Screen Australia announces $2 million for nine online projects

'The Formal'.

New seasons of ABC children’s animation Ginger & the Vegesaurs and TikTok rom-com The Formal are among nine online projects to share $2 million from Screen Australia.

Other supported titles include comedy documentary No Offence, about First Nations ‘bad’ words from YouTuber Gabriel Willie, aka Bush Tucker Bunjie, and documentary Wonderful Waste, which explores sustainable home and furniture design.

Screen Australia head of online Lee Naimo said the line-up was part of a golden age of online content production in Australia.

“We are excited to fund such a variety of projects with boundary-pushing documentaries, smart and original dramas, and comedies as well as a children’s animated series,” he said.

“We’d like to see even more children’s content coming through for online as it’s becoming more and more an important medium to reach young viewers.

“It’s great to see alumni from our Skip Ahead initiative with Google further expanding their careers and creating distinctive content, with Gabriel Willie moving into documentary on No Offence and the team behind Small Footprint now producing Wonderful Waste.

“We’re also pleased to support returning series of The Formal and Flunk, as we have been impressed to see both teams build highly engaged fanbases with their authentic Australian LGBTQI+ stories.”

In 2021/22, Screen Australia provided more than $8 million of funding to online creators, and has supplied over $20 million over the past four years.

‘Ginger & the Vegesaurs’

The funded projects are as follows:

Flunk (season five): A 40 x 8-min teen drama for YouTube. Picking up from earlier seasons, which have amassed 90 million views to date, season five explores identity, peer pressure, and bullying in an outer Melbourne high school. Writer/director Ric Forster and producer Melanie Rowland are joined by writers Grace Valerie-Lynette, Pippa Whishaw, Rhian Wilson, and Sophie Joske.

Ginger & the Vegesaurs (season two): A 20 x 5-min series for ABC Kids and ABC iview, that takes viewers back through the mists of time to an era dominated by the juiciest and crunchiest creatures ever to rule the planet – the mighty Vegesaurs. Season two sees the return of series director David Webster and co-creators Gary Eck and Nick O’Sullivan, as well as writers Sylvie van Dijk, Bruce Griffiths, and Sam Carroll. Also returning are executive producer Patrick Egerton and producer Celine Goetz. They are joined by series director Cindy Scharka (Kangaroo Beach), emerging writer Caitlin Farrell and producer Amanda Spagnolo (Annedroids). This project is financed in association with Studio 100, which will manage global distribution and licensing.

Growing Pains: A 20 x 1-min documentary series for TikTok that follows four young Australians living in Brisbane, all from migrant and culturally diverse backgrounds, as they navigate challenges that arise in their early twenties. With influence from their African, Middle Eastern, and Pacific backgrounds, their stories highlight how growth and inner strength come from facing life’s challenges as they find joy, purpose, and meaning. This series is directed and produced by Devina Saberi, with creative direction from Sabil Saberi. Associate producers Sheida Vazir-Zadeh and Sara Stephanus are also attached.

No Offence: A 6 x 6-min factual comedy series for ABC social media channels and iview created by NSW-based production company Jibber Jabber and hosted and co-written by comedian Gabriel Willie, also known as YouTuber Bush Tucker Bunjie. The series follows Gabriel as he goes on the hunt for “bad words” in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages to replace the white fella swear words he uses so freely. On his travels, he riffs with Aunties and Elders, teachers, linguists, community leaders, adolescents, and more, discovering the words they use when things rile them up and they need to let fly, while also uncovering some remarkable truths about First Nations cultures and languages along the way. The creative team also features director Michael Hudson (Ties That Bind), writer/executive producer Faith Baisden (Language and Me) and writer/producer Rami Fischler (Spread the Word).

She Flys: An 8 x 15-min documentary about gender imbalance in the aviation industry, which explores why only 5 per cent of pilots and 1.4 per cent of captains are female. She Flys highlights the power of facing the things that can hold people back, overcoming issues, reaching new heights, and achieving their goals. This series from producer Bridget May (History Bites Back) and director Stephen Limkin will be released on YouTube.

Suburban Legends: An 8 x 3-min documentary series for TikTok that travels Australia searching for the most obscure celebrities and local legends, from Adelaide’s Dancing Guy to Canberra’s DJ Sue. This light-hearted series embraces Australia’s home-grown micro-heroes, and shares them with the world. The series is written and directed by Kristina Kraskov (How the Mullet Saved a Town), produced by Anna Charalambous (How the Mullet Saved a Town), and executive produced by Nick Wray. It will be released exclusively across VICE Australia’s Instagram and TikTok accounts.

The Disposables: A one-hour ABC ME and ABC iview broadcast, TikTok Live, and 30 x 2-min vertical action-adventure series, about refugee Priya whose dad goes missing and is blamed for unleashing an unearthly beast on the suburbs of Western Sydney. Convinced he’s in grave danger, Priya and her best friend Obi must battle adversity and exclusion – and a terrifying plastic-eating monster – to find her dad, save their neighbourhood and land their visa to stay. The creative team includes writer, director, and producer Renny Wijeyamohan (Run Girl), writer/director Sonia Whiteman (Len’s Love Story), writers Keir Wilkins (Surviving Summer), and Saman Shad and producer Karen Radzyner (Paper Giants).

The Formal (season four): A new 6 x 5-min season of the popular TikTok queer rom-com which has over 8 million views, centred on students Hannah and Monique as they plan the biggest night of their lives, the Year 12 formal. In season four, the longer episodes for TikTok and YouTube follow Hannah and Monique as they figure out what will become of their relationship now the formal is over and their adult lives have officially begun. Writer/directors and stars Monique Terry and Hannah-Rae Meegan team up again with producer Sarah Lang (How to Stay Married).

Wonderful Waste: A 6 x 10-min documentary series from the creators of Small Footprint, which explores the role design can play in the inherently wasteful, unsustainable building of our homes and the things that fill them. It will draw on six key designers and inventors who are finding utility in forgotten furniture, binned plastics, construction waste, and discarded appliances. This series is directed by Colin Chee, written and produced by Luke Clark and Elizabeth Price, and executive produced by James McPherson. It will be released on the team’s YouTube channel Never Too Small, which is dedicated to small footprint design and living and has over 2 million subscribers.