John and Dan

Offspring producer John Edwards’ new company with Roadshow has big ‘eclectic’ plans


John Edwards has several projects under way with his new production company joint venture with Roadshow Films.

But until the projects are ready to go, he says it’s bad luck to discuss them.

Since his breakthrough series, Police Rescue in 1991, he’s been responsible for The Secret Life of Us, Love My Way, Puberty Blues, Rush and Offspring plus miniseries including On the Beach, Beaconsfield, Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War and Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.

The new venture, announced June 16, will see Edwards work alongside son and former Endemol executive Dan and comes following various high-profile exits last year from the newly combined Endemol-Shine media company.

What Edwards senior will give away, however, is that Roadshow Rough Diamond’s output will be “deliberately eclectic”.

On the cards already, he says, are a family feature film, a long-form drama series, a shorter six-hour series, a telemovie and a feature documentary – with firm announcements on projects to start filtering out by Christmas.

Coming under the fold of Roadshow Films, alongside co-chief-executives Chris Chard and Joel Pearlman, was an “organic fit”, Edwards says.

“Frankly ours is always a business of relationships,” he says. “It’s the relationships and being able to take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of us. It’s all about finding people you speak the same language with and you have the same ambitions as. That’s the critical point.”

At the Screen Producers Australia conference last November, Edwards spoke strongly about the state of the industry and how drama production had run itself into a “a stagnant billabong”.

“I don’t step back from anything I’ve said,” he says. “Because it still is the case that there just isn’t the number of new people coming through, there aren’t the new voices and the truth is that television production has become more expensive for smaller audiences and more reliant on subsidies. These things remain true.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom for the TV production industry. “I wasn’t being negative at all and I wasn’t being backward looking,” he says of his speech. “I was trying to look forward and try and warn against dangers that are obvious and inherent.”

He advocates that any period of transition is a time for opportunity, and that networks should be required to create a certain volume than meet spending costs, otherwise it results in “non-productive inflation”.

Roadshow Rough Diamond, he hopes, will have a positive impact on local production. “We’re just going to get out there and make a lot of good stuff and that just actually opens new doors for others.”

It’s Roadshow Film’s first foray into TV-land since the 1990s when it produced shows such as Brides of Christ and A Long Way From Home. Since then it has produced some of Australia’s biggest films in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Red Dog (2011), Happy Feet (2006) and The Castle (1997).

In bringing more Australian stories to the screen, Edwards says at the centre of what they hope to achieve is pretty simple.

“Whatever we’re going to be doing is trying to do things that are good and open and truthful, and hopefully with plenty of fun in them.

“I think that applies to even the serious work that we do. We’ll always have plenty of fun, I hope, and plenty of joy and plenty of heart.

“It’s a pretty good life we’ve got, sitting around making up stories and figuring out how to tell them as well as you can. You’ve just got to hope that some of that enthusiasm and love of doing it translates.”