Australia is more than capable of producing a worldwide streaming hit, but its creators must first be willing to navigate the cultural parameters of overseas markets, according to local production companies.
At Screen Forever on Wednesday, producers with knowledge of what it takes to win over international audiences came together for a session entitled ‘How Producers can Compete in a Global Screen Ecosystem’.
The discussion began with a presentation from HBO senior vice president of productions and incentives Jay Roewe, who said viewers were increasingly craving content that was “culturally familiar and relatable” while noting Australia was a “sought-after destination for productions from all around the world”.
“While 15 countries drive over 90 per cent of all global content expenditure, the bulk of primetime viewing outside of North America is dominated by local homegrown content,” he said.
“Australia has world-class production capabilities and expertise and talent that we look to work with and invest in through our local content production.”
Australian content was given another strong endorsement from Netflix Asia Pacific senior researcher for consumer insights Sofia Mavros, who used segments from a survey of the country’s youth to demonstrate the desire to showcase the “authentic Australia to the rest of the world”.
But while our ‘Australianness’ is what makes us unique, the other panellists suggested it also made productions a tough sell in the global market.
Matchbox Pictures managing director Alastair McKinnon, who has been involved in global deals for Stateless, Clickbait, Irreverent and Things I Know To Be True, said including elements of “overseas currency” could help Australian productions reach a wider audience.
“If it’s going to be Australia, you really need to have people that speak to an American market; actors that have had success over there,” he said.
“What the global market is looking for now really are teams or projects that have got already globally successful, recognised elements in them, in whatever area that may be.
“So you do have to be thinking globally, even when you’re doing something Australian, because the Australianness alone is not enough to get you across the line.”
Hoodlum Entertainment CEO Tracey Robertson has a similarly strong record delivering Australian content to different regions, having produced Tidelands for Netflix, as well as Secrets and Lies and Harrow for ABC Studios International.
She said while Australia was experiencing greater exposure due to an increased production slate, there was still an expectation from certain markets that content will feature aspects specific to their audiences.
“Right now is such a fantastic opportunity for the amount of filming that’s going on here,” she said.
“We’re not just a country that is being used because we have good locations or facilities; we’re actually creatives, also writing, directing, starring in.
“It’s very difficult to get someone to hand over their cash unless they have something where there’s an actor or a writer or source material or we’re shooting in that country.
“And so we’re always trying to find ways that there’s something in there where the characters could easily and relatedly be from another country without it being too obvious.”
Both McKinnon and Robertson believe it is only a matter of time before Australia has its own version of a Netflix streaming hit, such as Lupin, which has been streamed by over 70 million households worldwide, and it’s the number one title, not only in its home country, France, but also in Brazil, Vietnam, Argentina, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
“Timing is very good right now for us,” Robertson said.
“I do think that we can produce a breakout hit like that.
“And I think we’re on the brink of it.”