Well, I'm back. A little older, a little wise (ha!) and a whole lot more fearful about the direction my life is taking! YIPPEE.
In short, I think the real reason lecturers throw 'guest lectures' in every now & then is to scare the pants off people. Phlippa was an aweseome presenter - getting to hear about someone who is out there & 'living the (proverbial) dream' is always somewhat grounding... But it just makes you realise how BLOODY IMPOSSIBLE the Howard Government has made it for those of us who care deeply about documentary to make a real crust out of working with it.
I have done some research into this based on the information that was presented today and the reality is really quite bleak for our industry at present. I would like to take a moment to point you towards Lisa French's edited work, which has helped to contextualise exactly what we (as the future of this industry) are going to be dealing with.
French, L. (2001) Patterns of Production: The Australian Film Industry in the 1990s (ed. Craven, I.), Australian Cinema in the 1990s, first edition, Frank Cass, Essex
This piece – compiled by one of our homegrown lecturers – paints a very comprehensive overview of the political factors that have affected Australian film funding over the past two decades. It identified the election of the Howard Liberal government as the cornerstone of this demise, as its election in 1996 was made on the premise to cut spending to almost all areas, including the arts. Unlike its Labour predecessors – most memorably the Whitlam and Keating governments – whose public backing of federal funding towards cinema was at its peak, the Coalition has done precious little to encourage the production of local films. Rather, its strong Capitalist principles have resulted in the encouragement of foreign investment and the production of foreign films in Australia, which, predictably, has had a dramatic impact upon the local screen culture. With the market dominated by mostly American product, it has proven excessively difficult for Australian feature films (and to an even greater extent, documentaries) to replicate the successes they reap, mainly because the processes involved in getting government funding in the first place has become elongated and intensely limited. As French rightfully points out, there is no foreseeable time where films will not be reliant upon government support – thus the more restrictive and dollar driven it is, the less able we are to cultivate our unique cultural aesthetic.
Having an affinity for the creative? Sometimes, it just bites the big one.