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New way to develop TV pilots being tested in South Australia


Adelaide-based video production company 1UP Digital is bringing an entirely new concept to Australia’s film and television industry.

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The company’s project, The Black Box Experiment, began this week and gives seven Adelaide creatives a month each of live performances to develop a unique idea for a television show.

The participants will test their ideas in front of an audience and make weekly adjustments before their final performance is filmed as a TV pilot at the end of the month.

Jason Chong, director of 1UP, said he had developed the idea over years of being a comic and juggling film school, TV and radio employment before setting up his video production company.

“I thought, ‘how can I create something here in Adelaide that they don’t make anymore?’” Chong said.

The purpose of The Black Box Experiment project is to bring Adelaide back into the conversation of television production and give local creatives an opportunity to pitch their ideas to large production companies.

Chong said the concept was entirely new to Australian television production and believed it has the potential for a nationwide uptake.

“There’s nothing really stopping anyone else from doing it. If this works and if I can find some people nationally to do it, potentially it could roll out,” he said.

The expansion of TV channels and multi-channelling, as well as new technology that allows broadcasters to distribute content through online portals and streaming services, has given upstarts the opportunity to forge a career in TV production.

“It used to be that you had to know people to get permission to make anything. Now there are more channels than there’s ever been”.The cost of technology for TV and film production in the last 15 years has also dropped and large studios can now be bought or hired for a lot less.

“It used to be that a camera might cost $60,000 and then you’ve got to buy a lens and that’s another $40,000.

“I bought a camera the other day and it’s way better than those cameras in terms of resolution and all the tech specs, and it was $1500.

“You don’t need the kind of backing of the big studios to actually go out and make something”.

Chong said film production in Adelaide was increasing despite Sydney being the undisputed production hub in the country.

“When I was in film school, there was maybe a film in Adelaide, or half of a film made here and the rest made in Sydney.

“But I think the SAFC (South Australian Film Corporation) has done a lot of good work in trying to bring production back. They’ve got fantastic studios and a lot of office space to make it easy for production companies.

“Film isn’t too bad. I feel like there are quite a few films being shot in Adelaide this year.

“TV is different. A lot of stuff keeps getting pulled back. It’s really just the news that’s made in Adelaide”.

The pilots filmed at the end of each month will be pitched to broadcast, community and online channels.

“We’re trying to get mentors involved so that each week (creatives) will get a chance to spend a bit of time with a mentor, whether that will be interstate on the phone or somewhere here in person,” Chong said.

“The mentorship is just important to let bigger production companies know that this is happening”.

The project is being filmed each Wednesday at Adelaide’s Rhino Room comedy club, starting with radio host Kat Jensen and her pilot ‘Eggplant and Peach’—a live chat show that explores dating in the digital age.

Other pilots will include game shows, improvised comedies and live readings of unproduced sitcom scripts from comedians and actors.



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