It All Evens Out In The End

Press release time!

Screen Australia and ABC deliver $1.5m for five new diverse and digital-first scripted series

Screen Australia and ABC are pleased to announce the five successful projects for the Long Story Short initiative. Each project will receive funding to create and produce a short-form, digital-first scripted series for audiences aged 18-35 to screen on ABC iview.

The five successful creative teams were chosen from more than 250 applications. With a mix of comedy and drama series, and the diverse backgrounds of the creative teams, Long Story Short promises to deliver five exciting and unique shows.

From a begrudging return to a dysfunctional family in Adelaide, to navigating the modern dating world while also pleasing your traditional Afghani mother, to a family calisthenics empire torn apart by oddball secrets, the successful projects for Long Story Short are:

  • The Edge of the Bush (VIC) — A comedy from creator/writer and performer Anne Edmonds (Fancy Boy, Have You Been Paying Attention?) who plays multiple, multi-generational members of the same family, estranged from each other after their calisthenics empire was torn apart years before. Executive producer Kevin Whyte; also featuring a who’s who of top emerging comic talent.

  • F*cking Adelaide (SA) — A dramedy following self-confessed failure Eli and his annoyingly optimistic sister Kitty as they return home to their dysfunctional family in Adelaide, a place Eli said he’d only ever visit for Christmas and funerals. From Closer Productions’ director Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays), Bec Summerton (producer) and Matthew Cormack (writer).

  • Mustafa Needs a Wife (NSW) – Newly dumped 26-year-old Mustafa must find himself an Afghani wife in a month… or else his mother finds one for him. A comedy from writer/actor Mansoor Noor (Rake, Cleverman), Yingna Lu (producer), Luke Davison (co-writer) and Steve Anthopolous (director).

  • Other People’s Problems (VIC) – Timid but talented writer Florence and her go-getter sidekick Ann team up to ghost write other people’s letters in exchange for clothes.  A dramedy from Charlotte Seymour (producer), Penelope Chai and Jane Dickenson (writers), director Erin White (Stories I Want to Tell You In Person, At Home with Julia) and executive producer Sue Maslin (The Dressmaker).
  • Maybe Today (VIC) — From Indigenous author, activist and master storyteller Boori Monty Pryor comes a collection of vignettes from his life that have delighted audiences worldwide, inviting us to find humour in sad places.  Joining him are Kelly West (producer/writer/director), Jon Stanley (producer/director) and Princess Pictures’ Emma Fitzsimons (executive producer).

Mike Cowap, Investment Manager from Screen Australia said: “We were blown away by the standard of the applications, there were so many strong creative teams in the mix. We think these five projects really know their audience and will work so well as digital-first content.”

Rebecca Heap, Head of Audience and Digital at ABC said: “We’re thrilled to team with Screen Australia on so many fantastic new scripted projects, building on ABC iview’s reputation for world class digital-first, short form series.”

The five teams will participate in a two-day workshop in July. Led by ABC TV executives and multiplatform writer/script developer Mike Jones, the workshop is an opportunity for the teams to learn about the changing landscape for short form digital content, and explore how that will impact on the development of their shows.

All five series will air on iview over the next year. For information on Long Story Short, please visit Screen Australia.

Despite the extensive use of the word “dramedy”, we’re going to chalk this up as a good thing. What other choice do we have? It’s not like the commercial networks give two shits about comedy and the ABC won’t put anything to air without Luke McGregor these days. And as for the other government broadcaster and one-time bastion of up-and-coming Australian comedy, well

SBS are partnering with VICE to launch linear TV channel VICELAND in Australia. The channel will air on free-to-air television and will take the place of SBS2. It launches in late 2016.

We know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry:

Mediaweek understands that SBS2 flagship news show The Feed, hosted by Marc Fennell and Jeanette Francis, will shift to the newly-branded channel.

Oh wait, you were worried about the SBS2 comedy shows that were actually funny? No idea what’s going to happen to them. Fingers crossed their various US sitcoms turn up on SBS1 at some stage, we kinda enjoy Brooklyn Nine Nine.

As for the Australian comedy content on SBS2, the official statement says:

Programming will focus on a distinct, immersive style of original lifestyle and culture content for young viewers and will feature Australian produced programs.

Which doesn’t exactly shut the door on comedy but does suggest a shift towards, you know, in-your-face reality shows about tattoos or something.

This does tend to back up our earlier theory about the new direction SBS comedy was going to take in 2016 and beyond. As we wrote at the start of the year in a review of The Family Law:

Unless they’ve secretly found a gold mine, SBS doesn’t really have the cash for more than a handful (read: one) local comedy series a year. For the last few years that’s been various wacky shows like Danger 5, and The Wizards of Aus follows firmly in that tradition. But The Family Law feels a lot closer to the kind of show SBS should be making (yes, we know SBS has a long tradition of “edgy” comedy reaching back to South Park and Chappelle’s Show, but SBS is the multicultural network, not the edgy comedy network); it’ll be interesting to see which fork in the road they take.

If they’ve given SBS2 over to someone else (at least during the evenings, as it seems the daytime content will remain the same), it’s likely that – The Feed aside – what local programming there is on SBS2 is going to have to fit the new format. SBS’s local comedy has already taken a swerve towards the more mainstream with The Family Law earlier this year (and there’s a second season on the way); this makes it seem at least slightly more likely that the days of shows like Danger 5 and The Wizards of Aus are numbered.

And at SBS the number probably isn’t 2.

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