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Podcast – Meg O'Connell: Retrograde, Content and Snapchat

Retrograde writer, producer and co-creator Meg O’Connell on creating an ABC TV series in a pandemic, and developing ideas with Snapchat.

Splice of Meg O'Connell's headshot and headshot of Pallavi Sharda from Retrograde

Meg O'Connell, Pallavi Sharda in Retrograde

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Meg O’Connell says there was a lot of ‘unlearning’ in order to get Retrograde made.

The six-part ABC TV series – now available to stream on ABC iview – was pitched, made, edited and aired in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and O’Connell says it meant the normal problem-solving process you get on any set was vastly different.

“[There was] a lot of unlearning – we talked about that a lot between the writers and the crew,’ O’Connell says on the latest episode of the Screen Australia podcast.

“We had to ignore previous learnings from previous productions because this was such a different world and set-up that often your instincts are actually not helping or the thing you would usually do is the opposite of what you should do in this scenario. Real props to the whole crew who were so keen to learn and figure out this new system.”

Throughout the podcast, O’Connell talks about how art imitated life in the way she and co-creator Mark O’Toole came up with the idea for Retrograde, how they pitched it to ABC in lockdown, how frequent collaborator and lead writer/co-producer Anna Barnes (Content) approached the scripts, and how logistically they were able to make the series with the cast and crew split across various states.

O’Connell also talks to producing a series like Content – and how telling a story entirely through a mobile phone influenced their approach on Retrograde. She also speaks to the murder mystery Apollo that she and Barnes are developing with Snapchat through the Snapchat + Screen Australia initiative, and advice for anyone wanting to make a vertical series.

Retrograde is from new production companies Unless Pictures and Orange Entertainment Co. O’Connell is also one of the members of the new Gender Matters Taskforce.

For feedback about this episode, please email [email protected]


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