Safe Schools Program

“Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has addressed his disapproval of the Safe Schools Coalition program stating that it was a ‘social engineering program’ rather than an ‘anti-bullying program’.

In an open letter to Mr Abbott, concerns were raised that a larger percentage of school children were bullied because of body shape, academic grades, race, religious beliefs or family income rather than based on their sexual orientation.”

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What do people think?

Images play an important role in how we experience being in the world and increasingly, due to the ubiquity of online interaction, how we ‘shape’ our world. (Go´mez Cruz, E & Tiidenberg, K, 2015). People are always telling us to not care what other people think, however, isn’t that what social media is all about? What will my friends or followers think of my latest selfie or thoughts? In the end how we see ourselves is really the only thing that matters. We know our best selves and that’s why we find ourselves taking dozens upon dozens of meaningless selfies to find that life altering one which will get you attention online.

A lot of people have a subconscious wish to be social media famous. You can always find the ones as well. For example, comparing my Instagram which is very much just me and my social life in images to a girl I follow who has immaculate selfies with artistic flare, you can understand why she has over 1000 followers more than I do. Our self quantified personas on social media are usually different from who we really are, many people use social media as a tool to hind their true selves and show only their best qualities. You can even show off your best qualities in a selfie and that ladies and gentlemen is called ‘angles.’

I can’t count the amount of times someone has snatched my phone away from me because I wasn’t taking the selfie of us in the right light or angle. It’s become so ridiculous that I now have my own perfect angle: hold the phone up high with a stretched arm and tilt the camera down. Now I’m embarrassed.

In class we were asked what we use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for, which caused everyone to go silent. Nobody really has the guts to talk about their social media habits. Nobody wanted to admit to taking selfies either, except one girl who told the very real truth that she takes, “heaps of selfies to capture a really good one,” but also admitted that she doesn’t always post them, she would just take them for herself.

Sometimes social media can cause controversy. For example, young women may occasionally post an image of themselves in little clothing which causes a avalanche of comments which can range from, “OMG you look gr8,” to, “wow! you look like a whore.” Its pretty harsh, but some people see it as these girls having the right to post what they want. Psychologically it is often said that these girls post selfies such as this for the approval of others.

Kim-Kardashian

Instagram

A recent example of this is Kim Kardashian West, who posted a naked selfie on her social media accounts, covering her ‘private’ parts from the world. She received a lot of flak for the image, however, she made the point of noting that it is her body and she is comfortable with herself to post this image, so why should it be anybody else’s opinion.

How we view ourselves is a tricky question because not everybody is so eager to take about it. Nobody wants to admit that they post selfies on social media for validation or that they take hundreds of selfies alone to feel good about themselves. It’s hard to know if a persons portrayal of themselves is their real form.

References:

Go´mez Cruz, E & Tiidenberg, K, 2015, ‘Selfie, Image and Re-making of the Body,’ Body & Society, Sage vol.21 (4), 77-102.

What’s the real issue?

sudan

Nick Carter

This is image is quite possibly one of the most confronting of our time. In 1993, South African photographer and journalist, Kevin Carter, captured this heartbreaking photograph of a very young Sudanese girl during the famine. On first glance there is nothing about this image that can be said as a positive, by which I mean, “she could just be resting.” I didn’t have that reaction at all. The girl is crouching, seemingly unable to move on and a vulture watches on.

This image caused global controversy and outrage. New York Times published the image, and while many were concerned if the girl was now dead, Carter received a lot of attention (Ow-Yeong, 2014) after it was uncovered that he had done nothing to protect or help the innocent child. Little did the worried public know that he was able to do anything due to the laws surrounding him in Sudan (Neal, 2014). Due to the flack he received, Carter took his own life shortly after he had won the Pulitzer Prize. Two lives tragically lost, both innocent. Carter was doing his job by creating awareness of the issue to hopefully spark an aggressive need to help into the public’s psyche. However, much like a lot of what happens today, the public ignores the real issue and draws focus to the wrong issue. This picture tells a thousand stories and blasts even more words into our heads, but all I see is ‘help’ and it seems that message is to often ignored.

It’s almost as if people don’t want to face the reality of the world and by doing that, they will buy time by scrutinising the photographer. Before projecting their hate on someone like Carter, what can they say they are doing to help the issue? The world will just turn a blind eye, which I know is true because I have done the same thing. It’s just ridiculous that as soon as it becomes a widespread issue, everyone decides to care.

It’s interesting to compare the photos taken by Carter to those taken by artist, Sebastiao Salgado. While Carter’s images showed horror and violence of poverty, Salgado’s images were criticised as being ‘too beautiful’ (Kimmelman, 2001). Many of these images are seen in the book, Sahel: The End of the Road, which were shot in Chad, Mali, Sudan and Ethiopia showing the effects of famine in the 80s.

seb

Sebastiao Salgado

Carter’s photos make us feel helpless, saddened and angry while Salgado’s images are reviewed as art and beautiful. There is a difference between each photographers images. Carter is a journalist while Salgado is clearly an artist. It is an artist’s job to find the beauty in even the darkest of pain. However, his work allows us to avoid the real issue. Meanwhile, Carter is out on the field to expose the truth and create awareness. So what is the real issue? The fact that these men have both gone out and down their jobs or the fact that nobody seems to care about poverty until its thrown in their faces?

References:

Kimmelman, M 2001, ‘PHOTOGRAPHY REVIEW; Can Suffering Be Too Beautiful?’, The New York Times, 13 July, viewed 28th March 16,http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/13/arts/photography-review-can-suffering-be-too-beautiful.html?pagewanted=all

Neal, L 2014, How Photojournalism Killed Kevin Carter, All That is Interesting, viewed 28th March 16, http://all-that-is-interesting.com/kevin-carter/2

Ow-Yeong, W 2014,’ ‘Our Failure of Empathy’: Kevin Carter, Susan Sontag, and the Problems of Photography’, Think Pieces: A Journal of the Joint Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies, University College London vol.1, no.1, pp. 9-17.

Your Time is Up

Is it time to give up on Australian content?

This question troubles me because I have never really been a huge follower of Australian content in terms of film, however, in terms of local television I’m always present. I’ll sit down to watch the newest locally made television movie, some local reality and even Channel Nines new comedy Here Come the Habibis (2016). I also wont forget my 14-year obsession with Australian’s number one drama, Home And Away (I know, pathetic isn’t it.)

However, on a larger scale I don’t think Australian content should be swept under the rug at all. There seem to be so many issues with local content, I mean there must be if there is an entire university course dedicated and I’ve also written six blog posts already on the topic. The Australian content industry seems to have troubles with; image, quality of our content, viewership, commercial success and accessibility. These are all things that could change overtime, but due to constant error of judgement overtime, our industry continues to suffer.

I definitely don’t believe that Australian content is of any less quality then films of international production, perhaps in terms of funding, yes. However, when it comes to acting, visuals and writing, I don’t compare because we deliver exceptional quality just like our international competitors. It’s just ridiculously hard to pin down a reason as to why local content doesn’t always perform well. Films need to be more about quality then success. The obsession with box office should be replaced entirely with an assessment of the total audiences who are watching the film across all different platforms over its life (Kaufman, 2015).

Viewership of local content is however a huge issue within Australia. We live in a country where our locally produced television is adored and watched my millions each week. Millions of viewers even turn up to watch a celebration of a year in television at the TV Week Logie Awards. However, in turn we live in a country where our local produced film is either ignored or just not well received. It truly is an odd balance when compared to the United States who has both huge film and television industries. I will eat my own words and say that Kaufman does have a point that the quality of content should be the interest not the success, however, success comes from audience and without audience, and the quality doesn’t matter because nobody is viewing the content.

A change in the way we market and distribute Australian film is huge must if we want to reach a national audience and most importantly a local audience. As discussed in an early blog post, the Australian film industry in particular needs to study their audience and find out how to appeal to them, it may be the only way to secure the future of Australian film.

The image of Australian content is very set on stereotypes. People believe that when they see an Australian film, it will make them hate themselves because they will see over exaggerated Australian characters. We have overtime been seeing Australian films that aren’t solely focused on Australia as a country. Films such as; Babe (1995), Moulin Rouge! (2001) And The Great Gatsby (2012), have proved to Australian audiences that we can have films made that are locally produced which don’t make us look like total bogans. However, many people don’t consider these films to be Australian due to no focus being put on Australian culture. However, I feel that for the future of the Australian film industry, producing films such as the above and even having co-produced films is important, because it shows we have diversity in our industry.

In terms of accessibility, the availability of Australian content is pretty low, mainly when it comes to film. For example, $300,000 was spent on advertising for the 2014 film Son of a Gun which was originally released in only a mere 53 cinemas, meanwhile a Hollywood blockbuster film would possibly open in Australia in 500 cinemas, with money spend on advertising going as high a $3 million. It’s reasons such as these as to why Australian films are pushed aside by local audiences. Australian audiences have it in their minds that a film may only be good if it’s well received by international audiences such as Americans and the Brits. But accessibility is extremely important when you are wanting a film to be successful, making it available is key, however, do to low budgets and measly marketing campaigns (Aveyard, 2011), Australian films often go completely unnoticed by much of the public.

It is definitely not time to give up on Australian content, nor do I think it ever will be. Our industry is successful in its own right. We produce some outstanding television every year, some of which has been international recognised such as Josh Thomas’, Please Like Me. Meanwhile most locally produced programs do great with ratings on both free-to-air and pay-tv networks. The film industry on the other hand may have a long way to go. I feel like over the past 21 years we have definitely produced some amazing, memorable films, some which has also been recognised overseas, such as the Best Picture, Oscar-nominated, Babe (1995). So in the end, I definitely don’t believe its time to give up on Australian content, because its not dead yet, it’s only just beginning to blossom.

References :

Aveyard, K 2011, ‘Australian films at the cinema: rethinking the role of distribution and exhibition ‘, Media international Australia, no. 138, pp. 36-45

Kaufman, Tina “Finding Australian audiences for Australian films” Metro. 163, December 1, 2009. p 6-8.

Jobs v. Culture

Australian jobs are more important than Australian culture

Co-productions of Australian film may be our best bet for the future. Co-productions encourage production and foster relationships between international filmmakers. In allowing two or more international producers to come together to make a screen project, it provides them with the opportunities to access the resources required to produce projects that will be internationally competitive (Middlemost, 2016).

Films produced in Australia are continuing to encourage a cultural transfer in an attempt to expand their overall cinema market. By making a co-produced film the Australian film industry is opening its doors to access to greater resources. Automatically by adding an international co-producer to a film, you begin to access two markets that would include finance and audience (Middlemost, 2016). The continued effect of co-productions would increase the amount of films made; it would expand audience perceptions of Australian culture and also heighten our film industry. However, what would that mean for Australian jobs? What would be more important, having a blooming Australian film industry allowing us to portray our culture to an international market or to supply jobs to our own locals?

An outstanding way around job loss is runaway productions. This is a term used regularly by the American film industry in particular when describing filmmaking, which is intended for initial release or exhibition in the United States, but is actually filmed in another country (Herd, 2004). Why? International production companies for production incentives and subsidies while not forgetting the main purpose of location. This allowed for blockbuster American projects to be filmed here such as The Matrix (1999) and one for my own nostalgia, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie (1995) which was filmed in both Sydney and Queensland. Essentially, America is filming their movies here at a cheaper cost and the Australian industry is growing as well as the economy.

Of late, there has been a decrease in the amount of international films being made in Australia. This saw a huge decline in employment for the industry from upwards of 16,000 to a low as 13,800 (Burns & Eltham, 2010). However, of late we have seen and heard of multiple international films being filmed on Australian soil. Who could possibly forget Angelina Jolie directing her film, Unbroken (2014) in Australian in 2013 in Sydney on location. The Turnball government has of late offered Hollywood studios over $40 million in grants to lure the filming of blockbusters on our shores, which would create upwards of 3000 local jobs (Wroe & Knott, 2015).

Australian culture and jobs are both equally important. By allowing runaway productions in Australia, it will give us a bloom in local jobs and our local film industry a boost in funds which will allow for the continuation of Australian films.

References :

Herd, Nick (2004). Chasing the Runaways: Foreign Film Production and Film Studio Development in Australia 1988-2002. Strawberry Hills: Currency Press

Wroe, D & Knott, M 2015, New Alien and Thor movies to be filmed in Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 4th Feb 2016 http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/new-alien-and-thor-movies-to-be-filmed-in-australia-20151022-gkfspv.html

Middlemost, R 2016, ‘Cross national casting, transnational co productions, location incentives and runaway productions’, Powerpoint slides, BCM330, University of Wollongong, presented on the 12th of January

Australian or Global

The way we watch favours global cultural diversity over Australian content

There is no longer one way to watch television and film. You can watch free-to-air television, pop in a DVD, watch an online catch-up of your favourite show or stream television shows and films at your fingertips. I agree with the statement “the way we watch favours global cultural diversity over Australian content.” Figures have shown that most Australian audiences are watching content online, from catch-up to streaming sites such as, Netflix (Screen Australia, 2015). Australians aren’t just limited to what their own country has to offer in terms of entertainment, they have the whole world in front of them and aren’t being restricted to Australian content. Those who watch free-to-air television are most likely watching Australian shows. Online television blog, TV Tonight, has reported that the highest rated shows are 90 per cent Australian.

If we want to compete in the new age of content distribution, something needs to change drastically. A major change that should be made is Australian content marketing practices. Australian marketing practices are more often then not extremely poor which is due to a lack in funding (Aveyard, 2011). This in turn creates a dilemma as the marketing for a future film or television program is very limited and begins to rely on word of mouth or pure luck.

If anything is to change with how Australians view local content, especially film, distributors need to be aware and do some ground research on their audiences, because from my view they don’t seem to understand it very well. They need to know how Australians are viewing their content if they plan to have any success. These distributors could possibly be going to online streaming sites such as Presto and Netflix in an attempt to have them feature the Australian film on their site.

Television is very far from Australian film, the way we watch our television could still be considered much in favour of Australian content, as stated before it was reported the highest rated shows on television were 90 per cent Australian. Netflix or another streaming site is very much for binge watching, however, Australia still to this day continues to produce, market and release exceptional television.

The way Australians watch film and television differs between household, however, over a million Australians are now subscribers to Netflix so its save to say that the way we watch our content favours global cultural diversity. A change in the way we market and distribute Australian film is huge must if we want to reach a national audience and if the number of subscribers on online streaming sites is so high then why aren’t we producing some original online television like the American’s have so much success with.

References :

Aveyard, K 2011, ‘Australian films at the cinema: rethinking the role of distribution and exhibition ‘, Media international Australia, no. 138, pp. 36-45

Attention Seeking

When it comes to the Australian content industry, any attention is good attention.

Stereotypes are a huge issue when it comes to Australian content. Persons from other countries tend to identify Australians due to these over exaggerated stereotypes. This does however bring with it attention, think Crocodile Dundee (1986). The film was a huge success both locally and internationally, however, was considered controversial as it represented Australians as ‘redneck’ and was seen as an untrue and embarrassing portrayal of Australian culture. But is any attention good attention? It might just be.

A common stereotypes of Australians is that they are good natured, down to earth, use slang, have a pragmatic sense of humour, have a larrikin streak, are free of worries and are quite adaptable (Convict Creations). It’s these stereotypes, which are evident in Crocodile Dundee that gives the Australian content industry attention, if any. Another film portraying Australians as outback idiots and even racist is The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). The film portrayed outback men as racist, intolerant and just down right disgusting. Not exactly something we want portrayed to an audience.

However, not all attention has to be negative. When an Australian film is popular, for instance Wolf Creek (2005), the setting of these films can become some of our countries most popular tourist destinations, if you don’t mind heading to a destination when people were fictionally murdered that it is. The film took place in Wolfe Creek National Park in Western Australia and the location is now a majorly popular tourist destination.

I feel like many Australian’s when seeking attention want our land to receive it, rather than our people. We truly do come from a beautiful country and is or well rounded opinion that if people were curious of seeing the real Australia, they should look at the land and not the people. A classic example of this is the Australian film, Babe (1995).

Babe brought with it a change in the way we receive attention for our country. The film use Australian landscape through the majority of the shots and the best part was that every location was kept secret. Internationally viewers were giving this film attention and seeing the beauty of Australia without any negative connotations. Babe was a turning point in the representation of Australian landscape in film (Brabazon, 2001). This debate could go on and on, because there are so many different ways in which Australia has been portrayed to international audiences, some are considered bad and some good.

To put this debate to bed, I will eat my own words. I don’t necessarily believe that any attention is good attention. If we were speaking about box office success, then yes, I would say any attention is good. However, when considering our country as a whole, the correct representation is key for future film, television, music and tourism success, among many other things.

References :

Brabazon, Tara 2001, ‘A pig in space? : Babe and the problem of landscape’, in Craven, Ian (ed.), Australian cinema in the 1990s, F.Cass, London, pp.149-158

Audiences Suck

The problem isn’t Australian films, it’s Australian audiences.

I think it would be right to say that not all Australian films are terrible. I mean I actually don’t think that its possible. So why aren’t they commercially successful? It’s safe to say that Australian audiences are just interested in huge blockbusters, dim-witted comedies and the occasional romantic dramedy. Those are the big budget films, which get marketed the best. I mean, the action-film, Suicide Squad (2016) wont even be released for another seven months, yet I’ve seen more promotion for that film than any Australian film EVER.

A huge reason behind the limited audience of any Australian film is the classically heard quote especially within by family and social circle, “I didn’t even know it was on.” Conduct a straw poll in your home or office. Who had heard of Son of a Gun before it opened (or indeed since)? Or of 52 Tuesdays (a prize winner at Sundance and Berlin earlier this year; local box office $163,411)? Or of The Infinite Man (raves at the hipster festival SXSW in Austin Texas, local box office $50,516)? Not many, at a guess. Read more.

Most Australian made films gets such a limited release which means a tiny budget for necessities such as marketing and advertising. Managing Director of eOne Australia, Troy Lum, stated that the distributer spent $300,000 on advertising for the film Son of a Gun (2014) which was originally released in 53 cinemas, meanwhile a Hollywood blockbuster film could possibly open in Australia in 500 cinemas, with money spend on advertising going as high a $3 million. It’s reasons such as these as to why Australian films are pushed aside by local audiences.

Australians audience do intend to believe that a film may only be good if it has been well received by international audiences, especially America and Europe, even if the film has been locally produced, audiences will shy away or be completely unaware until the film has had success abroad. Films need to be more about quality then success. The obsession with box office should be replaced entirely with an assessment of the total audiences who are watching the film across all different platforms over its life (Kaufman, 2015).

I honestly don’t believe that Australian audiences are to blame for the lacklustre performances of locally produced films. We live in a time of laziness when we want to be shown things we want to see rather than go and search for them ourselves. That’s why I see films or discover films, I see advertisements. I don’t pull up Google and search, new Australian films coming in 2016, and I really don’t think anybody does that. Advertising and marketing of a film is a huge component of the commercial success of a film and without it, unfortunately the film will underperform.

References :

Kaufman, Tina “Finding Australian audiences for Australian films” Metro. 163, December 1, 2009. p 6-8.

 

Aussiesploitation

What can the case study of Ozploitation tell us about the Australian film industry?

 If you have ever watched an Australian film from the 1970s-80s, then it was probably extremely bad, unless it was Mad Max (1979). Those films were also most likely Ozploitation films. These films were genre films which included; break-neck-action, ocker comedy, schlock-horror and frisky sex romps – and during this time period over 400 films were made. It was the biggest boom in Australian film history (Middlemost, 2015).

Ozploitation films began being produced during the 10BA period in the 1970’s as government policy started to support the growth of the industry. Later in 1978, the 10BA Tax Concession was introduced which allowed screen producers to claim a tax deduction of up to 150 per cent (Burns & Eltham, 2010). This new wave of films was a strategy to pull in audiences to Australian films. Producers were basically making money when they produced films in this era, so these genre films were made and usually not up to a fantastic standard.

As time withered on, the 10BA Tax Concession was reduced and soon completely forgotten. The Ozploitation era was a strange time as Australian’s were exposed to a type of cinema which was not entirely stable, however, if something amazing did come for this period it was the Quentin Tarantino who has expressed that Ozploitation films were a huge inspiration to his writing, directing and producing. But while many had forgotten this era of filmmaking, it has only been in the past decade that these films have begun to make a comeback, most notably in the form of the Oscar-nominated film, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). This was a shocking turn of events as Ozploitation had become a largely forgotten part of Australian cinema history (Ryan, 2012).

Kaufman (2009) suggests that Australianness and cultural content have been valued over entertainment and commercialism on Australian screens. This theory speaks for itself when considering the detriment of the Australian film industry. It can almost be said that what is the point of these genre films if audiences aren’t necessarily in need of them. It’s very rare that an genre film in Australia gets a strong following. One that pops into mind is the successful horror flick, Wolf Creek (2005), which is still being watched and talked about eleven years after its initial release.

Ozploitation is an interesting concept as it shows how the industry can be motivated by funding support and change in government policy, even those the 10BA Tax Concession wasn’t necessarily very successful in the long run.

References :

Burns, Alex and Eltham, Ben “Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy: 10BA, the Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood’s ‘race to the bottom’”. Media International Australia. August 2010, No. 136, p 103-118.

Ryan, Mark David (2012) “A silver bullet for Australian cinema? Genre movies and the audience debate”. Studies in Australasian Cinema. 6 (2) p 141-157.

Kaufman, Tina “Finding Australian audiences for Australian films” Metro. 163, December 1, 2009. p 6-8.

Middlemost, R 2015, ‘Funding and Policy: A History of Market Failure’, Powerpoint slides, BCM330, University of Wollongong, presented on the 7th of December

Australian Assumptions

odd

What are the key assumptions surrounding the production of Australian content?

 Before entering my first lecture for BCM330, my only assumption of the production of Australian content was that the project was filmed in Australia, made by Australians and had an Australian cast. Little did I know how complicated defining Australian content was. Most people would know very little about Australian film. I asked my mother and father if they could name one Australian film released in 2015 and they starred at me blank faced.

I did however want to know what they knew about Australian film. They both agreed that local content is usually very ‘stereotypically Aussie.’ For example, many local projects will content; slang, iconic talent, scenery and just strong stereotypes in general. My mother especially said that Australian films such as; Muriel’s Wedding (1994) and The Castle (1997) make us look like, “bogan, idiots,” and concluded by saying that on that basis she believed Australian content to be predominately ‘cheesy’.

We truly do live in an odd country. As a people, we are all extremely proud to be Australian and don’t take kindly to criticism of our culture, well that’s how it is in the Shire…However, with all this in toe, we often seem to shy away from Australian films if they incorporate our national identity. Most Australian films that are produced are often supported by the government agencies such as Screen Australia because that convey a positive image of our country and show true national identity. However, by doing so, it has left most of us swamped with embarrassment and has meant a complete, subconscious boycott of local cinema. I believe I can safely say that before this course I hadn’t seen an Australian film since Red Dog in 2011. Four years is an extremely long time considering the amount of international content I have consumed since then.

A major assumption is that the film industry is meant to promote a positive image of our culture. In the 1970’s the Australian film industry sustained through the cultural policy to ensure the development of Australian stories that incorporated our culture into films. By the mid-1970’s, The Australian Film Commission favoured films that had a strong sense of Australian identity (Ryan, 2012). Even today this has proved to be a huge problem for the industry as after decades and decades of this way of thinking, Australian’s have mostly turned away or stuck up their noses to ‘bogan looking’ films such as; Oddball (2015).

I will admit that though I myself haven’t seen them, Australian films which seem to do well are those which seem to incorporate an Aboriginal cast or story, and those in which star heavy Hollywood talent such as; Leonardo DiCaprio and Charlize Theron. We have such as mindset on what Australian content is that we don’t really even classify films like The Great Gatsby (2012) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) as Australian films. This is because we have the general assumption that our local content will contain the characteristics stated earlier; slang, iconic talent, scenery and just strong stereotypes in general.

References :

Ryan, Mark David (2012) A silver bullet for Australian cinema? Genre movies and the audience debate”. Studies in Australasian Cinema. 6 (2) p 141-157.