Tim_Brooke_HuntThe recent Head of Children’s Television for ABC TV, Tim Brooke-Hunt is now living in the Northern Rivers.  With a lifetime of experience in the children’s television industry we feel very fortunate that he has chosen to join our community.  Tim is still involved in the industry as a founding director of the Asian Animation Summit and as a mentor to selected producers and is running his own consultancy.

Tim is now a Screenworks member and has generously offered  support to our local screen industry.  We talked to Tim about his work and what brought him to the Northern Rivers.

Tim has offered to be a consultant for a Children’s Program Development Clinic.  If you are developing content for children’s television and interested in getting advice from Tim, please email [email protected].  If we have enough interest, we will set up a Children’s Program Development Clinic with Tim.

Can you tell us how you got involved in Children’s television?

In 1983 I moved to Sydney hoping to find work in the film industry and, quite by chance, landed a job running an animation studio. I knew nothing about animation back then, but it was the start of a 30 year involvement that, along the way, introduced me to children’s broadcasters and distributors. And once I became familiar with the Children’s TV community around the globe, I was determined to remain part of it.

Can you tell us about your most recent role as Head of Children’s Television for the ABC 

ABC kidsI was very fortunate to be appointed Head of Children’s for ABC TV shortly before the Rudd government funded a new children’s channel. We introduced ABC3 for school-age kids in 2009 and re-launched ABC4Kids for pre-schoolers soon after. It was an exciting and rewarding time, and I was blessed with a great team and strong support from my boss Kim Dalton (then Director of ABC TV) and within the ABC generally.

I am particularly proud that ABC3 led the way in commissioning drama for older kids and encouraged producers from the adult space to create shows for teens, resulting in award-winning series such as Tony Ayres’ Nowhere Boys, Penny Chapman’s My Place and Joanna Werner’s Dance Academy.

Throughout your career, what are the projects you have most enjoyed working on, and why?

I have a love-hate relationship with every show I’ve been involved in as a Producer or Executive Producer – they were all painfully challenging to finance and hard to deliver on time and on budget, but – like childbirth, I’m told – the pain gets forgotten once the audience gives the thumbs-up.

Creating ABC3 was an amazing project. Novice broadcasters (as I then was) are rarely given an opportunity to conceive and launch a new channel, so ABC3 was demanding but hugely satisfying for me, as well as being a great introduction to broadcasting. I still get a buzz watching the channel.

Another favourite project is the Asian Animation Summit, an annual event designed to foster animation co-production and co-financing opportunities within our region. I am a founding director of the AAS, which now has the support of screen agencies from Korea, Thailand, Australia and Malaysia. I particularly enjoy mentoring the producers selected to present projects at the event.

Would you like to tell us how you came to choose the Northern Rivers as home?

I’ve been a regular visitor to the Byron Shire over many years and quite a few friends have migrated this way over time. I’ve always loved the beaches and the countryside (particularly around The Pocket, where I now live) and it’s a great place for dogs, which is important to my canine companions. So when I left the ABC and decided to focus on consulting, there was little question of where I would be looking to live. No regrets so far!

Have you faced any specific challenges setting up and working regionally?

Not really; in fact moving here brought me closer to my consulting client Carbon Media in Brisbane. Much of my consulting work involves international partners and can be done anywhere with a decent internet and phone connection, so I’m excited about the imminent arrival of the NBN in our neck of the woods.

What is important to you in running a successful and creative regional business?

It is important to be prepared to travel. Producing content – whether for TV, the Internet or the big screen – is a collaborative process that requires creating partnerships and raising finance from a range of sources both locally and overseas. So it helps to remain connected in the broadest sense. I find that having a presence internationally matters as much as staying in touch with our domestic industry.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us about you and your work or any advice for our local children’s content creators? 

Our industry is grappling with enormous change caused by the fragmentation of audiences across new and old media, which has undermined the revenue and financing models that served us well in the past. This makes it harder to finance projects and requires us to produce shows cheaper and smarter.

The Northern Rivers has already spawned a uniquely relevant children’s show in Cate McQuillen’s dirtgirl world. Cate’s success demonstrates that a great “local” concept can find an international audience and make an impact around the world.

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