Screen Australia took centre stage at MIPTV this morning for its digital screening, with four leading content creators from Australia explaining what they’re doing, showcasing their latest work, and providing tips on how to match their success.
Fiona Cameron, chief operating officer for Screen Australia, the national funding agency, kicked off. “If our filmmakers are going to have a sustainable career, it is critical that they connect with global audiences,” she said. “For every view of an Aussie video on YouTube there are nine from overseas. Australia has more than 50 channels with in excess of 200,000 subscribers… 12 of those channels have over one million subscribers.”
50 of Australia’s top online content creators have been funded over the past years, which Cameron estimated has contributed to one billion views. First up, John Luc, known online as mychonny, and has more than 900,000 subscribers. “I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh,” he said. “When I told my parents I wanted to be a comedian, they were shocked… I’ve never seen my dad cry before! My videos are based on my life, Asian stereotypes and my family.”
He said that he’s always wanted to do more than just YouTube, showing a clip of his first live comedy show, which was created two years ago. “We performed as YouTube characters and brought it to the stage, and the fans loved it,” she said. A web series, myChonny Moves In, was funded by Screen Australia, but he’s also made a feature film. “Who knew making YouTube videos would get me a lead in a movie featuring Timothy Spall?” he said.
Over to Derek Muller, whose science channel Veritasium has more than 2.3m subscribers, and is perhaps best known for his explanation of how a slinky falls – a demonstration Muller repeated on-stage. In his promo video, he outlined his ambition to “help others see the beauty of science”.
“It’s been a remarkable opportunity for me to do the things I love, which are to educate, explore scientific ideas, and make films. Starting with YouTube as my jumping off platform, I got to do TV in Australia, and now we’re doing a documentary that comes out in July… that documentary is a big history and science of uranium, of radioactivity of radiation,” he said.
“There’s a little bit of difference between what I do online and what I do in a TV programme. Some of the things online are very shiny and they look just like TV, maybe a little less than TV. Other things don’t look that impressive at all. The thing I wanted to remind everyone here about: on YouTube what is more successful than anything is not the shinier or more well produced, but the authentic.”
Next up, Natalie Tran of Community Channel, which has nearly 1.7m subscribers on YouTube. She’s a vlogger, comedian, actor and writer, and showed a showreel that elicited the most belly laughs yet from the Grand Audi audience.
“My main goal has been to make content that makes an audience laugh,” she said, stressing her openness to working with her audience in a collaborative way. “I realised very quickly that an audience craved this kind of connection: I’m a strong believer if you’re not on the bandwagon of content creators willing to have an honest relationship with your audience” then your longevity online will be limited.
She ended by talking about women. “For nine years now my audience has been 70% female. Which is a big reassurance to me that women enjoy comedy, and not only do they enjoy comedy, they enjoy comedy by other women.” And she warned creators to “make something that you’re passionate about” because the road to success can be long on YouTube, and enjoying it will help.
Over to Nick Boshier and Connor Van Vuuren, to talk about web series Bondi Hipsters, about a pair of hipsters who “think they’re good for the world, but actually they’re part of the problem”. They were funded by Screen Australia and ABC to come up with a TV show after the show became an online hit.
“We set out to make a narrative comedy that would work on TV, but also wanted to make sure it would work on YouTube,” said Boshier. They came up with a show called Soul Mates featuring the Bondi Hipsters throughout the course of human history, designed to be chopped up for YouTube as well s screened as full episodes on YouTube.
“The reason we were trusted to air that on television in Australia is we piloted our concepts online, which built trust between the audience and ourselves, which in turn built trust between us and the network,” said Van Vuuren of a sex scene between two cavemen that drew gasps from the watching audience. Strewth!