Dustin Clare, from actor to streaming entrepreneur…

With his year-old streaming platform Shelter, Dustin Clare is commissioning original titles in design & architecture.

He may be recognised for Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, McLeod’s Daughters and Satisfaction but actor turned producer, turned distributor Dustin Clare has added streaming platform entrepreneur to his resume.

A year ago Clare launched Shelter, a streaming service specialising in architecture, design, lifestyle and outdoor living.

Not content with simply acquiring titles from across the globe, Shelter has also been building an original slate with its own commissions.

This week it launched Permanent Camping 2. 10 years after designing Permanent Camping in Mudgee, NSW, architect Rob Brown has teamed up again with master builder and joiner Jeffery Broadfield. This time they have built upon a remote location in Berry, NSW. Accessible only by foot, are two striking copper towers overlooking lush green paddocks and the Pacific Ocean.

“That story came off the back of the success of our first original series, Inspired Architecture. The first episode of that played in all the major Architectural / Design film festivals around the world. It’s been one of our most watched pieces of content on the platform,” he tells TV Tonight.

“It’s not traditional reality TV style or lifestyle content”

“We released our original series Architecture on the Edge, which we also commissioned out of Chile, South America. All the stuff we’re commissioning is really creative and artistic. It’s not traditional reality TV style or lifestyle content. We’re really going much deeper than that, allowing ourselves time to explore the spaces, and the ideas behind them and how they came to be.

“That’s really the ethos, I guess, with all the original content that we’re producing. We’re also working with a local filmmaker in the Northern Rivers, Sophie Hexter, who is doing an interior design series on the Byron Bay aesthetic. And then we have Inspired Architecture S2 which will release in October with our new suite of TV apps.

“We’ve got a series from the UK that we’ve commissioned called Follies, which is all about architecture follies and we have Tiny Spaces as well, which is shooting in Victoria.

“We really want to build a new quality of content in architecture, home and lifestyle, which I think generally can get pretty trashy and repetitive. We want to elevate it as creative, artistic and thoughtful.”

The path to streaming came from his move into distribution, and prior to that producing independent films such as Sunday, The Meaning of Vanlife, and 2015 US drama A Fighting Season.

“First was making content and then working out how to monetise the content, and then seeing an opportunity in the streaming space, which is really the next frontier of distribution. Thankfully we’ve had really great support from some of the biggest lifestyle distributors around the world.”

“The future will see the rise of niche”

It’s a been a steep learning curve, he concedes, especially in the area of tech and building an audience. But the beauty of Streaming is the capacity for niche genres to find a like-minded audience as a business model.

“The future will see the rise of niche. In social media we can subscribe to something specifically that we decide we like. So it makes sense that the content, if it’s specific to your tastes, is where you’re going to be watching. The rise of bespoke, curtailed or a la carte… all those words are specific to the reality of what we can do as an audience. Once upon a time we used to have to wait till 8pm to watch a certain type of broad show. Now, we can watch any type of show, anytime we want,” he maintains.

Shelter, which even plants a native tree for every subscriber through Eden Reforestation Projects, will launch apps in October through Apple TV, Android TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV internationally. It is also in early discussions with Telstra TV.

Clare, seen most recently in Eden, Doctor Doctor and soon in Surviving Summer, says there is an audience for high-end architecture titles.

“Some of our most-watched content has been around remote style cabins”

“We’re spending so much time in our homes I think we’re getting a better appreciation of them and an understanding of how we want to live in them. The flip side of some of our most-watched content has been around remote style cabins. People are really drawn to getting back to nature and the escape element.

“We’ve also seen that for us 15 minutes is a really fantastic runtime. It’s something that people are really committing to, as opposed to an hour and a half feature film or a one hour television episode.”

“We’re really looking at people who are up and coming and giving them opportunities”

No signs of slowing down, Clare plans more original commissions for Shelter.

“We’re really looking at people who are up and coming and giving them opportunities. People who might not have had that opportunity in the commercial broadcast space but definitely deserve it. They’ve had great work done in the short film area and TV commercial. This is giving them a real shot at something creative and longer format.”

Shelter offers a 14 day free trial and subscriptions are $7.99 monthly / $79.99 yearly.

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