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Nightcliff Seabreeze @ Home 2020 – A Virtual Festival Success

Words by Steve Kelk | Images by Jean-Eddy Moutou/Youtube/Supplied

Prayer Corby & Band

Pandemic or no pandemic – the 2020 Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival was happening. With the imposition of social-distancing rules, the festival committee just had to find a way to make it happen, and find it they did – so the Dreamedia Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival @ Home 2020 was born. A virtual festival, broadcast for the people of Darwin and beyond, played out over social media, YouTube, radio and television instead of along the Nightcliff Foreshore as it had done for years past.

Drag Territory

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. The good people at Seabreeze got together with their collaborators Dreamedia and Foldback Magazine to create safe operating spaces for a wonderful tropical-themed stage and some select outside locations, and then got together a heap of artists to perform for the cameras for broadcast on the days when the physical festival was due to occur. Foldback’s Chair Jean-Eddy Moutou played a major role as Film Director for the event. Many others contributed, including Charles Darwin University via Michael Vernau, providing their theatre for location shoots.

A great team effort saw the show go live over the weekend of May 8-10 2020 across the various platforms. One notable side effect of hosting this as a virtual festival was that audience reach extended beyond the Berrimah Line to the wider Northern Territory, the southern States and even overseas – what a great advertisement for NT tourism once the restrictions are lifted!

Robbie Mills & Band

No good virtual festival could be broadcast without some awesome MCs and Seabreeze @ Home 2020 had a great trio presenting for them in the form of Danielle Andrews, Kyle Walmsley and Thomas Midena, filming around the Nightcliff Foreshore to keep the coastal vibe alive for the screen.

The Seabreeze @ Home 2020 MCs

As with the ‘real’ Seabreeze festival, it wasn’t all about rock music. Comedy, drag, dance, spoken word, school ensemble bands, art and workshops were represented as well. There truly was something for everyone, with everything beamed into lounge rooms across the country and around the world.

Danielle Andrews & Amy Hetherington
Drag Territory

Grace – Sams Dance Studio
Royal Existence Dancers

“Channel 41 contacted us and said ‘wow’ – they have had the most positive viewer feedback for Seabreeze than for any of their other broadcasts ever.” 

Festival Chair Andrew John Arthur (pictured) was very pleased with the result. All the hard work definitely paid off, and he and the festival committee are anxiously awaiting the results of broadcast analytics and a survey so they can form a fair critique of what worked well and what could be improved, with the very real possibility in the future that videoing and broadcasting the actual physical festival (when COVID-19 restrictions are fully lifted) will be a new normal. When asked directly how the virtual festival went, Andrew replied “It was f**king amazing!”

It was hard for Andrew to pick the ‘most’ amazing thing about the festival. But engaging all of the artists and crew under the pandemic restrictions was a highlight for him. Says Andrew: “The artists were absolutely stoked to have a focus and a purpose. The skills development of the festival team, adapting to a broadcast format – learning new digital skills and filming skills, that sort of thing. Directing, editing – most of the team were involved in some way in all of those things.”

Damien Whitney drumming for Ben Evolent

As to reach – not all the numbers are in yet across all of the platforms (online, social media, YouTube, TV, radio) but Andrew says that, just going on what statistics are currently available from social media and YouTube, they exceeded the average 22K ‘visitors’ that they normally have as attendees on the Foreshore during past ‘live’ festivals.  He went on to say that the feedback from Darwin Television (Channel 41) was tremendous: “Channel 41 contacted us and said ‘wow’ – they have had the most positive viewer feedback for Seabreeze than for any of their other broadcasts ever. We know that people in Tasmania, New Zealand – people all over the world have put comments in the Facebook feeds. We are putting the Darwin challenge onto the world stage.” Andrew advised that Darwin Television Channel 41 are rebroadcasting the festival in three shows in early June, such was the positive feedback from viewers.

Dreamedia’s Tommy Larkin filmed over 60 performances in three weeks and edited close to 100 videos

This project could not have been the success that it was without a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Performances were shot at the Dreamedia warehouse, the Charles Darwin University theatre and on location around the Nightcliff Foreshore. All shoots were undertaken in accordance with COVID-19 safety restrictions with respect to social distancing and the disinfecting of work areas, stage areas, microphones and other equipment between acts. Dreamedia’s Tommy Larkin filmed over 60 performances in three weeks and edited close to 100 videos – what an effort! Our Jean-Eddy Moutou‘s role as Filming Director included making sure all cameras were set properly, the stage was arranged for each act with suitable lighting and decor etc and reviewing all recorded material prior to broadcast. Of course, nothing could be achieved without the artists themselves, with everyone very happy to have the chance to perform for the festival. There were no bad vibes. This was also a great opportunity for a collaboration between the festival, Dreamedia and Foldback Magazine, with the collective skillset coming together to produce something truly wonderful.

Below is the full final day live stream video, some artists interview videos and of course a selection of still photos from the event. A link to the festival’s YouTube page is here, so you can watch all of the videos at your leisure:

Foldback Magazine is grateful for the opportunity to help make the Dreamedia Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival 2020 @ Home the success that it was. We thank everyone who tuned in to catch some awesome local talent and to support Territory artists and festivals.

We acknowledge the Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival sponsors and collaborators:

We cannot of course go without mentioning the artists:

For information on all the other activities and workshops that were held during the festival, go to the festival webpage here:

*The Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival @ Home 2020 is dedicated to Marko Ogden

*Foldback Magazine acknowledges the Larrakia people as the Traditional Owners of the Darwin region and we pay our respects to Larrakia elders past, present and emerging.

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