Screen Forever 2015 - Online Highlights
Over the last three years, the Screen Forever Conference has introduced a strand of online content into the proceedings. Here's my summary of this year's highlights. ~~
Online vs Broadcast - Just who owns the Comedy Space Now?
The Panel - Rick Kalowski – Head of Comedy, ABC Television Nazeem Hussain – Legally Brown, McCartney and Kate McLennan - The Katering Show.
If this session was meant to be a shootout between broadcasters and online comedy outlets, there was just one problem - where were the people from online comedy aggregators? YouTube even? In their absence the pugnacious Kalowski could rightly claim that the ABC "owns comedy" in Australia, because no one was there to shirtfront him.
The ABC is doing great things, for sure, and they have a whole slew of new comedy commissions in the pipeline but it would be interesting to see how their numbers stack up against the online comedy channels in Australia. I suspect a single show like How to Talk Australians might blitz his entire audience for the year.
The Kates put an end to the speculation of their second series by confirming that they will be rolling out a series of 8 minute eps. The more I see of McCartney the more I think she needs her own show.
The comedians on the panel made sure it was an entertaining session, but without a context of online vs broadcast audience data the jury is still out on the question it posed.
Kids Online Content
Sophistakids : Stepping Into The Shoes Of Tweens And Teens presented by Neer Korn – Director, The Korn Group.
This session was only tangentially about online content, but was a fascinating insight into how teens and tweens kids are looking at screen content as a source of solutions to the everyday problems of living. It has implications for creators working in this territory and I urge you to seek out the full preso, which was sponsored by the ACTF.
Neer pointed out that this demographic still uses shows such as the Simpsons and South Park as the cornerstones of their watching and asked where are the shows to replace them?
Malik Ducard - YouTube’s Global Head of Kids and Learning. Billed as a discussion of "new opportunities for producers to engage families and children around the world" this was really a product launch for the YouTube Kids' Channel in Australia. In the slick, YouTube house preso style we have come to know and love, Malik talked us through the new Oz platform, which includes regionalised versions of Thomas the Tank Engine and OVAs-winning phenomenon Grace Mulgrew. As the final slide faded out, the lights came up and the music swelled. No questions, no discussion. Not in the spirit of SPA robust debate.
Meet the Digital Disruptors
Moderated by Daley Pearson from Ludo Studio - the creators of OVAs-winning Doodles this was another in the broadcaster vs online trope. Rebecca Heap had the sense to hose this whole thing down a bit by pointing out that "disruption" was a bit of a furphy. There is an evolving online ecosystem that embraces all platforms and creators can move between them depending on the type of project they are making and their professional circumstances.
Ryan Shelton showed a couple of clips from his Instagram series "Cliff" - all 15 seconds long. Intriguing, and I challenge anyone to stop at one.
The Latest on Piracy.
I was hoping for some more lateral thinking about unpaid downloads but it was more of the same - legislation and education. I have asked the same question for three conferences in a row - If the mainstream screen content industry wants to minimise unpaid downloads, when will they embrace a Spotify type model? This time I couldn't be bothered.
Mining a Golden Audience.
Billed as a session exploring the success of Oz films at the box office this year, this in fact turned out to be an interesting discussion about the crossover between online and theatrical audiences. For one thing, it gave the audience an insight into the 3-year research project that Stuart Cunningham is doing into the online content ecosystem. The themes were reminiscent of the Generation Next - Micro Budget Film discussion I had with Michael Goldfine the (then) head of long form at Fullscreen.
Unfortunately, the Dendy folk turned out to be not that engaged with the whole idea, stating that their target was a "52 year old female". That demo won't be going to see the new mychonny movie, that's for sure. Maybe by next year we'll have some data from this experiment to make the conversation more grounded. A little project for you Stuart?
Panelists:Greg Hughes, Claire Gandy - Dendy Icon, Stuart Cunningham, Digital Media Research Centre, QUT
Moderator - Annabelle Sheehan – CEO, South Australian Film Corporation