Before picking up this subject, I’ve always had a negative attitude towards Australian cinema and television. I am not proud to admit this as I think it’s important to support local talent and production. I have never watched Underbelly, Packed to the Rafters, Love Child, the INXS biopic or any other television drama or soap (excluding Puberty Blue, which I love!). When I watch it, I kind of cringe. There’s something that I just can’t take seriously about Australian acting. To go to class and find out that some people felt the same way was somewhat of a relief. When asked what we think when we hear “Australian content”, a lot of the same themes kept popping up like stereotypes, the beach, the outback, soapies, cringe worthy and unsuccessful.
So what really defines a film or TV show Australian? For a film to be classed as Australian made, it has to showcase significant Australian content under the guidelines of Screen Australia. Screen Australia says that to be of significant Australian content, the film has to take into account “the subject matter of the film, the place where the film was made, the nationalities and places of residence of the persons who took part in the making of the film and the details of the production expenditure incurred in respect of the film” (Screen Australia 2015, p.6).
Personally, I think that the “subject matter” and “the place where the film was made” have been taken too far. I mean this in a sense that almost every notable Australian film has something to do with the outback or an extremely Aussie accent. Some films that showcase this are Picnic at Hanging Rock, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Wolf Creek, Strangerland, Tracks, Crocodile Dundee and Last Cab to Darwin. I feel that it is time that producers and directors try to move past this ‘Australianness” image and create something that doesn’t contain Aussie stereotypes. We should move towards storylines like Moulin Rouge, The Black Balloon, Paper Planes, Happy Feet or even The Babadook. Even on just a quick Google of Australian films, I get bombarded with a whole lot of movies with stereotypical Aussie plots and landscapes and actors with over the top “ocker” accents (let’s maybe just exclude Mad Max: Fury Road and a few others).
I also question as to why we portray these over the top stereotypes. Is it because we lack a sense of cultural identity therefore we are trying to cling on to whatever we can? In saying these opinions, it’s only the start of the semester so I am excited to see whether further knowledge on Australian films will open my mind a little more or change my thoughts and attitudes towards Australian film. Who knows, by the time I’ve finished this subject I might actually want to pay to see an Aussie film.
Screen Australia 2015, Producer Offset Guidelines, Screen Australia, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/c83d96e6-d225-4270-847a-864b230759f0/Glines_ProducerOffset.pdf