Ch01.B19 Buy local
by Ally Riches
Storytelling, in all it’s diverse and creative forms, is a tough terrain to tackle. The Australian film industry in particularly is a very challenging landscape. An artist could spend years, even decades plotting out their pastures, honing their skills and pouring gallons of a high strength mix of blood-sweat-and-tears into their field to produce beaut-quality goods. However, our current paradigm means their efforts are kind of fruitless. Our local market is so incredibly niche that most of their stuff is seen at artisanal markets or exported as an exotic delicacy.
I am not a seasoned creative type and quite frankly, I’m far too timid to venture beyond the realms of a hobby project (whether it be gardening or filmmaking). The reason behind my lack of experience and my abundance of fear is because I’m plagued by a seed of doubt- Is it sustainable? Could I make a living from this? Will people like it? Will they even see it? Sadly, the answer is “Not really” simply because very few people are buying Australian Made. It’s seen as low hanging fruit that is either too sickly sweet or too bitter to enjoy, and certainly not worth paying for.
This happens because our art is surrounded by Australian cultural cringe. It’s a noxious weed that stems from our national identity crisis and tall-poppy syndrome and it’s choking the life out of our cinema, literature and music scenes. Generally, we’re not all that into homegrown mushy stuff which means we no longer value our own stories.
It’s a shame because Australians are terrific storytellers and we have a plethora of tales to tell. The First Australians are the oldest storytellers on the planet. They have storytelling down to a fine art and produce some of Australia’s greatest films. We have a rich history of visual storytelling, we even shot the world’s first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang. We are one of the most diverse countries and we house incredible stories, skills and an array of different styles, flavours and flare. We have films that are too hot to handle, like Candy; documentaries that nourish like Gayby Baby; sunburst comedies like Footy Legends; or layered masterpieces like Babadook. But Australian cultural cringe crept in so long ago that it’s more a part of us than our arts. We view our products are substandard and indigestible. Compounding this problem is the fact that we refuse to acknowledge the great stuff until the international community holds it up and worse, we prefer it when Hollywood takes our stories and repackages it.
Just as in gardening, it’s important to recognise harmful plants. Cringe has it’s place and shouldn’t be removed entirely, but in order to make cinematic storytelling sustainable and diverse it needs to be pulled back. Australian films need to see the light of day in order to flourish and you can help bring it back to life. Our stories look visually stunning on the silver screen but they need to be supported just as much as our farmers, athletes and brands. Buying local may seem like a small step but it makes a difference because it creates a healthier, more diverse and sustainable market. Go on, add some Australian flavour to your diet. There’s something for everyone’s taste.