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THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF AUSTRALIAN DOCUMENTARY

Tom Zubrycki

Platform Paper 58

Tom Zubrycki

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Documentaries matter now more than ever. Documentary storytelling is a vital way to explore our world and who we are as a nation. In this they are as much an art form as about real life—and that’s sufficient reason for them to have a strong cultural imperative. But in this evolving digital era, a new landscape has emerged. Much has changed: new storytelling tools, a new global base—but with reduced government funding and increased fragmentation of the distribution sector. The once self-reliant TV broadcast industry has re-structured around ratings and perceived audience taste. 

So it is outside the broadcast sector that we must look for ambition and innovation. We are now at that historical moment of transition from an outdated broadcast model to a digital future of many platforms. The systems created by the Internet will be the future. But they cannot survive without government regulation. Currently they have no local content obligations. These global companies must engage with Australian-originated projects right from the start. Zubrycki calls for similar content regulation to that of the commercial broadcasters. ‘It’s not going to happen any other way’, he insists. ‘Quotas are not just necessary, they are essential.’ 

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About the Author

Tom Zubrycki is an award-winning documentary filmmaker.  During the course of a long career he has evolved a distinctive observational story-telling style focusing round a personal response to some of the big issues of the day. He also works as a producer mentoring early career filmmakers.