How podcasting will save Australian Film & Television.
It is self-evident that the Australian Arts and Entertainment industries have suffered massively from COVID-19. With cinemas, theatres, and productions forced to shut down or shift their resources, it has been a tough year for Australian content producers.
Conversely, streaming services have exploded this year with a rocket labelled “lockdown” strapped to it's back and it feels safe to say that there have never been more people consuming content than there is right now.
Yet even with more eyeballs glued to screen than ever before, the Australian Arts are not reaping the very unique and sparse benefits to come from what the experts are calling “A super shithouse situation” - (Goldsmith, E)
The content people are streaming are predominantly international imports, and it wasn’t like before lockdown we were exactly flush with Australian content to choose from. You only have to refer to the Make It Australian campaign which included an open letter to the Morrison government to understand that we aren't making the type of content that audiences are in the large part consuming.
‘What the bloody hell does this have to do with podcasting?’ everyone mutters to themselves.
Podcasting can and will help Film & TV rebound and recover from the damage of the pandemic while creating new structures in which homegrown content can flourish. I am happy to include the words sustainability and growth as well for buzzworthy purposes, but you get the idea, and here's how.
Podcasting has a proven track record of producing quality content that can be adapted to hit movies or television shows. Wondery alone has produced Dirty John starring Eric Bana that pulled in an audience of over 3.8 million viewers. Since then Dr. Death with Alec Baldwin, The Shrink Next Door with Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd, and Joe Exotic: Tiger King with Kate McKinnon, are all Wondery podcasts that have been green-lit to be adapted with Hollywood mega-stars attached.
And that’s just at Wondery! Outside of Wondery, there’s Homecoming from Gimlet starring Julia Roberts that is now an Amazon Prime Original. The hit podcast Serial was adapted into an HBO series called The Case Against Adnan Syed. An episode of This American Life was adapted into a movie called The Farewell which David Fear of Rolling stone said was “One of the most genuinely moving films I've ever seen at Sundance”.
It essentially boils down to this:
Podcasting is a low barrier to entry, low-cost alternative to a proof-of-concept pilot for the Arts. They can reach audiences at great scale and identify the type of content people want to see. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if a film, TV show, or theatre production was going to be successful ahead of time, at the fraction of the cost of a pilot, trailer or opening night? Doesn’t that sound like something that is too good to be true?
The Australian Arts industry is smart, savvy, and resourceful, and will eventually figure out how podcasting is being under-utilised compared to the U.S. and U.K. markets. But there is an opportunity right now to take advantage of a medium that can identify great Australian-made content and fast track the Arts Industries recovery.
This Op-ed was coined by our Head of Content & Marketing, Edward Goldsmith.
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