Friendship bonds are powerful, they have the ability to bring you up when you are down, make you laugh and feel loved. They can also be complicated, especially when dealing with change.
The best series harness the power of friendship to create an emotional attachment which resonates with the audience. Homecoming Queens (AUS), Other People’s Problems (AUS) and Counting MX. Gye (KOR) are just some of Melbourne WebFest’s official selection series that express the broad spectrum of how friendships influence different aspects of life.
Homecoming Queens is based on the real life friendship between series co-creators Chloe Reeson and Michelle Law, who became close after Reeson finished having treatment for breast cancer and Law had gone through a break up.
Their shared experiences of disconnect from others their age allowed the pair to bond. Homecoming Queens allows the audience to experience the challenges that come with helping a friend through difficult situations and finding a bond with someone who understands. “We would go to parties and end up leaving early together because we felt tired or alienated from our friends to some degree,” says Reeson. “No one was really telling stories about young people like us. In the end we decided to tell our own story and everything sort of snowballed from there.”
Highlighting the importance of having a large scale cast who identify as female and non-binary, series producer Katia Nizic believes that “representation matters immensely in front of and behind the camera, and it forms the backbone of our series.”
One of the main challenges they found while filming was to tell a story that allowed the pair to feel truthful to the real life experiences. “We were striving for comedy that came out of truth and sometimes tragedy. Despite being championed early by Matchbox Pictures and SBS, we did still have to fight for our choices and convince everyone we knew about what we were doing,” says Nizic. “I’m glad we did, because people are really connecting with the show’s authenticity and portrayal of chronic illness.”
Inspired by the website ‘Clothing for Correspondence”, web series Other People’s Problems follows the relationship between Florence and Ann, who ghost-writer letters for people in exchange for clothes.
“The writers of Other People’s Problems Jane Dickenson & Penny Chai set up the website in 2008 to write letters on behalf of people from all around the world, in exchange for second hand clothes,” says producer, Charlotte Seymour.
Seymour explains the series strives to stay true to the letters on the site. The production team were privileged to engage with the predicaments and love that, with their permission, they were able to bring their stories to the screen, Seymour says. “They have been doing this for years, so have a treasure trove of beautiful and bizarre stories that make us laugh, cry and scratch our heads,” says Seymour.
While friendship isn’t at the forefront of the storyline, it is an important aspect to the series. “The strain on friendship in Other People’s Problems provides an important story arc across the series and is handled with humour & grace,” explains Seymour. “Letters are a potent way to communicate. They are unhurried and put into words the things that we often struggle to say. “
Similarly to Homecoming Queens, the majority of the production team of the series is female. “As both a feminist and a producer over many years, I have always positively discriminated towards women in giving them as many opportunities as possible.”
Touching on friendship bonds, Counting MX. Gye looks into the relationship between Sook-Ja Gye & Ha-joon Lee and the turn it presents itself with when their friendship evolves into something more.
A direct entry into MWF from the Seoul Web Festival, Ivey Kim who directed the web series says that the story was “inspired by stereotypes and prejudices in South Korea, highly related to seniority (age difference) and to women’s snobbism that is being too criticised and exaggerated.”
Kim hopes that the series will give the audience the “opportunity to think about what’s the most important and valuable thing as we all live on.”
“A rational and realistic life attitude is cool, but it hardly warms people’s inner side. I wish the audience to throw back to the memories back in school days, to one’s or others’ forgotten wounds, and also warm and romantic memories with love from near,” says Kim.
Kim believes the series made him feel really strange and unfamiliar, yet so close like an old friend. Inspired by painful memories and structured life changes, the romantic comedy is planning on a Season 2.
So hold your loved ones close, and catch these friendship-inspired web series at Melbourne WebFest 2018.