New doco to ask ‘why can’t Australia’s film industry be self-sufficient’

A new documentary is set to ask why the Australian film industry can’t operate independently.

Jason Kent, film-maker and founder of new production company Pure Independent Pictures told Encore: “We want to ask, can Australia build a self-sufficient commercial film industry? There are plenty of obvious reasons why we can’t; we’re a small market, competition from Hollywood, there aren’t enough investors. There are a million ideas, but we want to address those one by one and disperse some of the myth.”

“When you think of the big picture, there is no real reason it can’t be done; there’s a video shop on every corner, a multiplex in each city. We have other big commercial industries in Australia. But there’s this idea we’re a small country, as it is we’re a can’t-do country.”

Pure Independent Pictures has resource partners and support in companies Panavision, Kodak, SAE Institute and post-production house Engine.

“Films such as Mad Max, Crocodile Dundee, The Castle, and Gabriel were made independent of government support,” said Kent. “No one really heard about the profit-to-cost ratio of a film until The Blair Witch Project, but Mad Max held the record for two decades. Not a lot was made of that at the time. I’m trying to make something of it now.”

Kent also points out Crocodile Dundee was the second highest grossing film world-wide in 1986, after Top Gun.

The documentary is aiming for a television distribution. While Kent acknowledges it could probably find a home on SBS or the ABC, he is hoping a commercial network will pick it up.

Kent said: “To make the case for purely independent films we have to practice what we preach and not make a film for a government platform.”

The state of Australian cinema is the subject of another documentary called, Advance Australian Film by film-maker Courtney Dawson, examining the country’s struggling film industry.


  1. Chris
    27 Jul 12
    11:21 am

  2. Strangely enough, sounds like an Australian film I want to see.

  3. Stuart
    27 Jul 12
    2:06 pm

  4. Be good to see…. Quite enjoyed Into the Shadows a couple of years ago. Though Goldman’s quote is as true here as anywhere “Nobody knows anything”

  5. PhilGC
    27 Jul 12
    3:23 pm

  6. Its a bit of a dangerous stretch not to accept buy in from the ABC or SBS, strong supporters of documentary and a legitimate part of our enviable media landscape.

  7. Bern
    27 Jul 12
    5:13 pm

  8. Not true to say those older films didn’t have government support – there was a 150% tax write off for investors in film – its still government support and they would not have been made without it.

  9. Tech
    27 Jul 12
    9:32 pm

  10. Funny how nearly every country in the world does something to help a film get up, The US do it, Africa re Mad Max, Thailand re Life of Pi, NZ re Hobbit & Avitar, All to generate employment &money flow on for that country. Not so bad !! If your dock is shown on ABC or SBS then I guess you can’t do what the dock is about as you will be getting government help also

  11. crew
    27 Jul 12
    9:46 pm

  12. If people put as much energy & support into helping the industry,as they do in caning it , it would be great,

  13. Peter
    27 Jul 12
    10:56 pm

  14. The article means direct up front financial support not tax breaks and they’re very different. And before we start praising the government for NOT taking filmmaker’s money, let’s remember who the money belonged to in the first place. Tax breaks are great but don’t give the government credit for taking a smaller cut of the proceeds from someone else’s hard work and initiative. Films are not a result of someone NOT taking half your profits… they’re a result of creativity, hard work, initiative and enterprise. A desire to communicate and move people. It’s twisted to credit the govt for refraining from hurting that process as they have done so many times in the past with film bans, film censorship, propaganda, etc… Give credit to the brave filmmakers who made those films happen and maybe we can encourage other such filmmakers to do the same.

  15. Sam
    27 Jul 12
    11:02 pm


  17. Sam
    28 Jul 12
    5:39 am

  18. To correct Bern’s point above, Mad Max didn’t get the big tax breaks. Actually the film inspired the later tax incentives. Throughout history great Australian films have always inspired a lot of industry ‘support’…films become a vote winner. Unfortunately the govt isn’t as much giving support as it is taking control.

  19. owner / operator
    28 Jul 12
    10:10 am

  20. Having spent 30 yrs in the industry and spending a lot of money on equipment year in year out, And work on a lot of Australian crap Until you have good stories again and treat it as a business nothing will change. Every tom dick and harry likes to get their hands on some government funded money to make their short art film that never sees the light of day, Good stories, Good writers Good Crew make Good Australian Films And Why is MadMax in Africa, Government incentives and better exchange rate

  21. Guy
    28 Jul 12
    5:32 pm

  22. Marketing! Marketing! Marketing! Hollywood films have deep pockets for their films. When we have reasonable-good ones, we can’t even market it properly.

  23. Sue
    30 Jul 12
    12:09 pm

  24. The “profit-to-cost” table on the filmmaker’s website doesn’t include the costs associated with the films’ marketing/P&A. Which is not to say that some of these films didn’t still turn a profit, but good to remember that the “profit” doesn’t account – for example – for the $6.5million spent marketing the $600k Blair Witch Project.

  25. Fillumstine
    30 Jul 12
    7:32 pm

  26. If you don’t know who your audience is you most likely won’t have an audience at all…

  27. David
    31 Jul 12
    7:34 am

  28. You certainly need deep pockets to market a film well… so do we lack budgets? Are we just scraping over the line to make films and not leaving enough to promote them? Are distributors not willing to invest in marketing? Are the production budgets of our films too high? Maybe producers prefer to see their money on the screen so the films do well in festivals and critically, but don’t care so much about marketing and seeing a return… maybe these producers don’t need to see a return because they’ve already taken their cut from the front end.