Screen Australia and YouTube unveil Skip Ahead participants

This year's Skip Ahead recipients.

Screen Australia and YouTube have announced the six YouTube projects that will share $900,000 of production funding as part of this year’s Skip Ahead initiative.

Lyanna Kea, Ella Watkins, Julian O’Shea, Jade Schmutter, Rob Aspinall, and Ryan Telfer, as well as teams, Lachlan and Jaxon Fairbairn and Rita Artmann and Joe Bauer, are set to follow in footsteps of comedians Aunty Donna and filmmaking duo RackaRacka in being supported through the initiative.

The recipients taking part in a workshop this week and learning from industry experts including producer Julie Kalceff, Jasmine Yang from Glitch Productions, writer Melissa Lee Speyer, digital video strategists Changer Studios, and past Skip Ahead recipients Danny and Michael Philippou of RackaRacka, the team from Never Too Small, and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos.

Screen Australia head of online Lee Naimo said the importance of Skip Ahead, which has provided $4.2 million to 33 teams since 2014, only increased as the online landscape continued to evolve.

“It’s exciting to see how different these projects are, with these six teams representing a range of genres from musical to comedy, crime to documentary,” he said.

“Past Skip Ahead projects continue to accumulate millions of views and lead to some alumni, such as Adele Vuko, Christiaan van Vuuren, and Danny and Michael Philippou directing feature films. I’m sure there are many exciting opportunities ahead for this latest cohort.”

YouTube Australia and New Zealand director Ed Miles described the teams for this year’s initiative as “formidable”.

“YouTube is home to incredible Australian storytellers, and over the last seven years, we’ve seen the impact Skip Ahead can have on their careers and the global recognition these projects can achieve, he said.

“We have six formidable creative teams for Skip Ahead 8 – and this week we are thrilled to begin working with them and to see their concepts start to become a reality.”

The selected projects are:

  • Life of Kea: From writer/director/producer Lyanna Kea comes Life of Kea, a 5 x 6-minute comedy series about Aunty Kea – the quintessential Chinese-Malaysian middle-aged woman. While supporting her friend through family drama, Aunty Kea battles with the internal conflict that perhaps she misses having a partner of her own. Brought on by this rare feeling of vulnerability, Aunty Kea, like a force of nature, bravely puts herself back into the dating game. Taysha McFarland and Tristan Braines behind A Song For You are also writing and producing, with Sasha Leong attached as producer. The series will release on Lyanna Kea’s YouTube channel.
  • You May Think I’m Joking: A 5 x 5-minute comedy/musical series about Ella, an autistic influencer who is trying to find her voice in an online world that enshrines curated ‘perfect’ personalities with perfect bodies. While Ella struggles to suppress who she really is to fit the mould of who she thinks she should be, her true self begins bursting through in blunt, honest, and unfiltered musical numbers that take place through a series of video calls with her manager, all from the isolation of her bedroom. The series is from writer/director Ella Watkins, whose series Bad Locals was supported through the Every Voice initiative. Gabrielle McLeod is also attached as producer. You May Think I’m Joking explores Ella’s personal experiences of autism, queerness, and body image struggles relating to being a woman, and will release on Watkins’ YouTube channel.
  • Fairbairn in the City: This 6 x 5-minute comedy is about simple farm boys Lachlan and Jaxon who make the move to the big city from their rural home – realising they know nearly nothing about the modern world. When it comes to understanding dating, managing relationships, and living with a female roommate, Lachlan and Jaxon must figure out how to conquer the big city and everything that comes with it, before it conquers them. From creators of the popular YouTube channel Fairbairn Films, Fairbairn in the City is written and directed by Lachlan Fairbairn, who stars along with Jaxon Fairbairn. Also attached is Georgia Mappin as executive producer and Monique Mulcahy as producer. The series will be produced by Haven’t You Done Well Productions and will release on the Fairbairn Films YouTube channel.
  • UnTrue Crime: A 6 x 8-minute true crime parody that follows woefully incompetent detectives Spoink and Hoggman who re-tread their stumbling footsteps through their recent investigation into a classic murder scenario. With no shortage of twists and a primary suspect that changes every episode, it becomes a question of how many times they can get it wrong… before they accidentally get it right. The series is from writer/director Joe Bauer and writer/producer Rita Artmann, whose credits include The Killage and Australiens. It will release on their YouTube channel ArtSpear Entertainment, which has amassed over 500 million views.
  • Design Revolution: A 6 x 6-minute and 12 x 1-minute educational documentary series that explores how design decisions shape the modern world by solving real-world problems, from glacial internet speeds, to the sky-high cost of city rent – in a quirky and interesting way. Each episode covers some sort of zany build or experiment to explain the topic further and put forward a solution. The series is from writer/director/producer and engineer Julian O’Shea, joined by writers and scientists Toby Hendy and Kirsten Banks. Alex Gabbott is also attached as director. Design Revolution will be released on Julian O’Shea’s YouTube channel.
  • Uncovering Street Dance: Australia: This 6 x 20-minute documentary series will follow eight street dancers as they travel around Australia, exploring underground street dance scenes through interviewing influential dance artists, attending events, and visiting iconic Australian landmarks. This docuseries is written, directed, and produced by Jade Schmutter, Rob Aspinall, and Ryan Telfer. It is due to be released on the Project One YouTube channel, which has built a fanbase around Australian street dance culture.