Australian start up Cockatoo Co.lab is re-imagining the traditional media landscape

Australian start up Cockatoo Co.lab is re-imagining the traditional media landscape

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Bec Bignell

Australian start up Cockatoo Co.lab has flipped the linear style of film distribution on it’s head by re-imagining the traditional media landscape through an audience centred approach where the story is created in partnership with the audience through a thriving digital community developed one year in advance to pre-production.

The digital community facilitating the virtual component of the project – Rural Room – captured 58,000 organic followers in just ten months which substantiated an audience and proved to be a wide reaching platform from which Cockatoo Co.lab were able to premiere their project.

Co-founders Bec Bignell (formerly ABC) and Marius Foley (RMIT) founded Cockatoo Co.lab in December 2016 with a vision to give a voice to underrepresented communities, starting with regional Australia. Bec’s country upbringing and her extensive experience in the media, coupled with Marius’s influence in the design thinking, human centred practise ensure they’re a formidable team.

Marius Foley
Marius Foley

What has Cockatoo Co.lab been up to?

The Rural Room platform will collaboratively pioneer a new way of Australian story telling where the audience – farmers, regional families, workers and country dwellers – are active stakeholders who will inform the storyline of Cockatoo Co.lab’s first multi-media film project Rain Dance.

“Traditionally in Australia, films are made and then the marketing and promotion is launched when often budget is relatively exhausted. With Rain Dance, we strategically connected with our audience at the outset through the Rural Room one year before the film pre-production even commenced,” says Cockatoo Co.lab Co-Founder Bec Bignell.

The first reel of Rain Dance launched to the Rural Room Facebook page last week quickly attracted over 40,000 views on Facebook and Youtube. The views quickly accelerated due to the nature of the digital community where the members eagerly shared the video. The high engagement results of the Facebook group Rural Room have proven this is an audience starved of content who will harness the social platform to combat the remoteness of their location.

Bec says, “We are overcome by the response to Rain Dance we’ve been inundated with emails of support from all over the world and we have been blown away by how many people have contacted us about it.”

“The digital room will continually inform and influence the story line of Rain Dance as the script is developed, so the audience feels completely involved in the project. We frequently ask for feedback, call out for ideas and empower them to be virtual stakeholders in the film. Essentially, we are flipping the trajectory on it’s head – we are making this with the audience, not for the audience,” says Bec Bignell.

What is Rain Dance all about?

Rain Dance is about a resilient shearing team and a despairing remote community that need to find a way to overcome an environmental setback. Set in the Great Southern region of Western Australia the project is a hybrid web series – the storyline is fictional but real people will play many of the character roles bringing their unique selves to the film. No Hollywood airbrushing – just an authentic Australian story, with raw landscape and characters, a project that is long overdue in Australian film.

As part of the project and to source the real talent, Cockatoo Co.lab is delighted to launch the Agri-Arts Activator – Australia’s first mobile pop up incubation hub. A range of workshops and interactive activities will be coordinated through the Agri-Arts Activator implanted into communities to firstly enable regional people to tap into their creative selves, secondly, train people for roles in Rain Dance and finally incubate think tanks and activate innovative ideas for community implementation beyond the term of filming.

Cockatoo Co.Lab is focused on building an environment designed to transcend digital and physical worlds to remove the barriers of geographical distance. Cockatoo Co.lab will be transforming the traditional process of creating film with their premier project Rain Dance delivered digitally through the Rural Room and physically toured through Australia’s first Agri-Arts Activator in 2018.

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