Australian content producers and the SVOD boom

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But you have to be agile, he warns. Over the past three years, her company has shifted its business model from producing Australian TV series that she hoped to repackage for international sale to producing series – like thriller. Mr. in-between – directly for the international public.

Producers are positive about looking outward and exporting our series into the American boom. But this boom is not yet returning across the Pacific. Liz Doran, mini-series writer Molly and Josh Thomas’ hit series in the United States, Please love me, notes that the growing number of SVODs coming in Netflix’s wake is only affecting the local industry “slowly, as SVODs have yet to start properly commissioning Australian products.”

“Everyone is having fun, having meetings and conversations, waiting for something to happen,” says Doran.

Kevin Whyte, the producer of Australia’s biggest hit on global screens last year, Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, is one of those who have meetings.

The Queensland youth drama Tidelands was Netflix’s first purely Australian production. Jasin Boland / Netflix

He laughs every morning – “until tea time in the morning, when we sit down and breathe” – is consumed while dealing with the United States, mainly Los Angeles, about his television or comedy offerings. stand-up (Gadsby’s new US comedy tour went on presale this week; it had been busy).

Its Guesswork Television produces Australian content for global markets. But not in a speculative way. Each series has an international production partner (Please love me has participating media, Rosehaven, Sundance TV and Get Krack! N, Seeso). And although Guesswork produced and shot the Gadsby stand-up special, which Netflix later bought, the US streamer discussed acquiring the show before it was shot. Whyte notes that he would have done Nanette independently.

This is where the problem lies for Australian producers in the face of new streaming services. As Nanette shown, the global opportunities that Netflix – or Amazon or Apple or Disney + – can offer are extraordinary.

Still, streamers don’t have to produce Australian content and their tendency so far has been to reclaim the rights to finished products, avoiding development risks and costs.

Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette was Australia’s biggest hit on global screens last year. ben king

Netflix’s Australian launch in 2015 was one of the most successful product launches ever in Australia – and it did so without touting any local content.

American streamers don’t need to invest in Australian content because, as one producer notes, “at the end of the day, we are an English speaking country that has shown no friction when consuming American content.”

Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner says the big digital behemoths, “bracing for global domination” will not invest here unless required, ideally via content quotas.

“If you don’t have something that brings SVODs to a small English-speaking country, we’ll be stuck,” he says.

Australian crime comedy Mr Inbetween was designed for an international audience. Marc rogers

He remembers complimenting a BBC director on the British broadcaster’s regular visits to Australia. The director responded that he had only come to oversee the development of Australian co-productions required by a 10 percent spending requirement placed on their subscription TV channels (BBC First, UKTV, BBC Knowledge).

Such co-productions between broadcasters continue to be made – including the ABC-BBC production The Scream, currently airing – but streaming services, so far, have not developed local productions. On the contrary, Netflix has partnered up or acquired the cheaper global rights to productions such as ABC’s. The new legends of the monkey and Pine gap.

The first purely Australian production of Netflix, the youth drama from Queensland Tides, created at the end of last year for reviews wan. Its most striking feature was the heavy promotion that seemed to prioritize the politically-inclined message Netflix was investing here over consumer calls for the series itself.

SPA Dean says U.S. streaming services should realize that only an ongoing, committed relationship with a country will carry successful content.

Mr Inbetween star Brooke Satchwell promotes the show at a press conference in Beverly Hills, California. Willy sanjuan

But also, the SPA appreciates “the regulation forces the hands of the people”, as it did for the BBC.

By default, Netflix argues for regulation in Australia. This week it confirmed production of five new Spanish series, in addition to the six previous Netflix titles from Spain, where it is launching a European production center. There are two compelling reasons to create content in Spain. The European Union has content quotas and, of course, the Spanish speak Spanish. Netflix launched in Spain and Australia in 2015, but there was no reason for Netflix to spend the $ 16.8 billion it spent on content last year here.

Some in the industry are hopeful that the next federal government – no matter what the belief – can introduce content or spending requirements on currently unregulated global streaming services (which even rank their programs themselves while distributors of films pay for their films to be rated).

Hope comes from rumors of the ALP opposition, the prospect of a more moderate Coalition and growing ambivalence in Canberra towards the “GAFA” (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) after the Silicon outbreak. Valley last year.

Then again, an in-depth convergence review looked at such moves in 2012 and nothing came of it.

“Ultimately, smaller markets like Australia have relied on some level of protection to thrive and to continue to thrive we will need some level of government support,” notes Whyte.

Tellingly, he adds, “if other large territories have quotas and protections, it makes it even more difficult to create local content here.”

SPA will release an export policy later this year, and Deaner is keen to say that the government jobs numbers are a rudimentary measure of the screen industry’s success.

Tidelands got very good reviews, but prioritized the message that Netflix was investing in productions here. Jasin Boland / Netflix

Whyte agrees.

“There are very compelling arguments for a national screen industry, but what gets lost in the cultural argument is an incredible export story,” he says.

“This small Melbourne company brings in millions of foreign dollars to create Australian content and intellectual property. And don’t forget that hubs like California do very well with creative intellectual property.”

That’s why a lot of our screen talent works there. With the flood of scripted dramas produced by the United States, writers and creators like Doran have agents in the United Kingdom and / or the United States or have moved.

Burrows Jungle partner Trent O’Donnell will return home later this year after building a directorial resume in Los Angeles, including the two American series of No activity, The right place and Brooklyn nine-nine. And Doran has just returned from another overseas work trip.

“There is definitely a drain on directors, especially women, they’re all in LA or London – Cherie Nowlan, Daina Reid (recently nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award for The Handmaid’s Tale), Kate Woods, Jessica Hobbs, Kate Dennis, “she notes.

“That’s why we’re hoping the SVOD stuff comes into play, so people can come home and stay home.”

The Mr Inbetween Beverly Hills press tour panel last year: (L to R) Scott Ryan Nash Edgerton, Michele Bennett, Justin Rosniak, Brooke Satchwell, Damon Herriman and Chika Yasumura. Willy sanjuan


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