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Podcast – Director Max Miller on the evolution of Aunty Donna

From working with Netflix to tips for building an audience on YouTube, Aunty Donna director Max Miller talks through the rise of the Australian sketch comedy group.

Max Miller headshot spliced with a still from Glennridge Secondary College

Max Miller, Glennridge Secondary College

Find this episode of the Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher or Pocket Casts

Back in 2012, Aunty Donna uploaded some sketch videos to YouTube as a means to get into the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Now, that channel has nearly 430,000 subscribers and 78 million views and Aunty Donna have made multiple web series, created an ARIA-nominated comedy album, sold out live shows in Australia and the US, and most recently launched their Netflix series Aunty Donna’s Big Ol House of Fun.

“We’ve always tried to really expand and do different things,” director Max Miller says on the latest episode of the Screen Australia podcast.

For Aunty Donna, there were two reasons behind that: one was to have multiple creative outlets for material, but also so they weren’t ever associated with just one platform.

“We’ve learnt that as much as we love YouTube and the channel’s been great, you really don’t want to be tied to any one platform, cause you’re really just at the mercy of whatever Google decide to do with it,” Miller says. “So we purposely tried to really branch out and we really pushed the Instagram channel, we started the podcast, which has become its own kind of big thing and of course recently got into TikTok… It’s a way of being able to reach the audience in many different places.”

Miller is one sixth of the sketch comedy group Aunty Donna, which is also made up of actor/writers Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane, writer/live show director Sam Lingham, and sound designer/composer Tom Armstrong. Throughout the podcast, Miller talks about how they got their start, their release strategy on YouTube, and how they want to empower online creators through their production company Haven’t You Done Well Productions (whose series Hug the Sun, which was filmed in 2020 in both Western Australia and Victoria in 2020, will be released soon).

Throughout the episode, Max also talks to the steps that led to their Netflix series, working with executive producers including Ed Helms (The Hangover, The Office) and Scott Aukerman from Comedy Bang Bang, how autonomous the streamer allowed them to be, the Aunty Donna process when it comes to filming sketch comedy, and advice for anyone wanting to get into directing or creating content for online platforms.

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun is on Netflix now. Check out Screen Australia-supported web series Glennridge Secondary College on YouTube here, and 1999 here

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