Helped Screen Australia launch their new report into understanding audiences in our rapidly changing multi screen world yesterday. The report contains a way of gauging the Total Audience Views across a production’s entire release cycle, something the authors claim has never been done before.
The report provided lots of discussion points for panelists such as director/producer Rachel Perkins whose film Bran Nue Dae provides a rather fascinating case study. Released on television in the very same time slot as Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, her film based on the original 1989 stage play, attracted a national average audience of 1.1 million, beating the much bigger blockbuster by 122,000.
Why they screened them neck to neck is hard to understand given the need to get Aussie content out to the masses but it was interesting that the second highest grossing Australian film of all time was shadowed on the small screen by this little indigenous comedy. Perkins said it was “extremely gratifying” to know that so many people watched it on telly but admitted that she didn’t see a cent from it.
This led to questions of the measure of success. Revenue versus eyeballs. Free to air TV and free social media networks are getting content out there and there are positive synergies between the two. It’s just a matter of keeping the film industry itself alive and thriving.
One of the provocations to the panelists was the issue of a ‘Damaged Brand’ – do Australian films suffer from this perception? Megan Brownlow, the Executive Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers (the company commissioned by Screen Oz to model viewing patterns) said that it was not so. With the report revealing 101 million viewings of Australian Films over the past 3 years, she said there is cause for celebration.