture rich appreciate from audiences (Dillon, 2013)

A film like Adore contains significant Australian content, it just has a fresh French squeeze drizzled over it. It seems however, that Australian audiences aren’t ready to embrace such a big change in our national film industry just yet.

 

References

Bodey, M 2013, ‘Sons and lovers unite in French-Australian drama Adoration‘, The Australian, 16 November, viewed 14 January 2016, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/sons-and-lovers-unite-in-french-australian-drama-adoration/story-fn9n8gph-1226759727586

Dillion, J 2013, ‘On Australian Screens’, Scrope Screen Industry Views, Metro, Communication & Mass Media Complete, 176, pp. 112 – 119, viewed 17 January 2016

Screen Australia, 2014 ‘Co-Pro Program Partner Countries Profile: France’, Screen Australia, viewed 14 January 2016, https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/coproductions/partner_countries/france

O’Regan, T Potter, A 2013, ‘Globalisation from within?: The de-nationalising of Australian film and television production’ Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 149, Nov 2013

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