Ahead of the third edition of Melbourne WebFest, we are profiling all the official selections that will be screening 10-12 July at Deakin Edge.
Written by and starring Veronica Milsom and Steen Raskopoulos (who play all characters), the series documents the relationships between couples, all of whom strive to achieve or maintain a world record. For some, their record is their greatest achievement, for others, it’s a source of shame. None of them can deny the profound impact a World Record has had on changing their lives and those they leave in their wake. The series is shot in Sydney but showcases some unusual record holders from around the world.
How do you finance your series?
The web series was financed through Screen Australia and ABC TV’s Fresh Blood initiative. They provided $10,000 for three five minute web clips. Together with Porchlight Films, we’ve developed and produced a television pilot which will air later this year.
How long did you want to make this series before you got started?
About two years ago I was contemplating how to develop the concept into a live comedy show. Initially I wrote it up as a play to be performed by 2 actors depicting 5 different characters each in completely unrelated story lines.
Why did you make a web series instead of an independent film on this comedy?
First and foremost, the series was commissioned for web and the financing of the project was integral to its creation. We couldn’t have got it off the ground without the backing and funding of Screen Australia and the ABC.
What inspired your ideas around ‘The World Record’?
The concept for The Record was born from my fascination with differing notions of what it means to be successful, to be remembered and leave a legacy. The Guinness World Records has always occurred to me as an interesting framework that allows people to strive for bizarre ways to be the best in the world at something, whether it be growing 8 metre finger nails or balancing the most amount of spoons on your face. They’re bizarre scenarios that these people take 100% seriously, and I think that’s funny and endearing. I also love comedy that focuses primarily on character and relationships rather than purely pushing narrative or gags.
How did you make your characters so authentic?
Writing and workshopping the characters and scenarios with Steen was pretty fun. Our ideas for storylines and unique characters felt limitless. We started off with a long list of records (for example ‘Greatest Distance Moonwalked’, ‘Oldest Male Stripper’, ‘World’s Hairiest Person’) and dwindled them down according to the amount of jokes they’d each afford. Our process for writing the scripts and developing the characters was by improvising conversations in character and filming them, then transcribing the best little comedy nuggets into dialogue. It was certainly a time consuming way to operate, but one that produced results we were happy with.
What’s your background as a content creator? And how did you approach this project differently to previous projects?
I first started writing comedy as a hobby with my best mate. We wrote for Melbourne International Comedy Festival which ended up being very well received. I then went on to apply for TV jobs and landed a position on ABC TV’s Hungry Beast. From there I’ve written sketches for live comedy shows and developed ideas through improv.
What was the most difficult challenge you had to overcome in production, and how did you go about it?
The most difficult challenge was to try to execute our ideas on such a tight budget. It constantly felt unreasonable asking people to work for such cheap rates, but I was surprised at how endlessly supportive people were.
From start to finish, how long did it take to complete this project?
Cate Stewart, the Director and Producer spearheaded the project. She worked tirelessly for three months in the lead up to production and then for a few weeks in post. The majority of people that contributed to the show were only involved during the production period.
The Record on the web:
Watch The Record
The Record on Facebook
Keep up to date with Melbourne Web Fest on twitter: @MelbWebFest.
La Trobe University is Melbourne WebFest’s exclusive learning partner.