Over-funded and on your YouTube

Last week we looked at Screen Australia’s latest round of funding approvals and wondered if these upcoming productions would make us laugh. Many of the productions, we’ve since discovered, are intended for online release, through platforms such as iView or YouTube, with most being new ideas.

One which isn’t is These New South Whales, which has received funding for both Production and Story Development for its second season. Having seen its first season, help with story development is something this series desperately needs.

In the first season, we met Sydney-based punk band These New South Whales, consisting of four guys in their 20s who live in a share house in the Inner West and cover their nipples with black gaffer tape when they’re performing. These New South Whales are a pretty ropey outfit, not highly thought of by their peers, and somewhat full of themselves about what they can achieve. The series follows them as they play gigs and launch their new film clip, which they hope will precede the announcement that they’ve been chosen to play support for Black Lips’ upcoming tour. [SPOILER ALERT!] You can guess how that all goes…

If this all sounds a bit like This Is Spinal Tap or The Comic Strip Presents… Bad News Tour, you’re right: all the rock mockumentary tropes are present and correct here. Except the laughs. Part of the problem is that the band members are largely characterless, spouting bland musician clichés and interacting awkwardly with each other on camera. Many of the laughs in This Is Spinal Tap or Bad News Tour came from the band members’ try-hard rock star on-camera behavior, whereas in These New South Whales the band members are just sort of…there. And/or possibly trying to effect a sort of awkward The Office-style dynamic.

Interestingly, one of the Executive Producers behind These New South Whales is Laura Waters, Chris Lilley’s key collaborator since We Can Be Heroes. So, if you’re not a fan of the meandering/cringey mockumentary style she’s perfected over the years, avoid These New South Whales.

Oh wait, it seems people have been… When we went into researching this series, we assumed that it had received funding for its second season based on the reaction its first season got. After all, other Screen Australia-funded productions which had been released online have done well:

  • The second season of Plonk, which received funding from Screen Australia last year, consistently got around 7,000-8,000 views for each episode on YouTube, a dip on the five-figure viewing figures its first seasons got, but still respectable
  • Versus, a series based around the world of gaming, got millions of views per episode
  • Paul Fenech’s Dumb Criminals Motorcyclists Club got between 34,000 and 100,000+ per episode

So what did These New South Whales season one get? Well…the first episode was viewed around 10,000 times, and then subsequent episodes got between 2,500 and 4,500 times. Oh.

And while it’s nice to hear that viewing figures aren’t the only thing Screen Australia take into consideration, none of this adds up to These New South Whales getting funding. We mean, it’s not like anyone who watched episode one and thought “this is crap, I won’t watch anymore” got it wrong, or anything.

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