Brands back indie film industry to take on Hollywood

By Rosie Baker | 1 July 2014
Crocodile Dundee is one of the most sucessful indie Australian films.

Mambo and De Bortoli Wines are stepping into the funding chasm to help boost Australian film making and reverse the decline of Aussie films in cinemas following federal government cuts to the industry.

The brands are working with Panavision and Fujifilm as the lead sponsors of Pure Independent Pictures, a new scheme designed to promote Australian independent film making. More corporate partners could join the scheme in the future.

Jason Kent, an independent film-maker and the founder of Pure Independent Pictures, claims that Australian films could disappear from cinemas within a decade. Back in the 80s, the Australian film industry had a 23% share of the world film market. Today it stands at just 4%. Crocodile Dundee, Mad Max and The Story of the Kelly Gang, three of the most successful Australian films are all independent.

In the Federal Budget in May, Screen Australia's funding was slashed by $38 million over the next four years. Pure Independent Pictures and support from corporates is designed to bridge the funding gap and reverse the decline. Kent believes the independent film industry has the potential to contribute $1.6 billion to the economy.

Kent told AdNews: “Now as government is backing away [from funding] and is ramping up its view towards centralising funding and [supporting] historical films that aren't great for the commercial industry."

He added that there's huge potential for the Australian independent film industry to take on the world's film industries and make films that really compete against Hollywood. “Independent film is market driven, films are made to connect with people, not to attract government funding,” he said, which makes them more likely to be profitable.

“I don't want to be doom and gloom about it but we have to address [the decline in Australian-made films]. This is an opportunity to turn it around. It's new but it's a distribution channel to help indie films compete against bigger budget and government backed films. No one is really supporting independent film in Australia and it's good for big businesses to get behind a benevolent cause. From a brand perspective, while it might not have the exposure of a 30-second TV spot, the brand capital is so much more people associate a feeling and emotion to the brands involved.”

Aussie brands Mambo and De Bortoli were approached because “it's bigger than just the film industry” and it made sense to look beyond film companies to corporate partners, said Kent. Part of the appeal is also having global brands like De Bortoli on board that can help drive the export of Australian films around the world.

The initiative could look to launch a film festival or screen writing competition that would be sponsored by the brands in future. Brand partners could also work on product placement deals within indie films.

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