SIF 3rd Cohort Fellows - Guy Healy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Curriculum Vitae
  • Education and experience

Dr Guy Healy is a former higher education and investigative journalist  - including freelancing for BBC Wildlife  - and since 2016, creative labour analyst focused on YouTube. Healy specialises in investigating and elaborating pro-am and screenwriter livelihoods, especially anti-precarity measures and sustainable artistic and business models. He holds degrees in Film studies from Monash University; Journalism from Griffith University (2016); and a PhD in Creative Industries (2020), from QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre. His most important news story reported on calls from zoologists warning that research funding into, and surveillance of bat-borne viruses in Asia, Africa and elsewhere, had to be prioritised, in 2009. Healy has worked as a Research Assistant on priority Australian national research projects including Reporting Islam: international best practice for journalists (2018); Mapping the Children’s Internet (Instagram Kids case study)(2023); and he wrote the 12 case studies illuminating the Australian government’s Trusting Australia’s Ability: Review of the Australian Research Council Act, 2001 (2023). 

Better understanding how the defining human drives of storytelling, and creativity itself, are adapting to networked disruption has driven his doctoral and post-doctoral investigations for the past seven years. Healy has mapped the new online-first artworld of low-budget, but high cultural impact dramas, comedies, and non-fictions in the video-on-demand (VOD) ecology, as expressed in the adaptive format of the post-TV network era, the web-series; a format the world’s pre-eminent streamer, HBO, has characterised ‘as the new TV pilot’. While calling out YouTube for ‘platforming racism’ and information disorder, Healy’s research nevertheless found socio-technologies like YouTube have inadvertently enabled the breakout of new voices of long marginalised younger diverse screenwriter-producers; and even, in the most prominent of these cases, the sort of Intellectual Property retention sought by screen artists for 100 years. Given these web series bypass the stereotypical Othering of many broadcast gatekeepers and attract tens and even hundreds of millions of views due to their authentic representations of identities, Healy seeks to better understand what this leveling of the playing field means for more progressive power relations and equality, especially social change. 

Healy operates across the disciplinary boundaries of film and TV, Production studies, social media entertainment, communications studies, algorithmic culture and cultural studies, to produce primary data from interviews with high value screenwriter-producers via mixed methods. He is captivated by how pioneering younger screenwriters and established TV producers have begun collaborating across the cultural and generational divides – via two-way mentoring - to create Emmy-winning and nominated web-series. These web-series, and some podcasts, first reach deep niche audiences in the tens and even hundreds of millions on open platforms such as YouTube and iTunes, before crossing over to closed platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and public broadcaster VOD channels. These interviews with screenwriters who have achieved popular and critical acclaim by first using socio-technologies to build audiences of the like-minded, reveal innovative and best practice skillsets able to better inform scholarship, pedagogy, creative practice and grants policy, ultimately, to better support younger screenwriters.     

His PhD, Fast & Furious Filmmaking: Emerging Hybrid Online-TV Production Practices in Australia (2020), featuring seven case studies, was supported by the Australia Research Council Discovery grant of his supervisor, Emeritus Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham: The New Screen Ecology and Innovation in Production and Distribution. With the addition of two more deep case studies – including Writers Guild of America (WGA) new media award-winners - Healy’s PhD was converted to a big book, The Production of Global Web Series in a Networked Age (2022), for Routledge, London and New York. His most recent paper, Towards a Political Economy Model of Sustainable Creative Labour in the Post-Network Era, was presented at the Australia and New Zealand Communications Association conference last year. He has been invited to and presented his findings to the Rio de Janeiro Webfest Mercado in 2021, the Australia Council of the Arts, and the West Australian Screen Academy. Routledge recently commissioned his second book, The YouTube Generation and the Diversification of Screenwriting (forthcoming 2026).   

  • Social media presence/Research achievements

Production of Global Web Series in a Networked Age (2022) (Routledge, London and New York)

Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award nominee/Top 5% of Creative Industries graduates at QUT in 2020.

Best Dissertation Award nominee 2020 – Association of Internet Researchers.

Google Scholar
Research Gate
Research Project:

Innovation and Diversity in Algorithmically-Based European Screen Storytelling (IDABESS)

Youth confront unprecedented risks from social media harms, environmental destruction, economic inequality, the pandemic, information disorder undermining shared reality, and now some uncontrolled AI from Silicon Valley. This perfect storm is characterised as the polycrisis: destructive macro-scale phenomena interacting in increasingly unpredictable ways.

Traditionally, humans have relied on the ancient genres of drama, comedy and non-fiction for meaning-making. IDABESS will ensure these genres continue to serve young people, where their attention is at, on YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime and broadcast VOD. Significantly, the profile of European screenwriters – the authors shaping scripts needed for entertainment, edification, inspiration and consolation, and locating young people authentically in their cultures – is 46 years, masters degree, freelance and 64% males, Baujard (2019) reported to the Council of Europe on the new paradigm of AI and streaming series. Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Israel, and Spain are prestige series exemplars in the global US$382 billion streaming market, dominated by closed subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, growing at 23% annually. Algorithmic Recommenders of platforms shape story culture and need to be better understood. These SVODs represent new threats and opportunities to Europe-origin storytelling, including ‘missed revenues’ needed to ensure a robust European industry Baujard (2019) argued. Especially problematic is US platforms’ enclosure of intellectual Property (IP), and lack of ‘fair alternatives’ for European screenwriters, Baujard reported.

Despite concerns over a lack of deep reading among youth, very many young people still favour serialised, novelistic storytelling; or simply writing it themselves on pro-am participatory platforms such as Archive of Our Own. Given civilisation’s need to reflect to stay healthy, IDABESS will ensure younger European people have a quality and diverse screen storytelling ecology. Via interviews with high value screenwriter-producers using socio-technologies to generate new IP in EUTOPIA jurisdictions, IDABESS investigates the paradigm shift to algorithmically-based platforms, start-up business models (scripted), and diversity of screenwriters. This inductively-based model of screen production and distribution – expressed as a book – will inform scholarship, pedagogy, creative practice and policy. Regarding the macro dilemmas of our time, for example, over a generation ago the world adopted the Brundtland declaration (1987), promising not to pursue resource extraction to the harm of future generations. Yet the recent G20 – the government’s responsible for 80% of the world’s CO2 release - could not agree to legal limits on rising greenhouse gases.

This begs the question: how do citizens and their elected representatives successfully ride challenges such as the climate maelstrom, and what stories are young people hearing and telling themselves? If the most influential storytelling shapes culture, the polycrisis suggests a robust screen grants culture must be in place to ensure storytelling is accessible by new voices, high quality, sustainable, respectful of artistic freedom, shared realities, and participatory, to promote better resilience.