New research confirms that service work on US films issoaring while Australian features remain in the doldrums in terms of numbersmade and budget levels, while co-productions have practically disappeared.

Only 15 homegrown films worth A$134m were made in the 12months to June 30, according to the Australian Film Commission's latest annualsurvey, , compared to seven foreign films worth A$432 million.

The amount spent in Australia was A$113m for local and $249mfor foreign films respectively. The foreign films included House Of Wax, Son Of The Mask, Stealth and Star Wars - Episode III. The one co-production, the UK/Australiandrama The Oyster Farmer, spent A$5mof it's A$7m budget in Australia.

"Australia should be making 25 to 30 films a year andif it is not in that range you have to ask if the industry is sustainable interms of infrastructure and the experience required by actors, creativepersonnel and technicians" said AFC chief executive Kim Dalton. He alsowarned that while the growth in foreign production was welcome, this sector isbuilt and relies on a robust and healthy local production sector.

The A$134 million price tag on the wholly Australian filmswould be much like last year's eight-year low of A$49m for the same number offilms if the Kennedy Miller animation HappyFeet for Warner Bros/Village Roadshow was removed. In the 1990s, theaverage annual number of local films was 23.

Nine of the 15 local films were substantially funded fromgovernment sources, principally the Film Finance Corporation. The Extra and You And Your Stupid Mate got most of their money from the MacquarieNine Film and Television Fund, which has since dried up.

Dalton said the core reason that numbers were down was alack of finance: "There is less money from direct government subsidy, fromthe private sector and from industry. It is very very difficult for producersto raise finance. The international market is more competitive andcontracting."