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A Heap of Aussie Stars Are Pushing for Streaming Platforms to Make More Local Movies and TV Shows

Actors Simon Baker, Bryan Brown, Marta Dusseldorp and Justine Clarke are among the Australian creatives campaigning for the government to enforce local content quotas.
By Sarah Ward
March 21, 2021
By Sarah Ward
March 21, 2021

When you scroll through Netflix's menu, everything from Stranger Things to Bridgerton might catch your eye. Over on Disney+, you could make a beeline to The Mandalorian and WandaVision, while Amazon Prime Video may pique your interest if you're keen on The Boys or Tales From the Loop. But, if you're fond of homegrown films and television programs, you might've noticed that the huge range of streaming platforms on offer Down Under don't typically fund, create and make available all that much new Australian content.

The current situation is somewhat better than it was. When Netflix officially launched in Australia back in 2015, its buffet of streaming movies and TV shows noticeably lacked new original local content (indeed, it took more than two years for the popular platform to finally announce that it was making its first Aussie series, Tidelands). It still doesn't overflow with Aussie fare, although it did give Aunty Donna its own delightful comedy. Fellow streamer Stan has been beefing up its catalogue with Aussie movies and shows, though, with the likes of No Activity, Wolf Creek, Bloom, Bump, After the Night, A Sunburnt Christmas, Relic and True History of the Kelly Gang among the local titles joining its ranks.

If a group of Australian creatives has anything to do with it, however, there'll be much more local content added to streaming platforms in the future. High Ground's Simon Baker, Hungry Ghosts' Bryan Brown and Justine Clarke, and Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie's Dead Aunt)'s Marta Dusseldorp are all part of the Make It Australian campaign, which is lobbying the Australian Government to implement quotas. The proposal: that all streaming services operating in Australia that have at least 500,000 subscribers are required to spend 20 percent of their local revenue on new Aussie dramas, documentaries and content for children.

If the idea sounds familiar, that's because it has been under consideration before, and for some time — with a green paper on the topic published in late 2020, and a consultation period currently open — but nothing has come to fruition as yet. This time around, the group behind the move put forward their case at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday, March 16, particularly noting the importance of Australian audiences being able to watch local stories as streaming platforms grow in popularity.

Similar quotas are in place regarding Australian programming on both commercial free-to-air television and pay TV — although requirements were altered in 2020 due to the pandemic.

And if you're thinking that the Aussie screen industry seems to be in good shape at the moment considering that a huge number of Hollywood titles are being filmed here at present — including everything from Marvel's Thor: Love and Thunder to Nicole Kidman-starring TV series Nine Perfect Strangers, plus new movies directed by Ron Howard and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts soon to shoot — the current situation isn't the norm. Big productions have been coming to our shores during the pandemic given that Australia's COVID-19 case numbers are low, protocols are in place and it's safe to film here as a result, but that isn't guaranteed to continue once life returns to normal in the US.

For more information about the Make It Australian campaign, head to its website. For more information about the media reform green paper, head to the Australian Government website.

Published on March 21, 2021 by Sarah Ward


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