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By dan

Making climate change sexy…media sexy

This post originally appeared on Mumbrella.

There are some other great articles about what we did at COP 21’s Fossil of the Day.

Buzzfeed’s Meet The People Trolling The Fuck Out Of The Paris Climate Talks”
The Guardian’s Live Blog + “Australia wins ‘fossil of the day’ for Julie Bishop’s coal speech at Paris climate talks”
Slate
The Fossil of the Day Award Is the Best Part of the Paris Climate Summit”


 

There are two phrases that put people to sleep faster than “anthropogenic climate change”, the others are “Look at this picture of my kids” and “I think I have a rash”. For the last couple of weeks I had the challenge to make climate change sexy for the world’s media.

 

But that was the challenge faced each night by myself and the team from Woody at the COP climate conference in Paris. We were tasked with putting a Fossil Of The Day on stage in the middle of the conference centre. We presented to a live audience of media, conference delegates and bored security a diet jokes, and sketches to entertain and make sense of the negotiations that happened nightly in that conference centre, but with the intent to shame governments who were making complete arses of themselves.

The conundrum of course is that the importance of the COP21 Paris Agreement was inverse to how heinously boring Climate Change is. My job; distil the buckets of bullshit down to manageable bite size nuggets of bullshit.

The COP climate conferences are essentially the Olympics for policy wonks. Every night during the negotiations the members of the Climate Action Network  would be dispatched to observe the talks first hand.  CAN is an organisation of 950 NGOs from 110 countries, they’re full of the most hardened climate literate junkies.

Some of these people had been at the talks for over 20 years, they mostly spoke in English, however the language they speak is cluttered with so many acronyms to the untrained ear it sounds like they’re all learning the alphabet for the first time.

They’d honorably stay up all night, observe negotiations bicker over the bare minimum they’d be willing to do to prevent the end of civilisation, semantics, syntax, and the placement of punctuation. Hollywood has us believe that the end of the world will end with a huge explosion, but if this agreement goes wrong, the world will end with a 23 year long protracted argument about the definition of “differentiation”.

During the CAN Daily meeting, around 300 members gathered to share the intel on the negotiations from the night before, and would nominate who would win the Fossil each day. At this point 30 minutes of debate, arguing, and sometimes tears would ensue. Members would then vote on the merit of the Fossil nomination, a highly tedious democratic process that makes dictatorships look appealing.

I would then have roughly 2 hours for the CAN members to break down the issue for me, point by point, then I would translate it to something a normal person could understand and write 10-15 minutes of jokes to go with it. Writing in Google Docs to allow contributors to chime in at the same time, and with a Slack window open ordering quick turn around graphics from the Woody production team.

We then would then put on a show; try to make it loud, funny and visually interesting, just something big and shiny enough for a tv journalist to turn into a 90 second news package.

And unlike the jokes I’ve cracked throughout the most of my career the effect was immediately tangible. After receiving a fossil on the first day of the COP, Belgium changed their position on signing onto the EU targets after receiving 48 hours of negative media coverage based on the shame of being awarded a Fossil Of The Day.

Argentina received a Fossil for promoting the new ambitious 1.5° target, but at the same time, during that day’s parliament was voting on the nationalisation of coal assets. The vote failed under the pressure from the opposition, after press from the Fossil of The Day reached Buenos Aires, the nationalisation didn’t go through, the coal assets will probably be stranded and the country committed to more aggressive funding for renewables.

Even Saudi Arabia, a country with a press as free as a bird trapped in cage, in quicksand, in a dungeon, received the Fossil of The Day three days in a row. Rumor has it Saudi negotiators got a call from a frustrated King Salman, who basically said “look I’ve been reading BuzzFeed tone it down a notch”. When it comes to the Saudi’s that’s a radical progressive shift in policy.

Very rarely do you get an opportunity to do Kardashian jokes that have such an immediate effect on public policy. The COP is such a walled ecosystem of politics, lobbyists, and NGOs, and “civil society” it’s understandable that the information coming out of it is dense and perplexing, it was an absolute privilege to take that two weeks of bullshit in Paris and make it palatable to audiences around the world.

I once did a gig with Rod Quantock who when asked why he does so many joke about climate change said “because if I don’t, there’ll be nothing else to make jokes about.”

By dan

DAN ILIC’s GUIDE TO THE ELECTION: #C@%TASTROPHE2013

Over the last few weeks I’ve been creating stories for The Feed on SBS2 around the circus of electapoolooza 2013.

Here there are as a triptych so you can elect your balls away….

THREE WORD SLOGANS

THE RACE FOR MIDDLE AUSTRALIA

VOTING BELOW THE LINE

(And before you all go banging on about it… 1) yes it is very Brooker. 2) Yes in middle australia the dark patch on my face swaps sides… why? because i’m unco and can’t do left right things in mirror.. so I flopped the shot for you nufties. 3) Apparently you can vote below the line.. and above the line just incase you stuff up below the line… don’t take my word for it here’s Antony Green “If you want to be ultra safe, fill in below the line and the fill in one of the above the line squares. The below the line vote takes priority, but if proves to be informal, the ballot paper will revert to the above the line option.”)

By dan

DICK TROUBLE!

I got a call from Dick Smith out of the blue just before christmas. “Dan, I got your number from Andrew Denton, I want to make an ad” Why not? He’s an Australian legend. Sounds like fun.

So I wrote the funniest script I thought I could muster on our tiny $10k budget. Then convinced Dick that it’d be fine to run with the innuendo and the boat people joke. (Which is my favourite considering Dick’s stance on population control)

So we shot it in two days, and after another four days in post … we thought it was pretty funny. There was one group that didn’t think it was funny. The CAD approval people.

Dick had booked over $100k in media spots for the 6pm bulletins on Australia Day which required ads to have a G rating. The lowest rating that CAD would muster was a PG rating.

When I told Dick this yesterday, he was overseas on a business trip. He was furious, incredibly upset.

He refused to talk to me over the phone so he just sent me a barrage of angry texts.

Dick decided to cut his China trip short and is heading back to Australia to sort it out.

In the mean time I’ve put up the Uncensored version on YouTube.

And here are some pics from the shoot.

 

By dan

Operation: AMERICAN BONEHEAD

Today was my first US network television appearance, (I was shown in the audience of the Colbert Report once but cable doesn’t count.)

It was Australia Day today on the CBS Early Morning Show (six months late) because Tourism Australia’s Regional General Manager, Daryl Hudson, was
interviewed on “What’s New Down Under”. To help the cause Tourism Australia sent out email1311s to expats and Australian businesses around town, encouraging them to come down to the CBS Plaza and show their love for Australia. The email1311 explicitly stated “Signs Encouraged”.

I know a bit about how Brand Australia works, so after workshopping some ideas online, I grabbed my poster board and coloured markers and made some signs of my own. Then this morning I woke at 6am and headed across town to CBS Plaza, where I met up with fellow Melbourne comedian, and professional sign holder Kelly Fastuca.

Many Australian businesses were representing, including various state level tourism teams and  QANTAS who must have had trouble finding a flying Kangaroo suit and opted for a man in a Koala suit instead. All part of their “any marsupial will do” approach to branding.

As the hour ticked over we managed to get on nearly every weather break. Below are the results of “Operation: American Bonehead”.

SIGN #1&#2:

SIGN #2&#3:

SIGN #5:

SIGN #6

See the video news story about Jeff Schroeder here. The sign comes in around 1:30

Thanks to Brad Blanks for recording the show for me on his DVR

If you liked this post, share the DIGG link with your friends.

By dan

The CBS Early Corroboree

Next monday is a red letter day for Australians in New York. Tourism Australia’s Region General Manager (our equivalent to Murray from Flight of the Conchords) will be on CBS’ Early Show, on the air promoting all things Australian. So there has been a call out for fellow Aussies to join in the crowd for the weather updates, and according to the email1311 “Signs are Encouraged”. So  here are a few that  I think would be nice to bring along. Suggestions welcome.








Making climate change sexy…media sexy
DAN ILIC’s GUIDE TO THE ELECTION: #C@%TASTROPHE2013
DICK TROUBLE!
“Share A Coke” now includes even more names!