Doco TV series, Next Stop Hollywood, follows aspiring Aussie actors in LA

07 January, 2013 by Emily Blatchford

Director Gary Doust doesn’t believe in overnight success.

That is, until one cropped up in his latest documentary series, Next Stop Hollywood.


Debuting on the ABC tomorrow night, Next Stop Hollywood follows the plight of six Australian actors who head to Hollywood during the infamous pilot season.

Doust observes the trials and tribulations of Alycia Debnam-Carey, 18 (Sydney); HaiHa Le, 29 (Melbourne); Penelope Mitchell, 22 (Melbourne); Michael Clarke-Tokely, 22 (Melbourne); Craig Anderson, 35 (Sydney); and Luke Pegler, 30 (Sydney) as they each attempt to find fame in LA.

“I guess we set out to blow the lid off the overnight success story,” Doust says. “There’s a lot of (rumours about) overnight success with actors and how they just go over to Hollywood and get this big movie and suddenly they’re famous.

“Actors like Naomi Watts were there a long time before they get their big break. It takes a long time… The irony is that one of our actors, I guess, could be seen as an overnight success.”

Exactly which actor hits the big time is something Doust understandably doesn’t want to reveal just yet, but he does confirm “at least one” of the six ends up with more-than-pleasing results.  

Recording the observational documentary, however, proved to be a surprisingly trying task, what with the red tape associated with filming in LA and also having six very stressed actors as subjects.

 “Because they do a lot of shooting in LA, you have to be incredibly organised and know in advance where we were planning to shoot, but as we were observational and didn’t know where we were going to shoot, it was difficult,” Doust says.

“We needed permits to shoot on the street and you needed three different permits to film someone in a car travelling from the airport to Hollywood. It was a red tape nightmare. But we worked with it – most of the time we had permits.”

As for the actors, Doust says the extraordinary pressure they placed on themselves created a fairly intense emotional roller coaster, and acknowledges the crew and cast did not always see eye-to-eye.

“The pressure for the actors over there is tough even without a film crew. It’s costing them a lot of money to be there, they’ve got limited time – there’s this feeling of ‘I’m close but I don’t know if the phone is going to ring or not going to ring,’” Doust says.

“On top of all of that a film crew is in your face asking questions. I know that the pressure for the actors was hard with us and certainly for Luke it did reach a bit of a boiling point, which is talked about in the series. For me it was really important to show the pressure the actors were under.”

According to Doust, the joy, as well as the challenge, of the series is truly having no idea how it would turn out at the end.

“I think (my favourite part of shooting) was the day to day challenges of not knowing what to shoot next. I really enjoyed that challenge, thinking on your feet. Watching the stories unfold as they happen – that’s the real joy of observational television – you don’t know what’s going to happen, and there are a lot of surprises.

“These days most shows start with a pre-determined outcome of where they think the characters will end up, and I guess for us it was ‘how will they go, what sort of obstacles will they have?’

“Not knowing which one of our actors were going to have success, whether any of them would or who would, that was part of it – watching them navigate the ins and outs and ups and downs.”

Scheduled to screen in parallel with this year’s Hollywood pilot season, Next Stop Hollywood will kick off tomorrow night on ABC at 9.30pm.

 See the trailer here: