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Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Stan's ambitious local production plan
ALSO: Behind the DNC scenes. AND: The Canadian Brooklyn Nine Nine
Aussie streamer Stan, which will soon lose its foundational Showtime content deal from the US, has gone on the PR offensive with this announcement about upcoming local production. Stan has a five-year plan to increase production to the point of 30 original productions a year.
That’s ambitious. Or so it seems on the face of it. 30 originals may well include short-form series, cheaply-produced specials like stand-up comedy, etc. Let’s see how this shakes out.
Announced today by Stan:
Eden, an eight-part, hour-long original drama series from Australia’s rising creative star Vanessa Gazy and the creators of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Skins is currently in production.
Bump, a ten-part, half-hour original drama series that stars Claudia Karvan, and reunites the creative team behind Love My Way and The Secret Life of Us, is currently in production.
Dom and Adrian: 2020, an original comedy special from the creators of the Bondi Hipsters, Christiaan Van Vuuren and Nick Boshier, is currently in production.
After The Night, a four-part true crime docuseries exploring the harrowing legacy of one of Australia’s deadliest serial killers: Eric Edgar Cooke, is currently in production.
Christiaan Van Vuuren to direct a new Stan Original Film written by Elliot Vella, Gretel Vella & Timothy Walker that is in advanced development.
Something that is interesting to note. As per per an article in the SMH, Michael Healy at Nine (parent company of Stan) will work with Stan to commission new programs and films. Commissioned series will be paid for through Stan, with Nine using its production capabilities to accelerate Stan’s production output.
One assumes that this close collaboration will see Stan shows repurposed for Nine’s broadcast channels and streaming platform 9Now later in the shows lifecycle.
Presumably a still from Dom and Adrian: 2020:
The great white remake
Coming to Canadian streaming service Club Illico on Sept 17 is the French Canadian remake of Brooklyn Nine Nine - Escouade 99.
Based on the below promo, it looks like they’ve kept things uncomfortably close to the original, but it could just be a case of a first episode remake before the show starts doing its own thing.
I do wonder how much life is left in producing remakes like this for international territories with shows travelling globally via streaming services with greater ease and at higher levels of consumption.
All I know is I’m now hungry for poutine.
Weekend at Barrymore’s
While eating hot wings in this YouTube show, Drew Barrymore confirmed the long-time rumor that W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn, and Sadakichi Hartmann took out the corpse of her grandfather John Barrymore for a final night out on the town Weekend At Bernies-style. She talks about this at the 4:49 mark.
All I know is I’m now hungry for hot wings.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels has been cancelled after one season. Source: Dark Horizons
Netflix YA shows I Am Not Okay With This and The Society have both been cancelled. Source: THR
The technical DNC triumph
Across four nights last week in the US the Democratic National Convention took place, delivering a mix of live streams, live reaction shots, and pre-recorded segments. These were primarily speeches and pre-packaged material, but there were also more technically ambitious elements of production like musical performances and a live fireworks show to conclude it.
This was all under the control of Emmy Award winning director Glenn Weiss (and his partner Ricky Kirshner) who directed the entire show, with its 58 different cameras, from his home in Brentwood, California. Originally he was supposed to be working from the location of the DNC, but when the decision was made for it to become a virtual convention, production moved to his home.
Throughout the week there was a lot of commentary about how slick the production was. Sure, there were a couple of technical gaffes on the first night and a couple of choices that didn’t quite work, but producing an event at this scale is quite the achievement.
If Weiss looks a bit familiar to you, it may be because you saw him accepting an Emmy in 2018 and proposing to his now-fiance Jan Svendsen live on stage. She took the below photo.
Coming off the back of the virtually produced DNC was a virtually produced fan convention. Run by WarnerMedia to promote its DC comics branded movies, TV shows, video games, and comics, the event was deemed a success.
But… was it?
The event generated a lot of social media attention yesterday and some of the announcements created huge buzz. So, with that, it could be deemed a success for achieving its primary marketing purpose. But, I thought the whole thing was a bit of a dud.
What did they achieve? For eight continuous hours DC Fandome broadcast panels of conversations with actors, writers, directors, producers, and other creatives as they talked about upcoming product, made announcements, discussed their love of Batman, and (most importantly) made announcements about upcoming movies/shows/games/comics. Unlike the DNC, this had all been pre-taped. The eight-hour programming was then repeated on loop twice for international markets to create a 24-hour event.
Notable highlights included the announcement of the obscure characters we’ll see featured in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, a new Wonder Woman 1984 trailer, a new The Batman trailer, a trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League re-cut, details on the new game Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, some loose details about the new The Flash movie, and some very loose comic book announcements.
That sounds like a success, right? Well…
Why it was a bit of a dud
Every announcement made could just as effectively have been made in other ways that would have delivered with more efficiency (re: cheaper) and better awareness. The value of doing it this way was that they had created a fan convention online. They could drive enthusiasm from DC fans to spend a full eight hours on a website consuming nothing but DC content. Convert casual fan engagement into passionate fan engagement. There’s considerable value in that.
But the content offering was weaker than planned and I don’t know that it kept fans all that engaged.
The original idea was to offer what was the main stage of content, which is what we saw, but also offer counter-programming that would highlight the breadth of DC Comics experiences. Other linear video streams would offer panels/packaged video with comic book creators, DC content for younger kids, world-first screenings of DC TV shows/animated films, and user-generated content. If there was a video on the main channel that wasn’t very interesting, there were multiple other options. Even better if there’s a conflict of multiple things at once - what better for engagement than to make the audience have to choose what they’re more passionate about?
Late last week it was announced that they would scale back the event and program the other content on September 12. Gone is the linear ‘live’ nature of the event and in its place is a whole lot of on-demand content. Undoubtedly this was done in response to the recent firing of a whole bunch of DC Comics staff a few weeks ago as WarnerMedia re-scales its origanisation. Future publishing plans are being shifted and a lot of the pre-filmed panels and discussion are likely out of step with new plans. Plus how many of those pre-recorded panels featured staff who are now no longer with the company?
What was initially conceived as a really smart branding exercise ended up as a dull eight-hours of fairly dull pre-produced promo which didn’t have a lot to say.
At least The Batman trailer was pretty cool.
The Batman is currently scheduled for October 1, 2021. This teaser has been produced out of what is only about 20% of filmed footage - it returns to production from its COVID shutdown in the coming weeks.
Zack Snyder’sJustice League will now be four one-hour episodes on HBO Max. A date is still TBA.
Wonder Woman 1984 now has this trailer ahead of its scheduled October 2, 2020 release. The previous trailer with the pumping New Order track was a lot more fun.
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