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9 Must-Watch Online Documentaries

From comedic cult conspiracies on YouTube to sport docos on TikTok, online documentaries are being watched by millions around the world.

Screen Australia funds both the development and production of online documentaries through our online fund and through documentary funding. Read on for just a few must-watch titles from the last year:

Bad River: Adventure on Australia’s Unhealthiest Water (2022)  

This 4 x 20-minute documentary series by award-winning filmmaker Beau Miles is already raking in the views on YouTube, with part one alone boasting 1.4 million views. Across the four episodes, Miles takes audiences to look at some of Australia’s unhealthiest and most at-risk rivers and waterways with the help of producer Mitch Drummond and expedition manager Jodie Evans. Funded through the Screen Australia/YouTube Skip Ahead initiative, you can check out the Online Funding podcast here for more information on how Screen Australia’s online funding works and how to apply.

Watch part one of Bad River on YouTube here.

Black As Rebooted (2022)

After releasing Black As Rebooted less than a month ago, the Facebook page already has over 93 million views. Produced by Totem Global, Black As Rebooted is part of the Black As series which celebrates bush culture, ingenuity, and what it is to be a young fella in the bush today. The 16 x 8 minute series is helmed by director David Batty, producer Steve Crombie, and written by David BattyDino Wanyabarrnga, Chicko Wanyabarrnga, Jerome Lilypiyana, and Joseph Smith.

Watch Black As Rebooted on Facebook here, TikTok here, or YouTube here.

Finding Yeezus (2022)  

Finding Yeezus is a six-part web series created by comedians and pop culture detectives Cameron James and Alexei Toliopolous, known for ABC podcasts Finding Drago and Finding Desperado. In this laugh-out-loud Matrix-inspired doco, the duo set out to discover who is behind the infamous 2013 RPG game Kanye Quest 3030 and the subsequent cult called ‘Ascensionism’ hidden in its final levels. The series is available on Grouse House’s YouTube channel (watch here) where the six episodes have gained over 290,000 views. Produced by Aunty Donna’s Haven’t You Done Well Productions, it also features the Aunty Donna team including Mark Bonnano, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane, with Max Miller directing. It’s written by Sophie Braham (Reputation Rehab), and produced by Rebecca Metcalf (No Gangsters in Paradise) alongside story consultant Anna Broinowski (Forbidden Lie$).

Go behind the scenes with Alexei Toliopolous and Cameron James here.

No Offence! (2022)

This comedy documentary was funded by Screen Australia/YouTube initiative Skip Ahead and is a six-part factual series presented by YouTube sensation Gabriel Willie aka Bush Tucker Bunjie. The series will air on ABC social media channels this month and follows Gabriel as he goes on the hunt for “bad words” in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages to replace the white swear words he uses so freely. Along the way, Gabriel uncovers some remarkable truths on First Nations’ languages and cultures. The creative team also features director Joshua Sambono, writer/executive producer Faith Baisden (Language and Me) and writer/producer Rami Fischler (Spread the Word), and is produced by the company Jibber Jabber.

Watch No Offence! on ABC iView here.

Quantum Experiments at Home (2022)

Quantum Experiments at Home is a new six-part YouTube series that follows physicist Mithuna Yoganathan as she demystifies quantum mechanics, guiding audiences through experiments they can try at home. Released a month ago on the YouTube channel Looking Glass Universe which aims to build people’s confidence to learn science, the first episode already has 560,000 views. This series is directed and produced by Yoganathan and was funded through Screen Australia and Google Australia’s Skip Ahead initiative.

Watch episode one of Quantum Experiments at Home on YouTube.

SexTistics (2022)

The first Australian series to be released through the Screen Australia/TikTok initiative Every Voice initiative, this exciting TikTok web series follows mother/daughter academic due Susan and Esmé James as they combine their respective knowledge of mathematics and human sexual history to explore intimate life within Australian society. Nominated for an AACTA award, this series has over 2.4 million views.

Watch SexTistics on TikTok here.

Go behind the scenes with Susan James and Esme James here.

Small Footprint (2021)

Directed by Colin Chee and written by Luke Clark, Small Footprint is a three-part web series that explores the role that small, well-designed apartments have in our future cities. This series was funded through Skip Ahead 6 and has close to 2 million views on YouTube. Following the success of Small Footprint, Chee and Clark are now working on 6 x 10-min documentary series Wonderful Waste alongside producers Lindsay Barnard and Elizabeth Price, and executive producer James McPherson. In this follow-up series, the team will explore the role design can play in the building of our homes and what they’re filled with. It’s set to release on the team’s popular YouTube channel Never Too Small, which is dedicated to small footprint design and has over 2 million subscribers.

Watch episode one of Small Footprint here.

There is no ‘I’ in Island (2021)

Written and directed by Rebecca Thomson (A Hairy Problem) and produced by Catherine Pettman (Lowest to Highest), this five-part documentary webseries explores the fears, desires, and reflections of Tasmanians during the COVID-19 lockdown in May 2020. Each short film has a runtime of under six minutes and pairs self-recorded audio from lutruwita (Tasmania) locals with fantastical animated imagery. Commissioned by arts festival Ten Days On The Island, the project received funding from Screen Australia through the Documentary Producer program, along with support from Screen Tasmania, City of Hobart, Bellendena Small Grants and Tasmanian Women Small Grants.

Watch There is no ‘I’ in island on the Rummin Productions website here or check it out on their Instagram here, Facebook page here, or YouTube page here.

TransAthletica (2022)

With funding from the Screen Australia/TikTok initiative Every Voice, this seventeen-part TikTok documentary series tackles the unique barriers facing trans athletes today, from sporting codes to age-old institutions. The TikTok account for the series has over 16,000 followers and over 1.5 million views to date, and was featured by the Sydney Morning Herald (read the article here). From the creators of Rainbow History Class, TransAthletica is presented by Rudy Rigg who wrote the series with director Hannah McElhinney. McElhinney has just won an ADG award for Best Direction in a Mobile-First Online Series Episode for Episode 9: Performance Testing. The series is produced by Amina Soubjaki with Jamie Searle executive producing.

Watch TransAthletica on TikTok here.

Screen Australia in partnership with the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) has recently announced a new initiative Fresh Cuts. The initiative is for documentary creators to pitch projects in development that appeal to young adult audiences at AIDC, and have the chance to secure development funding from Screen Australia. Applications are currently open and close Tuesday 22 December. More information and guidelines are available here.