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Fledgling production studio boosted by scholarship

Deadset Studios was barely six months out when Kellie Riordan won the scholarship.

By Kellie Riordan

When I was awarded the Women in Media Queensland career boost scholarship in March 2021, Deadset Studios was barely six months old.

I’d learnt a lot in that short time but we’d had just a handful of clients and three podcasts under our belt.

Twelve months on, the company’s grown along with our output.

We’ve now made numerous podcast series including Doomscroll Remedy with the University of Queensland, Restitution which tells the stories or ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances to have their day in court, and a kids’ series on kindness for global audio app Pinna called One Small Act.

A highlight has been working on series one of the highly-regarded Journo with the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas, hosted by former BBC correspondent and author Nick Bryant.

In the first episode we took audiences inside Afghanistan’s media scene right as the Taliban took over, we looked at how to report on the rising super power China when foreign reporters are being booted out, and we examined what the Australian media got wrong in covering the last federal election and how we might do better this year.

We’ve also grown our staffing base.

Our head executive producer Rachel Fountain remains the best hire I’ve ever made both at the ABC and now at Deadset Studios.

Rachel’s ability to manage multiple podcasts at every step, from dealing with hosts to directing fine edits and punching up scripts, is second to none.

We added Ann Chesterman as general manager and she’s brought enormous value to our financial forecasting as well as our work as strategic consultants.

And we’ve been able to hire the next crop of producers and sound designers coming through the ranks.

There’s been challenges as we grow, so we worked through multiple offers of capital investment into the company to help us expand.

It was here that my career boost scholarship really helped.

The course I’ve undertaken at BDO has helped me work through models of investment, what an investment term sheet should include, how equity stakes work, and different classes of shares.

Ultimately for Deadset Studios, we decided it’s better to continue to grow organically at this point and look at investment a little later on.

This year, we’re focussed on some big global projects as we expand our slate of original podcast content.

We’re also thrilled to be working with two of the biggest podcasters in Australia on a brand new series coming out in May… stay tuned!

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