“We’re commissioning for the Australian audience”

Amazon Prime says 7 new local shows are not reliant on global success, nor as a response to COVID-safe filming.

Amazon Prime Video last week unveiled 7 new local productions in drama, comedy and documentary which, according to execs, are first and foremost for the Australian market.

Despite having 200 million members, 175m of which are actively streaming Prime Video, the shows are not reliant on global success.

“We’re making content for the Australian audience. Absolutely,” Tyler Bern Head of Australian Content tells TV Tonight.

“The reason why we commissioned those seven shows, is because we think that our Australian customers are going to want to watch them.”

Hushidar Kharas, Head of Originals, Asia Pacific agreed.

“I have a very good feeling that these shows are going to take off globally, because they’re so good. But they’re inherently local stories for the local audience.

“We know that they have (global) potential. With The Test we saw fantastic viewership in India and South Africa, and New Zealand and Canada to an extent. We’ve seen that happen with some of our other international content.”

New projects include The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart starring Sigourney Weaver, written by Aussie Sarah Lambert and directed by Glendyn Ivin; documentary on bushfires Burning produced by Cate Blanchett & director Eve Orner; comedy series Class of ’07 created by Kacie Anning; new comedy Deadloch by Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan; swimming doco Head Above Water; satirical comedy The Moth Effect from Nick Boshier and Jazz Twemlow; and Indigenous AFL doco Warriors On The Field.

They add to previous shows to date, Making Their Mark, The Test, LOL: Last One Standing, stand up comedy specials, and several upcoming titles. The commitment of $150 million into 14 Australian Originals isn’t in response to the buoyant production environment.

“The COVID-free production environment has helped us maintain our development pipeline and our production schedules. It’s an advantage, obviously, but we’re not investing because of content quotas and we’re not investing more because this is a COVID-free environment,” says Bern.

“All of these are local stories with local talent. It’s not just (about) the production environment. It’s about having great stories, great actors, producers, creators and crew. All of that is coming together.”

7 part revival Back to the Rafters will screen in September, with reality series  Luxe Listings Sydney, Kick Like Tayla and season 2 of The Wilds, filming in Australia, also on the way.

“There are so many rich stories here. We’ve just been so pleased with all of the shows that we have in development, all the shows that we’ve commissioned, they’re just like a uniquely talented group of people,” said Bern.

“Historically for one reason or another a lot of Australian stories haven’t taken off globally. But we can provide that opportunity for something like Deadloch for these two very funny, talented comedians and creators to potentially have a global hit.”

He added, “We’re not done at 14. There will be more announcements coming. We have a big development pipeline, we’re actively investing in more Australian content. The 14 is where we’re at right now.”

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