Netflix Australia has announced the production of its first original series, Tidelands, answering industry calls for locally made content to be commissioned by the platform.
The 10-episode series – a supernatural crime drama that will premiere worldwide – will be executive produced by the team behind Network Ten’s Secrets and Lies, and written by series creator Stephen M Irwin. In 2015, Secrets and Lies was remade for the US market, starring Juliette Lewis and Ryan Philippe.
According to the plot synopsis, Tidelands follows a former criminal as she returns home to a small fishing village called Orphelin bay. “When the body of a local fisherman washes ashore, she must uncover the town’s secrets while investigating its strange inhabitants, a group of dangerous half-sirens, half-humans called ‘Tidelanders’.”
The series will begin shooting in Queensland in 2018. Tidelands’ co-creator and co-executive producer Tracey Robertson said: “The primeval landscapes of Queensland are a perfect setting to tell the story of betrayal, small-town secrets, ancient mythology and, when it comes to family, explore whether blood really is thicker than water.”
Netflix Australia’s competitor Stan has produced successful Australian original series including Wolf Creek and No Activity, and has a feature film in the works. Netflix’s US series – including House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Sense8 – have enjoyed huge global success but this is the service’s first Australian original since launching in the local market in March 2015.
Industry body Screen Producers Australia previously called on the Australian government to place local content quotas – which apply to local broadcasters such as the ABC – on Australian streaming services including Netflix.
“These are big, disruptive, successful businesses that have had time to expand in the Australian market without making any significant investment in local production,” said Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner in May 2016. “It’s time they step up to the plate and contribute to new Australian film and television production.”
On Monday, in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the Australian film and TV industry, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance also called for existing Australian TV content rules to be extended to new players including Netflix, Amazon and Stan.
In June, Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, intimated the service was looking to invest in local content. “Australia has such a rich production infrastructure and great talent, both in front of and behind the camera. There’s no reason we should not [commission] original shows for Australia,” he told Fairfax.