The names behind some of Australia's biggest and most famous movie productions are warning the nation's film and television industry stands at a crossroads, painting a bleak picture of the industry's future without major policy change.
Submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into how to continue to grow the industry which produced Babe, Mad Max, Crocodile Dundee, The Castle and the Hemsworths, have warned continued success is all but impossible without changes to licensing, incentives, subsidies and stronger copyright protections.
With subscription services and increased competition from countries hoping to woo Hollywood into spending a slice of its multi-billion film budget in their locale, players within the Australian market have pleaded with the government to increase the tax breaks, including raising the Location Offset from 16.5 per cent to at least 30 per cent, as well as increase incentives to film locally.
Without a boost to the rebate, Australia risked missing out, studios reported.
"Without a doubt, streaming services and digital distribution have altered the entertainment landscape," Fox Studios Australia said in its submission.
Fox Studios said the Matt Damon blockbuster, The Martian, had been slated to shoot in Australia, but "the film was not able to utilise the rebates, and instead, the movie was shot in Budapest, Hungary".
Village Roadshow also warned against adopting recommendations from the Productivity Commission's draft inquiry report into intellectual property, which it said "ignores the real world and adopts a flawed concept of copyright that colours and prejudices its findings and recommendations".
"The fact that Australia is a net importer of intellectual property does not mean that we should weaken legal protection of copyright," it said.
"???The fact that international creative organisations also benefit from Australia's strong copyright protection should not be used as an excuse to water down that protection."
Village singled out a recommendation to legalise the circumvention of Technical Protection Measures - including geo-blocking, which would stop Australians from accessing subscription and streaming services in other nations, claiming it was a "fundamental part of the way in which Australian producers are able to finance a film or TV program and allow a licensee of rights in a territory to recoup its contribution to the production budget in the form of licence fees."
But it was not just film producers - Free TV, which represents Australia's free-to-air television networks, said it was a "critical time" for broadcasters, with global media technology companies taking a growing share of the advertising dollars available, without being subject to the same rules and regulations, including Australian content obligations.
"The status-quo is not sustainable and is jeopardising the continued delivery of free-to-air services to the public," it said in its submission.
"It is also putting at risk our ability to commission Australian content and to invest in the Australian screen production sector."
Free TV recommended the government abolish "out-dated" children's quota requirements, in the face of falling viewership and for tax rebates to match the current rate available to those making feature films, as well as reducing licensing fees, which it called "the highest in the world" and a remnant of an past era where "content could only be delivered over the broadcast spectrum".
Others, including Screen Producers Australia, questioned why New Zealand-made content, which was often acquired by broadcasters for much cheaper than domestically made productions, was able to be subbed in to meet Australian content quotas.