The web series format allows for a wide array of different styles and genres. While genres like drama and action can have you at the edge of your seat, sometimes something strange and peculiar can be just as engaging. We interviewed the creators of Learning With Difficulties: Limbo (AUS), Big Room (KOR) and DXYZ (KOR) that lean on weirdness to create something you just can’t look away from.
2019 Student Selection Learning with Difficulties: Limbo is an animated series about Lisa, a teenage girl whose mundane life is changed when a narrator enters her life, forcing her out of her comfort zone.
Inspired by ‘Dante’s Inferno’, creator Matteo Mazzella took his own spin and based his series around mental health, rather than Christianity.
Surrounding the theme of “pushing yourself outside the comfort zone,” Mazzella says “be wary of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone because monsters exist and weird stuff.”
With the formless narrator as a companion to Lisa, plus an extremely unsettling monster that follows, the animation is styled by Mazzella’s own art while also trying to emulate the artwork in Dante’s Inferno.
The series seeks to aid the uncomfortable feeling you might gain while watching, which is evident in the blend of different animations styles throughout. In particular, the claymation used makes the monster feel even more alien and removed from the world.
Mazzella’s goal was “to make a show, rather than continuously talk about making a show and never doing it.” Produced as a part of RMIT TV under their ‘Presents….’ Initiative, the series was the first animation series funded by the initiative.
Moving overseas to Korea, Big Room touches on the peculiar lives of three university roommates – and their pet cockroach.
The series was made on a micro-budget of $200 with Director Lee Dae-Han doing all the camera work, writing and editing. While the budget created some limitations, the series was seen as a challenge by the creator. Feeling he couldn’t make it to film quality, he used a retro style to work with its low budget.
The series focuses on creating weird situations out of everyday occurrences because of it’s characters. From someone new moving in, to getting ready for a first date, the series uses inventive ways to make these situations hilarious and engaging to watch. Exaggerated performances, over expressive facial acting and close-ups, and inventive angles create something extremely entertaining to experience.
“Big-Room is a retro style series. So I put some retro film styles like quick zoom from old kung-fu action movies and it’s well suited for my series and as a result it looks more retro and funny. What an energetic shot,” says Han.
Winning best comedy at Seoul WebFest and best ensemble cast at the Asia Web Awards, Han’s goal is to have Big Room reach new audiences across the globe. “It’s a good example for indie filmmakers who don’t have enough money for making films, we all know the idea and concept are two of the most important things for filmmaking – a small budget is not a problem.”
Making something strange out of a simple premise is Korean series DXYZ – with each episode as simple as two friends having a conversation.
This of course is put on it’s head as the series takes each conversation and presents something unique through the use of rhythm, scenery, costumes and storytelling to create something unique.
“I wanted to create something strange and weird. Something that would give people the feeling that they are watching something that is different from other content out there and is fun to watch,” says Creator, Kyunghwan Jin.
Using inspiration from adverts, magazines and music videos, Jin says the team “wanted to combine the aesthetics and feeling of all these media in a narrative or story that was fun, surprising and relatable.”
Jin’s favourite aspect is how it breaks away from it’s simple premise of being ‘just a storyline’. “We use music scenery, art, and rhythm to ‘break the grammar’ of storytelling and create an experience rather than tell a story.”
Almost written as a song, the series uses widely creative and dynamic sets to give each episode a visual flair, with the characters fitting in each scene. Using inner monologues and breaking the fourth wall to its advantage, the script breaks up the fast pace of a web series and takes a comedic approach. The idea to use these methods was inspired by fashion photography.
“It must be interesting and rhythmic, and the language is chosen not just to match the story,” says Jin.
“In fashion, the model often looks directly into the camera and creates a captivating, modern or sexy look. Since DXYZ is part fashion catalogue, we used this style… to help create more ambiance around the story.”