Bloom with a view
CEO Mike Sneesby talks about how Stan's first big original drama is helping to build the brand.
Bloom may set its wild, imaginative story in a small Aussie country town but it has its sights set on the world.
The 6 part series which dropped on New Year’s Day is winning rave reviews for its originality and boldness. According to CEO Mike Sneesby, the show was greenlight not just for what it offers dramatically, but for what it does for the company brand.
“When we make something as a Stan Original we make it with the international market in mind,” he explains.
“You’re effectively building your own brand while you’re in original productions.
“Wolf Creek and Romper Stomper are 2 great examples of franchises that have iconic brands associated with them.
“But in terms of a big budget drama this is our first deviation. This is a brand new original creative idea.”
“It needed to be something that on screen is unlike anything that has been created in Australia.”
Bloom stars Jacki Weaver, Bryan Brown, Phoebe Tonkin and Ryan Corr in the aftermath of a catastrophic flood which leaves behind a plant that restores youth. But it immediately posed all kinds of philosophical questions.
“They have the knowledge, the regrets and the joys that they’ve had through life and so it explores that theme of ‘What would you do if you could do it all over again, with all the knowledge you’ve got today?'” he asks.
“One of the things that we’ve spoken about from the earlier stage of development was that it needed to be something that on screen is unlike anything that has been created in Australia.”
“We’ve always tried to focus on having some level of existing IP that we can leverage”
Despite its relatively small size -Stan has around 65 staff- it has enjoyed early success including No Activity landing a US adaptation.
“With a lot of our big budget productions we’ve always tried to focus on having some level of existing IP that we can leverage,” Sneesby continues.
“One of the drivers that we set out was to say if we if we don’t do a good job at differentiating our position from Nine we’re going to suffer the challenges of consumers asking the question, ‘Why should we pay for a streaming service when free to airs like Nine are free?’
“It has been really important in these early years of establishing a brand to be positioned differently because we are different.
A long term plan and forging a name has been integral when you are up against giants like Netflix.
“I’ve always said to the market we are an Australian company that was developed and created here in Australia, it’s run by Australians for Australians. But make no mistake, we didn’t we didn’t match that with an ‘Australian view’ of investment. We actually took a very international view in terms of the scale of investment we’d need to make.
“We didn’t throw a bunch of money up against the wall”
“We knew Netflix would be here, we knew Amazon would be here, we knew the studios would have to consider how they play as this market shapes up.
“We didn’t throw a bunch of money up against the wall and say ‘We hope that sticks if the big players come to town.’
“Nine & Fairfax were willing to give it a crack. Quite often companies will fail not because their idea is wrong but because they don’t have the depth of willingness or, quite frankly, the balls to run hard enough at the investment.”
Since Nine’s takeover of Fairfax, it is no longer a joint venture. Sneesby is coy on how long its deal with CBS-owned Showtime will continue since the arrival of 10 All Access, but remains upbeat.
“Our relationship with CBS has never been stronger and we’re always in continuous discussions around where things go and what the opportunities are. If things are right for CBS and Showtime in terms of how they position themselves in market here, there’s deals to be done and we’ll continue to have a long term and fruitful partnership.”
While Stan’s footprint is clearly local, Bloom will be taken to the world by Sony whose Australian-owned company Playmaker produced the series.
“We are investing in the show locally but equally Sony is investing in it from the point of view that they make the contribution for guaranteeing international sales.
“We rely on important partnerships. That’s how our model works.”
Bloom is now screening on Stan.