Cinema : an invention without a future? The career prospects for first-time feature film directors in the Australian Film Industry
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The initiative for this research project first emerged from a set of statistics, which appeared on the Screen Australia website in 2011 with no accompanying explanation. Over a thirty-year timeframe, the figures showed that almost 66% of feature film directors make only one feature film. The question of how feature film directors build a sustainable career within this sector formed the foundation of this study. This research project involved a series of qualitative case studies, which focused on trying to reach an understanding of what constitutes the ‘essentials’ of a director’s career. An online survey was used to capture and measure some quantifiable data: Gender; educational level and duration; type of education; preference for course content; and professional experience were some of the targeted data categories. Drawing on concepts from critical theory, political economy, education, and filmmaking disciplines the study examines the way that workers make a career in a precarious and uncertain industry. The results show that prospective feature film directors start out with a high degree of optimism and are adept at positioning themselves through a range of strategies which ensures that they can make a living by utilising their knowledge of the ways in which the entire film and television sector operates. The study concludes that the primary barrier to an individual career and an extensive body of work seems to be due chiefly to the restrictions imposed on production levels by government policy settings and general economic volatility.
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