User:RockerballAustralia/Story preparation/Investigation into online film distribution in Australia

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date|September 28, 2010

The Australian Dollar has usually hovered around the 80c US post float (the third arrow in this image)

With the Australian dollar "strong" against the world's major currencies, the local film industry has suffered as a result. As of this report, $A1 is roughly equal to $US0.9874

"It's killing us all," Tony Clark, co-founder of Rising Sun Pictures, said. Rising Sun is the organisation working on digital effects of the Harry Potter and Green Lantern films. "We have existing contracts that are in play that are hedged but finding new business is just diabolical at the moment."

Wikinews reporter Patrick Gillett looks into other, cheaper methods of promoting the Australian film industry. On October 7, was equivelent to roughly 98.73 US cents - give or take a fraction of a cent either side during the day.


Australia's film industry is generally grouped with those that benefit from a low - or weak - Australian dollar. It relies on government grants and international investment.

"The industry is in crisis and in real pain but we can't tell the real story without sending your international customers running," another film executive told The Australian newspaper.

Adult Drama format factors
telemovie, minseries or self contained drama < 90 minutes - 4
feature film;
  • auquired before July 11, 2002 - 3.2
  • aquired for a licence fee of atleast $150,000 - 4
  • any other case - 2.5
TV series or serial
  • produced at more than an hour an episode - 1
  • produced at an hour or less an episode and
    • aquired from an independent producer for atleast $300,000 - 3
    • any other case - 2.5

Australian television productions are propped up by a local production quota, wihch applies to free to air networks, set by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The quota, which is set to 55% of all programming between six in the morning to midnight, is split into three sub quotas - adult drama, documentary and children.

To fulfill these sub genres, broadcasters have to broadcast 20 hours of documentaries, 25 hours of childrens drama and 860 "points" of adult drama. The adult drama score is worked out as format factor x duration (in hours).

The Australian reported that subscription television services invested $541.4 million in Australian television content.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, there are approximately 2500 businesses providing film and video production and post-production services.

Many low budget filmmakers use standard definition cameras. The tape based MiniDV format is popular with some filmakers as tapes generally have a longer life span and are harder to damage.

However, memory card and hard drive based camera's are also becoming popular. This is due in part to the lack of needing to transfer footage to a computer for editing.

The Content[edit]


Local sport was broadcast on television as late as the early 1990s. Parts of the 1986 Latrobe Valley Football League Grand Final are shown here.
Image: Southern Cross TV8.
Wikinews has covered local sport and has made footage freely available.
Video: Patrick Gillett.

National governing bodies, such as the Australian Football League, oppose "monetisation" of what they see as their ittelectual property rights.

During a senate enquiry into sport reporting, the point was made that "[the AFL's] complaint is how, when you get beyond the elements of that [news] package—for instance, footage—it could be subsequently exploited."

AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan responded to this point saying, "[i]n the end what we are talking about is the question of balance. Through our history of accrediting journalists and promoting coverage of our sport we need, want and encourage the widest possible coverage of our game. The issue is where that bleeds over into media organisations doing what they do, monetising that content and essentially monetising our intellectual property."

Wikinews coverage of local sport, including the Gippsland Football League 2010 season and recent Sunshine Coast Rugby Union matches, has included video and photographic coverage.

Scripted material[edit]

Big Buck Bunny


Is iTunes a solution?[edit]

ITunes Store.svg

Major film studios, such as Paramount, have their films distributed through the iTunes Store and other such services.

However, some pointed to Apples "aggressive" pricing structure cutting into profit margins. The DIY Flmmaking Sucks blog published an article in 2007 which stated, "... let's pretend [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs is egalitarian and charges everyone ... 30% to get onto iTunes. [I]f your film costs $250,000 to make and market then you'll need to sell around 180,000 downloads on iTunes before you see a profit on such a film at $1.99 per download. That's a lot of viewers. Far too many for most small DIY films."

Studio films cost around $30 and would find it easier to get a profit due to marketing leverage. Indie films usually do not have such leverage and would cost close to the $1.99 quoted by DIY Flmmaking Sucks.

Torrents maybe?[edit]

A person downloading a file using a torrent file downloads from multiple servers

A developing method of distributing is being experimented with, trying to merge the technology of bitTorrent with corporate profitability. The tool is currently only available as a Firefox plugin - even then only in version 3.x.

The Wikimedia Foundation announced that it is working with "swarming" communication technologists to make use of the Swarmplayer plugin on it's sites, including this one, to play it's videos.

"Eventually bandwidth costs could saturate the foundation budget or leave less resources for other projects and programs," the Foundation wrote on it's tech blog. "For this reason it is important to start exploring and experimenting with future content distribution platforms and partnerships."

Australian content producers face similar challenges to those of the Wikimedia Foundation. They do not always have enough money or resources to distribute online, particularly if they host the content on ther own servers.

The exact business model is for distributing films in this way is not entirely clear, but one method is understood is to include some type of promotion for investors.

Torrents may be used as promotional tools. TorrentFreak points out "[t]he more hype their movie gets early on, the greater the chance of someone wanting to buy the DVD or go see it in the cinema."

A demonstration of an on-screen graphic

Another way of monetising free downloads has been Digital on-screen graphics. Traditionally these graphics are used to identify the television channel being watched or promote an upcoming show.

Critisism of on-screen graphics relates to timing and placement of them. Michael Simkins of The Telegraph has noted that even a graphic lasting thirty seconds can ruin the enjoyment of a programme.

Local TV[edit]

Related news[edit]





Category:Film Category:Australia Category:Oceania Category:Culture and entertainment