Winners of Skip Ahead Initiative

Skip Ahead recipients: (top L-R) Skit Box, Timtimfed, (bottom L-R) Wengie, Van Vuuren Bros, Study with Jess

Screen Australia and Google have announced the recipients of this year’s Skip Ahead initiative.

Five creative teams – Skit Box, Study with Jess, Timtimfed, Van Vuuren Bros and Wengie – will share a total production funding pool of $500,000.

Skip Ahead supports Australian online content creators, who have YouTube channels with a substantial existing subscriber base and/or content which has reached significant viewership, to expand their vision and create more ambitious content to grow their audience.

The videos made from the Skip Ahead program have reached a combined global audience of more than 27 million views on YouTube. This includes 2016 Skip Ahead-funded title Superwog Series Pilot which was Australia’s Top Trending Video on YouTube in 2017.

The successful applicants will participate in a workshop in early 2018 to develop their projects, which range from series pilots, to short-form episodic series, to a standalone short film.

“The fact that Superwog’s Skip Ahead-funded pilot was Australia’s top trending video on YouTube this year is testament to what these incredibly talented, self-made online content creators can achieve with access to more funds,” said Sally Caplan, Head of Production at Screen Australia.

“Now in its fourth year, the bar has been set extremely high for Skip Ahead and I have no doubt that this year’s recipients will knock it out of the park.”

Daniel Stephenson, Content Partnerships Manager, YouTube Australia and New Zealand said: “We’re consistently inspired by the creativity and high quality production that comes out of Skip Ahead. We look forward to supporting this cohort of creators to experiment with longer form, narrative-based formats and reach new global audiences online.”

On her YouTube Channel Study with Jess, Jessica Holsman’s top study tips and tricks have helped millions of students around the globe. Jessica will deliver a narrative motivational series, Life of Jess, which sees her revisit her own childhood experiences to answer questions from her fans.

Christiaan and Connor van Vuuren, aka the Van Vuuren Bros, are well-known for their viral hits Bondi Hipsters and Fully Sick Rapper, as well as ABC comedy series Soul Mates. They will present the apocalyptic comedy series Over and Out, which follows two young parents struggling with the trials and tribulations of raising babies, whilst at the same time trying to survive the end of the world.

Michael Shanks is the creator of comedy series The Wizards of Aus, which is among the high concept content on his YouTube channel Timtimfed. Shanks will write and direct a 20-minute short film Rebooted about claymated skeleton monster Phil, an out-of-date visual-effect who just can’t seem to book any gigs in 2017.

Sarah Bishop, Adele Vuko and Greta Lee Jackson are the creative team behind Skit Box, who are known for viral sensations like Activewear and I Got That Flow, as well as comedy series Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am. They will deliver a 22-minute series pilot, Skit Box, a fun hyperbolized insight into the world of Skit Box, following three friends who can’t get their shit together and join forces to start an all-female sketch comedy group.
Wengie is one of Australia’s most popular YouTube creators with over 9.7 million subscribers worldwide. Her lifestyle videos, including the Life Hacks series, have amassed staggering combined views of over 783 million. In a change of pace for Wengie, she will create and star in a comedy series pilot for teens set in a high school for people with super powers.
Completed projects will be released on YouTube later in 2018.

You Tube channel: Study with Jess (366,036 subscribers / 16,760,177 views*)
Format 6 x 5 mins
Genre Drama, Family, Comedy
Creators Jessica Holsman (p/w), Laura Clelland (p/d/w), Sandra Makaresz (p/w), Elle Croxford (p/w)
Synopsis YouTube creator Jess (Study with Jess) answers questions from her Jessicats – revisiting her high school experience, Jess finds their problems aren’t so different from her own teenage years.

YouTube Channel Van Vuuren Bros (71,915 subscribers / 22,608,046 views*)
Format 6 x 5mins
Genre Comedy, Sitcom, Apocalyptic
Creators Connor Van Vuuren (d), Christiaan van Vuuren (w), Adele Vuko (w)
Synopsis Two new parents struggle to survive the age old trials and tribulations of raising babies… Oh yeah… Whilst being smack bang in the middle of the Post-Apocalypse.

You Tube channel: Timtimfed (146,080 subscribers/ 41,916,640 views*)
Format 20min
Genre Comedy, Drama
Creators Chris Hocking (p), Michael Shanks (w/d)
Synopsis In an industry obsessed with the superficial, it’s not easy being an ageing movie star. It’s especially challenging, however, when you’re also a claymated skeleton monster. A stop motion horror from the days of Ray Harryhausen, out-of-date visual-effect Phil just can’t seem to book any gigs in 2017. The short film will be produced by LateNite Films.

YouTube channel: Skit Box (1,801,653 views*)
Format 22mins
Genre Comedy
Creators Sarah Bishop (p/d/w), Adele Vuko (p/d/w), Greta Lee Jackson (p/d/w)
Synopsis A comedy narrative series pilot navigating the world of ‘Skit Box’; an all-female sketch group that formed when three girls who couldn’t get their shit together independently, joined forces to make it together as a group.

WENGIE PILOT (Working Title)
YouTube channel: Wengie (9,746,768 subscribers / 743,032,421 views*)
Format 15mins
Genre Comedy, Drama
Creators Wengie with Paul Walton (p), Mike Cowap (p), and Matthew McKenna (w)
Synopsis A comedy drama series for teenagers set in a high school for people with super powers. The pilot will be produced by Princess Pictures.

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