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'Fair suck of the sav' is as Aussie as they come. It can be interpreted in a number of ways, but none is more relevant, at present, than the desire for a level playing field. As the FTA discussions emotively and literally drag on, provoking angry industry protests in defence of our culture; and as guild reps from SPAA, AWG, ASDA, et al., make impassioned pleas for government reassurance that Australian Film and Television Industry tariffs will not be jeopardized in exchange for local automotive or agricultural incentives, we need to step back a little and reflect on how our industry has survived in the past. We need to understand that the FFA outcome is not the sole contributor to our present problems.
The Australian Film Industry has spent a lifetime fighting for its very existence, ever since Edwin Porter directed the first feature film, based on the Kelly gang, back in 1906. The biggest threat, even then, was that of the burgeoning foreign distributors eager to 'muscle in' as our infant industry quickly demonstrated its popularity and its cleverness in 'selling' its own culture to its own people. The advent of 'talkies', and the fact of having the English language in common, exacerbated the problem, as major American distributors and exhibitors saw the Australia cinema circuit as a ready-made market to add to its already growing global portfolio; this was at the inevitable expense of the Australian auteur.
Our illustrious film pioneers, such as Raymond Longford, Charles Chauvel and Ken Hall, persevered through the Great Wars and continued the battle against foreign distributors, justifying their innate belief and commitment to Australian stories through the commercial success and artistic merit of their films.
Their enduring popularity was, without doubt, the inspiration behind the Industry renaissance and the acceptance of television quotas in the early 1970s, that helped create the infrastructures we have today.
The subsequent recognition of Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford, George Miller and Phillip Noyce (to name but a few) as world class film-makers, through films that were financed directly, in part or completely by the AFC, is testimony to those that made the dream possible, despite the handicap of shoestring budgets and …