In this essay Tom O'Regan explores the Australian film industry in relation to filmmaking, audiences and government influence. 'It would be difficult to find a more interesting period in Australian film history than the 1980s,' he writes. 'There was the experiment of a government inspired tax shelter: the so-called tax incentives which provided levels of production funding and activity that had been hitherto unheard of in Australian film production. The average number of feature films made per year doubled from 15 in the 1970s to 27 in the 1980s when some 65 mini-series were also made. Additionally the budgets for all these rose sharply. The incentives exempted film production from the full pressures of the market. They permitted the industry to withstand the pressures for internationalisation by providing cheap finance and insisting on Australian creative control to secure the tax benefits.'
The 1980s saw a boom in the production television mini-series, including Vietnam (1987), and the release of several blockbusters, the most significant being Mad Max 2 (1981), Gallipoli (1981), The Man from Snowy River (1982), and the international box-office hit, Crocodile Dundee (1986). It was also an era when Australia's art cinema flourished, principally through the works of Paul Cox.