An open door policy to ideas yielded Goalpost Pictures one of Australian TV’s most unique concepts
The concept for the new Goalpost Pictures series Cleverman came from one of Goalpost’s interns. It’s an idea that has been developed into a multimillion-dollar co-production with the US AMC Networks. It’s rare that an intern has the opportunity to pitch an idea, but Goalpost Pictures listened thanks to the production company’s open and creative culture.
“I would hope we don’t miss out on the opportunity for a great idea and I think they can come from anywhere,” explained Goalpost Pictures partner Rosemary Blight.
Goalpost Pictures is a relatively small company, with 10 full-time and part-time staff. They strive to be a robust organisation as the stature of the company rises in the industry. While development happens within the company, other skilled staff are outsourced. “Cleverman was a co-production, so we did it all at Parkwood Post. We don’t have an Avid,” Blight said.
In working with a small team, Blight commends the company for the way it facilitates the professional development of its staff, providing them with the tools and opportunities needed to evolve their careers: “If you come here and you want to be a producer, then we can walk through that together. Because it’s a small company, everyone who works here has responsibilities, so everyone participates in the productions. Everyone reads.”
Blight explained that she appreciates the viewpoints and experience of younger team members who bring their own views as they discuss the content that is meaningful to their own consumption: “We try to get together and talk about what we watch. I try to encourage everyone to see movies still. That old fashioned thing where you go to a cinema.”
It is within this environment that Cleverman creator Ryan Griffen was able to pitch his idea to the company. The initial idea came at a time when genre fiction had crossed into the mainstream, with the team at Goalpost noting the proliferation of series like Merlin and The Walking Dead onto TV screens.
“Ryan is particularly smart and comes from a place where the stories are fresh, new, and different. When he pitched Cleverman to us, no one else in the world had this story. Everyone was watching all this genre… they’re watching everyone else’s creature mythology and here we have our very own sitting in front of us. This young man said to us that he wanted his son to have his own superheroes. And that’s how Cleverman started.”
Goalpost Pictures grew out of RB Films, changing its name when forming a relationship with UK film sales company Goalpost Film UK. The market intelligence that Goalpost Film UK was able to offer was beneficial to the then-RB Films, while also establishing a presence for the company in the opposite hemisphere.
“We’re Australians and we have a tyranny of distance. We can’t just hop on a plane and go to Paris and talk to a French distributor. It was very beneficial on The Sapphires.
“We were deeply engaged from early on with the international market on that film which then saw the result of it having a good domestic. It had eOne on it in many international territories and also the Weinstein Company on the other half of the world.
“The key for us with Goalpost Film is that we have film market intelligence. What has changed, but what we’ve developed since then is what we’re doing in the television space,” Blight said.
Just announced, Goalpost is set to adapt its 2012 hit feature film The Sapphires into a 26-episode animated television series in conjunction with animation experts Sticky Pictures. “The Sapphires is very dear to our hearts,” Blight revealed.
“The animated version allows us to open up the stories a bit more. It also allows us to give it longevity in terms of people aging up. It allows us to keep those girls like that forever. We can explore the themes of what the original movie did and take it further, but also open up the musical palette. We think, without sounding too worthy, there are plenty of messages that this series can take to a younger Australian audience,” she said.
With the film performing so well in theatres, along with strong DVD and soundtrack sales, The Sapphires proved an intergenerational hit. “It attracted mothers and daughters. In a way, this feeds into a younger audience,” Blight said.
2007’s Lockie Leonard, based on the Tim Winton book series, ran 52 episodes over two seasons. Blight remarked, “Obviously Lockie Leonard was internationally focused. It has pre-sales for the BBC. It had pre-sales to French television.
“As an industry we need to be careful about cynically going into something by making it for the international market. I think they have to be truthful and they have to have integrity and something like Cleverman is so true to its origins that it becomes universal.”