Online web series The Horizon secures pilot funding from Screen Australia

Brand funded online drama series The Horizon, which depicts the lives of a group of Sydney gay men, has secured funding from Screen Australia to produce a 45-minute television pilot.

The pilot will cover story lines from the first two season of the YouTube show, which wrapped up season five in April and has to date over 100,000 subscribers and 37m views globally.

Local production company Cobbstar Productions secured the funding via Screen Australia’s multi-platform fund.

Speaking to Mumbrella producer Brian Cobb explained the web series saw a churn in actors for season one and two before settling on the current ensemble for season three.

“I pitched to Screen Australia that we go back with the same cast we have and remake season’s one and two into a 45 minute pilot episode. It’ll cover a couple of those story lines, we’ll have the same cast, so s1 and s6 it will be a consistent cast and production levels,” he said.

“The bonus is we have a 45-minute pilot to shop around.”

Cobbstar Productions intend to shop the pilot around to all the major broadcasters along with streaming players Stan and Presto.

“We’ll see how it turns out first and see how it fits. Some networks might not want a gay-themed show, some might want to take a chance,” he said.

Brian Cobb


“The landscape around acceptance and what’s going on politically, something’s in the zeitgeist, things are starting to change, so maybe someone will take a punt and put a gay show on their platform or their channel.

“We’ll probably go overseas and look for some co-production money there as well. We do have some interest in the States but we thought we’d ground it here and give it a crack here first,” he added.

On securing the funding Cobb said it means the production company can now pay people a wage: “We get to pay people a wage which is always nice. We get to get better cameras, get more time in pre-production and get time to rehearse.

“We also hopefully get to tap into an Australian audience that hasn’t really heard of The Horizon. We’re big in the USA and Saudi Arabia, Britain and Brazil but we haven’t really cracked the Australian audience yet so we’re hoping this will give us exposure.”

Film director Stephan Elliott, best known for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, has come on board as director for the pilot after mentoring the series creator Boaz Stark.

The Horizon cast

The Horizon cast

In a statement Elliott said: “Boaz Stark came to me five years ago seeking guidance on a small gay web series he was planning. I was happy to mentor him through, even though I was convinced it wouldn’t work. How wrong I was. At 37 Million views Screen Australia are supporting The Horizon’s leap to full TV – me coming on board was a no brainer. It’s been extraordinary to watch the beast grow from the side lines and I’m ’tickled pink’ to step up to the directors chair for the pilot.”

Boaz Stark, who has written for TV shows such as Packed To The Rafters, Home and Away, Neighbours and Winners & Losers, created The Horizon in 2010 via a commission from ACON, Aids Council of NSW.

In a statement Stark said: “I live in Sydney, one the most vibrant gay cities in the world, and no one was telling our stories the way I see them. With much opposition I begged and borrowed to get the web series off the ground and it’s been gratifying to see the extraordinary reaction, with the US now keen to re-make it for America. Before we go there, I’ve chosen to stay in Sydney with the support of Screen Australia to take The Horizon to a whole new, fabulous level.”

Season 6 of The Horizon will go live online in August while the TV pilot for the show goes into production next week.

Miranda Ward 


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