How much do Australian networks and storytellers want to shape Australian culture… or are they trying to reflect it?
It’s a dilemma that was recently posed at Screen Forever conference.
Daniel Monaghan – Paramount, SVP Content and Programming (10)
“I think if you reflecting or aiming to reflect the audience of Australia which we are, as a network, then you in a way are shaping it. So don’t think you can have one without the other. We are quite publicly always accused of trying to shape too hard. But in all honesty, as a network… our aim is always to make stories that are reflective of the population -be that sexuality or cultural, ethnic, diversity. We are always trying to think how can we pull these stories forward and reflect the audience who’s going to engage with us? … And it’s hard on the commercial side, because you are always aiming for the big broad audience.”
Sally Riley – Head of Drama, Entertainment and Indigenous, ABC.
“I don’t know that we’re trying to shape. We’re trying to reflect Australia. But I think we want to give insight to what the Australian experience is like. It’s not one thing, it’s many different peoples’ experience. If you can engage people emotionally, that’s how you change people’s minds about racism, or all sorts of issues.”
Que Minh Luu – Netflix
“We’re creator-driven. We’re there to support the vision of the storyteller. So they’re the ones who are driving what it is they want to say. Of course there’s some ‘Netflixy knowledge’ that we support them with and help them with …in terms of where we see the audience for their project. But we don’t take a position. We’re not chasing controversy for controversy sake, we are there to support the creative vision of the storyteller we’re working with.”
Tony Ayres – Tony Ayres Productions Founder, Executive Producer, Showrunner, Writer & Director
“I feel like my responsibility in delivering a show is basically to just try to honour the story. If you’re making a drama that does want to connect to a broader audience, then you show the version of Australia that you see. So in my work, I will always try to show a version of Australia that I live in, and often that involves looking in the mirror. So I show bits that perhaps haven’t been on screen that much before. But every story is the determination of who was in it, and why they’re in it. … As creators all we’re trying to do is is trying to do is make something that reaches people. I completely agree with Sally. I think it’s empathy is the thing that we have as a tool of persuasion. If we can make people empathise with people that they haven’t seen before, then we might be able to move the dial a little bit. In terms of how much we shape, I think we can’t be too arrogant. In the end, it’s just TV.”