The Australian Film Industry

In 1906 Australia produced the world’s first ever feature film “The story of the Kelly Gang”. At the time no one realized the precedent these silent moving images would have on the world. Despite this cinematic discovery, Australia’s film industry finds itself struggling to produce films with domestic and international recognition unable to match other production markets such as Hollywood. By closely analyzing a few key areas around popularity, funding and identity we can understand the factors which have contributed to this situation and perhaps prevent the Australian film industry ceasing to exist entirely.

Whenever I think about the Australian film industry I reflect on it and consider it as a brilliant array of stories. Australia has made some pretty great films and I do believe they are highly underrated. We have the potential to tap into the market and flourish in the film world. From the 1920’s-1970’s Australian films were modest bouts of local production in conjunction with the saturation of English and American products. Under the Gough Whitlam administration, the film industry was given a major resurgence. He stressed the importance of Australian based activity in film art. With the aid of a supportive government the formation of the Australian Film Commission, to subsidize the cost of film productions, was created. It was a favorable gesture “In which the government of the day could expect to win some esteem by launching an arts assistance programme with provision for film” states film historian Ina Bertrand in her 1989 ‘Cinema in Australia’ book. The Fraser administration who gained office after the Whitlam government, continued to support the arts like his predecessor. Filmmakers were given major subsidies to support them in the process; paying half the tax on their initial investments, the production and location also had major subsides.

Through my own personal understanding I believe the major law governing these taxes is the 10BA. Film financers were given a major incentive to invest in films, ‘in the eight years from 1980/81 to 1987/88, during which the 10BA concession was at least 120 per cent with at least 20 per cent of income from the investment exempt from tax, production budgets secured through 10BA totalled … 92 per cent of Australian features produced in the period’. The 10BA tax concession helped to create a platform where major international renowned films were produced such as Crocodile Dundee (1986) and The Man from Snowy River (1982).

Currently funding for Australian film productions are run by Screen Australia whom are responsible for the development and demand of Australian productions dealing with the analysis of the current market place, audience and technological evolution. On the site they claim to focus on the finance and production side of things which foreshadows how hard it is to be granted money to make a film. There is a lot of convoluted policies and information surrounding the alternations to the tax laws for Australian films, the criteria and how eligible you are to make an Australian film on the Screen Australia website. However to comply with the demands of the government requirements have been put in place.

In order to receive funding from the Australian federal government, Screen Australia has put forth a set of criteria to reach eligibility for a film must meet. The first and foremost thing the project must have a significant level of Australian content. On the surface it seems simple enough to comprehend but the further you ponder over that statement you realise its flaws. How can you categorise Australian identity into a singular definitive when the country houses a diverse range of national identities. It is an ambiguous brief to follow and problematic on a cultural and social level. In fact, I believe this further hinders the Australian film industry by placing limitations on what it means to be ‘Australian’ thus worthy of creating a cinematic story.

Today, the Australian film industry is in a downward spiral. We are failing in our domestic market and Australians do not seem interested in their own content. This is reflected in the drastic difference between the expenditure put towards the film investment and the profit made back. Between the years of 1988 and 2008 $1.3 billion was invested into the production of Australian films and we only made $274 million back. In 2016 Australian feature films only earned $24.1 Million in the box office and made up 1.9 % of the overall Australian box office takings. In 2017, the number has increased to around 4.1% which is good but definitely could be better.  84% of the box office and content that is being screened is dominated by Hollywood films. These statistics demonstrate that the content in film is not engaging with audience members.

Our film industry is already in a fragile place and survival is essential if we want to continue to tell the Australian stories. I find it quite shocking to see the current government’s belief in proposing further deregulations. Thus it becomes a refreshing thing to witness Australian talent defend the  film industry by adding their support  to the “Make it Australian” campaign, which has been lobbying to convince the federal arts minister, Mitch Fifield, of the industry’s cultural and economic worth. This an open letter signed by 215 big shots in an attempt to get the government to preserve the screen industry.  The government is refusing to help cut tax incentives “We have huge global potential. But if the government doesn’t get the policy settings right, very soon we won’t have an independent Australian screen industry at all” states Screen Producers Association’s chief executive, Matthew Deaner.

In conclusion it is obvious that the Australian film industry is struggling. In order for us to continue to produce our stories the government needs to provide more support in funding and create better tax incentives. We need to restructure the terms and conditions in the eligibility criteria and be less ambiguous in the expectations. This all can be fixed with better policy making and more financial assistance.  There is no denying that change needs to occur otherwise the Australian film industry will fail and potential cease to exist in the future.

Reference List

ABS, 2018, 4172.0 – Arts and Culture in Australia: A Statistical Overview, 2014, Commonwealth of Australia,

Bertrand, Ina ed. 1989, Cinema in Australia: A Documentary History, University of New South Wales Press, Kensington.

Brennan, B. 2015, MYEFO: Arts sector ‘horrified’ by cuts to Screen Australia, literary council, ABCNEWS,

Burns. A, Eltham. B, 2010, ‘Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy: 10BA, The Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood’s ‘Race to the Bottom’, Media International Australia, 103-118

Graham, S., JACKSON,S. , 2018, THE STORY OF THE KELLY GANG, The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

O’Regan, T. 2005, Chapter 2: Theorising Australian Cinema, Australian National Cinema, Routledge, p.p 9-30.




Digital Artifact and Contextual Essay

Contextual Essay

Over the course of this semester, I have read, highlighted, circled and noted a tonne of information on cyborgs, technology, societal thoughts, pop culture and prosthesis. As a result of this ten week journey I have managed to produce a body of work which is made with a hope of sharing some much needed positivism in our dark and gloomy world.

My main research aim was to discuss technological prosthesis in order normalise the concept of the cyborg in mainstream societal thought. The podcast delves into the negative associations society has around technological advancements, particularly the relationship between humanity and machines. I describe the role of popular culture by using interviews and surveys I conducted myself. This process went really well, the only thing that could have been improved was the amount of responses I received. I do acknowledge that twenty responses is not a lot in the grand scheme of things but considering the size, time and ethical restraints I had to take into consideration it was a pretty rewarding outcome.

I use three stories of people who have overcome obstacles and broken down societal boundaries through their relationship with technological prosthesis. Every human can relate to the central themes of wanting to prove something or seeking to belong.  It is my personal belief that people rely so much on technology and yet are confronted by the prospect of it’s position in the economy. By incorporating Donna Harraway’s work and my own research I could demonstrate this paradigm that exists and perhaps convince the people listening; that cyborgs don’t necessarily have to be emotionless machines, instead they are everyday people, like you, me and the seven other billion people found on earth.

Technology is so rapidly evolving that society is scared that it is an uncontrollable force. So when there is discussion of cyborgs and humans people obviously are going to freak out. I wanted to do two things:- Firstly, stop people from freaking out or at least ease the transition towards the inevitable truth. Secondly, I wanted to show that technology actually has a positive influence and power position in society. My aim was to look at the benefits, gains and people surrounding technological prosthesis instead of focusing on the fears, apprehensions and problems almost always projected into society. This Digital artifact was a progression that evolved over time, my first two blog posts helped to narrow down ideas and in reflection I am grateful they were compulsory assignments during the semester.  After I received feedback for both of them, I tried to improve the clarity and aim of my research ideas.

My biggest issue was compiling the overwhelming amount of information I received into a succinct yet coherent project. It was a long and tiresome task but in the end I achieved what I set out to do. I provided happy stories of happy people, redefined the cyborg through a process of normalisation and demonstrated how technological prosthesis is beneficial for human kind. Personally, I no longer have that uncomfortable feeling brought on by my exposure to Terminator as a child. Instead, I am looking forward to changing the subconscious of all my listeners by redefining the cyborg through technological prosthesis discussed in my podcast.

Digital Artifact



  • Murray, Craig. (2005). The Social Meanings of Prosthesis Use. Journal of health psychology. 10. 425-41. 10.1177/1359105305051431.

Live-Tweeting, An Eight Week Saga

For the last several weeks, I have immersed myself into the art of live tweeting. Throughout my university degree, I have never once been asked to do this. It was refreshing to have a subject with no pre-conceived knowledge of what the tasks would involve. To live tweet, we watched an array of science fiction films applying the theories and concepts discussed in lectures. Through that foundation we extended those ideas by collaborating with other members of the class, discussing thoughts and opinions whilst also proposing questions for others to answer. It was a way to engage the audience with the content and introduce a new and exciting way in achieving class collaboration and discussion. Therefore, this blog post will be a curation of tweets, both my own and others, in a week by week layout to demonstrate my overall experience of the live tweeting process.

Week One: – Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 Anime – Ghost in the Shell.

The beginning of any new task always requires a warm up stage. I used this week to grasp the concept of live tweeting. The film was an effective introduction into the future cultures course content; it highlighted some keys themes that would be addressed throughout the semester. My initial thoughts after week one lingered around the ideas and impacts of technological advancement, the ethics involved in creating robots and the way in which this film highlights some important societal issues relevant even today. There is a scene in the movie known as the puppet master’s speech that alludes to issues surrounding politics, power, money and technology. My favourite tweet for the week discussed merging and suggestion it was a form of love.

Week Two – Michael Crichton’s 1973 Film: – Westworld.

By far one of the best films we watched. This week was interesting and provided so much material for solid class discussion. I think this film conveyed some powerful messages around gender, equality, sexualisation, slavery and so much more. It really focused on the representation of emotion. Can robots have the same emotional responses as humans when they are only machines or are they no longer just machines?

I was a major fan of the film techniques throughout each scene; I love directors who can successfully make the visual stimulus just as important as the clues in the dialogue. Another major aspect of this week was the objectification of women through sexualisation. I found this tweet important for the movie context but also to highlight a prevalent issue in contemporary society.


Week Three: – Robert Longo’s 1995 Film :- Johnny Mnemonic.

Honestly this movie was somewhat good and somewhat bad. Some iconic actors and actresses but each scene made me cringe uncomfortably. However it did have an amazing visual representation of cyberspace. This week is where I retweeted some posts produced by other members of the class. I particularly liked the one posted by Angela alluding to cyberpunk in the entertainment industry. I think it helped explain some of the core elements of cyberpunk representation in this film.


Week Five:- Netflix’s Black Mirror – “Be right Back”, Season Two, Episode One

This sci-fi anthology series imagines realities in which people are forced to power their own existence, receive memory implants and more. I really enjoyed this week’s content, it requires you to pay close attention to each subtle gesture in the film. My aim was to engage deeply with the content this week provided so I could offer personal insights with a little more depth. I had two tweets where I think I tried to analyse some of the major themes of love and loss, pain and suffering, right and wrong.


Week Six:- Jake Schreier’s 2012 film:- Robot and Frank

This week’s film was lighthearted comedy with some pretty unexpected heart wrenching moments. It dealt with the isolation of growing old, the deterioration of dementia and the ethical issues surrounding robots. This week my engagement wasn’t the best with the live-tweeting, I was too engrossed in the actual film itself but I did find this quote I tweeted quite relatable to the ethical debate surrounding the use of robots as slaves.

Week Seven:- Netflix’s Black Mirror- “Hated in the Nation“, Season Three, Episode Six

By far the best week for engagement, this episode highlighted online bullying and the psychological impacts this can have on people. It talked about social media, online behaviours and the ramifications of power imbalances. I loved the collaboration of discussion between my peers. Throughout the screening we discussed some serious issues that have impacted people personally and collectively too.


On a less serious note, depending on the way you want to look at, I had my most liked tweet happen in this week. I still think it was a worthy and relevant tweet that needed to be shared about the spider take-over that could occur any moment.

Week Eight:- Ridley Scott’s 1982 Film :- Blade Runner

What an epic way to end the live-tweet saga with one of the best sci-fi films ever made. There are so many subtle references to the control of corporations, power imbalances in class structures, cyborgs, cyberspace, ethics, social injustices, sexualisation of women, the human deconstruction of the natural environment, biblical references and so much more. What makes us human is the main question that goes unanswered in the film, rather it purposefully leaves a void for you to decide with your own interpretation.


Redefining the idea of the MANBOT

“Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do. Nobody calls her disabled”. Aimee Mullins (2009, TED TALKS, YOUTUBE)

In relation to my first blog post, I focused on the fears and apprehensions society faces in relation to the MANBOT. I discussed my personal woes around this half-human, half-robot reality. More importantly, I realized there is a major stigma in society against technological prosthesis. The assumption many people conclude, is that machine and man cannot intertwine without the loss of humanity. The perception comes from ingrained fears of the other, something so different it is deemed to be threatening. This is exacerbated by different media representations in films, movies, books and comics. As a result there is a current societal skepticism towards technological advancement. In reality, technology is constantly changing and further enhancing human capabilities: with individuals becoming dependent on technological support to regain function of certain body parts.

Cyborgisation is occurring all around us and has positively affected the lives of many. There are so many inspirational stories of people with disabilities, injuries and other conditions who enjoy a better quality of life due to implants and prosthesis. Therefore, my digital artifact will look at the development, impacts and benefits of technological prosthesis. It will challenge the negative notions through examples of individuals in need or opting for cyborgisation. The hope is to debunk this fear of the MANBOT and redefine societal understanding by demonstrating the crucial role technology has in aiding human existence.

Prosthesis has been around for thousands of years, since ancient times people have used objects to amplify/extend their capabilities. Wars, poverty, environmental disasters, uniqueness, change, individualism, to name a few, have seen objects become supplements for certain body parts. Over the last few decades, technological advancement has led to a new era of prosthesis. This has seen a massive change in the way in which prosthesis has developed. Before the 20th century, wood and metal where two of the main products used in created artificial limbs, materials unable to replicate the full natural function. Even today “current prostheses on the market are impractical, expensive, non-ergonomic and at times, painful for the user,…However….The time is ripe for these technological advances to benefit the industry and the lives of prosthetic users”.(Gerardo Montoya, 2017).

The market is constantly changing and evolving and with the acceleration of new technology comes new innovations. The below video depicts Bob Walsh, an amputee experiencing some of the newest technology available on the market.

There are also individuals seeking to redefine what is accepted as a normal prostheses, Neil Harbisson (whom i mentioned in my previous post) was born color blind and uses an antenna to turn color into audible frequencies. The antenna allows him to interact withe world in a whole new way. 


(Image Credit:-TED TALK)

Another example is Rob Spence, Toronto-based filmmaker. who replaced his missing eye with a prosthetic, completely equipped with a wireless-transmitting  video camera. “Thanks to a partnership with RF wireless design company and a group of electrical engineers, Spence created a prosthetic eye shell that could house enough electronics in such a small, confined space” (Tangermann, 2017).


(Image Credit:- The Eyeborg Project)

In the midst of my research I realized I needed to invest more time into the academic literature available , A Cyborg Manifesto proved helpful in my research by creating a framework between man, machine and animal through a boundless relationship,  rejecting a distinct and restrictive definition. “The Social Meanings of Prosthesis Use” a paper by Craig Murray , a lecturer in Psychology at the University of Manchester has been an asset to my work. He conducted a series of face-to-face interviews with individuals to see the social role the prostheses would have on the user, the social meanings it carried and the emotional impact it would have on the individual.

Human beings are innate at defining the other. In western society our supreme definition of the human body is never projected as someone missing a body part. It is ingrained into our collective thought, to label, categorize and define something or someone as lesser then us due to this difference. Aimee Mullins, is an athlete, activist, actor and a proud owner of over 10 pairs of prosthetic legs. Aimee is also a double amputee of both her legs since the age of one. Her story is one of inspiration and persistence, but more importantly she is a strong advocate for re-shaping the way we define the other. Her aim is to dissolve the boxes, challenge and exceed societal boundaries and redefine the way in which we view people with disabilities.

In conjunction with the above research, I am currently in the process of establishing group interviews (family and friends to avoid ethical problems) where I will use visual stimulus of different types of technological prostheses and record the reactionary response to determine the attitudes currently held by people directly unaffected. I think it will add an interesting layer to the project. My aim is to show technology as an effective tool in enhancing life and helping to re-define the way in which technological prostheses is viewed.




The FEAR of the MANBOT

“Creating a neural lace is the thing that really matters for humanity to achieve symbiosis with machines” – Elon Musk


In 2017, Telsa’s Founder Elon Musk claimed humans must become cyborgs if they are to stay relevant in a future dominated by artificial intelligence. Let’s take a moment to process this statement. Allow this claim to sink into every crevice of your brain as it starts eating away at the minds logic and reason. You begin to fear the machine as you imagine it wiping out humanity. Perhaps your lucky enough to escape this phase of assured annihilation and appreciate the powerful impact technological advancements can have on society. This integration of machine and man suggests a total reshaping of society and introduces a world where artificial and organic merge into one.

My initial reaction to Musk’s words,  was one of pure fear. This embedded fear that grew within me originated from some heavily overthinking of fictional film during my early teen years. With a brother five years my elder, I was exposed to some pretty intense, cyborg, post apocalyptic settings. My most favourite franchise during these years was “Terminator”.

For those unfamiliar to the story, Terminator’s main crux is the creation of an artificial intelligence network that overcomes it creators and seeks to destroy humans. Basically it is the rise of the machines and the downfall of humanity with a few protagonists, fighting scenes and some superb acting by none other then Arnold Schwarzenegger . I do highly recommend the entire saga, as Terminator is still iconic not only for the plot line but also for providing us with some spectacular catch phrases of the 1980’s till now- “I’ll be back”- being one of the most significant. While I appreciate the fictional predictions within a film, a small fragment of my mind got heavily obsessed with the idea that machines were going to rise up against people and take over the world. The core of my fear was the terrorising idea I would one day consist of machine parts, with little to no humanity left within me.

As I’ve grown older this fear has subdued, however this instantaneous worry that I felt is one that society also faces. Technology has advanced dramatically over the last century and the merging of machine and man is literally a current international occurrence. Prosthetic limbs are an artificial limb which “delivers renewed functionality and is cosmetically pleasing, but it also serves to complete the wearer’s sense of wholeness. A prosthesis then, is as much medical device as it is an emotional comfort, and so the history of prosthetics is not only a scientific history, but the story of human beings since the dawn of civilization who by birth, wound, or accident were left with something missing”.

Since ancient times we have used machines to extend the capabilities of the physical human self. In twenty first century society we have individuals even opting to implant technology into their bodies for further enhancement. My project will consist of case studies about people who have gone through prosthesis of varying degrees. One individual I’ll focus on is Neil Harbisson, the first human cyborg, who can “see” in UV thanks to an antenna-like implant that boosts his perception of light and gives him super-senses. 

Therefore where does this fear that society harbours about prosthetic limbs originate? Is it the fear of loosing one’s identity? Loosing one’s emotions? Loosing one’s humanity? Does attaching something synthetic to your body make you less human?.

For my Independent Future cultures research project I want to explore why society is fearful of prosthetic limbs. Do we fear those more who choose to have prosthesis compared to individuals who have too? Where did this fear come from and what allows for it to fester? What is the role of cinematic institutions, power, money and technology in exacerbating this fear.

At this particular point in time, I’m interested in using case studies and comparing the societal reaction to pre-existing cyborgs. I want to run my own focus group (with family and friends so I avoid ethical problems) and record the reaction they have to visual prompts of existing cyborgs. I think first hand experience will strengthen my digital artefact. Initially my two options for presenting the artefact, is the podcast or report, however I have not set this in stone yet.

Personally, I think this project  has great potential for explain the notions of  fear and acceptance humans grapple with as technological evolution becomes more and more apparent.




The Learning Process

This reflection marks the final thing for this semester as I tick off my 3rd year of university, only two more to go. To be honest, at the beginning of this semester the mid-course blues had kicked and university motivation was at all-time low. However, after the first few weeks I really started to enjoy the content we were learning about in BCM288: Transnational Media and Culture Industries, it reminded me of why I was doing my degree and sparked my motivation once again.

Firstly BCM288, is a subject with a lot of relevance. Today’s Media and cultural industries are constantly evolving and cross-communication between countries is essential for the future of international media relationships. This course offers an understanding into the different possible ways to understand this global media interconnection.

Both weeks two and three interested me.  Week three delved into the differences and similarities of reality and lifestyle television and how certain shows of this genre have been adapted by other countries. I enjoyed reading Chapter ten, a transnational case study which compared the Australian version of the block to the Dutch. It was interesting to break down the factors which separated the two versions due to cultural differences, socio-economic factors and television show preferences. Discussing the translation of comedy and Drama was also quite interesting, I enjoyed writing my blog on the Kath and Kim series and its inability to adapt to America. Through my research I also discovered that the comedy skit show “Thank God Your Here” also was adapted for the American television market place.

Both group assignments proved beneficial in expanding my media industry expertise. Learning about the anti-terrorism laws and the impact on Australian media actually stunned me. It was hard to fathom the how the Australian government was able to stop journalism from reporting on things that needed to be public knowledge. I did a case study on the reporting of Nauru and how journalists faced up to ten years jail time for speaking up against the system. The whole report captivated me because I’m not only passionate about media but also social justice, a combination of both was even better.

Learning about International film festivals through debate was fun and different. I had never previously done an assignment set out like this and it kept me enthusiastic about the research process. Whilst I was a member of the negative team, the debate style allowed me to learn a lot more information. The rebuttal ensured I had taken into consideration the other team’s arguments, therefore I was able to retain the knowledge they provided.

In reflection of this subject, I think it sparked the thinking process surrounding the future of international media relations. Through the course content, theory was applied to relevant examples in new ways. It demonstrates the strengths and limitations evident in media and culture industries and impacts this has on a national and also international scale. The subject has broaden my understanding of key concepts and also provided me with a new skill set of approaches when analyzing future content on transnational media and cultural industries.

Canadian and Aussie Co-Productions

In Australia, we have partnerships with countries from around the world to allow filmmakers from different continents the opportunity to come together to create co-productions. Screen Australia is the official site and paperwork people you must go through when wanting to apply for a co-production. The main underlying rule which needs to be followed is “that each co-producer must bring a minimum percentage of the financial and creative contribution to the project, and further, these two elements need to be ‘reasonably in proportion’ (Screen Australia, 2016). With the contribution of two international filmmakers, the production is ought to be creative and unique with a diversity in film techniques. Co-productions allow for international barriers to be crossed, creating a platform where mixed cultural forms can be expressed and viewed.

The co-production agreement between Australia and Canada has resulted in the production of around 56 productions. Co-productions allow international filmmakers to create narratives which have a mixed cultural message and understanding. It creates diversity and places an emphasis on originality. However there is an underlying importance of successful co-productions for Australian cinema and television. A study of co-productions and their benefits on Australian feature films and television found that “Australian producers find financial pooling the most important benefit of co-production and it is likely that this will be pursued more vigorously in the future” (Hoskins, McFadyen, & Finn, 1999).

The study conducted by Hoskins, McFadyen and Finn concluded that the equal contribution from countries was not balanced. A survey was formulated and distributed to production companies in both Australia and Canada, the questions were all linked to their potential participation in co-productions between the periods of 1985-1994.  Thirty seven usable responses were returned from Australia and thirty eight from Canada. The results indicated that Australia had fallen short of providing equal financial contribution with only 35% being accounted for. However, the creativity proportion exceeded the intended input with an overall weighted average of 57.7%. This proves co-productions are extremely beneficial to the Australian film industry.

Between the years 1998-2002 “the low Australian dollar increased Australia’s appeal as a filming location, for both foreign productions and co-productions” (screen Australia, 2016). During this time, drama television soared, with the production of series such as ‘BeastMaster’ and ‘Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World series’. Budgets for co-production heavily increased during this time. Animation productions between Australia and Canada also saw the production of successful animations such as “Pearlie” and “Winston Steinburger and sir dudely ding dong”.

Whilst co-productions have proven to benefit the Australian film industry, the study conducted indicated Australia is slower than other countries in accepting co-productions. This is still relevant today, with the rigorous and slow process of applying for a co-production in Australia. Australia has the potential to expand further with co-productions with “government initiative in treaty negotiation and increased official openness to international co-production” (Hoskins, McFadyen, & Finn, 1999).


Hoskins, Colin, Stuart McFadyen and Adam Finn. (1999) “International Joint Ventures in the Production of Australian Feature Films and Television Programs.” Canadian Journal of Communication 24(1).

Screen Australia (2016) “Partnership with Canada”. Australian Government.