One of the major but less recognised benefits of continuing to fund children’s television in Australia is the long tail of overseas sales for multiple series, according to Jenny Buckland.
“A number of Australian shows sell broadly for many years; exports are an incredible opportunity,” says the CEO of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF).
“It’s a real success story,” she told Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner in a webinar on Tuesday. “Whenever Australian broadcasters say kids don’t like these shows, we’ve pointed out how huge certain series are in the UK or Germany or Sweden or Japan. These shows last for a very long time.”
Buckland pointed to Jonathan M Shiff Productions’ Mako Mermaids, which in 2017 delivered more net returns to investors from overseas buyers than any other TV drama that Screen Australia had invested in since its inception.
Goalpost Pictures’ Lockie Leonard, which screened on the Nine Network in 2007 and 2010-2011, continues to rack up sales for the ACTF, the latest to South Africa’s SABC, which was the 190th deal.
After being rejected by three German broadcasters, both series were acquired by ARD for its Bavarian channel and kids’ network KIKA in 2015.
In another example of the enduring value of some shows, next week the ACTF is staging a webinar for 300 schools highlighting My Place, the Penny Chapman-produced drama which ran on the ABC in 2009 and 2011.
The ACTF favours the third model put forward in the ACMA/Screen Australia options paper, which would require all service providers including the commercial free-to-air broadcasters and streaming platforms to invest a percentage of their revenues on Australian content.
Given the funding restrictions on the ABC and Screen Australia, the ACTF now has to put up significantly larger sums in distribution guarantees. Often the advance for series of 10-13 episodes is the same as it was for 26 episodes.
The ACTF also handles worldwide sales for Ned Lander Media’s animated series Little J and Big Cuz , Epic Films’ First Day, Northern Pictures’ Hardball, for which ABC ME has ordered a second season, and an upcoming live-action series from Brindle Films.
Written and directed by Julie Kalceff, First Day has been acquired by Sweden’s SVT, Norway’s NRK, Finland’s YLE and TVNZ, with more deals in the works.
The organisation also provided top-up funds to Space Nova, a co-production between Suzanne Ryan’s SLR Productions and Malaysia-based Giggle Garage, commissioned by Super RTL, the ABC and the Nine Network.