Vieux Jeu (CAN)
Beautiful visuals, an emotionally gripping plot, and characters that we can’t help but fall in love with. What more can you ask for?
Here at Melbourne WebFest, we have three series that tick all these boxes, and all made by Canadian creators – Vieux Jeu (CAN), Abracadavers (CAN) & Public Writer (CAN). If there’s one thing we’ve come to realise after watching these series, it’s that Canada has beautiful scenery!
Vieux Jeu follows the story of Adrian, the elderly owner of a bowling alley who has a dream to play a perfect game. Late one night Bernard, a ghost from his past, visits him with the news that he will die at the conclusion of the week. He must set his affairs in order, and fulfil his aspiration.
When asked about the inspiration behind Vieux Jeu, creator Quentin Fabiani says, “when I first arrived in Quebec, I immediately started looking for inspiring filming locations. I found this old bowling alley near the bus station of Sainte Eustache, a city in the northern suburbs of Montreal.”
Fabiani explains that the series had a tight filming schedule, which was reflected in the post-production process. “The series was shot in only five days and we had on average between 1 to 1.5 hours to shoot each sequence (scene),” Fabiani says.
“[Post-production] lasted two months, from start to finish. It’s quite short and I regret that we did not have more time to finalize, especially on the sound. I think that the limited budget we had and the constraints that came with it forced us to prepare in advance and leave nothing to chance.”
The conclusion of any project holds a great deal of emotion, and this is no different for web series creation. After completing the post-production of the series, Fabiani experienced emotions of emptiness and sadness. “I put a lot of myself and sometimes the months that follow the filming can be quite difficult moments after the project is completed,” Fabiani explained.
“But unlike everything I’ve done before, the series actually looks a lot like what I had imagined. I also wanted to pay tribute to the beautiful decor that was made available to us.”
Inspired by a vintage hair salon chair and starting a conversation about love, loss, growth and mental exceptionalities, Official Selection series Abracadavers (CAN).
Creator Morgan Ermter says each of the characters were scripted after finding the hair salon chair, developing a framework for the series. “At the time, back in 2015, I also really wanted to do a show that was centred around superpowers. That was the framework and we developed characters from there,” says Ermter.
“The show is meant to be a heartwarming, lighthearted adventure that people are excited to watch more of and provides something visually stimulating.”
Ermter says it was important to work with every member of the cast to develop their personalities.
“Big set pieces are fun but we have a bunch of scenes scattered throughout where the characters and action settles down and the characters just chat. Usually those scenes take up almost an entire episode which is also fun I think, that’s a kind of freedom you get with short form web-series that you don’t in other formats. It really gives you a chance to let the audience focus in on a moment.”
Composer Scott Steneker used his own inspiration to form a soundscape around the series, using a contrast of sounds. Similar to this, Ermter says each location played an important aspect. “I don’t often like to give our composer Scott a lot of direction in terms of genre or tone because he can come up with a brilliant soundscape that perfectly balances the story…[and] I think something people often let slip in prep is locations,” says Ermter.
“Locations, especially on a low budget project, can add so much to the feeling of your show. It’s super easy to go shoot at your friends’ place for example but if you spend time searching out a house that fits perfectly it only benefits your story.”
Based on a novel by Michel Duchesne, Official Selection series Public Writer (CAN) is based on Duchesne’s real experiences as a public writer in Montreal.
Creator Eric Piccoli says he was inspired by Duschesne’s stories and the fascinating tasks of a public writer.
“… I added my personal touch to the whole thing [Public Writer] and proposed new ways to adapt the book into a visual series,” says Piccoli.
Piccoli says his most memorable challenge was working with a limited budget to bring the fiction story to life. As many of the scenes were improvised, the creator says it was an important aspect to highlight the truthfulness of Duschene’s life as a public writer.
“The blending of fiction and documentary gives so much intensity to the story. It’s also very exciting to watch as you know that fictional characters (but based on real people) are acting in a real-world with real people.”
Similar to Abracadavers, a crucial component of the series was the soundtrack that built the series.
“Music is always magical and a crucial moment… my references were from minimalist composers like Amiina, Jonsi, Gustavo Santaolalla and This Will Destroy You,” says Piccoli.
Inspired by the people around him, Piccoli believes that an inspiring storyteller must see past the shadows and think outside the box. “Be interested by everything around you, by people that seem invisible like that cashier at the corner store or that delivery boy. Everything that is outside of yourself. Go outside, shoot, document, be curious, have fun, respect different point of views and in the end, find the story to tell.”