Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy: 10BA, the Film Finance Corporation, and Hollywood's 'Race to the Bottom'

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Burns, Alex and Eltham, Ben (2010) Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy: 10BA, the Film Finance Corporation, and Hollywood's 'Race to the Bottom'. Media International Australia, incorporating Culture and Policy, Film, (136). pp. 103-118. ISSN 1329-878X


In recent years, a narrative has emerged in the Australian popular media about the box office "unpopularity" of Australian feature films and the "failure" of the domestic screen industry. This article explores the recent history of Australian screen policy with particular reference to: 1) the "10BA" tax incentive of the 1980s; 2) the Film Finance Corporation of Australia (FFC), a government screen agency established in 1988 to bring investment bank-style portfolio management to Australia's screen industry, and 3) local production incentive policies pursed by Australian state governments in a chase for Hollywood's runaway production. We argue the 10BA incentive catalysed an unsustainable bubble in Australian production, while its policy successor, the FFC, fundamentally failed in its stated mission of "commercial" screen financing (over its 20-year lifespan, the FFC invested $AUD1.345 billion for $AUD274.2 million recouped: a cumulative return of negative 80 per cent). For their part, private investors in Australian films discovered the screen production process involved high levels of risk (Goldman 1984, Malkiel 2007). Foreign-financed production also proved highly volatile, due to the vagaries of trade exposure, currency fluctuations, and tax arbitrage. The result of these macro- and micro-economic factors – often structural and cross-border in nature – was that Australia's screen industry failed to develop the local investment infrastructure required to finance a sustainable (non-subsidised) local sector.

Item type Article
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 410000 The Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1502 Banking, Finance and Investment
Historical > FOR Classification > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media
Historical > SEO Classification > 9501 Arts and Leisure
Historical > SEO Classification > 9103 International Trade
Keywords Australian cinema, motion-picture industry finance, cultural policy, media policy, cultural economics, tax arbitrage
Citations in Scopus 4 - View on Scopus
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