“Honestly, it seemed like a really good hook to work with, as there is a lot of potential for humour,” WebFest AV Manager and co-creator of the series, Richard Khouri, tells upstart.
“We didn’t end up doing it last year, so this year we revisited the theme once more and locked it in, as we all agreed that it was definitely both ‘entertaining and simple.’”
Khouri, a self-proclaimed fanatic for the popular TV show The Office, admits that the show was a major inspiration for the series.
Despite having seen the series 13 times over, he believed that the overall concept and themes were able to be perfectly shot in mockumentary style.
The theme of internships comes as a result of the partnership between Melbourne WebFest and La Trobe University.
The University and Webfest have been working in partnership since the festival’s inception five years ago.
This collaboration provides students with the opportunity to take part in internships that give them industry experience. This is something that Khouri believes is of crucial value.
“At university, you learn a lot of essential basics, including theory and research work, and I would say a good amount of practical work.”
“However, at the same time, it really isn’t enough,” Khouri tells upstart. “When you’re out in the industry, out on the job, in the actual environment, there’s no beating that kind of potent exposure towards your industry.”
As a result of this close connection, La Trobe students are front-and-centre being directly involved in the production of the projects.
This year, the students’ involvement was even more prominent, with the project focused on student life.
“Every year we develop a video project with the interns, and the fact that Mashed Up had a lot of intern input made this year’s creative project really stand out,” said AV Manager Harrison Lawrence in a media release for the project.
Aside from acting in the series, the 2017 Melbourne WebFest interns were involved in a variety of roles.
Their hard work culminated on 30 June with the opening of the Melbourne WebFest festival.
According to Khouri, the students gained experience in social media, marketing, audio visual production and editing. They were also exposed to the creative side of production, including writing, directing and management.
With views on YouTube steadily increasing only five hours after the episodes were uploaded, the team are expecting another successful series to celebrate their fifth anniversary.
Mashed Up premiered at the 30 June opening and was well-received by the audience on the night. Grabbing the attention of their target audience, Khouri said that not only were a number of people praised for their writing, the interns involved were commended.
Festival director, and upstart editor-in-chief Steinar Ellingsen even received “a great amount of praise for his Oscar-worthy performance.”
It aims to highlight digital series entertainment and acknowledge the people behind the production.
“More and more creators and creatives are migrating over to this format of entertainment because of how much freedom one can have, even with zero budget,” Khouri tells upstart.
“We have two major goals every year. The first is to showcase the best web series from here in Australia and around the globe. The second is to promote this form of entertainment.”
Apart from La Trobe University, the program works with a number of partners including the City of Melbourne, Film Victoria and ABC iview to deliver the festival.
A number of awards are given out to deserving recipients each year. In 2017, the major prize, known as the Grand Jury Award, had a value of $1,500 and was won by New Zealand non-fiction series Amy Street.
The festival also holds a pitching competition in partnership with ABC iview, called Pitch iview.
This competition allows finalists the chance to pitch an idea for a new web series. The theme this year was ‘Everyone’s Invited.’
Tim Potter was this year’s recipient, and aside from winning a $5,000 cash prize, he will attend the Marseille WebFest to further develop his pitch idea.
This year, Melbourne WebFest grabbed the attention of professionals around the globe.
LA filmmaker and keynote speaker Christopher Leone (known for his work as the creator of The Lost Room), described the festival as “a fantastic event to discover the new wave of television creators and a damn good time.”
You can view Mashed Up on YouTube here.
Jordyn Hoekstra is a second-year media and communications (journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on twitter here.