Expenditure on the production of feature films and television drama in Australia rose by 8 per cent to $662 million in 2001/02, according to the Australian Film Commission which today released its latest drama production survey.
Feature film and TV drama production represents about a third of the $1.8 billion Australian audiovisual production industry.
The AFC survey tracks production over a financial year of feature films and TV drama programs (mini-series, telemovies and series/serials).
According to the survey, 39 feature films and 49 TV drama programs were shot in Australia in 2001/02, including local productions, co-productions and foreign (offshore) productions. Total expenditure in Australia increased by 8 per cent from $611 million to $662 million. Local productions and co-production activity together accounted for two-thirds of this expenditure, a similar share to last year.
While spending in Australia by foreign productions increased by 13 per cent the value of Australian feature film and television drama production increased by 7 per cent to $343 million.
Australian feature production increased by 60 per cent from $82 million to $131 million, boosted this year by two high-budget fully foreign-financed features, The Crocodile Hunter and Swimming upstream.
The Film Licensed Investment Companies (FLIC) scheme made a significant contribution to financing Australian features this year investing around $16 million in nine titles, 8 of which shot this year.
"Private investment will always have a role, and foreign sources are particularly important in financing higher-budget local features," said AFC Chief Executive Kim Dalton, "but direct government funding sources continue to underpin the core Australian feature slate. Our analysis indicates that, on average, government agencies have consistently provided more than 42 per cent of the funding for locally financed features each year."
In local TV drama, there was a shift in 2001/02 towards shorter, higher cost per hour series, with the introduction of such new programs as Marshall Law, MDA, White Collar Blue and Young Lions. The average cost per hour for Australian TV drama series rose to its highest level since the survey began tracking this indicator in 1992/93; the number of hours produced fell by 12 per cent to 561.
"In the context of the Australian Broadcasting Authority's review into the Australian Content Standard, it is important to note that Australian TV drama production fell from $240 million to $212 million" said AFC Chief Executive Kim Dalton. "In-house production activity by broadcasters has increased and for the first time in over 20 years, no adult mini-series were produced."
Spending in Australia by foreign productions increased by 13 per cent, from $191 million to $216 million, largely due to the two high-budget Matrix films made in Australia this year, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Spending by foreign TV drama dropped back to $31 million, a similar level to 1999/2000, after last year's surge in telemovie production; there were no foreign telemovies or mini-series produced in Australia this year.
"Although foreign production activity in Australia is increasing, it's important to recognise that local production remains the foundation of the industry," Kim Dalton said. "It is Australian productions which bring Australian stories to our cinema and our television screens and which over the years have promoted Australia so successfully overseas. It is also Australian productions which discover and promote our local talent and which are so often the training ground for our world class crews."
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. As a subset of total value, the amount spent in Australia is also analysed.
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.
Read the survey on the AFC website.