Australian YouTube stars pitched their wares at the MIP Digital Screenings in Cannes last week, leading to some meetings with high-powered online executives.

The presentations by John Luc, Derek Muller, Natalie Tran, Nick Boshier and Connor Van Vuuren were organised by Screen Australia, which has funded 50 online content creators whose works have had an estimated 1 billion views.

Screen Australia COO Fiona Cameron tells IF the Aussies “made their mark” in the presentation, which she described as a little risqué, adding, “It did cut through.”

Cameron said there were follow-up meetings with “some heavy hitters” which she is sure will lead to further opportunities for the online stars.

Van Vuuren and Boshier met with reps of the the UK's Comedy Central to explore ideas of co-producing a second series of their comedy Soul Mates; another possibility is a co-pro with the US.  

Australia has more than 50 YouTube channels, of which 12 have more than one million subscribers.

AwesomenessTV (ATV), the No. 1 US multi-media platform for teenagers, is expected to create an Australian service as part of its international roll-out, which would be a potentially lucrative avenue for digital creatives.

Owned by DreamWorks Animation and Hearst Corporation, the advertiser-supported ATV hosts more than 90,000 content creators whose channels collectively have more than 100 million subs.

At the Digital Screenings, Luc, whose mychonny has more than 900,000 subscribers, credited his YouTube videos with giving him the chance to play the lead opposite Timothy Spall in Ben Chessell’s debut feature Sucker.

“I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh,” he said as quoted by the MIP blog. “When I told my parents I wanted to be a comedian, they were shocked… I’ve never seen my dad cry before. My videos are based on my life, Asian stereotypes and my family.”

Muller’s science-themed YouTube channel Veritasium has more than 2 million subs. The Australian-Canadian also serves as a reporter on ABC-TV’s Catalyst.

“It’s been a remarkable opportunity for me to do the things I love, which are to educate, explore scientific ideas, and make films,” he said.

Muller hosts the documentary Uranium: Twisting The Dragon’s Tail, a co-production between Genepool Productions and PBS which was commissioned by SBS. A mix of science, history and adventure, the doc will premiere in the US on PBS stations in July.

Tran stars on her own Community Channel, which has nearly 1.7 million subs on YouTube. The comedian, actor and writer screened a showreel which got a lot of belly laughs from the Cannes audience.

She said, “For nine years now my audience has been 70% female. Which is a big reassurance to me that women enjoy comedy, and not only do they enjoy comedy, they enjoy comedy by other women.”

Boshier and Van Vuuren talked about their web series Bondi Hipsters, which led to Soul Mates, co-funded by Screen Australia and ABC.

“We set out to make a narrative comedy that would work on TV but also wanted to make sure it would work on YouTube,” said Boshier.

Van Vuuren said, “The reason we were trusted to air that on television in Australia is we piloted our concepts online, which built trust between the audience and ourselves, which in turn built trust between us and the network.”


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