The Australian Film Commission today released its latest drama production survey, which tracks production over a financial year of feature films and TV drama programs (mini-series, telemovies and series/serials).
The 2001 survey found that total expenditure in Australia by drama productions increased by 6 per cent to $608 million. Thirty-four feature films and 62 TV drama programs (independent and in-house) were made in Australia in 2000/01, including local productions, offshore productions and co-productions.
Overall however, the value of Australian drama production dropped by 11 per cent to $319 million, with 26 feature films produced as compared to 31 in the previous year. Australian TV drama production remained steady, but without the boost provided by a high-budget film such as the previous year's Moulin Rouge, the value of Australian feature production fell by 35 per cent.
The average cost per hour of Australian TV drama series fell to its lowest level in four years (less than $200,000 per hour), with the number of hours produced rising by 16 per cent to 639.
Spending by foreign drama productions in Australia rose by $87 million to $191 million, surpassing the previous record level of $165 million reported in 1998/99. Spending by co-productions in Australia remained relatively steady at $105 million ($109 million in 1999/2000).
The absence of a high-budget foreign-funded Australian feature in 2000/01 reinforces the importance of government sources of finance to the national feature slate. Government sources, mainly the Australian Film Finance Corporation, provided 53 per cent of the funding for this year's films, with 27 per cent coming from overseas and 20 per cent from Australian industry and private sources.
The number of films made for less than $1 million fell from 13 to 9 and decreased as a proportion of the Australian total (42 per cent in 1999/2000 and 35 per cent in 2000/01). The proportion was the lowest recorded since 1995/96 when films made for less than $1 million made up 24 per cent of the Australian total.
There were more films in the mid-budget ranges this year, however, with five (19 per cent) made for between $6 and $20 million, compared with none in 1999/2000.
"It is important to note that the amount of money spent on Australian production in the last financial year dropped by a substantial amount. The increase in funding to the industry announced recently by the Federal Government is extremely timely. The industry needs to be adequately funded by Government if it is to continue to be an important exponent of Australian culture and to compete in an increasingly globalised marketplace," said AFC Chief Executive Kim Dalton.
Included in the survey are all feature films and TV dramas made in Australia, including Australian productions, co-productions, and foreign productions (if substantially shot in Australia). 'Value of production activity' is derived by totalling the production budgets of all projects which started shooting during the financial year, with the full budget allocated to the date principal photography starts.
Feature film and TV drama represent about a third of all audiovisual production in Australia. Other areas of activity include documentaries, commercials, corporate video, and TV production such as sport, news and current affairs.
National Survey of Feature Film and TV Drama Production for 2000/01 is available online