It’s time for a rethink of Australia’s film and TV awards if they are to truly represent the industry. 
By
4 Feb 2013 - 11:23 AM  UPDATED 4 Feb 2013 - 12:30 PM

That just 318,000 people elected to watch last week's telecast of the AACTA Awards rather than re-runs of Miss Congeniality 2 and Forrest Gump should be a cause for concern to the Academy of Cinema and Television Arts and the wider industry.

Granted, this was only the second year of the Academy's peer-group voting system but the ratings suggest the awards are not resonating widely with Joe and Jane Public, as was the case with the Australian Film Institute's awards in recent years. And the feedback to last week's telecast from some filmmakers suggests there is a level of disquiet over aspects of the awards.

So, in the spirit of working towards elevating the awards – and the TV show – to a more highly regarded and influential footing with audiences and the showbiz industry, here are 10 suggestions.

1. Come up with a catchier, more resonant name. As my recent, random survey indicated, many folks don't know what AACTA means and wish they were called something, anything else.

2. Present the Raymond Longford Award, the industry's highest accolade for lifetime achievement, on the awards night, instead of being relegated to the luncheon. Producer Al Clark, this year's worthy recipient, should have been given his due during the TV show.

3. Ensure the winner of the Byron Kennedy Award gets more than a fleeting mention in the telecast; the posthumous award to director/animator Sarah Watt, accepted by her son Clem McInnes, deserved more recognition.

4. Ditch the International Awards. Lord knows there are more than enough gongs handed out by the US guilds, critics' organisations, the over-hyped Golden Globes etc. Does anyone here or in the US really care that the Australian Academy rated Silver Linings Playbook as best international film?

5. Use the money saved to strengthen the Australian honours, including expanding the number of awards as mooted by the Academy/Australian Film Institute.

6. Persuade Network Ten or whoever becomes the broadcast partner to mount a 90-minute telecast, so more awards can be presented

7. Encourage the winners to cut down on the interminable thank-yous, and instead say something meaningful/illuminating/insightful.

8. Invite Russell Crowe to host the 2014 awards: he did a terrific job last week. Or, if Rusty isn't available, Hugh Jackman.

9. Try to persuade the broadcaster to start the show at 8.30pm to reach a wider audience.

10. This is a big ask I know, but endeavour to reach out and engage with those producers and others who have been critical of the name and the ways in which the awards are structured and presented, so the event is more inclusive and truly representative of the film and TV industries.