SHOOTING STAR: Former Townsend resident Leigh McGrath, right, on the set of the soon to be released movie Australia Day.
SHOOTING STAR: Former Townsend resident Leigh McGrath, right, on the set of the soon to be released movie Australia Day. vince valitutti

NETFLIX FIRST: Townsend boy's leading role

A FORMER Maclean High School student who shot a Super 8 movie for an HSC exam, is now at the heart of the Netflix transformation of the entertainment industry.

Leigh McGrath graduated from high school in 1991 to embark on a television script writing career that has taken him around the world.

He is now a leading part of the Brisbane-based "multiplatform content creators" Hoodlum, which has just signed a deal with online entertainment giant Netflix to provide Australian content for its service for the first time.

Fresh from the Hoodlum has just entered pre-production for a 10-episode series, Tidelands, which the streaming giant should begin screening late in 2018.

Mr McGrath is slated as the executive producer for the series, but said this week in a such tight-knit group as the creative quartet of himself, Stephen M Irwin, Tracey Robertson and Nathan Mayfield, roles overlap.

"You have to do a bit of everything," he said. In creating Tidelands all four of us were involved in all aspects.

"You have to be sitting across all aspects of the production. It's the most rewarding way of handling it."

Mr McGrath said Netflix and other content streaming services were transforming the entertainment industry.

"On demand content is what a lot of people want," he said. "They don't want free-to-air channels telling them what, when and where they can watch thei shows they like.

"And they're not watching on TV any more. They're using their phones and tablets and watching when and where ever they like."

Mr McGrath said the deal with Netflix indicated a change in attitudes to programming, which has been dominated by the USA.

"People are enjoying shows from around the world," he said. "They watch a show from another country and enjoy it because it's about that country."

Although the delivery method was changing, he said content was still king.

"It's always been the stories. Good, strong compelling stories will always have an audience."

It's a lesson Mr McGrath said he learned a long time ago, when he was recruiting his neighbours in Townsend to act in the movies he loved to shoot on his Super 8 film camera.

"It doesn't matter if it's a Super 8 movie, an episode of The Bill or a thriller with supernatural elements, like Tidelands, good story telling transcends boundaries," he said.

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