Covering the hijinx of two strong and confident women running a sex positive radio show, Single Ladies premieres next Monday, July 22 on Hyvio. DAVID O’CONNELL spoke to one of the directors of the six part Australian web series, Jacqueline Pelczar, about the inspiration for the comedy, and the growth in popularity of the format.
What attracted you to Single Ladies initially?
I think for all of us, it was the female driven content. I was going to be working with two other female directors, and that was going to be interesting. We were all kind of apprehensive, at first, as that something none of us it done before, but I think it’s the first script I’ve read in a while that I’ve have genuinely related to and laughed at. I thought we could really do something with this, we could really make it approachable for a lot of women… and a lot of men (oddly enough).
It was just a whole bunch of fun I’ve never directed comedy before. The short I directed before this had the same two actresses (Megan Hollier, Alexandra Nell) in it, but it was a heavy drama.
That was HUSH, I didn’t realise it had the same actresses?
Yep it was like a domestic violence relationship. Very heavy content.
Was it difficult to create that sense of continuity through each episode of the series, but at the same time make it distinctly your own?
Yeah, that was a discussion (as directors) from very early on. Gemma (Hall), Mimi (Helm), and I had never really worked together. We really didn’t know each other. So we spent the first six months just hanging out, getting to know each other, getting to know what’s different about each and every one of us, and our experiences. None of us are the same age, so we come from a different point of view on our lives as well. The perspectives we wanted to explore in the series was the same, but we wanted to make our own episodes unique, and bring our own voice through. Each of us worked on all six scripts, but when it came to deciding which episode we wanted to direct we all got to direct the episodes we wanted. We each naturally have a bit of a distinctive voice.
So what’s Single Ladies about?
Single Ladies is about a time and a woman’s life (in her twenties) that we can all remember. It’s about two women who run a sex-positive radio show, being closed down by the conservatives at the station, and being replaced by two Australian jock characters. I probably shouldn’t say that Kyle Sandilands was a huge inspiration.
I think that’s pretty self evident…
(Laughs) I directed that episode, and watched so many of his deeds over and over again. I can’t even believe that guy’s still employed.
Both your episodes involve those main antagonists of the series. What was it like capturing the douchebaggery of Ronnie and Donnie?
It was so much fun. We were pretty firm on the fact that the guys that we cast, no matter what their role in the series, was to understand the project entirely, and they can’t actually be a douchebag. I think these guys (Declan Brown and Michael Rainone) had never met before the audition, just in the corridor beforehand, and when they came in the had such good chemistry. We really had fun with these characters, plugging into those stereotypes, and realising they’re not just stereotypical, they are just typical.
Who was your favourite character amongst the three main characters?
I’m going to be diplomatic and pick Hashim. Jad Abid (who played Hashim) he was amazing. He just added something to the dynamic. I can’t pick between the girls, I just can’t do that.
Did the web series format offer its own challenges and opportunities?
More, and more so, we’re binging. There’s this hunger that we have for series and accessible content. I think they’re brilliant for younger creatives to practice their long form content, before you look at a television series shoot. Something longer form, something that you can make in a day. When we shot the series, it’s 50 minutes in length (scriptwise), and we shot that in eight days. When you consider a feature film is an hour and a half run time, and a four week shoot, it’s quite crazy. Josh (Gilbert) as a producer is an absolute magician.
Do you see more opportunity for WA to contribute to that form?
There’s potential for a real industry here. I think we haven’t quite gotten as big as we could be. We just need to support and the facilities to help build that industry.
But there’s plenty of opportunities for anyone to make a web series. You don’t have to do it conventionally, as long as your story’s good you can just shoot on your iPhone. These days there’s no excuse, cameras are so accessible, technology is so accessible.
Will we see a second season of Single Ladies?
Long discussed. You can never say never, and I’d certainly work with Mimi and Gemma again, but I think at this stage in our careers, we are emerging and we saw the chance to do something, and then want to do the next thing. I think that’s part of being an emerging creative, just figuring out your voice.
What’s next for you?
I start shooting a short film on Sunday. A different story. It’s coming of age story about a Down syndrome woman, who runs away from home, and meets a sister girl along the way, heading towards the city. A different tone, but similar motive as a storyteller – putting things that aren’t typically seen at the forefront.
And Gemma and Mimi are off to bigger better things. We started this project strangers, but are now like sisters, texting everyday, and live in a one block radius of each other. And I’m a better person for knowing them.