I am pleased to present Screen Australia’s Annual Report for 2018/19, which the Board approved at its meeting on 2 September 2019.
For 2018/19, Screen Australia is proud to report:
- a diverse slate of drama and documentary television on broadcast and subscription platforms at home and abroad;
- popular feature dramas and documentaries, led by Ladies in Black and Working Class Boy; and
- award-winning, innovative and audience-pleasing content on online platforms.
In 2018/19, multiple Screen Australia-supported dramas screened on every free-to-air television network and across subscription television. More than thirty Screen Australia-supported dramas screened on broadcast television in 2018/19: the storylines covered a diverse range of themes to appeal to every audience, from crime thrillers and relationship dramas to contemporary comedy and historical stories. Doctor Doctor series 3 averaged 1.2 million viewers on Nine, while The Blake Mysteries: Ghost Stories (Seven), Bad Mothers (Nine) and Bite Club (Nine) all averaged more than 900,000 viewers.1 Five Bedrooms averaged 865,000 2viewers on Ten, while Dead Lucky averaged nearly 500,000 viewers for SBS. 3 Mr. Inbetween accumulated strong Australian audiences across multiple screenings on Foxtel’s Showcase and was a critical and audience hit for American network FX, which quickly commissioned a second series.
Children’s show Bluey broke new records on the ABC’s iview service in 2018-19, achieving more than 100 million program plays on iview since its launch in October. 4Bluey and her family will soon hit the global stage, screening on Disney Junior from Autumn 2019 and the upcoming streaming service Disney+ in territories around the world.
Documentaries attracted strong television audiences again this year, with Working Class Boy averaging 1.5 million viewers on Channel 7, and series 2 of War on Waste averaging 1 million viewers on the ABC. 5The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds and Body Hack series 2 performed well on Ten, while Filthy Rich and Homeless series 2 and Australia in Colour attracted strong audiences on SBS.
Several Australian documentaries found excellent audiences at cinemas in 2018/19. 2040 premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and had grossed $1 million in Australia by the end of the financial year. Working Class Boy’s success on television was preceded and supported by a very strong showing at the box office, where it earned $823,000. 6
Drama features attracted healthy cinema audiences in 2018/19, with Ladies in Black grossing $11.9 million in Australian cinemas and Storm Boy and Top End Wedding each earning around $5 million in Australian ticket sales. 7Drama features also received critical acclaim and performed well at international film festivals. The Nightingale won the Special Jury Prize and the award for best young actor or actress at the Venice Film Festival.
Ladies in BlackA record-breaking six Australian films were selected for the Sundance Film Festival this year, including quintessentially Australian tales Top End Wedding and The Nightingale, science fiction thriller I Am Mother, black comedy Little Monsters, and international stories Animals and Judy and Punch. Half of the Australian features at Sundance had female directors, all six revolved around female characters, and one starred and was co-written by an Indigenous Australian woman.
Australian screen titles also sold well in the international market during 2018/19. I Am Mother was purchased by Netflix for global distribution, and Hulu acquired both the television drama Safe Harbour and film Little Monsters. Acorn Media will screen Ms Fisher’s MODern Murder Mysteries and Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears in North America, while The Bureau of Magical Things continues to screen on Nickelodeon after premiering in Australia on Eleven.
Australian online content continues to travel well around the world. In 2018/19 more than one thousand Australian drama and documentary titles were available on thirty Video on Demand platforms in more than twenty countries, 8and narrative comedy series Over and Out – produced through the Skip Ahead initiative with a budget of just $120,000 – won the Best Short Form content award at Canneseries while competing against several larger-budget international productions. At home, the Superwog series attracted more than 27 million YouTube views and also reached television audiences on ABC2. Aunty Donna’s Glennridge Secondary College series has earned over 4 million YouTube views, and Mining Boom attracted over 1 million Facebook views. YouTube and Facebook views are reported by the respective platform; data is not directly comparable. 9
I would like to acknowledge the work of the Board this year and welcome Deborah Mailman AM. We are proud of the contribution Screen Australia makes to high-quality, culturally significant screen stories enjoyed by Australian and international audiences.