From cars and mining to finance, local startups seem to have a handle on a range of industries and sectors, but an Australian screen producer believes we need an accelerator program dedicated to media and entertainment startups if Australia is to stay on pace with global entertainment trends.
Chantal Abouchar, a Walkley Award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer, examined global accelerator programs dedicated to startups in the entertainment industry to look at how startups are changing the entertainment landscape.
Her research, undertaken for a thesis in the AFTRS Masters of Screen Arts and Business (MSAB) program, looked closely at the work of Time Warner’s accelerator program Media Camp.
The program has worked with 27 startups over the last three years to help ‘future proof’ its business, with the startups ranging from a YouTube analytics platform to a startup hoping to change the way people consume news broadcasts.
“Hollywood has always been very good at finding and exploiting talent, and accelerators are their newest mechanism. Time Warner is an organisation that bets on creative talent. It thinks about startups in the same way it thinks about producers, directors, writers, actors, technicians and other professionals in the industry,” Abouchar said.
Abouchar believes Australian industry needs to work harder to be a leader in the space.
“Technology is underpinning the industry and we are entwined in a global industry, so what affects industry leaders also impacts and affects the domestic industry. Technology has levelled the future landscape. As the media and entertainment industry continues to evolve via technology, we need to be part of creating that,” she said.
Abouchar set out four models for a potential accelerator: a VC-funded program, a corporate model such as Time Warner’s Media Camp, a program run by a network of other founders and entrepreneurs, or an accelerator partnered with universities.
Abouchar’s thesis, titled ‘Inventing the Future’ won the Wake in Fright prize for Outstanding MSAB thesis.
Dr Michael Neary, President of the Wake in Fright Trust, echoed Abouchar’s findings, saying that the Australian media industry must embrace the convergence of digital and media.
“This is a time for Australia and its screen industry to reinvent itself, like it did in the 1960s and 70s,” Neary said.
Currently working in digital media, Abouchar is looking to establish an accelerator program for media and entertainment startups.