The show must go on: The adaption of the entertainment industry.
Updated: Aug 28, 2020
Source: @dumitruvlah_photography from Unsplash.com
The cuts to funding in the entertainment industry is an all too vicious cycle we see played out again and again when times of hardship arise. The sector that has been consumed at an all-time high, during our darkest days, has sadly copped one its biggest hits and been forced to dramatically adapt. The entertainment industry – screen, theatre, and live performances to name a few, is always the first to face cuts and lose its funding during times of economic difficulty. While more people than ever have been at home, consuming the work of thousands of artists, creatives, and industry professionals, most of them have been on the couch too, out of work, with little support.
The rapid change in circumstances has seen the industry trying to adapt and survive through some surprising avenues – with one potential saviour being streaming services.
While attending the theatre has been put on pause, the theatre has been able to take itself to the homes of many. Often deemed wildly expensive, the experience has become available to the masses through streaming of old and new productions on YouTube and company sites, for free.
Also, Broadway exclusives known to mostly be attended by the wealthy (Hamilton) have become available on subscription services such as Disney+, charging for only $8.99 a month. In fact, doubling its subscriber base between February and May. Whether these are profitable moves or just goodwill is unknown, but it once again drives home the value of this sector and demonstrates how heavily relied on upon it is to escape the realities of the real world sometimes. Furthermore, a new entertainment sector has been created, which could see many high-priced creations become available to the masses more frequently.
Global film production came to a giant halt in the last few months – rumoured to have an estimated impact of $20 billion in revenue. Guaranteed box office hits such as No Time To Die and Mulan were postponed, but the world’s largest film festivals were also forced to be called off or go virtual.
For many undiscovered actresses, writers, filmmakers and producers the festivals are to showcase their labour of love and presents up and comers to build new audiences - which have the chance to sustain their careers.
While people were practicing social distancing and self-quarantining, looking to streaming services to house displaced festival films for the short-term seemed like a no-brainer. But it didn’t fit the business models of streaming giants.
“The major streamers have a set of standards for delivery of these films that are too expensive, complex, and ingrained to change … and those standards don’t make sense for them to stream any films in a short, limited window”. Said actor and filmmaker Mark Duplas, who was petitioning for major streaming giants to get involved.
But not all festivals have needed the support of major distributors. For smaller festivals, like the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), who has taken the whole program online for the year, packages and options have been made available for many. Options include viewing a standalone film for $20 while a bundle of 13 films can be purchased for $115. Also, by partnering with certain food and beverage vendors who can deliver, a unique cinematic experience, that others maybe haven’t created for themselves is made possible.
The Australian Government has announced $400 million to attract film and television production in Australia.
The grant is to incentivise international filmmakers to come to Australia, not encourage Australian films to be made in Australia. While expenditure may be greater, foreign-made films and producers can now access more government funding in Australia than Australian made films and producers. While the incentive will employ some Australians in the film industry, Screen Producers Australia has said the funding may only support 20% of the Australian workforce.
Hopefully, the industry doesn’t suffer this hard ever again, but now there is the knowledge and resources available for the sector to continue recovering and thriving in future adversity and to create greater access and opportunities to the arts.