Screen Australia and Google to give $900,000 to YouTube creators

Steph Tisdell and Gabriel Willie, who will team up for ‘Long Black’. 

Screen Australia and Google Australia have announced over $900,000 of production funding for YouTube creators Beau Miles, Bush Tucker Bunjie, Fishing the Wild, Jenny J Zhou, Never Too Small and Tibees, as the recipients of this year’s Skip Ahead initiative.

Now in its sixth year, the program supports the creators of YouTube channels with a substantial subscription base or viewership to expand their vision and create more ambitious content.

The teams will participate in online workshops this month to develop their projects, which include three scripted dramas and three documentaries.

Previous recipients of Skip Ahead funding include Aunty Donna, Superwog, Skit Box and Chloe Morello. The Van Vuuren Bros’ comedy series Over and Out, funded through Skip Ahead in 2017, went on to win Best Short Form Series at Canneseries in 2019. This year marks the highest number of Skip ahead recipients with six teams.

Screen Australia senior online investment manager Lee Naimo said: “Skip Ahead has proved to be a powerful launchpad for Australian online creators to progress their careers. It’s an extremely successful initiative and one that we’re proud to be partnering with Google Australia to run again. We were blown away by the strong pool of applications this year and are thrilled to be able to support six projects for the first time.”

“These teams are already creating very engaging content and we are excited to see them take on new challenges, whether it’s longer form series, scripted comedy or stop motion animation. It’s encouraging that for the first time in the history of Skip Ahead we have an even split of scripted and documentary projects, which I’m confident will all resonate with viewers and help the teams grow their audiences.”

Google ANZ director government affairs and public policy Lucinda Longcroft said: “We continue to be amazed by the calibre of ideas and projects YouTube creators are developing for Skip Ahead. As we head into the sixth year, we are happy to be able to provide extra funding to support even more teams to create longer form, quality videos, to further drive their careers and garner recognition globally.”

The recipients:

  • Jenny Zhou, whose YouTube channel covers a range of fashion, beauty and culture topics, will create 8 x 5 mins series Celebration Nation. Set in a suburban party supply store, this comedy follows employees Mimi, Alice and Shay as they encounter retail shenanigans on different holidays, whether it’s bad luck on Lunar New Year or a wave of frantic British customers on the Queen’s Birthday. Zhou teams up with writer/producers Molly Daniels and Gaby Seow.
  • Toby Hendy is known for her educational videos about mathematics and physics on YouTube channel Tibees. Hendy will write and direct Finding X, a 1 x 6 mins stop-motion animation about a character called X, who is searching for meaning in a world full of numbers. This project will be produced by Hendy and Cedric Scheerlinck.
  • Gabriel Willie, aka Bush Tucker Bunjie, teams up with comedian Steph Tisdell and producers Sandra Makaresz and Laura Clelland of Sublimate Entertainment on a 1 x 15 mins comedy called Long Black. The story follows flatmates and part-time baristas Steph and Gab after their ‘big break’ comedy show gets cancelled. With an eviction notice on their door and big responsibilities on their shoulders, they realise there’s more money in foot fetish pics and phone sex than there is serving lattes. They decide to pursue a radical path to fame, fortune and representation – Aboriginal porn.
  • Beau Miles, who is known for undertaking oddball experiments, will present 4 x 20 mins documentary series Bad River: Adventure on Australia’s Sickest Water. In this project Miles will take viewers down some of the most devastated rivers and waterways in Australia and showcase the ecological impact of modern society. The creative team features producer Mitch Drummond and expedition manager Jodi Evans.
  • Morgan Hartney and Hamish Simpson’s YouTube channel Fishing the Wild showcases outdoor fishing adventures in the Northern Territory. Hartney will write and direct 4 x 10 mins documentary series Lord of the Macks, which follows the Davey family and their mackerel fishing business over the course of a gruelling season. This project will be co-directed and executive produced by Michelle Crowther and produced by Hamish Simpson.
  • Colin Chee’s YouTube channel Never Too Small is dedicated to smart design and living in tiny spaces. Chee will direct 3 x 20 mins documentary series Small Footprint, which will explore smart urban design for cities that are getting more overcrowded, with a focus on increasing wellbeing for the people living in these small spaces. This project will be produced by Lindsay Barnard, Luke Clark and Elizabeth Price, and executive produced by James McPherson.