Australian Annual Drama Report Reveals $731 Million Investment in Feature Films and Television Drama Productions for 2009/10

Canberra, ACT ( November 10, 2010

Australian Annual Drama Report Reveals $731 Million Investment in Feature Films and Television Drama Productions for 2009/10

Australian Annual Drama Report Reveals $731 Million Investment in Feature Films and Television Drama Productions for 2009/10

Screen Australia today released its annual Drama Report revealing that total expenditure in Australia by feature films and television drama productions in 2009/10 was $731 million, up 2 per cent since 2008/09.

“The Australian screen industry is in a solid position thanks to the introduction of the Producer Offset,” said Ruth Harley, Screen Australia Chief Executive Officer. “Overall expenditure by the 2009/10 drama slate rose slightly this year and is well above pre-Offset levels. In the context of a global financial crisis and a downturn in global production, this is a good result and shows that the Producer Offset was the Australian screen industry stimulus package that we didn’t know we needed to have.”

Australian feature production in 2009/10 was close to the three-year average. Foreign production was up after a lean year in 2008/09, due to two high-budget features, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.

However, Dr Harley added: “There is a serious risk that a reduction in high-budget Australian features along with the absence of foreign production in 2010/11 will result in a drop in the total expenditure in Australia by feature films. In order for the screen sector to continue to thrive, it is vital that Screen Australia continues to provide its direct support for films in the medium-budget ranges which are difficult to finance in this climate with the indirect support of the Producer Offset alone.”

Expenditure by TV drama for adults is at a 10-year high. The average cost per hour of TV drama for adults increased in 2009/10, with hours down but expenditure up. Expenditure by children’s drama fell to $53 million this year, largely due to a balancing of increased production in the previous two years. Levels of children’s drama production are expected to rise again next year.

“Television has been the big success story for 2009/10 with increased investment resulting in the production of quality drama that has been enjoyed by audiences throughout Australia. Government policy in the support of television continues to play a vital role in ensuring that Australians have access to Australian stories on television and that the production sector is healthy and sustainable. This will continue to remain important to ensure that the current production levels are maintained in a changing media landscape,” Dr Harley said.

The total value of the Producer Offset to the 2009/10 slate was $128 million. The report also includes a section analysing how the Offset has been cashflowed over the first three years of its operation.

“This is the first year we have seen significant private investment support in the screen industry courtesy of the Producer Offset,” said Dr Harley. “In 2007/08, the first year of its operation, the majority of Producer Offset finance was cashflowed by the film/TV industry and government sources. This year, over 40 per cent of Offset finance was cashflowed by banks and other private sources. Film funds set up specifically to cashflow the Producer Offset are also becoming more significant, contributing 15 per cent of finance in 2009/10 compared to 2–3 per cent in the first two years.”

Features that have accessed or are likely to access the Producer Offset accounted for 90 per cent of total feature expenditure over the last three years and 99 per cent in 2009/10. Offset TV drama accounted for 71 per cent of total TV drama expenditure but only 46 per cent of total TV drama hours over the same period, due to the fact that long-form TV drama (over 65 episodes) is not eligible.

The Drama Report 09/10 replaces Screen Australia’s National Survey of Feature Film and TV Drama Production. It reports on the contribution of the Producer Offset to the annual slate of Australian features and TV drama, both domestic productions and official co-productions.

Data is presented for the past three years, 2007/08 to 2009/10, the period since the introduction of the Offset. Foreign titles are also analysed if they have been shot (or substantially shot) in Australia, or carried out post, digital or visual effects (PDV) work in Australia without shooting here.

The report can be downloaded from The Lantern Group
Niki White T: 02 9383 4038; M: 0403 176 988,
Susan Hoerlein T: 02 9383 4029; M: 0422 553 343

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