Making Australian Screen Content in an Era of Digital Disruption

This broad project encompasses two distinct subprojects:

  1. Subproject 1 is focussed on the impact of digital disruption on the practices and business models of screen producers making a variety of screen content in regional Australia.
  2. Subproject 2 investigates how the declining viability of theatrical exhibition and the proliferation of SVOD platforms is impacting the production of specific screen genres by Australian producers.

Subproject 1: Australian screen production in the regions

Screen producers around Australia producing feature-length movies and documentaries, television series, and others forms of short form content are increasingly diversifying their business models and revenue streams in response to a fragmenting marketplace, increased global competition, the decline of theatrical exhibition and the feature film market, technological change and growing demand for short online content, as well as regulatory changes to the content quotas, among many other factors. Outside of capital cities and in regional cities in particular, screen producers are building screen businesses that break down silos between different screen formats, embrace new technologies, and in some cases offer a 360 range of services to manage risk and develop multiple revenue streams. Moreover, in a post-COVID-19 world, creatives, including screen professionals, are migrating away from large capital cities to the regions creating new concentrations of screen talent in regional areas. This project investigates the activity, structure, and capacity of screen production in specific regional ‘hotspots’ – a term referring to both the total number of screen workers employed in film and television activities and the creative intensity of the screen workforce as a portion of the greater regional economy – across Australia. The study will also examine migration patterns of screen professionals leaving the cities for regional areas. In so doing, the project will investigate the dynamics of key regional screen hotspots, and it will interrogate how producers and production companies are diversifying their business models and practices in response to digital disruption and a changing screen market.

Subproject 2: Australian screen genres being made for SVOD platforms 

  1. Subproject 2 investigates the impact of the declining viability of theatrical exhibition and the proliferation of SVOD platforms for the production of specific types of screen genres by Australian producers for this landscape.

Between the mid-2000s and 2020, there has been a strong surge in the production of popular genre movies and a significant diversification in the types of genre movies made within the Australian feature film industry. Screen scholar Mark David Ryan has termed the recent surge in Australian genre films the ‘contemporary genre turn’. However, business models for producers making feature-length movies, is more uncertain than ever before as theatrical release becomes an increasingly unviable business proposition. The proliferation of video on demand (VOD) and subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms creates new distribution opportunities for filmmakers, while evolving audience consumption practices and the affordances of SVOD platforms create demand for genres that blur the formal elements and conventions of both television and cinema. However, revenue models and the financial viability of movies made exclusively for SVOD platforms remain unclear. At the same time, original Australian feature-length content commissioned for major SVODs in Australia, and SVODs globally, is small.

The project has two key objectives:

  • The project investigates the specific genres, and generic patterns, being made by Australian producers for first release SVOD/VOD platforms, both in Australia and internationally.
  • Second, the research investigates the impact of SVOD platforms on business models and shapes production practices, and how this shapes the types of Australian stories being made.

DMRC research program

This project contributes to the research within the following DMRC research program:

Transforming Media Industries

Project team

Project partners

  • Gold Coast City Council


Gold Coast Independent Screen Production

Ryan, Mark David, Couzens, Andrew, Balanzategui, Jessica. (Forthcoming). From Z-grade to prestige horror: Australian horror movie production and distribution from 2010 to 2020. Submitted to Global Horror Production in the Twenty-First Century, Ed. Eddie Falvey and Alice Haylett Bryan.