'Game Of Thrones,' 'Wentworth' Help TV Production in Australia Rise to Record Levels


Netflix is pitching this Australian women-in-prison series as Oz's answer to Orange is the New Black, but there are few laughs in Wentworth. Instead, this prequel to 80s-cult series Prisoner: Cell Block H, is a grittier, and arguably more authentic, picture of life behind bars. The story follows Bea Smith (New Zealand actress Danielle Cormack) as she transforms from innocent newbie to the prison's top dog.

Where to watch: Netflix

Despite big productions such as 'Hacksaw Ridge' and 'The Nest' local feature film production remains steady while overall production dips slightly according to Screen Australia.

The value of film and TV production in Australia remained relatively steady in the 2015/16 fiscal year with Australian and foreign features and co-productions and TV dramas all contributing to the $647 Million (AUS$843 million) spent over the 12 months to June 30, a slight fall of 1 percent on the 2014/15 record year of $654 million,  according to figures released by agency Screen Australia in its annual Drama Report on Thursday.

Australian films like Hacksaw Ridge, Simon Baker’s Breath, Dance Academy the Movie and Chinese co-production The Nest; studio fare such as Alien: Covenant and Kong: Skull Island, a record year for Australian TV production with series like Wolf Creek, Hunters and the Emmy award winning pdv work done on Game Of Thrones season 6, were amongst the 118 films and TV shows made down under.

Foreign productions spent a total of $273 million across 31 titles, well down on the “atypical” record of $431 million the previous year, which was driven by Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and two Lego franchise films.

And while Australian feature production appears healthy - 29 films made in the year with a total production value of $149 million, a $55 million increase year on year – foreign investors proved to be the largest source of financé for Aussie films making up 33 percent investment in the national slate. Comparatively, Australian government financing kicked in direct funding of $25 million or roughly 16 percent of the total. The producer offset, the 40 percent tax rebate given to qualifying Australian films, was used to finance 31 percent of the slate.

“Its encouraging to see feature film production grow,” Screen Australia CEO  Graeme Mason said. “We do tend to see more ebb and flow in this area depending on the number of titles and their individual budgets. However, what really stands out for me is the record expenditure in Australian TV drama, Mason added.

“I’m delighted to see very single network had multiple dramas in production - an unprecedented 58 in total – responding to the audiences appetite to watch their own stories on screen.

An unprecedented 50 TV dramas, including shows like The Kettering Incident, Wentworth, The Code and Barracuda, across 561 hours commissioned by all Australian TV networks as well as svod services, was underscored by a record production spend of $353 million amidst a trend towards shorter length high-cost shows. The foreign TV drama production spend of $24 million was well above average.