Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason has highlighted another 'stellar year' for drama production in Australia with expenditure of $2.34 billion across 213 titles in 2022-23, amidst record spending from foreign features as well as growth in free-to-air (FTA) TV titles.
The overall figure is shy of the $2.43 billion spent in the previous year, however that number was adjusted from its original level of $2.29 billion as reported in November 2022, due to the inclusion of an additional nine productions in the calculation.
Screen Australia’s 33rd annual Drama Report released last week notes expenditure in Australia from foreign titles rose from $904 million to $1.22 billion in 2022-23.
"Big-budget foreign productions like The Fall Guy and The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes that shoot in Australia have incredible flow-on benefits for local businesses, communities and the broader economy, and allow local cast and crew to acquire experience and new skills," says Mason.
"Further, the international demand for our PDV (post, digital and visual effects) expertise reflects the confidence of global companies in our talent and technology."
Mason highlights record PDV spend and continued spend from subscription TV and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) titles, such as the upcoming Heartbreak High series two, High Country and Prosper.
He adds that an increase in Australian FTA TV and broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) spend, coming from productions such as Total Control series three, RFDS series two and While the Men are Away, has helped deliver a 'fantastic result'.
"We’re proud to report the second-highest drama spend ever in Australia. It has been remarkable witnessing the unprecedented surge in production in Australia in recent years and the 2022-23 Drama Report highlights another stellar year for drama production in Australia," Mason explains.
"Australian titles made up $1.13 billion of total spend. Although expenditure by Australian subscription TV and subscription video on demand (SVOD) has decreased this year, growth in free-to-air (FTA) TV and broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) has helped to offset those declines to deliver the second-highest Australian expenditure on record.
"Spend on children’s drama across TV and VOD platforms also increased from last year, but has not returned to previous highs. Expenditure on Australian theatrical features declined from last year’s record high, driven by fewer big-budget titles."
New South Wales accounted for 56 per cent of the national total, setting a new record for the third consecutive year at $1.3 billion. Queensland also set a new record with total expenditure of $581 million, up 23 per cent on the previous year.
In contrast, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia all saw declines with spend falling 45 per cent, 52 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.
"It’s fantastic to see New South Wales and Queensland continue to go from strength to strength," says Mason.
"Like any industry, the demand for production and post-production services and particular filming locations, will understandably come in ebbs and flows. What’s important is these results illustrate that the states and territories are generating significant activity domestically and are establishing themselves as premier destinations for foreign projects.
"There’s no denying, our screen practitioners and businesses continue to punch above their weight both domestically and on the international stage. As we look to the future, we need to ensure that we stay on top of our game – by working together with industry and the state and territory agencies to foster the skilled workforce this level of production critically needs."
Most of the foreign titles that contributed to the FY23 result started before the Hollywood writers' strike that began in May and have since left many productions in limbo. In its report, Screen Australia notes foreign production will likely face some challenges in FY24.
"For example, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes have already had an impact on foreign production in Australia for 2023–24, with production on Apples Never Fall halting in July," the report authors write.
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