‘The climate is super exciting’: Netflix working to broaden scope of Australian storytelling

Netflix director of local originals for Australia Que Minh Luu.

Netflix director of local originals Que Minh Luu says the streamer hopes to “flex and experiment” with its storytelling from Australia in the year ahead.

It comes after Netflix announced, invested in, or brought to screen more than 15 new Australian titles last year, including originals such as the Heartbreak High reboot, Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun, Izzy Bee’s Koala World, Clickbait, The New Legends of Monkey S2, True Spirit, and Urzila Carlson: Overqualified Loser.

Luu, who joined Netflix last July after three and a half years as an executive producer at the ABC, tells IF the year ahead is “ripe with creative ambition”.

“What we’re trying to do in Australia is broaden the scope of the kinds of stories we currently have, enable our world-class talent and creatives to lean even further into making quality shows that feel culturally ours, and empower younger generations to break through,” she says.

“We’re building the appetite for Australian content on Netflix and we want to work together with industry to rise up to that challenge.

“We feel nothing but possibility, with a healthy undercurrent of fear to keep us honest.”

Aussie Netflix titles to be screened this year range from Tony Ayres Productions’ (TAP) miniseries Clickbait to the Steve Jaggi Company’s teen drama Dive Club, a co-commission with Channel 10 that has just wrapped filming.

Two of the streamer’s international titles are also being filmed in Australia, with US sci-fi feature Escape From Spiderhead wrapping production a couple of weeks ago on the Gold Coast, while eight-part series Pieces of Her, from Made Up Stories, will begin filming in Sydney next month.

In terms of factual content, Netflix’s first original Australian documentary, Microworlds: Reef is currently in production.

Luu expects the number of in-bound productions coming into the country, alongside domestic production, to trigger “fierce” competition for talent this year.

“The climate is going to be busy,” she says.

“This means there will be increased opportunity to train or upskill younger practitioners across disciplines.

“We have a crop of next generation creatives working on some of our productions, as well as projects in development with new voices.

“We are also looking forward to seeing what new faces are unearthed for Heartbreak High, who will potentially end up as household names.”

Speaking about production as a whole, she identifies telling stories through an “inclusion lens” as a top priority for streaming platforms.

“We need to sharpen our awareness of what perspectives are missing both on and off-screen and work collectively to surface them in a meaningful and collaborative way,” she says.

“For our part, we’re here to help, accept there may be mistakes along the way, and welcome the discomfort that comes with change.

“Inclusion shouldn’t be a trend it should be the status quo; it shouldn’t be niche.”