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Interview with Cameron Mitchell, NACO

by Content Cafe — 11 October, 2022

Industry voices is an interview series commissioned by Content Cafe profiling screen industry professionals 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 are exploring with leaders across the content industry.

Cameron Mitchell, Executive Director of NACO

Welcome Cameron, please introduce yourself.

I’m a very proud Australian who’s been fortunate to have enjoyed 25 years in the entertainment industry. I worked with Birch Carroll & Coyle / Greater Union (now Event) for 12 years, before moving to the Middle East as CEO of VOX Cinemas. During my 14 years in Dubai, VOX Cinemas welcomed over 200 million guests, expanding the cinema circuit from 40 screens, in one country, to 650 screens across eight countries, and expanded into distribution. I returned to Australia in mid-2021, so that my son and daughter could advance their studies here.

I am delighted to have joined NACO as Executive Director. NACO has a critical role in representing Australia’s major cinema chains, collaborating with the creative community to ensure we have exceptional content available in cinema, supporting ongoing efforts to stem piracy, and hosting the annual Australian International Movie Convention.

Having recently returned to Australia, what was your first impression of the film industry here in 2022?

Australia has always been at the forefront of innovation. Gold Class was envisaged in Australia before being exported globally, and Village Roadshow and Event Cinemas (then Greater Union) took the Australian experience to countless countries in the 1990’s. Without question, Australia continues to shape the global cinema landscape.  Coming back to Australia, I can still see these same exceptional talents developing world class experiences, investing heavily in data, e-comm, CX and F&B, all with a view of delighting audiences.

I’ve also been fortunate to meet many of the creatives in the industry recently.  The Distributor Association’s (MPDAA) leaders, Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, Screen Producers Association, Griffith Film School and executives from the Feature Film Summit are a few examples, but I have been overwhelmed in these meetings by the depth of talent and passion that exists for delivering great Australian stories to audiences.

What’s been the most significant change since you headed overseas?

COVID has obviously reshaped the way we live and adversely affected most industries, however the industry is working collaboratively to recover quickly.  By the end of July, Australia and New Zealand had eclipsed their full year 2021 results and were ahead of most global recovery benchmarks. Excluding the pandemic however, I am surprised by the state of the labour market in Australia. Wages are high, we have record employment levels and vacancies are proving difficult to fill. Employers across all industries are desperate for talent, retention levels are dropping, and the work rate hasn’t recovered since the pandemic commenced. Recent federal changes will positively impact the number of international workers that will be allowed into the country this year, but due to COVID and generational changes, we need to work to ensure that Australia doesn’t slip and lose its competitive edge.

Does piracy affect your business or that of your stakeholders? How?

Piracy is without question one of the largest risks to our industry.  Sadly, piracy is still often seen as a victimless crime, and without the continued efforts of CCA and ANZSA, and industry and governmental collaboration to identify, prosecute and eradicate piracy, performers, businesses, and ancillary support industries would be decimated.

How does Australia’s response to piracy compare to the Middle East?

I have been incredibly impressed by the work that CCA is doing to educate on the risks of piracy and collaborations aimed at eradicating piracy. Education is so critical and this is often missed in other countries. The Middle East is challenged on the piracy front, given pirates usually operate from adjacent jurisdictions which are then difficult to influence.  The United Arab Emirates government, however, acts very proactively to identify and shutdown piracy activities and are always quick to react once pirates are identified.

What’s the last great film you saw?

My favourite this year was an Australian film that I missed whilst abroad, Last Cab to Darwin. The cast was incredible, great story, incredibly well made. I loved it!  Another reminder of the enormous talent that exists down under. But Maverick would be hard not to mention. It encapsulated everything I love about cinema.

Lastly, what excites you about the future of cinemas?

2022 has given us many reasons to celebrate. Australia’s YTD is ~80% above the comparative 2021 period. At $89m+, Top Gun: Maverick is now the 3rd highest grossing release in Australia and many films that screened this year are in the Top 50 releases of all time. At $32m Elvis has made it to #4 on the list of the highest grossing Australian films of all time. It’s an amazing performance from a diverse slate of films, highlighting the importance and appeal of the cinema experience. As exceptional as the in-cinema experience (image, sound, seat, ambience) is, the technology, foyer experience and F&B (food & beverage) offerings continue to evolve and improve. So, I’m excited to see how our industry captures the learnings from COVID and capitalises on our obvious collective desire to share experiences, create memories and immerse ourselves in the art of cinema.

 


Before you go, check out some of out other interviews with leaders across the content industry: 
Annabelle Herd, ARIA and PPCA, Chief Executive Officer 
Scott Lorson, Fetch TV, Chief Executive Officer
Diane Hamer, BBC Studios, Head of Content and Brand Protection 
Shaun Grant, Screenwriter, Berlin Syndrome, Penguin Bloom

 

ABOUT NACO

The National Association of Cinema Operators (NACO) is the peak body representing cinema operators across Australia, established to act in the interests of all cinema operators. NACO represents cinema operators across Australia, including Event, Village Roadshow, Hoyts, and Reading, as well as many independent and regional cinemas. We represent over 1,700 screens, across approximately 400 locations. The cinema industry remains the number one cultural activity in Australia and an essential community hub, particularly in regional areas. Visit NACO

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