Last night I attended the ABC Roadshow hosted by Screen Queensland. I love film events, you get free food and drinks and the crowd is much livelier and better looking than the average writerly do. I even managed to do a bit of mingling/networking – a writer’s biggest challenge.
I spoke to Adrian Swift, the Head of Content, and got the lowdown on what the ABC are looking for in creative projects. What I love about the ABC is that they really are passionate abut bringing unique Australian stories to the screen, especially stories away from the usual settings of Sydney and Melbourne. The ABC are still willing to take risks too, so if you have project that just won’t cut it with commercial networks you could be onto an ABC winner.
They’re particularly looking for projects aimed at young people from 8 to 14. The ABC are leaders in children’s TV and want to keep those viewers as they get older by providing new and exciting dramas/ live action/ comedies/documentaries and animated concepts (8- 12). This is an area of opportunity so if you have something that would fit, go ahead and pitch!
The ABC is famously the old people’s network, and they’re happy to have their older viewers, but also want to expand into younger markets, in particular the 18 – 34 bracket. So up to date contemporary projects aimed at this group also have a good chance. They’re especially looking for partner programmes for Charlie Pickering’s show and The Checkout – shows that have a whole family appeal.
Contemporary seemed to be the buzzword. Even if you have a period drama, if you can find a way to link it to contemporary issues and debates it will have a better chance. They’re also after drama series that have return potential like the Miss Fisher Mysteries and Rake. There’s also still room for high quality drama like Kate Grenville’s Secret River which will be screened soon as a two part series.
Whatever drama you submit it must be driven by compelling characters who have personal and professional dilemmas we can all relate to, and that have an inbuilt drama engine.
This is their checklist
1. Stories that demand to be watched – ideas that promote themselves
2. Stories that start strong and stay strong
3. Appeal to a broad audience
4. Longer running return series
5. Stories only ABC can tell. – Clever/thought provoking/ edgy
6. Here’s a story we made earlier – projects that make use of the ABC archive
If you can tick 5 of these boxes you’re in with a good shot. Oh, and they don’t want fully developed projects. Pitch an idea in a page or two and see if they bite.
Hope you’ve found this useful. Get to work and good luck!