Australian Screen Industries Must Get More Engaged in Asia, Study Says

Courtesy Everett Collection

A report commissioned by the country's film and TV agency says growth hinges on greater collaboration in Asia, and industry exports to the region should be doubled within five years.

The future growth of Australia’s screen industries hinges on greater engagement with the booming markets of Asia.

That's the takeaway of an industry-wide report commissioned by the country’s film and TV agency, Screen Australia, and produced in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

STORY: Angelina Jolie Arrives in Australia to Shoot 'Unbroken'

“Now is the time for the Australian screen industries to strengthen ties, formalize co-production arrangements and develop sound knowledge of working with our partners in Asia," said Screen Australia CEO Ruth Harley.

The research report, “Common Ground: Opportunities for Australian Screen Partnerships in Asia,” is based on a survey of 51 Australian production companies that have taken part in projects involving Asian partners over the past five years, along with interviews with 31 Australian producers, agencies and screen organizations, and 27 Asian producers and agencies.

“An overwhelming theme that emerged in the research was the importance of genuine collaboration that will underpin all success,” said Harley.

“The good news is that our counterparts across Asia consider Australians to be good at collaborating,” she added.

The study estimates the value of Australia’s audio-visual exports to Asian at about $50 million for each of the past three years – roughly 25-35 percent of Australia’s total audio-visual exports abroad for each of those years. It targeted doubling the Asia export figure within the next five years.

STORY: Oscars: Australia Nominates 'The Rocket' in Foreign Language Category

The report identifies China, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore as offering the most significant opportunity to Australian screen producers, and says India, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand also hold potential.

To facilitate closer ties, the researchers suggest the creation of an Australia-hosted market event, where Asian and Australian producers and broadcasters can meet, do business and showcase their capacities.

Closer government-led collaboration with Australia’s regional neighbors is also advocated. Australia has co-production treaties or accords with 11 countries globally, but just two in Asia: China for film and TV movies, and Singapore for feature film and television. The lack of a co-production treaty with Japan, the world’s third-largest movie market, is seen as an ongoing obstacle to greater collaboration with the Japanese screen industry.

Next month Screen Australia will lead a delegation of 25 Australian producers and commissioning editors to the Beijing and Sichuan TV Festival, where they will meet with Chinese Government agencies, broadcasters and producers at networking events and business matching sessions.