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Common Ground: Opportunities for Australian screen partnerships in Asia

Common Ground explores Australia’s current engagement with the screen production sector across the Asian region – our similarities, our points of difference, what is working well and what we can do to improve our business relationships.

The report draws together insights from producers, broadcasters, financiers and screen agencies from across Australia and the Asian region, focusing on eight territories: Mainland China, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, India and Japan. These territories were chosen as they have had existing relationships with Australian screen industries over the past five years that we can learn from, such as production partnerships, location shooting and content sales.

Best estimates indicate that the value of audiovisual (and related services) exports to the focus countries has been around $50 million per year over the last three years, which represents around a quarter to a third of Australia’s total audiovisual exports for those years. That’s not too bad considering that English-speaking territories are likely to be the strongest market for our content, but there’s certainly room for improvement.

Common Ground describes recent activity, new developments and the factors for success evident to date, as well as outlining some key challenges and areas of greatest potential for expanding on this base. It also contains a set of recommendations for government agencies and the broader industry, including advice for producers seeking to work in the region.

Key findings

The following major findings emerged from the research:

  • Several territories are undergoing rapid expansion and development of their screen industries, so the opportunities for collaboration with Australia are likely to change significantly over the next five years. Now is the time for the Australian screen industries to strengthen ties, formalise co-production arrangements and develop our knowledge of working together in order to foster and maintain mutually beneficial relationships into the future.
  • Government has an important role in facilitating an environment of trust and fostering relationships.
  • Successful collaborations with Asian partners require significant investment from both sides and producers need to commit considerable time and money.
  • Australian screen producers are generally perceived within the screen industries across Asia as professional, likeable and trustworthy with a level of affinity with the region.
  • Co-creating stories for both markets from the early development stages or concentrating on content that is universal (such as science, technology and shared history) is key to success in Asian markets.
  • China, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore currently offer significant opportunity to Australian screen businesses, with India, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand holding great potential for the future.

An overwhelming theme that emerged was the importance of genuine collaboration: this will underpin all success. Productive business relationships require a basis in mutual respect, the exchange of ideas and practices, and a genuine engagement with difference.

Download the full report