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Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy: 10BA, the Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood's 'Race to the Bottom'

Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy
Issue 136 (Aug 2010)

Abstract: In recent years, a narrative has emerged in the Australian popular media about the box office 'unpopularity' of Australian feature films and the 'failure' of the domestic screen industry. This article explores the recent history of Australian screen policy with particular reference to the '10BA' tax incentive of the 1980s; the Film Finance Corporation of Australia (FFC), a government screen agency established in 1988 to bring investment bank-style portfolio management to Australia's screen industry; and local production incentive policies pursed by Australian state governments in a chase for Hollywood's runaway production. We argue the 10BA incentive catalysed an unsustainable bubble in Australian production, while its policy successor, the FFC, fundamentally failed in its stated mission of 'commercial' screen financing (over its 20-year lifespan, the FFC invested 1.345 billion Australian dollars for 274.2 million Australian dollars recouped - a cumulative return of negative 80 percent). For their part, private investors in Australian films discovered that the screen production process involved high levels of risk. Foreign-financed production also proved highly volatile, due to the vagaries of trade exposure, currency fluctuations and tax arbitrage. The result of these macro and micro-economic factors often structural and cross-border in nature was that Australia's screen industry failed to develop the local investment infrastructure required to finance a sustainable, non-subsidised local sector.

To cite this article: Burns, Alex and Eltham, Ben. Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy: 10BA, the Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood's 'Race to the Bottom' [online]. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 136, Aug 2010: 103-118. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=373685220197221;res=IELLCC> ISSN: 1329-878X. [cited 27 Feb 17].

Personal Author: Burns, Alex; Eltham, Ben; Source: Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 136, Aug 2010: 103-118 DOI: Document Type: Journal Article ISSN: 1329-878X Subject: Motion picture industry; Australian Bureau of Statistics; Mass media and culture; Motion picture industry--Finance; Motion picture industry--Government policy; Identifier: Film Finance Corporation Australia (FFC) (organisation) Peer Reviewed: Yes Affiliation: (1) Fellow, Centre for Policy Development

Database: Literature & Culture Collection