Culture

12 Things We Learned At Video Junkee 2017

There were plenty of learnings from our first-ever festival for lovers and creators of video.

Video Junkee, our first-ever festival for lovers and creators of video, is over.

In two days packed with panels, workshops and talks, we heard from international talent including Yael Stone and Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, local creators like SketchShe and Ryan Griffen, and industry heavyweights Foxtel, Netflix, YouTube and many more.

It was all a bit of a whirlwind but we can safely say we walked away with some pearls of wisdom on the Golden Age of video. Here are a few of the things we learned.

#1 Round The Twist Is As Batshit Crazy As You Remember, And Watching It With The Actors Who Played Bronson Is Even Crazier

Sometimes we have a genius idea. This was one of those times.

As part of Video Junkee, we held an intimate screening of ‘90s kids show Round The Twist at Sydney’s Golden Age Cinema. And we got Jeffrey Walker and Matthew Waters – the actors who portrayed Bronson on the show – to come down and provide commentary (which, inevitably, involved a lot of talk of piss). It was as surreal as you can imagine.

#2 Cleverman Is One Of The Best Shows On TV… And White People Need To Watch It

If listening to Ryan Griffen, the genius creator of ABC TV’s groundbreaking sci-fi series Cleverman, doesn’t convince you of the power of 85,000 years of Indigenous storytelling, nothing will.

Onstage with the show’s lead Hunter Page-Lochard, production designer Jake Nash and producer Rosemary Blight, Griffen said, “Because of its black storytelling, a lot of Australians take a back step [from Cleverman] automatically.” But this series, created by Indigenous Australians and starring many Indigenous actors, is essential viewing for all Australians who need to understand the history of race relations in our nation and the black experience (while enjoying some superhero action at the same time).

#3 Women Aren’t Are Funny

Ok, ok: so we chose a somewhat controversial name for this panel, which featured a who’s who of Australian comedy: YouTube star Tanya Hennessy, Sarah Bishop, Adele Vuko and Greta Jackson of Skitbox, Lana Kington and Madison Lloyd of SketchShe and Jan Fran of SBS’s The Feed.

As expected, when interviewed by Claudia Pickering, the panel of hilarious women proved that women are funny, thankyouverymuch – and that they’re producing some of Australia’s best viral video sketches despite the challenges of making it in the boys’ club of comedy.

#4 All The Shit That Goes Down On The Real Housewives Is Actually Real

What’s a festival without a little drama? Fortunately, we didn’t have to find out, as The Real Housewives cast members Janet Roach and Melissa Tkautz upped the glam factor at Carriageworks, dishing the dirt on the Australian series alongside executive producer Kylie Washington and the show’s publicist Jamie Campbell.

Amongst jaw-dropping revelations and plenty of shade, we learned that the show isn’t scripted at all, and Janet really doesn’t have a filter. “We are still amazed at what comes out of their mouths,” said Washington. So are we, Kylie. So are we.

#5 In A World Where An Absurd Show About A Depressed Horse Can Find An Audience, Everyone Should Keep Trying

We asked Bojack Horseman creator and showrunner Raphael Bob-Waksberg to close out Video Junkee for 2017, and he didn’t disappoint.

In conversation with Marc Fennell, Bob-Waksberg delved into the realities of making a career in Hollywood (“You gotta be able to walk away from stuff, otherwise you’re gonna get screwed”), the exploration of mental illness on the show,  (“When Bojack Horseman goes to dark places, people connect to it”) and success (“One of the premises of the show is that success won’t make you happy, but now I have some success and.. yeah, it can be nice”).

Oh, and Bob-Waksberg really, really doesn’t like Jared Leto.

#6 Authenticity Is The Key To Making Viral Content That Matters

If you don’t know Ashly Perez by name, you probably know her by sight: the Buzzfeed producer is the brains (and face) of some of the platform’s most viral videos of all time.

So, what does a bona fide video star have to share about how to make viral content that matters? A whole lot, as a rapt audience at Video Junkee found out.

In a captivating talk, Ashly spilled the strategies behind Buzzfeed’s viral content, highlighting authenticity, diversity, and making an audience feel less alone as key considerations. We’ve got the full rundown of Ashly’s talk here: read it, weep, and get ready to create some killer content.  

#7 Cat Cafes Are By Far The Best Thing Humans Have Invented In The Last Decade

When it comes down to it, there’s little in life that restores a sense of equilibrium quite like hanging out with some regal, very fluffy cats.

Thanks to YouTube Red’s original film Kedi (a must-watch about stray felines in Istanbul), we all got to become friends with some beautiful examples of the species, eat some baklava, and down some strong Turkish coffee.

Then we headed back into Video Junkee to hear some of YouTube’s biggest creators, including Superwog, Jamie & Nikki and SketchShe spill the secrets to viral success (it all comes down to posting videos consistently and having a distinct point of view).

#8 Yael Stone Believes In The Power Of Storytelling To Create Real Change

In a memorable keynote speech at Video Junkee, Yael Stone asked: “Are stories as important as the story makers tell us? Or do they just want to make money and keep their jobs?”

It was a thought-provoking question that the Orange Is The New Black star answered eloquently in her 20-minute address, exploring the impact that storytelling can have on culture, society, and the law.

The Australian-born actress ultimately landed on an optimistic conclusion, saying “I believe that change is possible through storytelling”. There’s hope for all of us yet.

#9 Creating A Cult-Favourite TV Series Takes Vision, Hard Work, And A Bunch of Kickass Women

When it comes to success stories of Australian TV, little comes close to Wentworth, a Foxtel original series that now screens in over 140 countries and boasts a dedicated local fandom.

Wentworth cast members Kate Jenkinson, Tammy MacIntosh and Celia Ireland – all of whom play prison inmates in the series – joined Executive producer Jo Porter and Marc Fennell at a sold-out panel that took a deep dive into the makings of the show.

In a wide-ranging discussion, we learned about the importance of staying true to the world of a show, shutting down spoilers, and providing support to cast and crew working with often confronting subject matter.

#10 Yes, You Can Make An Entire Feature Film On Your Phone

It was a refrain that came up at almost every panel at Video Junkee: if you want to create videos, stop overthinking and start making.

In a ‘Filmbreakers’ master class, filmmaker Jason van Genderen taught Video Junkee attendees how to do just that, using only the iPhone in their pocket.

Having won Tropfest in 2008 with Mankind Is No Island, a film made entirely on his iPhone, van Genderen holds a simple philosophy: that great ideas transcend budget, experience and equipment, and that the simplest tools can tell the best stories.

#11 We Still Love Going To The Movies

In a ‘Challenging Audiences’ panel, SBS program managers Abigail Thomas, Bridget Ryan and John Beohm reminded us that removing barriers to content is key to attracting a millennial audience. 

But even in the age of streaming and seemingly endless video available online, Aussie audiences still have a soft spot in their hearts for going to the movies. Such was the case when we headed to Newtown’s Dendy Cinema during the festival to catch Australia Day, a homegrown film from director Kriv Stenders.

A multi-layered exploration of prejudice in Australia, the film delved into multiculturalism and prejudice through three dramatic story arcs. It served as a great vehicle for Aussie talent – and enjoying it in the cinema (popcorn and choc tops included) certainly didn’t hurt.

#12 You Guys Have A Bunch Of Genius Video Ideas Floating Around In Your Heads

Enough about us. We wanna talk about you: the TV addicts, the creators and the next generation of video talent who came to Video Junkee and blew us away.

Nowhere was the fact that we’re living in a Golden Age of video more apparent than in our ‘Pitch, Please’ session, in which a bunch of you got up to pitch your next-level film and TV ideas to industry experts from Foxtel, ABC, Screen Australia, Gleam Futures and SBS. Let’s just say we’re confident the future of Australian video is in capable hands – and we hope to see those ideas come to life on a screen near us soon.