Netflix commissions first Australian documentary

‘Microworlds: Reef.’

Director/producer Nick Robinson is filming the creatures that underpin the ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef in Microworlds: Reef, the first Netflix Original Australian documentary.

Robinson and producer/DOP Pete West developed super-macro camera techniques for the film, designed to immerse viewers in the world of the reef’s tiny inhabitants.

The feature doc is a co-production between Wild Pacific Media’s Robinson, Electra Manikakis and Peta Ayers and Port Douglas-based BioQuest Studios’ West, Louise Polain and Daniel Stoupin.

Screen Australia and Screen Queensland are co-funding the production, which complies with an approved COVID-safe industry plan, with Netflix.

Bernadine Lim, Screen Australia head of documentary, said: “Wild Pacific Media and BioQuest Studios have joined forces to create an incredibly innovative project.

“The techniques that have been developed specifically for this project are ground-breaking and demonstrate the creativity and ingenuity of Australian filmmaking teams. Microworlds: Reef will allow viewers to explore hidden worlds often too small to be seen by the human eye.”

Jo Dillon, Screen Queensland’s chief creative officer, said: “Screen Queensland is pleased to support Microworlds: Reef through our finance program as Netflix’s first original Australian documentary.

“BioQuest Studios is an innovative Far North Queensland screen business and, by supporting this production, we are delivering on the Far North Queensland Screen Production Strategic Plan to create opportunities for the screen industry and generate economic impact in the region.”

Nick Robinson.

Robinson said: “Some of the smallest creatures on our planet play the greatest roles. This film aims to take us into the most beautiful of micro worlds – a world as epic as the African plains and as alien as the frontiers of space. It’s a hugely ambitious project but a vital story to tell in the face of our changing planet.”

West added: “As scientists and filmmakers, we are highly motivated to discover and communicate stories that have never been told, using images that have never been seen. Our specialised optics, lighting and precision control techniques will expose a fascinating microworld that underpins our precious reef ecosystems.”

Wild Pacific Media’s recent credits include Australia’s Ocean Odyssey (3 x 1hr ABC TV/ARTE) and giant screen productions Out of Bounds: Mountain Adventure 3D, Ocean Currents 3D and Australia: The Wild Top End 3D.

Meanwhile, comedians Susie Youssef and Alexei Toliopoulos are hosting The Big Film Buffet, a new weekly podcast for Netflix. Airing on Tuesdays, each episode spotlights films from the Netflix library.

The first episode features such movies as Enola Holmes, Matilda and Looking for Alibrandi. The series is produced by the Netflix editorial team at Junkee Media in partnership with Three Five Films’ Anu Hasbold and Joe Hamilton.