WTFN marks 20th anniversary with busiest slate ever

Three new network commissions, an international recruitment drive, new media interns -unscripted production business is booming.


Leading independent production business, WTFN Group, turns 20 this week, celebrating with its busiest production year to date and three new network commissions.

Founded in 2003 by CEO Daryl Talbot and Chief Creative Officer Steve Oemcke, WTFN has grown to become one of Australia’s most respected, award-winning independents, with many of its hit domestic shows such as Bondi Vet and Emergency now viewed all over the world.

Starting life solely as a production company (WTFN Entertainment), WTFN has expanded over time, now encompassing distribution (Fred Media), branded content (WTFN BE), talent management (Empire Talent) and a recently launched digital content and channel management business (Radar MCN).

Since 2003, WTFN has produced 1,461 hours of original programming, averaging 73 hours per annum. The company is about to add three more shows to its long list of credits: a crime series and a factual series for the Seven Network; and a new vet series which will be a co-production with an international broadcaster.

Counting series greenlit for 2023, which include returning seasons of some of its most popular titles, such as Paramedics, Emergency, Bondi Vet, and Space Invaders, as well as a recommission for one of its newest series, First On Scene, WTFN will be producing more than 80 episodes this year.

In the past two decades, WTFN has developed and produced 76 original programs for networks in Australia and abroad. Of those 76 shows, 18 have run for three series or more.

Daryl Talbot, Steve Oemcke.

“That’s a fact WTFN is very proud of,” says WTFN Chief Executive Officer Daryl Talbot. “Returnable series are the lifeblood of independent production companies. Getting a show commissioned is always a challenge, but the bigger challenge is producing a quality program that connects with viewers, performs for the network, and returns year after year. Bondi Vet is in its twelfth series, and we have two other shows that have run for 8 and 11 series respectively. Returning series are a major KPI for this business.”

WTFN recently extended an offer for British talent affected by the UK’s downturn in unscripted production to get in touch, agreeing to subsidise travel and accommodation costs and help with obtaining the necessary work permits. WTFN has identified around 20 live roles so far, and is looking for experienced editors, producers, showrunners, post producers, field producers and production managers.

Wes Crook, WTFN’s Chief Operating Officer is travelling to the UK next week to meet with potential candidates, and a follow-up trip is being planned for July. Anyone interested in applying should send a CV and covering email to: [email protected]

The company will also be taking on 20 interns across 2023.

WTFN has a long-standing relationship with Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology, and typically employs 10 interns every year, many of whom move into full-time roles with the company. To celebrate the 20th anniversary and to help manage the production uplift, 20 interns will now be chosen to join the business this year.

Daryl Talbot added, “Steve and I could not be more thrilled to arrive at this important, 20-year milestone at such a brilliant time for the business. To know that this is probably our best-ever year for production and to be actively recruiting, as well as introducing more young people into the industry than ever before, makes us both very proud. WTFN has a talented, hard-working team, many of whom have been with us for many years, and a growing network of domestic and international broadcast clients that we are grateful to call our partners – and I would like to thank them all for their continued support.

“At a time when there is so much change in the media landscape, we are pleased to be a strong independent company that during the past 20 years has been nimble and clever enough to adapt and thrive.

“With an exceptional pipeline of ideas that is constantly being expanded, and an excellent grasp of what today’s audiences want, we look forward to many more years of creating content for audiences around the globe.”

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