There Are No Small Screens; Only Big Directors

Hollywood has invaded the small screen and nobody seems to mind. Nay, they rejoice. Take a look at the big names infiltrating the streaming world in 2016…

David Fincher set to collaborate with Charlize Theron in new Netflix series. Credit:
David Fincher set to collaborate with Charlize Theron in new Netflix series. Credit:

In a world still recovering from the 2007 writers strike and the explosion of reality TV that followed, it’s almost impossible to believe that the number of scripted series’ has increased 94% between 2009 and 2015. It doesn’t take Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey to figure out this is largely due to the expansion of online streaming services and the inevitable extinction of appointment television. The audience’s ability to customise their viewing habits has in many ways put pressure on show runners and writers to create original and endearing content. The shift in viewing practices has done away with the ‘filler’ sitcom. A series can no longer ride the coat tails of successful time slots before or after them. It, like the loveable protagonist of many a 90’s romantic comedy must learn how to stand on it’s own two feet.

With this new expectation for greatness it is no wonder that some of the biggest names in film industry have begun dabbling in the ‘idiot box’. One of the most notable transitions was David Fincher, known predominately for Gone Girl 2014 and The Social Network 2010, Fincher was brought on as both director and producer of Netflix favourite House of Cards. Though spectacular in it’s own right House of Cards was Fincher’s leg into the television world, having had 2 failed HBO pilots previously (Utopia and Videosyncrazy) Fincher has teamed up with leading lady Charlize Theron to create a new series, MindHunter, so far 6 years in the making. Based on the non fiction book ‘Mind hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit’, the series is set to provide audiences with the thrilling content they have come to expect  and love from director.

Following suit, Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby 2013, Moulin Rouge! 2001), Judd Apatow (Bridesmaids 2011, Knocked Up 2007) and Peter Morgan (The Queen 2006, Frost/Nixon 2008) with Stephen Daldry (The Reader 2008, Billy Elliot 2000) have all released trailers for new Netflix Original Series’ due to be released this year.

While it seems big names are jumping on the band wagon, eager to involve themselves in the new and improved ‘Golden Age’ of television, in actual fact the shift in viewing practices has simply made it possible for their content to be screened. Luhrmann had stated his series The Get Down has been in the works 10 years, Netflix being a ‘natural home’ for the concept.


Apatow, like Fincher has had a long history with television networks. A string of failed pilots followed the short lived 90’s cult favourite Freaks and Geeks. Those turned down were set to star now A list celebrities (Jason Segel, Amy Poehler, Kevin Hart). Hindsight, eh? The same limited Fincher, his series Utopia based on the British one of the same title had Rooney Mara as the main character and scripts written in collaboration with Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl writer and thriller extraordinaire.

Continuing Netflix’s string of countdown worthy shows The Crown created by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Daldry sets the bar even higher, allowed a budget of $156 million, the show follows the volatile relationship between Monarch and State under the early reign of Elizabeth II. It is the company’s most expensive series to date and judging by the trailer will be appropriately epic.

Straying from Netflix but continuing down the streaming brick road. It has been revealed Miley Cyrus will star alongside Woody Allen in his upcoming top-secret-unnamed Amazon series, shooting in New York later next month.

The creative freedom granted by online streaming services is the main selling point for directors and writers of prestige.

“With broadcast, when you’re going into people’s homes, you have to be a little more polite. On Netflix, you can get into more dangerous topics” – Tina Fey 2015

These sites collectively live without the fear of ratings drops, allowing them the ability to experiment with concepts previously ‘tabooed’ by networks. Ultimately benefiting the audience and their new ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ style of consumption.