by Content Cafe — March 23,2021
Each month we hear from industry insiders in Australia and abroad to get their take on content piracy. Is content protection improving? How do we stop piracy? How does Australia compare to the rest of the world? These are some of the questions we'll be exploring with leaders across the content industry.
I am the CEO of the industry association Ausfilm. We are a private/public partnership responsible for promoting Australia as a world class production destination and connecting international filmmakers to the Australian screen industry. Our objective is to increase the level of international production activity in Australia to create jobs, drive inward investment into the economy and stimulate growth across the industry.
What makes us unique is that our membership comprises both government and private screen businesses providing a forum for collaborative engagement and debate. Our government members are the federal, state and territory screen agencies while our corporate members are the studio facilities, post and VFX houses, production service companies, and travel and freight. All are export focussed companies working on international productions. We are supported by, and receive funding from, the Australian Government through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
International productions form one part of the screen industry ecosystem. In addition to generating substantial economic activity, the scale of these productions creates significant opportunities for us to grow and expand our highly skilled workforce. They enable crew and small businesses to reinvest in their businesses, whether through new technologies, infrastructure or the next generation. Increased activity will also encourage new investments into broader screen infrastructure.
While piracy doesn’t immediately impact the running of our business, it does for our members and stakeholders. Our post and VFX members deal with issues of piracy regularly and have strict measures in place to guarantee the safety and integrity of the projects they are working on. Our international clients (studios, SVODs, independent production companies) are all regularly impacted by the threat of piracy and as they are also members of the Australian & New Zealand Screen Association (ANZSA) we work closely with them to support the work that they do in the ongoing fight for the protection of IP.
Piracy threatens the livelihoods of all who work in the industry. Whether it is the company financing the film, or the individuals who work on them. It has huge financial consequences, and it devalues the cultural and economic worth of their craft and hard work.
We exist in an online era and that means that illegal material can unfortunately be accessed with relative ease. Education and ensuring that the public understands the true impact of their actions is critical. People need to value and respect the work, and the hundreds of people who are negatively impacted by their viewing of something illegally. The work of public education is very important.
Immersing myself in a number of great tv series over the past 12 months has been a much-needed release from the intensity of navigating the pandemic. Having spent five years in Los Angeles, I am still catching up on the back catalogue for both SBS On Demand and iView. I also loved the final season of Call My Agent (Dix pour cent) that’s just come to Netflix. Heading back to the cinema to watch the terrific recent Australian releases has also been a great pleasure.
The current number of international productions choosing Australia as their location is creating exciting opportunities for the Australian industry. The consistent level of activity we’re seeing, and the future pipeline, will enable growth across the industry. Unlike the previous peaks and troughs, this current pipeline will allow us to plan how best to build our workforce – to ensure the expertise that we have across the country is able to be expanded and their skills passed on to the next generation with more work to go around for all. We will also see, I am sure, commitments to investments in new infrastructure, like we’ve just seen in Western Australia.
I do want to see as much work from these international productions as possible being left behind in Australia. We have some of the best postproduction and VFX facilities and talent in the world and we want to make sure their skills and creativity are maximised by these productions. These businesses were incredibly quick to pivot at the height of the pandemic and are able to provide some incredibly innovative solutions to projects of all size and scale.