The emerging Australian producer and director behind Berlinale-bound Jade of Death explain why dramatic web series are the new black. By Caris Bizzaca.
Jessica Jones. Orphan Black. True Blood. As emerging Australian director Erin Good thought about her favourite television series’, she was confused why there was nothing quite like it online.
“There are lots of great comedy web series,” she says, but when she searched for high-end genre, the options were low.
“Genre series are my favourite type of TV shows, and creating content for online can be like creating a mini-TV show, so I thought why isn’t there great stuff like that online?” she says.
So she wrote her own, Jade of Death, and went about developing the concept with frequent collaborator and producer Taylor Litton-Strain.
The supernatural web series is about Jade, a girl in her mid-twenties who runs away from her country hometown. She finds work at a seedy carnival, where she is the “Fortune-Teller of Death”, using her ability to hear when and how people are going to die. But she doesn’t realise she’s in danger.
Good’s vision caught the attention of Berlin International Film Festival, with the director selected for Berlinale Talent Campus and Jade of Death only one of 10 projects selected for the Project Lab’s Short Film Station.
Good is one of 300 people from around the world selected for the Berlin Talent Campus. Additionally, Litton-Strain says only those selected for the Talent Campus, or who have been selected in years previous, are able to submit for the Project Lab.
“So it’s quite prestigious, the Project Lab, because not just anyone can apply,” Litton-Strain says.
“It’s going to be quite an important market for both the project and for Erin herself as an emerging director.”
Although there isn’t a series that Litton-Strain says is comparable to Jade of Death, successful Australian web series such as Starting From… Now showed them there’s a strong appetite online for the themes they were looking to explore.
“Our series is also an LGBT web series and at its heart is an addictive relationship drama. Although it’s a completely different genre and story world to Starting From… Now, it proves there is definitely an audience who are seeking new interesting content in that space.”
Then there’s the high-end genre side of it, which made Good want to write Jade of Death in the first place. Compared to writing short films, Good says writing a web series has been incredibly freeing.
For Litton-Strain, creating web series was always the plan after she finished studying at AFTRS.
“As an emerging producer my ambition is to be creating and producing television. For me web series lend themselves so much more naturally to television,” she says, whereas short films, she felt always felt seemed to act as more of a launchpad into feature films.
“There’s been this huge resurgence in television and creating a web series allows us, as young emerging filmmakers to be working on something similar, but in a more feasible way.”