With the freedom to take risks and be able to tap into mass audiences, online storytelling is becoming a key player in the battle for eyeballs – a trend only set to continue with the announcement of Skip Ahead #3. By Caris Bizzaca.
Once upon a time, the pathway to a filmmaking career was relatively structured. But the internet and streaming platforms have thrown out the traditional manual and a new renegade group of filmmakers are coming through the ranks.
These filmmakers already have thousands of fans, having cut their teeth on YouTube where they continue to hone and polish their storytelling.
Screen Australia saw the potential in this space years ago, creating a Multiplatform Drama Program, which meant series such as The Katering Show and How to Talk Australians could be made.
It also caught the attention of Google, who were keen to help develop some of the Australian talent tapping into audiences across the globe.
Together Google and Screen Australia developed the Skip Ahead program, designed to help YouTube content creators such as Aunty Donna and Axis of Awesome advance their careers.
After two successful roll-outs of the program, the third instalment of that collaboration has been announced, with applications now open.
Skip Ahead #3 funding is for successful YouTubers to make the leap to longer, narrative-driven stories that run for at least half an hour, whether that be a standalone film or series pilot.
“Online is producing incredible, premium content,” Screen Australia Chief Operating Officer Fiona Cameron says.
“There’s no doubt our online creatives are pushing the boundaries, in everything from documentary, to comedy, to drama.
“But it is also a training ground. We’re helping these filmmakers grow and refine their craft so they can make it a feasible career rather than a hobby.”
Investment Manager Mike Cowap says Screen Australia’s role in all of this is to do whatever we can to help these YouTubers realise and fulfil their full potential.
“They are the next wave of great Australian filmmakers,” Mr Cowap says.
“The grand plan is to arm these guys to be the filmmakers that we believe they can be.”
Skip Ahead #3 follows two workshops by Screen Australia and Google in March, which taught successful applicants (who were “some of the biggest and best” YouTubers, Mr Cowap says) the basic building blocks to make longer works.
“These people are already highly creative, with great storytelling instincts. The workshop just gave them the tools to take that further,” Cowap says.
Because the films will go directly online, filmmakers can push ideas and try new things. With no traditional gatekeepers, the rule book is being rewritten.
“They are breaking new ground,” Screen Australia Chief Operating Officer Fiona Cameron says. “This is untrodden territory.”
Click here to view the Skip Ahead guidelines and to apply for the third round of funding.
Successful projects developed by previous Skip Ahead recipients
Axis All Areas by Axis of Awesome
Lend Us a Ride by Mighty Car Mods
Fernando by SexuaLobster
1999 by Aunty Donna
The Sweetest Thing by How to Cook That