Prime Video Presents Australia 2021, held at Crown Sydney on Tuesday afternoon, showcased an immense array of Australian content coming soon to the small screen.
Presented by comedian Joel Creasey, attendees included a range of Australian talent in-person and onscreen including comedians and writers Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, AFL Hall of Fame player Michael O’Loughlin, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Cody Simpson and Sigourney Weaver – to name just a handful.
Amazon’s emphasis on local content includes the greenlighting of seven new Australian Original productions: Burning, a documentary about the 2019/20 bushfires, Class of ’07, an apocalyptic comedy, Deadloch, a feminist noir comedy and Head Above Water, a documentary following swimmers Ian Thorpe, Bronte Campbell, Kyle Chambers and Cody Simpson in preparation for Toky 2020.
There was also The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, based on the best-selling Australian novel, satirical sketch comedy The Moth Effect and Warriors On The Field, a doco spotlighting Indigenous AFL players.
On commercial television, there are strict quotas set by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for Australian content. Between 6am and midnight, broadcasters must show 55 per cent Australian programming.
There have been significant movements in favour of passing regulations that would demand Australian content quotas for streaming services too. In March this year, members of the film and TV industry lobbied for the Federal Government to impose a 20 per cent Australian content quotas on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.
In November 2020, the government themselves indicated their willingness to impose requirements for local investment in a media green paper, though this has yet to happen.
Part of Amazon’s investment in Australian content will also come through previously announced Australian originals, as well as global shows like Nine Perfect Strangers, which was filmed in Australia with an Australian crew.
A Packed to the Rafters return – suitably called Back to the Rafters – as well as documentary Kick Like Tayla, focused on AFLW star and boxer Tayla Harris, luxury real estate show Luxe Listing Sydney, and all the Australian Swimming Trials coverage will all be coming to the platform.
It could be argued that Amazon Prime Video is looking to make itself the home of new Australian productions.
Erika North, Head of Originals, Asia Pacific, told B&T that each of the shows is special because “they each represent a different dimension of the canon that is Australian content.”
“Australia is, and always has been a source of great creative minds, both in front of and behind the camera…there’s so much homegrown IP that has the potential to be exported globally [and] equally we have a lot of Australian talent that works not only in Australia, but overseas as well.”
Amazon Prime Video has currently committed $150 million into 14 Australian Amazon Original productions.
“Our hope is that we can, through our slate here, embed roots in Australia and really help grow the industry across the board,” said North.
“It’s a commitment. We’re not here for the short haul, we’re here for the long term. You can see that in the way that we approach every aspect of the business. I think Australia is going to be such an important cornerstone for us in APAC as we grow.”
She also explained why Australian content holds such an essential appeal, both for audiences at home and overseas.
“I think what we find in Australia is there’s innovation. There’s traditional barriers that are breaking down. We love the idea of being….home for talent, but we genuinely mean it. We want talent to feel like they can come to us with a stand-up idea, with a movie idea, with a documentary idea. We want to be that home, and we want to have to allow Australian talent to move outside the confines of what they might be used to.”
“My belief and my hope, and we’ve seen it happen already, is that these great Australian stories will not only drive buzz, conversation, and enjoyment on home turf, but they’ll do the same overseas too. I think what audiences around the world will see out of Australia is it’s a place of great creative diversity.”
“[There’s] a very grounded Australian-ness to everything we’re producing, but at the same time there’s a real universality to it. And, I think the fact that we’re able to deliver these programs to over 175 million subscribers around the world means we’re going to be able to make these connections, and at the end of the day, that’s what drives our business.”
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