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Podcast - Online funding

The Online team answer questions around types of funding, how to make your application competitive, general advice and more.

Alyce Adams, Louise Cocks, Lee Naimo

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

Is there development funding for online projects? What platform should I make my project for? How do I know how much to ask for?

These are just some of the many questions covered in the latest episode of the Screen Australia podcast, where members of the Online team give their tips and share their knowledge for any potential applicants.

Throughout the episode Head of Online & Games Lee Naimo, who you’ll recognise from the Games podcast episode, as well as Investment and Development Managers Alyce Adams and Louise Cocks discuss everything from tapping into the niche audiences, why making online content can level-up your writing skills and what they are looking for (and not looking for).

“Who are you writing this for and why are you telling this story now?” Cocks says. “I think always go back to that.”

Adams adds: “And are you a fan of it? You should be a fan of what you're wanting to make [as] you're going to be doing it for a long time. Also it's going to give you a better insight as to where and how to promote it.”

Hear from the Online Team in this Q&A article here

Listen to Alyce Adam’s previous podcast episode on building audiences with webseries here.

Check out Online funding approvals here

Subscribe to Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Pocket Casts

Audio Transcript

[00:00:05] Caris Bizzaca Welcome to the Screen Australia podcast. I'm Caris Bizzaca, a journalist with Screen Australia's online publication Screen News. I'd like to firstly acknowledge the various countries you are all listening in from - the unceded lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This podcast has been created on the lands of the Gadigal people of the larger Eora Nation, and I've had the great privilege to be a visitor and be able to work on these lands during my years at Screen Australia. Always was, always will be. For this episode of the podcast, we are jumping into all the questions you might want answered about Screen Australia's online funding. Joining me to chat through it all is Head of Online and Games, Lee Naimo, who you'll recognise from the game's funding episode, as well as investment and development managers Alyce Adams and Louise Cocks. They discuss the three types of funding they can provide - development, production and completion funding - as well as what they are and aren't looking for, what kind of platforms are out there, how to make your application competitive, general advice and more. Before we get to the chat, remember you can subscribe to the podcast through places like Spotify and iTunes. Feedback can be sent to [email protected] and subscribe to Screen Australia's industry eNews for the latest from the local industry. Now here's Screen Australia's Lee Naimo, Alyce Adams and Louise Cocks. So first of all, if you can tell me a little bit about your role at Screen Australia and your background in the industry. Lee, you first.

[00:01:38] Lee Naimo  I've been at Screen Australia for a bit over four years now. I'm currently the Head of Online and Games, so I look after all the online funding for production, special initiatives, the current Games: Expansion Pack fund. Before that, I was in a comedy band/band called The Axis of Awesome. We ran for about ten years and we got funding through Screen Australia, through initiatives like Skip Ahead and Fresh Blood, as well as some production funding for a project called Insert Coin. So I've been a producer/creator before joining Screen Aus[tralia].

[00:02:08] Caris Bizzaca Great, and Louise?

[00:02:10] Louise Cocks I was predominantly a performer before starting at Screen Aus[tralia]. I also worked at Village Cinemas Australia as a film programmer. I've been at Screen Australia since late 2019 and I'm an investment and development manager.

[00:02:24] Caris Bizzaca Great, Alyce?

[00:02:24] Alyce Adams I'm also an investment and development manager. I've been here for six years now and my pathway here was that I watched a lot of YouTube in high school, which led to me being a fan of web series and consuming a lot of web series so that when I went to make my own web series and met my future bosses at Melbourne WebFest and events like that and led me to getting a role at Screen Australia in an admin position and slowly worming my way in and becoming an investment and development manager.

[00:02:59] Lee Naimo Did you say worming your way in?

[00:03:00] Alyce Adams Yeah, you can't get rid of me.

[00:03:04] Caris Bizzaca So, Online at Screen Australia used to be called Multi-platform, but Lee, can you tell us a bit about the history of Online at Screen Aus[tralia]?

[00:03:12] Lee Naimo So, multiplatform used to encompass a lot of different platforms and online platforms are always coming and sometimes going, but it's evolved from that, the history being that we're here for emerging creators and hopefully you would know a lot of creators who are more established who got their start in Online. Some of our projects we've funded back in the day, things like The Katering Show - both seasons, we worked with the RackaRacka and Superwog seasons one and two, funded Over and Out that won at the Canneseries Short Form festival. A lot of work with the likes of Aunty Donna, Michael Shanks' Rebooted, who's now directing bigger projects. So there's some of the, I guess, legacy projects and now we're here for creators working on platforms like YouTube and TikTok and Facebook and ABC iview and SBS On Demand, as well as any of those new wacky platforms that come and go like Quibi, for example.

[00:03:59] Caris Bizzaca Oh, Quibi, such a hit (/s).

[00:04:01] Lee Naimo Yeah, we didn't do anything with Quibi, but we would have if they'd stayed.

[00:04:04] Alyce Adams Shout out to Quibi. (laughter)

[00:04:06] Louise Cocks (in unison with Caris) RIP.

[00:04:10] Caris Bizzaca And Alyce, as Lee was saying, platforms come and go but how has the online space changed during the time that you've been at Screen Australia?

[00:04:22] Alyce Adams Even just in my six years at Screen Australia, it's changed a lot. I remember when I first started in 2016, the big player on the block that was making changes was Facebook because they had just launched Facebook Watch. And now all of a sudden YouTube had competition in terms of video attention and there was a big push behind that and a lot of creatives were then becoming successful through Facebook, which was new. Then I think around 2019 is when this new kid on the block came along called TikTok that no one had really heard about. Then obviously lockdown really accelerated [TikTok's growth] and again, that really shook up the online space so it really is always in flux and changing. Sometimes there can be a lot of heat behind new platforms like Quibi, that everyone's really excited about, and then it flatlines. Then TikTok, which was a dancing lipsyncing app, all of a sudden now is like the biggest platform out there with over a billion monthly users. That's what's exciting about working in the space is that you never kind of know where the next thing is coming from, so you're always on the lookout to see what people are using and what is getting hype behind it.

[00:05:35] Caris Bizzaca We talked about how the online space has changed over that time, how has Screen Australia's funding then changed over that time, Lee?

[00:05:43] Lee Naimo So previously online production was only open to scripted content. We've now opened that up to scripted and documentary with the caveat that the documentary applications need to have a primary release on a social media platform. So obviously there's still the documentary fund at Screen Australia funding a whole range of fantastic documentaries. We want to fund documentaries that live and breathe online, that really belong online on social media platforms. So we funded some great ones through some initiatives like Skip Ahead with things like Bad River, Small Footprint, Transathletica through Every Voice. But now we're seeing some bigger online documentaries come through our online production fund.

[00:06:18] Alyce Adams Yeah, I think a really good example of living and breathing for the internet is Finding Yeezus, which is taking a very well-known internet myth about Kanye West 2013 video game and a possible cult that is maybe associated with it, Ascensionism. And so Cameron James and Alexei Toliopoulos investigate and try and find out who created this game [Kanye Quest 3030] and is there a cult connected to it. It's very funny, it's very silly, but it is a documentary and it really lives and breathes the internet.

[00:06:55] Lee Naimo They partnered with Haven't You Done Well Productions, which is Aunty Donna's production company and that series lives on Grouse House, which is a second YouTube channel from the Aunty Donna team so obviously another team that knows online really well, being able to push that out to an established audience.

[00:07:08] Caris Bizzaca And you can check out that series now.

[00:07:11] Lee Naimo Yeah, episodes are dropping at the moment. Will they solve the mystery.......? They will.

[00:07:18] Caris Bizzaca Louise, and maybe a question for the rest of you as well, what is exciting about the online space to you?

[00:07:27] Louise Cocks I think that what's really exciting about the online space is that you can find really niche audiences, you can think you're the only one that's into something, but there are actually millions of people that are into the same thing. Like we had a project by a creator, a YouTube creator called Tibees, and her project was called Finding X. It was all about an X character who is trying to find their meaning in a world full of numbers, so it was a little stop motion project. It took I think nine months to do, being stop motion. Tibees hadn't done stop motion before, so her and her partner were learning how to do it on the job. But two hundred thousand people watched that and they wanted that math content because that's what her channel's about. So I think it's such an interesting space to find new voices, to find people who haven't had a chance to tell their stories before. It's also a really good opportunity to hone your skills as a writer. Often you're having to write something really short form. You really need to grab people in the first three seconds sometimes, and you're having to like put in lots of hooks and design your content for that space, which is a really good test of your writing and can level you up and make you a better writer.

[00:08:45] Lee Naimo I would add to that the almost democratisation of the space that you don't need anyone to give you permission to create a TikTok video or a YouTube series or channel. And I think that's really exciting for people who haven't had access to more traditional broadcasting opportunities. Anyone can grab an iPhone, upload something, start to build an audience. Obviously it's not quite that simple, but that's how some of the big creators have started, just by not waiting for anyone to give them permission.

[00:09:12] Caris Bizzaca We were talking about some of the platforms, Tik Tok and the like, but Lee, what are the kind of platforms that we can find in online?

[00:09:22] Lee Naimo In terms of what Screen Australia's funding or content that Screen Australia's funding that's living on those platforms, we still do a lot on YouTube. I think that's a great space for creators to build an audience and to potentially monetise that as well. But as Alyce said, TikTok is huge for us at the moment. We're funding a lot of content on TikTok. It is easier to build an audience from scratch on TikTok. Again it's not easy, but it's easier in terms of people finding you and connecting with your content. But we're still finding content that goes out on Facebook, Instagram, stuff that goes on ABC, both iview and broadcast at times, we have our partnership with SBS and then NITV Digital Originals, so some great content landing on SBS On Demand. Those are kind of the big ones, but we funded a project Crossing Paths that's going to live on a website and an app potentially. So there's always new, wacky ways of getting out to your audience.

[00:10:11] Alyce Adams Yeah, probably like the metaverse next. Really, we don't know. TikTok only just came around two years ago, so we could be funding stuff in the next few years that doesn't exist right now.

[00:10:26] Lee Naimo Great point. We funded Lustration VR on Oculus, doing great stuff on the festival circuit. So I think we'll see a bit more of that potentially as well.

[00:10:33] Caris Bizzaca And so, Louise, with all of these platforms, like you were saying there's still a lot of people making things for YouTube and stuff like that, are you finding that there is an issue, though, in terms of just the sheer amount of content that's being made and being able to cut through with something like YouTube, maybe it used to be easier to build an audience, but like the amount of videos that you're getting on YouTube, on TikTok, on things like that - does that present a problem for online creators?

[00:11:05] Louise Cocks It's definitely a lot harder than it used to be, especially on a platform like YouTube. There's just so much content uploaded there every day. But I think that we really stress, if you're applying to us for funding, the importance of knowing your audience and where they live online. If you're making a show for eighteen to twenty-five year olds, you shouldn't be uploading it on Facebook. That audience is not on Facebook. But you might be looking at TikTok. It's just being really detailed in that plan. You should be watching other content on the platform you want to release on and seeing what works, showing us that you know that space really well. It is hard to cut through on YouTube, but it still can be done. I mean, we fund things with creators who already have a huge established audience, for example, we funded Glitch Productions, so they were YouTubers. They had a channel originally called SMG4. It was a lot of content to do with Mario that they'd remixed and made new stories with, but they got to a point where they wanted to make their own content, that was their IP that they actually owned. So they started a secondary channel called Glitch Productions, and we funded them to do this series called Meta Runner. They'd already actually made a season of it, and we funded them in post-production or completion funding, and then they came to us for production funding for season two. So they wanted to really separate their brand and they came to us with a really detailed plan of how they were going to get their subscribers to come across their new channel, and they almost have a million subscribers on that new channel now. So it's just about knowing your audience, but then we also had a series come to us which was an Australian K-Drama web series. So it's a really niche specific topic rom[antic] com[edy] series, but they had a plan to start a new YouTube channel, which is hard, but they had a really detailed plan and the creative was really strong, so we had confidence that they could potentially succeed and they have done really well. A lot of their plan was doing interesting clips or hooky clips on TikTok and then linking their YouTube channel in their bio on TikTok. So that was like an interesting plan that did work for them because a lot of the time on TikTok, you see people [saying] 'oh, where can I watch this, what is this show, can I watch this on Netflix?' And they were able to be like, 'here, you can watch it on our YouTube channel', and then they actually did get a lot of people coming across, and that series is called No Ordinary Love. All of their episodes, there's five episodes, they have over ten thousand views on each episode now, which is huge for just starting a new YouTube channel a month or two ago.

[00:13:52] Alyce Adams I think also it's important to note that, yes, tonnes and tonnes of hours are uploaded to YouTube every minute. But you only need a point percentage of that audience base out there to watch your show, for you to have millions of views. So you don't need to be creating for a huge, huge audience because that's the beauty of online is that there are so many people watching and consuming content like on YouTube that you only have to tap into actually quite a small amount of them for that to be a success for your series.

[00:14:26] Caris Bizzaca In terms of Screen Australia's funding, Louise, does Screen Australia fund development as well as production, or is it production only? Can you talk through the funding a little bit?

[00:14:37] Louise Cocks We do fund development as well and we would really encourage people to apply for development funding because it just gives you that extra chance to work on your story, to make your scripts as strong as they possibly can be. We have three types of funding, so we do development funding, production funding and completion funding. We have a number of series that we've funded for more than one, so like we had a series called Scattered, which was our first TikTok series that we funded. They got development funding, were able to make scripts that perfectly fit the platform they wanted to release on, and then they came to us for production funding and we funded them to make the series.

[00:15:15] Caris Bizzaca Check out past podcast episode on Scattered for more information on creating drama for TikTok.

[00:15:23] Lee Naimo I'll add to that that I feel like online creators haven't typically had access to development funding or felt like they had access to it. And I think it's such a great tool to just level up your scripts, to work with other people in the industry, use our funding to attach a script consultant or, you know, to have a writers' room and break your story apart before you go into production. I think that's going to serve you better in the long term, so we really want more online creators to come through and apply for development funding.

[00:15:49] Caris Bizzaca And how far along should your idea be before you submit an application, Lee?

[00:15:56] Lee Naimo For development? It's really broad and we classify development as anything before you start production, before you go into production. So that could be really early stages with a germ of an idea and one person wanting to work on that and attach other team members. It could be late stage final polishes of scripts, could be making a proof of concept to demonstrate there's an audience out there. We funded a series Ding Dong I'm Gay, they came to us for development funding but part of that was for a proof of concept for a few episodes to actually make them and put them up on YouTube and prove that there's an audience and they did. They got millions of views on those shorter episodes, came back to us for production funding. So that kind of model can work in Online - that you need money to test something in a very small and contained way before going to a bigger production.

[00:16:37] Caris Bizzaca But if you're saying that you can put in an application in development when something still a germ of an idea, does it need to be a little bit more developed than that, though? Because, if you're going to have a pathway to audience or any kind of strategy, how far along in that development stage does it need to be.

[00:16:59] Lee Naimo There is a bit of development before you come to us for development.

[00:17:01] Alyce Adams It can't just be a logline.

[00:17:03] Lee Naimo And that pathway to audience is a great point that even at that development stage, we do ask questions and scrutinise, how are you going to find an audience? Who is the audience for this? Where are they hanging out in whatever platform you're proposing to release this on for online? What kind of content are they watching? What else are they watching? How are you going to find them?

[00:17:20] Caris Bizzaca Well it impacts episode length, or how long the scripts are.

[00:17:22] Alyce Adams I think platform has a big impact, like Louise was saying earlier if you're making a series that is for teens and you're thinking TikTok then that's a minute episodes that are probably vertical. So that's going to be really different development than if you are aiming for YouTube or a different platform elsewhere.

[00:17:40] Lee Naimo Even stuff like for a vertical frame, you can fit less in. So your budget, your production values don't need to be as high because people are watching on their phone and you don't need hundreds of extras, not that any online series needs hundreds of extras, but you can only fit maybe three, four, five people in that frame, so those kind of things will have an impact on the creative and the budget that you should be thinking about from day one.

[00:18:00] Louise Cocks And it's really good if you're a writer or a director and you are wanting to apply for development to make sure you have a producer attached at that stage as well. Because online series are usually working in a smaller budget space, you want to have a producer in that room to make sure you are writing to your budget, which doesn't sound very fun or creative, but it's worth thinking, you know, 'oh, I can't have a car chase in this series' because you're not going to be able to afford like a Michael Bay style extravaganza - that's a big hyperbole. It's just thinking about keeping the world and characters in an achievable story.

[00:18:40] Alyce Adams For online, more so than other mediums the creative has to be matching with the release. They need to be developing kind of hand in hand. If you're doing a short film, you would make it and then you would think about, 'okay, now I want to submit it to these film festivals' and the release strategy comes afterwards. But for online, the most successful web series are the ones that have already thought about that and have developed it within the creative, so that when it comes to releasing, it's a very natural process.

[00:19:08] Caris Bizzaca So when you're saying, Louise, that it's good to have a producer attached, does it matter if the producer is also emerging, like if the whole team is emerging? Or do you need to have someone who is more experienced if the rest of the team is quite green?

[00:19:23] Louise Cocks The producer can definitely still be in the emerging space as well. I would recommend not being a writer/producer/director if you can help it, because that's just a lot of hats to try and wear, especially in the emerging space. You want to be able to focus more on your role, but the producer can definitely also be emerging. But it might be good to have someone who's maybe got a little bit more experience than you or like to attach an EP, maybe who's got that experience that you can go to, to ask questions - an Executive Producer.

[00:19:52] Alyce Adams It comes down to scale as well. But I think for us through our fund, most of the creators we're dealing with, getting funding from us is the biggest thing that's happened to them and is a step up, and that's what we see the purpose of our fund to do.

[00:20:08] Caris Bizzaca And so we've talked about development funding and production funding a little bit, but you also said there's completion funding, is that less common? If anyone's listening to this and they have finished shooting something, but they're in that post-production stage, can they come in for completion funding? How does that work?

[00:20:29] Lee Naimo Absolutely, prior to COVID, we saw a lot more completion funding applications and successful applications. Obviously, COVID had an impact on people being able to actually physically go and shoot something, but hopefully that's picking up again. The way we see completion funding is you might have gone out, shot your web series, you've gotten to post and realised that maybe you can't call in favours anymore or you need to actually pay for that post. So completion funding is available, it's the same application process as production. We do play with smaller amounts of money because obviously it's a single stage of the process for post, but you can apply for things like the editing, music, even marketing can be part of post, VFX if you have them. [We're] happy to chat to people about the post-production applications, because that's often how a lot of creators that we've never worked with before have gotten their first taste of Screen Australia funding and then have gone on to maybe do second seasons getting production funding like Louise's example of Meta Runner or gone on to development for a bigger season, so we funded the series Phi and Me for post-production they're now in development on a bigger TV version of that web series.

[00:21:32] Caris Bizzaca So talking about applications, Louise, what are some tips on how you can make your application competitive?

[00:21:39] Louise Cocks I would say really think about your audience, that is our number one tip. It can't be an afterthought, like Alyce was saying, especially in the online space. You need to know who this series is for, where they live online, what they watch and like, what their habits are. We always say, don't think about making a show that's about living in a share house in your twenties and figuring life out like, yes, that's very relatable, but really high budget versions of that exist. You want to make something that doesn't exist in a high budget space.

[00:22:14] Caris Bizzaca Great. And Alyce, well first thing, for anyone that wants a bit more of a deep dive into audience, Alyce was on a previous episode of the podcast-

[00:22:24] Alyce Adams -shout out to my previous podcast episode.

[00:22:29] Caris Bizzaca -which we'll put a link to in the show notes, but Alyce, what are you and the team, what are and aren't you looking for in applications?

[00:22:38] Alyce Adams I mean, I feel like we're sounding like a broken record, but that's we're really trying to get the message across that we're looking for projects that know who their audience are, and what gets us most excited is when teams come in with a project for an audience that we've never heard of before, but there's a really passionate fan base out there that they love and can tap into. And we're like 'amazing, yes, we should definitely make a web series for that space.' I think what we aren't looking for are web series that are wanting to go through the festival space. We want when you come in to have a solid idea of where it's going to live. The festival space is good to get accolades, but we are really focused on the actual release side of it.

[00:23:26] Lee Naimo So that can be like a secondary part of your release strategy, but we're not interested in that being your first and primary avenue to get out there.

[00:23:34] Alyce Adams So yeah, importantly, we don't fund vlogs, lifestyle, light entertainment, cooking shows, game shows, all those kind of things, so get that out there, because we do sometimes get pitched that and it has to be within the scripted documentary rules for us. We aren't looking for short films, so through our fund, we are here to do a series, so it needs to be at least two episodes. In some instances with special initiatives, you can do perhaps a short film or proof of concept, but that's case by case and through those specific initiatives. I guess another tip is that through the online fun, we get pitched quite a lot of influencer style series or this person goes viral and then the series kicks off from there. Basically, there's a lot of that out there, so what is your unique twist on that genre? I think Content on ABC is a really good example and also Sarah's Channel, which is about a vlogger in a dystopian future who is in extreme denial about her reality that is all shot as if she is a beauty blogger. Those are really fun and good examples of how you can elevate that quite common story.

[00:24:46] Lee Naimo Or something like, All My Friends Are Racist, where that's an inciting incident, is that something goes viral, but then that leads into the bigger heart of the series, which is about two friends and that friendship breaking up through the lens of First Nations, metropolitan, I want to say Gen Zers, but I feel old saying that. I've said it now. So, in that sense, the whole series wasn't hooking on that virality or that influencer style.

[00:25:14] Alyce Adams One last thing to add, we want series that are designed for online. It's not a TV show idea that you've had and have cut down into smaller episodes. They are just harder to work in that space. We're big believers that web series are their own medium and so there's certain storytelling devices and stories that work best through that space and that you can't just shove a TV idea into a web series.

[00:25:42] Caris Bizzaca And because it's, again, all about audience, which you might have said, once or twice so far? /s And so, there are a lot of different platforms that we've been talking about. Lee, what should people be thinking about when they're trying to decide what platform their idea would work on?

[00:26:03] Lee Naimo What other content is working on that platform? Even the difference between TV and online then when you go into online and break that down, as we've said earlier, there's differences between different platforms. stuff that works on YouTube or Facebook or TikTok, it's all different, so where does your series fit into that? When we get applications that are like 'this will go out primarily on YouTube and then Facebook and then TikTok all at the same time' it's like, well, will it work on them? And that scattergun approach isn't necessarily your best approach, and it's often better to really think about, okay, this longer content will work with an audience who have time to sit down and watch something a bit longer. I say longer, five minutes plus is what I mean.

[00:26:39] Alyce Adams Different definitions in online.

[00:26:42] Lee Naimo So that might work better on YouTube as opposed to, I'm scrolling past this on Facebook or TikTok where you can now do up to ten minute videos, but if I see something that's longer than a minute on TikTok, I'm scrolling past that pretty quickly. So think about your audience's mindset when they're consuming content on that platform.

[00:26:58] Caris Bizzaca And I feel like as well with online, a lot of it is like, what do you consume? What do you like? Because that will give you a better idea of what platform you want to work with. If you're obsessed with TikTok, you understand that platform uniquely in a way that you might not understand Facebook.

[00:27:16] Lee Naimo I'm nodding my head.

[00:27:18] Louise Cocks Yeah, same.

[00:27:19] Caris Bizzaca And so Louise, a lot of people might have been making online content out of their own pocket. How do you know how much money to actually ask for in an application?

[00:27:33] Louise Cocks This is where the importance of attaching a producer comes in handy, because that will be the person who will help you to organise a budget and put it together. I would say that our cap for the online fund is five hundred thousand dollars. That's a grant. We don't ordinarily go to that cap, If we are going to that cap, you usually have to have significant money, other money in the finance plan. So that might be like from a broadcaster like ABC or SBS or a platform - sometimes we have seen platforms invest like YouTube Kids. However, most of the series that come to us are for a self-release, so for that kind of release, we're playing more in the one hundred thousand dollars to three hundred thousand dollars. That sounds like a lot of money, but it's really not once you are having to pay everyone award minimum wages, which is what you do have to do if you get a government grant.

[00:28:29] Caris Bizzaca Also, anything that comes through Screen Australia, you're going to have to break down all of that money into line items and prove why it's going to need to be one hundred thousand dollars.

[00:28:40] Alyce Adams Yes, there's no trips to Bali.

[00:28:44] Louise Cocks Also we do have initiatives and sometimes they will give you a specific amount that you can apply for, for that specific project.

[00:28:52] Caris Bizzaca What would some initiative examples be, Alyce?

[00:28:55] Alyce Adams Our longest running initiative is Skip Ahead, which is with YouTube. The eighth one is out at the moment, depending on when you're listening to this. It changes a little bit every year, but it's between one hundred to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars that you can make.

[00:29:10] Lee Naimo And Skip Ahead is aimed at YouTube creators with a significant audience, so with twenty-five thousand subscribers or more who want to potentially pivot over from whatever content they're making. In some cases we've funded beauty vloggers or sketch comedians or people who might be doing lifestyle content into more scripted or documentary content. Another big one of ours is Digital Originals with SBS and NITV. That's becoming a bit of a mainstay in the industry for projects that are six by ten minutes or one by sixty minutes that will go out on SBS On Demand, NITV and SBS broadcast for creators from historically excluded backgrounds, making content that will work in line with SBS' charter. So some really great projects have come through that: Iggy & Ace, Beginner's Guide to Grief. We've got three in post-production at the moment: Latecomers, Night Bloomers, and Appetite, which are going to be dropping soon again depending on when you're listening to this. But there's a really exciting suite of content coming out through Digital Originals. Every Voice with TikTok and NZ On Air: that's obviously for projects releasing on TikTok, smaller budgets, but the two that have released, SexTistics and Transathletica have a few million views on each. So again, creators who really know that platform getting that level up on TikTok.

[00:30:20] Caris Bizzaca Should anyone that's in the online space keep an eye out for these initiatives and whether they fit within the targeted funding that they're going for?

[00:30:31] Alyce Adams Yeah, I think we're always on the look out for new platforms for us to partner with, especially kind of in the short form space, getting those commissioning opportunities is hard, and so that's why we're really proud of Digital Originals that we've got that up with SBS and NITV and that we've gone out to nearly all the social apps and have done partnerships with them so that we can create those opportunities for creators and give them that targeted approach and support.

[00:30:58] Caris Bizzaca And Louise gave the great example earlier with Pathway to Audience about Meta Runner and Glitch Productions, but were there any other examples that you can think of, Alyce?

[00:31:10] Alyce Adams Yeah, I'd really like to give an example from a web series called Flunk, which is a queer web series that is on YouTube. It's really, really popular with its audience, but when they came in with their marketing release plan, I really appreciated the importance that they put on thumbnails. So for YouTube, when you go on and decide what you're going to watch, the first thing that you look at is your thumbnail and in many respects think of it as your movie poster, essentially. Why would someone want to watch it from that thumbnail? And for a lot of creatives, again, that's a last minute thing that they think about when they are uploading, they realise, 'oh, I have to choose a thumbnail' and they'll choose something random that happens in the middle of the episode. With Flunk, they specifically talked about how they would build in time within the shooting of every day to capture those thumbnail moments, because that is the most important part for a web series - that's what's hooking people in when they are scrolling through YouTube to decide whether or not they're going to watch your show is based on that thumbnail. So we do want to highlight the importance of that.

[00:32:11] Louise Cocks Yeah, I mean, think about your own habits on YouTube, that's why you click on something because you're looking at a clear, intriguing image and a really hooky title. You want to know what you're going to click on.

[00:32:23] Lee Naimo On the topic of marketing release plans, I will say that no one knows your series better than you. It's so common that we see a marketing release plan put together by a digital agency or a social media marketing company that might be full of lovely stats and graphs, but doesn't feel specific or unique enough to your project. So that's a trap I feel like a lot of creators fall into when applying, to outsource that marketing release plan. I would rather see one that's smaller in scope, you've done it, it's personalised and you know that it's achievable and you know who that audience is and how to get them. And you know who's going to do the work as opposed to something that feels a bit more off the shelf.

[00:32:57] Louise Cocks I would also add you don't need to worry about giving us stats about Facebook or YouTube or whichever platform you're releasing on or explaining those platforms to us. We know.

[00:33:09] Lee Naimo The Oxford Dictionary defines the internet...

[00:33:12] Caris Bizzaca We've covered a lot of ground here, but in terms of like any further advice, any specific advice, I'm going to go around and ask each one of you... Lee, you first. Do you have any advice?

[00:33:25] Lee Naimo Yeah, I was thinking about this, and I feel like we encourage people to build a team around you and build out those other key creative roles. But I would say that it's worth being mindful of who is in that team, because if you do get funding for a web series or a project or something big, you might be working with these people for months or years even. So make sure that your values are aligned with those people and make sure that you are happy to be working with them for that amount of time because it will get stressful, it will get challenging, and you want to make sure that you're headed in the same direction as your team-mates.

[00:33:55] Louise Cocks I heard from a producer once, don't work with anyone you wouldn't want to go out to dinner with.

[00:34:00] Lee Naimo Go out to dinner every night for a year with.

[00:34:06] Alyce Adams Mine would be, if you want to make a web series, you should probably watch some web series. I know that sounds like common advice, but it is kind of surprising some of the people you talk to who want to make a web series but have never actually seen anything from it, so like we were saying earlier, I think web series are their own medium. So you need to understand the rules and the storytelling conventions behind it. Watch as many as possible. Figure out why they work, why they didn't work, and start learning whether or not your idea has already been done and how you can do it differently.

[00:34:39] Lee Naimo A place to start might be some of our previously funded title announcements, everything that we funded, we list on pages on the website. It's a plug but literally go through and see what is out there.

[00:34:49] Caris Bizzaca I'll put a link in the show notes.

[00:34:51] Lee Naimo I think is helpful to see what's out there, and some of those have worked and some haven't.

[00:34:55] Alyce Adams It's true, the web series world is really big, like where do you even start? So yeah, maybe our titles are a good place to go. But also there's Melbourne WebFest, and I think also what kind of content are you a fan of? There will be a web series for it, so go check that out.

[00:35:10] Lee Naimo And if there's not...

[00:35:14] Caris Bizzaca ...we'll see your application soon.

[00:35:17] Caris Bizzaca And Louise?

[00:35:18] Louise Cocks Know your audience. I feel like we've said it a lot, but that's the most important thing. I went to a panel even the other day where a screenwriter said that he doesn't really think about audience when writing, which I think is not a great way to be a writer. Who are you writing this for and why are you telling this story now? I think always go back to that.

[00:35:39] Alyce Adams And are you a fan of it? You should be a fan of what you're wanting to make cause like Lee was saying, you're going to be doing it for a long time, and also, it's going to give you a better insight as to where and how to promote it.

[00:35:51] Caris Bizzaca And what about if anyone has any further questions that they don't feel like were answered in this in this podcast? What should they do?

[00:36:00] Lee Naimo Don't bother us. Don't talk to us. Leave us alone.

[00:36:03] Louise Cocks ...you can email online... (laughter)

[00:36:05] Lee Naimo Don't include that, sorry. (laughter) I'm in a silly mode.

[00:36:06] Louise Cocks If you want to get in touch with us, email [email protected] and we'll set up a meeting with someone in the online team to chat to you.

[00:36:18] Alyce Adams Yeah, we like to talk to you before you come in with an application, so do please get in touch. Hopefully we are very friendly. (laughter)

[00:36:28] Lee Naimo We think we're friendly.

[00:36:31] Alyce Adams And we do want to talk to you about your idea, and it's best for us to get a sense of the timing when you're coming in, how much you're asking for, so it's okay if your idea is at an early stage. We're happy to speak with you.

[00:36:44] Lee Naimo We've been on the other side knowing what it's like to look at Screen Australia and go: what are they? What do they want? How do I even get in touch with them? So we make it one of our missions to be more transparent and contactable, so as Alyce said, we actually really like talking to people about their ideas.

[00:36:59] Caris Bizzaca Great, we'll wrap it up there, but thanks so much for joining us on the podcast today and talking to us all about online funding.

[00:37:07] Alyce Adams Don't forget to like and subscribe.

[00:37:11] Caris Bizzaca That was Head of Online and Games, Lee Naimo, as well as investment and development managers Alyce Adams and Louise Cocks. A big thanks to them for joining me on the podcast and as Alyce said, remember to like and subscribe to this podcast as well as to the fortnightly Screen Australia newsletter to keep up to date with new initiatives, opportunities, videos, articles and more. Thanks for listening.