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Media Centre

24 10 2011 - Media release

Strong growth in Australian television drama production

Screen Australia today released its annual Drama Report, revealing a 12 per cent increase in Australian television drama production and the highest level of expenditure by programs for adults in over a decade. This good news is significant in the face of an overall drop in drama production of 33 per cent from last year to a total of $495 million, due to a dip in high-budget feature production.

Adult television drama programs have risen solidly over the last few years, with expenditure up by a third since 2007/08. Expenditure on children’s television drama also rose this year. Overall, 40 Australian television drama programs went into production during the year, accounting for expenditure of $322 million.

“High-quality productions, including the ABC’s The Slap, the Nine Network’s Underbelly: Razor and Network Seven’s Wild Boys, have especially contributed to the steady growth of the adult television drama slate,” said Screen Australia’s Chief Executive Ruth Harley. “Australia is making some of the best television in the world at the moment and our stories are rating highly with audiences.”

“However, as predicted following the release of last year’s drama production report, a reduction in high-budget Australian features coupled with minimal foreign feature production in 2010/11 has resulted in a significant drop in feature film expenditure in Australia,” said Dr Harley.

The value of Australian feature production in a particular year tends to be impacted by high-budget principally foreign-funded titles, with the presence or absence of such films causing large fluctuations. After two strong years, particularly 2008/09 which saw the commencement of both Happy Feet Two and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, there were no such films in this year’s slate, resulting in only 17 titles accounting for expenditure of $88 million.

However, several high-budget films have since commenced, including Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and Alex Proyas’ Paradise Lost, and the 2011/12 feature slate is already set to recover to the levels experienced in the last few years.

Based on current information on upcoming feature film production, Screen Australia estimates at least $350 million in feature film production in 2011/12. This comprises around $100 million in expenditure by Screen Australia–financed features, with films such as Drift, Mental, The Sapphires and The Kath & Kim Filum already underway.

Overall, Australian TV drama accounted for 65 per cent of the 2010/11 slate, Australian feature production for 18 per cent, and foreign activity (primarily TV drama production) for 17 per cent.

Foreign activity accounted for expenditure in Australia of $85 million in 2010/11, down from $180 million last year when two high-budget US features boosted the results. Two foreign features and two foreign TV dramas started shooting in Australia during the year, and there were also 13 foreign projects (12 features and one TV drama) which undertook PDV in Australia without shooting here.

In 2010/11, 82 per cent of Australian features and 85 per cent of TV drama programs were Offset projects (ie they had accessed the Producer Offset or intend to apply for it on completion). Offset features have accounted for 91 per cent of total spend for Australian features over the past four years, while Offset TV dramas accounted for 75 per cent of Australian TV drama spend and 48 per cent of hours.

The Drama Report 2010/11 documents the contribution of the Producer Offset to the annual slate of Australian features and TV drama, both domestic productions and official co-productions. Data is presented for the past four years, 2007/08 to 2010/11, the period since the introduction of the Offset. Foreign titles are also analysed if they have been shot (or substantially shot) in Australia, or carried out post, digital or visual effects (PDV) work in Australia without shooting here.

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