FedUni research may turn Australia’s film industry on its head

The digital world of film technology can provide the opportunity to develop a new film industry model not dependent on government funding, according to Richard Owen, a PhD student at Federation University Australia.

“For more than a decade, industry opinion has centred on the idea that Commonwealth funding must be maintained simply to sustain the health of domestic film production,” Mr Owen said.

“But that is not necessarily the case now because of new technology.”

Richard Owen is doing a PhD by exegesis at Federation University Australia, where he is developing a film using modern technology to reduce costs without reducing quality.

His film model also involves developing a new means of distribution with the aim of creating and growing a viable film industry in Australia.

“The need for a new model of film production and distribution is clearly becoming paramount in light of the fiscal pressures mounting at the Commonwealth level,” Mr Owen said.

Mr Owen’s Principal PhD Supervisor Associate Professor Elisa Backer said: “Richard’s work is challenging our understanding of the current paradigm in Australian film production.”

“He is currently developing a model that could subvert conventional wisdom in the production and distribution model, allowing for a new more sustainable method,” Associate Professor Elisa Backer said.

Mr Owen’s research breaks new ground on our understanding of how the current paradigm is changing, and the opportunities that are presented for the industry in a download and streaming future.

His research suggests that chronic issues within the Australian film industry cannot be addressed fully with conventional wisdom and the prevailing long-term effects could be significant if federal funding is reduced or removed.

It further suggests that a new production and distribution model could effectively supplement or supersede the current model and support a vibrant film industry without the need for federal funding.

Mr Owen’s film is called Stakes and is being released around the country from 29 October.

A unique aspect of the release is that there will be at least two actors from the movie at each opening night at every destination that screens the movie.

“This is part of the distribution model I am testing,” Mr Owen said.

“You cannot create change without changing the way things are done.

“Nothing can illustrate my research more forcibly than seeing the online retailer Amazon become a movie studio, producing low-budget films.”


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