There is nothing like coming home to the ones you love…or walking right past them for some TLC-worthy humour provided in your favourite series.
Shows like Toddumentaries (USA), Goodall and Gallagher (AUS), The Pantsless Detective (USA) and Language Academy (USA) are part of Melbourne WebFest spotlight and official selection – and they’re ones to watch closely.
We spoke with Christina Parrish, (writer and creator), Clive Stoneking (director) and Carl Stoneking (producer) of Toddumentaries to get a further insight into the wacky series.
“I had a show that was good and weird then Carl and Alex at Dream Shake poured their f***** up souls into it (by watching a lot of Telenovelas and cartoons) and they made it better,” says Parrish.
“When Christina pitched it to me it was a pretty well-developed idea. My goal was to make the Todd portions like a live action cartoon and the Clive portions as realistic as we possibly could on our tiny budget. I believe we accomplished both those things,” Carl added.
Toddumentaries follows a nervous new kid who tries to navigate the turbulent hallways of Kelmonte High despite being controlled by an evil purple alien.
Christina described the benefits of working with the web format to be a complete adventure, allowing them to explore their series on a small budget.
Toddumentaries has a lot to say about high school and really resonates with it’s audience, because who didn’t feel alienated in high school?
“Highschool is a brewing cauldron of emotional turmoil and sexual repression, I feel like if I didn’t start exploring it then somebody would beat me to it. And I can’t have that happen,” says Parrish.
Like Toddumentaries, Goodall and Gallagher make use of graphics and effects in creating their web series.
Comedic duo Luke Goodall and Marc Gallagher, the creators, writers, and co-directors of the series Goodall and Gallagher say that a lot of their content pokes fun at social media and that it was only right that they post on those platforms.
“We think that how we handle technology and it’s evolution as a society is perhaps the single most pressing issue we face today,” says Goodall and Gallagher.
The comedy web series takes part in a number of different locations – some might say that working with bigger sets make it harder to pull off.
“It was real cool to do a few episodes on a bigger scale than we’ve done in the past. Filling up a basketball stadium and shooting a ‘bar fight’ were a couple of standouts. As you could imagine, it was more work logistically to pull it off,” say the pair.
Dying to know what these boys are tackling next?
“After doing sketch for a few years we’re looking to tackle narrative. We’re currently writing a comedy web series about two entrepreneurial crooks that are trying to innovate the crime world. It sticks to our theme of exploring technology while giving us time the freedom to explore characters over a longer arc.”
Contrastingly to Goodall and Gallagher’s short form sketch series, The Pantsless Detective follows the journey of a fearless protagonist. Now in it’s fourth season, audiences can join the adventures of the plucky pantsless detective, Richard Panceliss, his intrepid intern, Smitty, and the truehearted Temperance Friday as they solve mysteries and right the wrongs that need rightening.
Tom Chamberlain and Dipu Bhattacharya, co-creators of The Pantsless Detective, say that it all began with an idea involving a 40th birthday party.
“We did a video to send-up to a friend for his birthday that involved a trench coated private detective searching for the truth of this friend’s mysterious past. We were shooting in August and temps were over 100 degrees F. To be more comfortable I didn’t wear trousers or socks and shoes in scenes that wouldn’t reveal my legs. Eventually, we changed a medium shot to a long shot and revealed my lack of pants (because I didn’t bring them with me to that set). That character, The Pantsless Detective, was too interesting a subject not to pursue,” says Chamberlain who is also the lead in the series.
Although there aren’t too many of us who wouldn’t want to see our friends pantsless in a fedora for a birthday present, Bhattacharya says there’s a very serious meaning behind it.
“For me, our main message is, ‘Don’t take things too seriously.’ I just want people to laugh when watching our series. But I do like to tweak conventional wisdom too, so some of our more subtle messaging comes from taking widely accepted assumptions in Western culture and saying, ‘Hey, there’s more than just your stereotyped idea.’ It’s not front and center, but if that message seeps in somehow, that’s great,” says Bhattacharya.
The Pantsless Detective is a black and white series and really embodies noir cinema.
“We definitely try to play with shadows and not have rooms that are evenly lit all around. And we spend a fair amount of time in post-production adjusting the picture to get the right noir feel,” says Bhattacharya.
Chamberlain says that they tend to use, “hard light, usually from above. Hard shadows and high contrast. I think it helps with mood, atmosphere, and emotion. That, and our sets and costumes probably get the most positive comments.”
From pantsless to fully clothed, Language Academy should definitely be on anyone’s must-watch-list. The series is a workplace comedy that follows the petty and insecure teachers of an English as a Second Language (ESL) school in Los Angeles, and their interactions with the school’s diverse body of students.
Jacob Farmer and Philip Hoover, the co-writers, directors, and creators of Language Academy say that although there were challenges, it was always a laugh to create.
“The first thing we want is for people to laugh and not turn it off. After that, it’s all gravy. But really, so much of the show is about communication, and how difficult it can be for anyone, whether you speak the same language or not. As Americans, we also wanted to explore our collective misconceptions about our place in the world through the actions and decisions of our imperfect teachers,” says Farmer.
With any project, these creators encountered their own challenges. “We reached a point over a year in, after everything had been shot and it was just a few folks sitting in a dark editing room, where it got hard to see the other side. I was lucky to be able to have Phil at my side to help keep things on track and not let us lose momentum,” Farmer says.
Scheduling was another difficult factor Hoover explains, “You have to do this magic dance to get our cast and crew’s schedules to line up, and then one person at the last minute would go ‘Oh shoot, I’m going to a wedding that weekend!’ and it would all fall apart. Luckily it worked out in the end, but I remember it being stressful.”
“Wasn’t it you that had to go to a wedding?” Farmer asks.
“I think it was. Thanks for pointing that out. I hope you’re happy with yourself,” Hoover says.
The pair are excited by the idea of a second season and can envisage Language Academy as a sitcom if the right opportunity presented itself.
Watch these series and more at Melbourne WebFest 2018.