Australian high-concept, possible, but not on TV

 Bevan LeePacked to the Rafters creator Bevan Lee says his comments about high-concept projects in Australia were specific about television, not film, and sustains that such series would be “a high risk venture”.

At last year’s SPAA Conference, Lee said high-concept shows most likely “couldn’t succeed here”, and a project like HBO’s show True Blood – about vampires “coming out of the coffin” in small town Louisiana – would be “laughed off screen” had it been set in a country town in Australia.

Encore then asked Leon Ford and Nicole O’Donohue, writer/director and producer respectively of Australia’s first superhero film Griff the Invisible, what they thought about this argument.

“When I made that comment regarding high-concept projects and Australian production, I was talking specifically about television series,” Lee told Encore.

“We actually had quite a tradition in this country, in the era of 10BA film production, of making high-concept films, some of which worked at the box office, some not.”

Lee mentioned the US success of the Spierig brothers’ futuristic vampire film Daybreakers as an example of what can be achieved by local talents in terms of fantasy/science fiction.

“Mr Ford and Ms O’Donohue seem to be returning to those days with their project. Hopefully they’ll set the box office alight,” he added, wishing them the best of luck when their film is released later this year.

However, Lee stands by his conclusion, “drawn from observation over the years, that to make a high-concept sci-fi or fantasy television series in this country is a high risk venture, given the clear preference local audiences have shown for subjects and topics closer to their perceived reality.”


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