Online (da da da da da da) Goes Through My Mind

Press release time! Hope you brought a lunch, it’s a big ‘un:

Seven edgy stories supported through Screen Australia’s Multiplatform Drama program

Friday 13 March 2015

Screen Australia will fund seven unconventional series through its Multiplatform Drama program. The program supports risky projects with unorthodox formats. They utilise non-traditional platforms for distribution – making them accessible to global online audiences.

The innovative slate features stories from an Emmy® Award–winning team, a popular cult comedian, an all-female comedy team, two YouTube stars and the return of the worst wine series ever made. The eclectic range delivers music and comedy entertainment with broad audience appeal.

“The online space is an extraordinarily rewarding growth area for Australian filmmakers; we have seen projects supported through the program reach remarkable audiences in the billions. How to Talk Australians and The Katering Show are viral hits and #7DaysLater has pushed the envelope of innovation, recognised internationally with a Digital Emmy® win. The worldwide critical acclaim and festival success of shows like Wastelander Panda and Noirhouse continues to showcase the dynamic talent and fresh ideas coming out of Australia,” said Sally Caplan, Screen Australia’s Head of Production.

“The Multiplatform Drama program has been instrumental in propelling Australian talent to a global arena and has played a vital role in supporting the screen industry to find a new pathway to audiences in phenomenal numbers. We look forward to presenting some of our killer talent at a select showcase in April at MIP Digital Fronts at MIPTV in Cannes.”

Filmmaker Michael Shanks has multiple YouTube mega-hits under his handle TimTimFed – most recently with his parody of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer. With almost 11.5 million hits to date, the George Lucas Special Edition has spawned dozens of YouTube responses. Working with LateNite Films, Michael will write/direct the six-part online comedy series The Wizards of Aus, a fish-out-of-water story about a Gandalf-esque wizard who decides to turn his back on the magical realm and settle down in Footscray – with disastrous results.

Known as the RackaRacka, Adelaide’s Philippoubrothers have built a vast, dedicated online audience, with 806,000 YouTube subscribers. Screen Australia will support them to make three episodes of their trademark stunt-laden, high-octane comedy, Versus, allowing them to deliver action-packed content on the next level. Julie Byrne of Triptych (The Babadook) will produce the series with Danny and Michael Philippou on board to write and direct. The South Australian Film Corporation will also support the project.

From producer/director Nathan Earl, the second series of Plonk will bring the team back together to pick up where the first series left off. This time the incompetent wine series host, Chris Taylor (The Chaser’s War on Everything), will wreak havoc in South Australia’s renowned wine country. With distribution across the Nine Network, Stan and YouTube, Plonk series 2 will be highly accessible to audiences across multiple platforms.

Paul Fenech has delivered striking comedy to Australian audiences with Fat Pizza and Housos. Screen Australia will support his web series debut, Dumb Criminals Motorcycle Club, to deliver his clever Australian humour to the world. The 10-part, short-form comedy follows a group of new characters, who are the most inept criminals ever to ride on two wheels.

Endemol is collaborating with an emerging all-female comedy team on Fragments of Friday, a short-form online series. The comedy sees a group of friends in an all-too-frequent scenario – trying to piece together their Friday night after waking in a haze of overindulgence. Writer/director Kacie Anning is currently causing waves with her online series Minister for Men starring Gretel Killeen.

From the comedy powerhouse of Princess Pictures (Summer Heights High, It’s a Date), comes an original opera crafted for a contemporary on-screen experience. Screen Australia will support The Divorce, a witty ‘soap opera’ in collaboration with Opera Australia and with support from Film Victoria. The opera will be broadcast on ABC TV and iview, with Universal Pictures set to distribute theatrically. The broadcast/online format is four half hours and the theatrical format will screen as a 90-minute film.

Before their Digital Emmy® win for #7DaysLater, Queensland’s Ludo Studio received support to create animated comedy series Doodles, which brought to life the artistic contributions of their social media audience. Screen Australia will support the team to make a second series of 24 x 30-second episodes, this time with ABC TV and YouTube giant Frederator (Adventure Time).

Now an open-ended program, accepting applications at any time throughout the year, the Multiplatform Drama program continues to approach creative content in a flexible and open manner.

Where to begin wading through this morass of doubletalk? For a line-up of seven titles advertised as “risky projects” we counted three direct sequels and one “more of the same” effort from Paul Fenech, so we’re going to go ahead and say that they are in fact doing their level best to ensure this line-up is as risk free as possible by funding proven winners more than 50% of the time. Then again, for a project advertised as “The Multiplatform Drama Project” more than 70% of the projects being funded seem to be comedies, so it’s bullshit right from jump street here.

That said, this is pretty clearly A Good Thing. Or at least, it’s providing funding for comedy, and we’re always going to be on board with that unless it involves giving more money to Paul Fenech, in which case what the fuck? The guy makes movies that get wide mainstream release in this country (people actually going to see those movies is another matter entirely): if you can manage that on a regular basis, what the hell are you doing soaking up funding for “risky projects”?

Yes, we know the real point of this is picking winners: you want a mix of new people with good ideas (that might not come off) plus some proven talent even if “talent” should have quote marks around it because you’re talking about the guy who made Fat Pizza vs Housos. But c’mon: if your job is picking winners, just give the money ear-marked for Fenech to the Katering Show team because they’re good and he hasn’t made anything funny since 2002.

That said, the official reason behind getting Fenech on board – and we’re going on and on about him because he’s easily the most high-profile person here (ok, Chris Taylor from Plonk* has form, but he’s just a performer there and it’s not like series one of Plonk set the world alight) and this is meant to be funding for up-and-comers, not some guy who’s been on free-to-air television non-stop for fifteen years – seems to be this:

to deliver his clever Australian humour to the world

Do we really need to point out the problem with this scheme?

Anyway, as the press release was kind enough to provide further details on each of the upcoming shows, here they are:

Multiplatform TV and theatrical
Princess Pictures Holding Pty Ltd
Producer Andrea Denholm
Executive Producers Emma Fitzsimons (Princess Pictures), Lyndon Terracini (Opera Australia)
Director Dean Murphy
Writer Joanna Murray-Smith
Composer Elena Kats-Chernin
SynopsisThe Divorce is an opera written specifically for the screen, rethinking the operatic art form for a contemporary film and television audience. Iris and Jed, rich and urbane, are happily getting divorced and are throwing an elaborate party at their elegant home to celebrate. By the end of the evening, Iris and Jed’s divorce has triggered a renegotiation of all certainties. Humorous, witty and complex, this ‘soap opera’ is a light-hearted exploration of the universal themes of love, passion, regret, greed and longing: a celebration of the profound in the shallow.

Animated series
Ludo Studio Pty Ltd
Producer Charlie Aspinwall
Director Daley Pearson
Director/Animator Benjamin Zaugg
Synopsis Doodles is an interactive, animated multiplatform comedy series that takes real children’s drawings and turns them into hilarious micro movies featuring a cast of adorable, absurd and amazing coloured-in characters surrounded by insanity. Doodles is produced for ABC3 by the Emmy® Award-winning, Ludo Studio. Ludo will be collaborating with the US production company Frederator (Adventure Time) to distribute the series online.

Online video
Antichocko Productions Pty Ltd
Producers Paul Fenech, Joe Weatherstone
Executive Producer Andrew Taylor
Writer/Director Paul Fenech
Synopsis The story of two hopeless crims, Rabbit and Rongo. Out of jail, they regroup and battle old girlfriends, bikie gangs and their own stupid plans and schemes. They team up with other petty criminals, Jimmy Speed, Pothead and Droptank. This series is based on true dumb crimes from around the world only the names have been changed to expose the guilty. The old saying goes, crime doesn’t pay… Well, it pays less if you’re a DUMB CRIMINAL.

Online video
Endemol Australia Pty Ltd
Producer Courtney Wise
Executive Producer Michael Horrocks
Writer/Director Kacie Anning
Synopsis Fragments of Friday is a comedy about piecing together the night before, with your best mates by your side. Season 1 saw Alex and Sophie haphazardly grapple with the perils of the ‘day after’, navigating everything from waking up in bed with a cab driver, the accidental theft of a yacht, a healthy dose of bodily waxing and an adrenalin-induced punch-up. Season 2 picks up where Season 1 left off, with Alex and Sophie being joined by their mutual friend Maddie on many misadventures – from misinterpreting the term ‘pool party’ to playing Russian roulette with magic mushrooms through to the much anticipated annual ‘Church Wine Drunk Day’. Told with humour, poignancy and a generous injection of physical comedy, the story of Fragments of Friday speaks to the great tradition of female friendship through the scope of hazy memories, drunken honesty and, above all, affection.

Online video
One Stone Pictures Pty Ltd
Producer Georgie Lewin
Executive Producers Nathan Earl (One Stone Pictures), Ben Ulm (ITV Studios Australia) 
Director Nathan Earl
Writers Nathan Earl, Joshua Tyler, Nicholas McDougall 
Synopsis Plonk follows the trials and tribulations of a small television crew as they travel through South Australia’s rich and diverse wine regions, trying to produce a unique, engaging and credible wine program… and failing miserably along the way. Plonk is a love letter to Australian wine and its people… just with the spell check function turned off. It’s Getaway meets Heart of Darkness, Sydney Weekender meets Lost in La Mancha. It’s Plonk.

Online video
Triptych Pictures Pty Ltd
Producer Julie Byrne
Executive Producer Jennifer Jones
Writer/Directors Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou
Synopsis Three videos that parody teams of popular comic book, game and movie super heroes pitted against each other in riotous, action-packed rivalry. 

Online video
LateNite Films Pty Ltd
Producers Chris Hocking, Nicholas Colla
Director Michael Shanks
Writers Michael Shanks, Nicholas Issell
Synopsis With an almighty sneeze, Jack accidentally transformed Flinders Street Station into a giant fish monster. Unintentionally ousting the existence of Wizards in suburban Australia was not Jack’s plan and now a nationwide ballot threatens to deport his people back to their treacherous magical realm. We follow Jack as he tries to rally his local community (Footscray) around rights for the previously clandestine magical beings – whilst simultaneously trying to dissuade other members of the Wizard community to stop making such arses of themselves.



*hey, isn’t this new series of Plonk all set to appear on new streaming service Stan? And isn’t it already funded by a bunch of tourism bodies? Why yes it is. So why is Screen Australia funding it as “a risky project”?


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1 Comment

  • yeps says:

    Fenech is a goddamn blight.

    Just as you said – the guy already has already had a handful of what technically qualify as ‘films’ and several television series to his name, why the hell does he still get to wet his beak?

    And for a WEB series, no less!

    I don’t mean to slag off the medium (the Katering Show is already the funniest thing I’ve seen this year), but isn’t the journey of artistic risk usually the other way around? Web, then TV, then film?

    But I guess that has been Fenech’s career trajectory: a fearless crusade to keep aiming lower and trying less with his comedy, with each new show even less layered and more asinine.

    From ‘Fat Pizza’, which at least had a handful of distinct (if cartoonishly drawn characters), to the gormlessness of ‘Swift and Shift Couriers’, down to the shouting idiots of ‘Housos’, and now the I’m-just-going-to-tell-you-what-the-whole-premise-is-in-the-title ‘Dumb Criminals Motorcycle Club’.

    If he boils down his repellent comedy to its essence any further it will be a solo act called ‘This One Fuckwit’.

    And I don’t see why Screen Australia has to chip in for that. From all available evidence it seems the universe has it screening 24 hours a day whenever Fenech opens his mouth.

    Oh, and I notice re-reading the blurb that the stories are just swiped from ‘stupid criminal’ stories from around the world. Way to keep aiming for nothing at all, Fenech!