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In today’s episode, Luke shares his knowledge and experience making successful web series and share some of his tips for development, financing, production, festival strategy, and distribution.

This is part 1 of 2.

Podcast Transcript

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[Introduction – 00:00]

Xoe:

You’re listening to Part 1 on How To Make A Successful Web Series, In Conversation with Luke Eve. Today, on our program, we get the inside scoop on how to bring your web series to life.

In this special In Conversation event, Luke Eve discusses with us all things web series including development, financing, production, festival strategy, and distribution.

In 2014, Luke created, produced and directed the online series Low Life: A Black Comedy About Depression. The series went on to win over 20 major festival awards and was sold to Amazon Prime and CanalPlay.

On the tail of this success, in 2017, he finished directing and producing the follow-up series, High Life, executive produced by Stephen Fry.

High Life was nominated for an AACTA Award and won over 30 major awards, including best digital original at C21 Content London, and took out the 2017 Web Series World Cup. The series was sold to BBC Three, Channel 9, CanalPlay and Fullscreen.

Luke has four other digital series in the works across the US, UK, Spain and Australia. He’s currently preparing to shoot his first feature film, I Met A Girl, slated for early 2019.

Today’s episode was hosted by Eva Di Blasio and was recorded in front of a live audience on Thursday, November 8th, 2018.

From Screenwest, this is In Conversation.

[Starting in the Film Industry – 01:27]

Eva:

So, Luke, to begin tonight, can you begin by telling us a bit about your background and I guess, where your love for filmmaking began?

Luke:

I grew up on a farm in Western Sydney and there was nothing else to do but, [laughs], watch movies. Much to my parents’ annoyance, rather than being out in the farm working, I was hiding away in my bedroom watching movies. Then, I didn’t pursue it for quite a while. When I was 19 or 20, I went to London and backpacked for 5 years and sort of disappeared and did that for a little while. And then, I started getting into photography, a lot of travel photography, I guess, from just traveling and doing things like that.

And then, I realised that I needed to, at some point, concentrate on some sort of career if I was going to do something. And I sort of thought that photography and film was something I was really interested in.

So, I left London and then came back to Australia, and did a visual communications degree out in Western Sydney, specialising mostly in photography.

And through that, I started photographing a lot of local bands and getting to know the music scene and would do photo shoots with them, but was really interested in doing music videos. So, I would pitch to these bands that I was photographing that maybe I could do a music video and so, that opened the door into that.

Luke (02:59):

Then – I’m just trying to work chronologically – then, I got into film school, got into The Australian Film Television and Radio School out in Sydney, which was a really amazing ground, for not just learning, but forming relationships. A lot of those people, I actually still work with today.

I was lucky enough, just as we graduated, to make a film that won Tropfest, which opened a few doors. Obviously, there was a bit of exposure around that, so that brings you to the attention of a lot of advertising production companies and things like that.

So, I got out of film school and was mostly trying to just build a reel. That was kind of the way … I think you probably still do it that way, to a degree. So, I was just trying to do commercials and music videos, and things like that, and build up a bit of a showreel. And then that led into television and so forth, which I’m probably jumping forward quite a bit.

[Early Career Challenges – 04:02]

Eva:

Ah, no. That’s all good. And I guess, when you were, sort of, starting out and carving out your career as a director, and trying to get professional work, were there any barriers that you faced, that you had to overcome?

Luke:

Yes. (laughs). Lots. I think as you all know, our industry is incredibly competitive, and you know, there’s not enough work for how many people call themselves filmmakers.

So, it’s a really tough career path in some ways. So, I was just slogging away and just trying to build a reel. That was the reel thing, and that was commercials, music videos. And then, trying to do short films as well.

That was, at the time – and it’s probably changed a little bit, which is what, sort of, brings us here today really – is that short films were the thing that really launched a career, and I would say they still do, to a degree. But now, it’s probably more web series and digital content.

But, it was tough and it’s still tough. Like, it’s still, you know, after doing this for, like, 10 or 15 years, doors still stay shut, and you know, it’s still hard to get work in traditional television and things like that but we can, again, talk about that later.

[Interning with Ted Hope – 05:12]

Eva:

(laughs). And, I noticed in your bio, that you had the opportunity to have an internship with Ted Hope, straight out of film school.

Luke:

Yes.

Eva:

Is that right?

Luke:

Yeah.

Eva:

And can you maybe tell us a bit about that, what that was like? Working with Ted Hope.

Luke:

So, anyone know who Ted Hope is or doesn’t know who Ted Hope is?

Okay, so, Ted Hope is now running Amazon Studios, essentially, and is a huge indie producer, and he’s probably produced something like 40 or 50 indie films, starting with Hal Hartley and people like that in New York in particular. He was a bit of a hero of mine, I guess, when I was starting out, in terms of being a producer.

And so, when I got out of film school, I just sent him a cheeky email, just to ask if it was possible to maybe come and do an internship with them. And luckily, in the US, a lot of production companies, are very big on internship because it’s free labour, obviously, and it’s, again, a lot of people trying to get a foot in the door.

It’s a really easy way to try, and forge relationships and get work with different production companies. And I thought that, you know, he had set up a company that, at the time, had just done 21 Grams and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and it was doing a bunch of films that, for me, were really influential.

Luke (06:31):

So, he seemed like the person that I would try, and target, and then, thankfully, he said yes, and then, I got some support from AFC, at the time, which then became Screen Australia. And I was there for, I think it was like six months, and I was just working in a development team.

I was reading four or five scripts per day, and being really surprised that they also write some really bad stuff as well, and you know, not everything that comes out of America is amazing. There’s still a lot of bad scripts floating around but also, a lot of really amazing, beautiful scripts, which they would then be lucky enough, because of who they were, get to then go on and make into a film.

That was really great little training ground, and I’ve stayed in touch with a few of those people that I did that internship with. Most of those people now live in LA, and I split my time between Sydney and LA, so I catch up with them pretty regularly. And they’re all doing really well, and have proper jobs, and making money, so that’s good.

[Developing Low Life – 07:30]

Eva:

(laughs). Awesome. Okay, so, you’re here today to talk about the success you’ve had with Low Life and High Life. I see that’s actually created by yourself and Adam-

Luke:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eva:

… Grossetti.

Luke:

Yep.

Eva:

And he was the writer.

Luke:

Yes.

Eva:

Are you able to talk a bit about that development process and how you were involved as a director? Like, was it your idea and then, Adam wrote it?

Luke:

Yeah, it was.

So, I’d just moved to LA, which is why it’s set in LA, and I guess, quick back story on that is I arrived and I was doing the usual, sort of, meeting, you know, lots of agents and managers, and doing all of that kinda stuff, and trying to figure out how I belonged there, I guess.

And everybody was basically saying, “Look, go out and do a web series. Like, just go and do a web series.” Like, you know, agents and managers make it seem really easy, like it’s just something to pull together.

So, I’d had an idea about doing something about depression, but I wanted to do something — even though that’s actually, probably the most heavy episode. The rest are reasonably, sort of, comical and — I had an idea about trying to do a show about depression that was entertaining and not earnest or preachy.

And so, I contacted a writer friend of mine. We used to live together in Sydney, and he was a friend, and he was now living in New York, and I pitched him the idea, and he really responded to it.

Luke (08:55):

And so, for a couple of months, we would, sort of, sit and, you know, over Skype, really. We would, sort of, keep Skype open. I was in LA, he was in New York, and we would just throw ideas back and forth.

But he was very much the writer, and I was the sounding board and kind of giving back feedback and notes, and based on, I guess, something that I knew, that I wanted to say but also knew how I wanted to direct.

And so, yeah, we just, kind of, back and forth like that, for a couple of months, which was a really nice, organic process. And then, on set, we actually changed a few things as well.

Eva:

Oh, okay.

Luke:

Which I don’t normally do, like I’m pretty strict on script, and that was the first project, I think, that it was a pretty fluid sort of shooting style.

We didn’t have a lot of money and also, I’d, sort of, adopted a bit of a shooting style that was actually all hand-held and we did a lot of scenes that were only maybe two or three shots.

It was, like, minimal coverage, and so, we were playing around a little bit with the actors and the script, and improving a little bit, which kind of gave it a bit of a fresh feel. And that was a fun experience for me.

Eva:

Sounds really great, and I know … ’cause I know the series and I’ve watched it all, and the way you’ve laid it out is, like, the different stages of depression.

So, did that come along early in the structural stage or was that something that came later at the end?

Luke:

I can’t remember. I think it came really early on.

At the time, just taking it back to web series, at the time, which was around 2014, I figured I’d watched a lot of web series and was trying to figure out what the sweet spot was for length and formats, and things like that. And I think, you know, we were talking a little bit about this before we started tonight, about how technology has been a real driver of the way we consume media, obviously, but also in particular with web series.

I think, four or five years ago, the sweet spot was anywhere between, three and five minutes, whereas now, it’s, you know, much more than that. People are sitting on buses and watching Game of Thrones on their mobile device. So, you can get away with a little bit more. But at the time, we thought that a five minute series was the right length, and we weren’t quite sure, in terms of format.

And then, I actually can’t remember whose idea it was but we were banding around a bunch of ideas and thought that it would be fun that every episode, in a way, was a solution to, you know, some sort of solution, I guess, to depression.

Ultimately, there is no solution. That was the point. And so, there was episodes called Pills and one was called Suicide, which was actually a comical episode. And, another one was about connection. And so, it was, like, different aspects of how you might be able to get out of, or cope with, depression.

[Funding Low Life – 11:50]

Eva:

And so, you spoke about going around to these different meetings in LA, and everyone’s like, “Just go make a web series.”

Luke:

Yeah.

Eva:

“Just go make it happen, you know, with all your money that you’ve got.”

Luke:

Yeah.

Eva:

So, where did you find this money? How did you make that happen?

Luke:

It’s funny. I don’t know.

Maybe as a result of going to film school and things like that, I’m not, you know … Most people, I’m sure, in this room, are really good at filming stuff and editing their own material, and doing all of those things. I’m … I’m not. I’m useless. I’m good at sitting behind a monitor and yelling stuff out. (laughs).

And so, for me … And also, you know, having a photographic background as well, I was always … I guess I just want my stuff to be quite cinematic and I want it to appear nice. And so, the idea of just getting out there and banging something together, for me, wasn’t that easy, and wasn’t something I was really interested in.

Luke (12:41):

But I had an idea. And also, at the time, there was lot of web series going around about, you know, it was always people trying to make it in Hollywood or there were housemate stories, or zombies. And often, it was a lot of, (laughs), quite low-budget sort of stuff, and I wanted to do something a little bit different.

I wanted to make something feel like it was like a Sundance film or an indie film with a soundtrack and all that sort of stuff. And I wasn’t quite sure how we’d raise the money because I’d just moved to LA, so it wasn’t like I had money kind of floating around. But I thought that we had an interesting sort of topic in mental health and in depression, in particular.

And, so we did a Kickstarter campaign and ended up raising something like, I think it was like $11,000 … $11,000 USD, I think it was. And then, I, sort of, chipped in another four or five on top of that.

And so, the whole series, I think it’s about 36 minutes long, cost about 15 or $16,000.

[Assembling the Crew and Cast – 13:35]

Eva:

Yeah, it’s amazing. So, you said you like to have a pretty sophisticated crew, so how did you go about getting, you know, choosing your crew and getting them all on-board? Were they existing relationships, or did you have to start fresh?

Luke:

Melanie, my editor, is somebody I’ve worked with for like 15 years, and she’s cutting the feature. So, we’ve been together for a long time.

And then, the others… Like, I’d just moved to LA so it was really about just trying to forge new relationships. So, yeah, it was weird. It was like the usual thing about going to parties and going to networking events and things like this, and meeting people, and so, that’s where I met Eva first.

Eva:

(laughs).

Luke:

She didn’t tell that story but, you were in Australia, or you were in the US for a little bit and we-

Eva:

Yeah.

Luke:

Yeah. So, we met and then, I met a couple of other producers and then DPs and things like that, which is still new contacts, really.

And then, we were lucky in that — even though it’s set in America with American accents and things — the two leads, Claire van der Boom and Henry Nixon are both Australian, and LA is full of a lot of Australian actors kind of hanging around. So, we were able to, kind of, draw on a bit of a sort of Aussie mafia of people over there, I guess.

I had, weirdly enough, a lot of people putting up their hand and saying they’d love to work on it for free and all that sort of stuff, and I was able to get really great cast. The cast is exceptional, actually. I was very lucky.

So, yeah, it was a combination of that. And then, we did post back here because I had to come back here for a job or something. So, we did a lot of post back here with Mel and Sasha on sound, and stuff like that. So, it was a bit of a piecemeal of different … So, it was a bit of a collection of Aussies and Americans, kind of, working together, and it was a nice experience.

[Filming in Los Angeles vs Australia – 15:27]

Eva:

Was that your first time shooting in LA?

Luke:

It was. Yeah.

Eva:

And would you say there’s much difference between shooting in Australia and Los Angeles? Like, just the protocols and systems.

Luke:

I think it’s really similar. There are longer shoot days in LA, which is handy when you are trying to make something really ambitious.

And also, it depends on … Like, this was what’s classified as a non-union project. So, it meant that practically, everybody was working for free or deferred payment, so it was easy to kinda get people together, and often, I think when you’re working on things for free, people really chip in and go for it.

So, we were quite lucky, and you know, shooting regulations. LA is really tough just because, obviously, the whole town is geared around shooting, so you got to get permits and things like that, obviously.

But I think that was most of our cost went into locations and, camera gear, really. That was, kind of, about it. Everybody else worked for free. We had… I think we had about 10 different bands give us songs as well.

But I think the mental health angle was a big one for getting people connected to it and feeling like we were doing something that they connected with or that they thought was a really good message.

And that was something we were really passionate about as well, making sure that that was an authentic portrayal.

You know, I think initially, when I said I wanted to do a comedy about depression, people were worried that I’d be taking the piss, and it would be disrespectful, and things like that. But then, when people saw that … what we were doing, I think it attracted a lot of people. So it was good, we were really lucky.

[Directing Low Life – 17:02]

Eva:

And so, with your direction or your execution, you seem to display … you have this amazing ability to display emotional turmoil on screen through the way that you’ve chosen your shots, your editing, and that kind of thing. Are you able to talk a bit to that process?

Luke:

It’s probably how I was feeling directing it. Um, I don’t know.

Eva:

(laughs).

Luke:

But thank you. I guess, the back story, which always comes up through Q&As, is it was semi-autobiographical. That was why I was interested in making something about depression.

So, I guess, I could connect on that level and Henry and I… I don’t think Henry would mind me saying either, that he has had his bouts with depression and could really, sort of, channel that, and we had a really fantastic working relationship. And like I said, we would play with things on set a little bit and improv, and also in rehearsal.

So, I think we were able to get something that was quite authentic, which I’m really proud of. And then, the DP as well was great. It was, like, at the time, he was quite inexperienced but has now gone onto shoot some big films, and things in LA and, I’d never worked with him before but we really connected, and he really understood what we were trying to do.

And it was almost like the limitations in some ways worked for us, in terms of, like, we didn’t have a lot of time and we were trying to shoot minimal coverage but, that a stylistic choice as well. I wanted a lot of moving camera and, sort of, really, kind of, moving in on an actor and, sort of, trapping them and things like that.

Luke (18:36):

So, yeah, it was a combination of factors, I guess. And also, I’m pretty big on, kind of, sound design.

A lot of the soundscape and stuff, which is probably not the greatest through these speakers but I always, when I’m directing, have notes, even in pre and shooting stage, about sound and sound design in particular, and what it might mean for a particular character, in terms of point of view and things like that.

So, with both Low Life and High Life, because they’re quite POV heavy, sound was quite important for me.

[Festivals and Awards – 19:07]

Eva:

And you know, it’s gone on to win so many awards, Low Life, and it’s done really well in the festival circuit. Can you talk to some of those experiences?

Luke:

Yeah. We were lucky. Like, it was one of those things that I’d been directing for quite a few years, and then we made this for no money, and then, it ended up being, at that point in time, definitely the most successful thing that I’d done and I think that’s probably got a lot to do with the fact that it, maybe, it was a, sort of, a personal story as well, and I could connect, and it felt, maybe a little bit more truthful.

And at the time of making it … So, this was back in, sort of, 2014, 2015. There wasn’t real … I don’t know, I didn’t know what to do with it. Like, it was a web fest, and it was, like, well, do I stick it on YouTube, or you know, what else is there?

Luke (19:54):

And I knew it wasn’t a cute little comedy that people could email around and say, “Hey watch this.” I knew it wasn’t going to be the sort of thing that was going to get thousands of hits, but I thought that we had something that was, kind of, unique for a web series and so, I thought the angle, or the avenue for it would be festivals, I guess, and trying to get some sort of critical success.

So, right, at exactly that point in time, there was such a thing as web fests starting up around the world. Like, literally, sort of, starting up that year. Most of them are now in their fourth or fifth year.

And so, I was … I don’t know what these things are, and I entered Melbourne WebFest where Eva was as well, and we were lucky enough to win best comedy and The Grand Jury Prize with Low Life. So, that started the ball rolling for the series.

Eva:

Didn’t that send you off to a couple of other festivals as well?

Luke:

Yeah. That got us into a really prestigious festival.

It still would be the most prestigious web festival out there called Marseille WebFest, which you guys should try, and explore if you can. They only take I think it’s 20 or 21 web fests or web series every year, and it’s a great festival to get into because they fly you, no matter where you are in the world, over to Marseille in France, and put you up for three or four days. It’s a really great experience. They get execs in from Europe as well as in LA, and so they got really good people there to meet.

Luke (21:20):

And we were lucky enough with Low Life, to win a big award there, which was granted by a company called CanalPlay, which is a huge broadcaster in France. And they came up to me afterwards and said, “Look, we love this. What else do you have?”

And I had really, just started thinking about, not so much a second series of the project but I’d started thinking that maybe it would be good to do a companion piece, but this time make it about a teenage girl, which was kind of calculated in some ways, in that I was traveling around a lot and learning that a lot online content, at that point in time, was obviously consumed, mostly by younger audiences.

So, I pitched them this idea, which was really in its infancy, also about a mental health project, but it was… This time, it was about a 17-year-old girl with bipolar. And they, like, a week later, wrote me a cheque, which was, kind of, weird, and that will never happen again. But it was nice that it happened then. They actually rang me up one day when I was back in Sydney, and asked how much I needed, and I told them that I really wish I’d said more.

Eva:

(laughs).

Audience:

(laughs).

Luke (22:26):

But, to my surprise, they wrote a cheque, like a week later or something, and that was, kind of, the birth of High Life.

But it was all through going to festivals and, so, just before Marseille as well. Like, I’d pretty much spent the year traveling because I had no job or no life, so it was easy. Just traveling around with it … Because that was something new to me, like, digital series. I was, like, I didn’t quite know where it fit and I was excited by all these new web festivals, and there was all these new platforms starting up as well, and there was a bit of money floating around.

I was like, “this is really exciting” and so much better, in a way, than any festival I’d ever been to with short films, in my experience anyway. So, I learned a lot from that, from, you know, learning about different platforms that were out there and different strategies for distribution and things like that. So, that was kinda what led to High Life.

[Sales and Profit – 23:18]

Eva:

Did you make money out of Low Life?

Luke (23:20):

Ah, well, no. We sold it to CanalPlay, as part of, you know, giving us some money for High Life as well. They gave a small license fee. I probably made back maybe three or four grand of my investment. But I had spent maybe, you know, $10K, traveling around with it and marketing it, and stuff like that.

Also, it is a bit of a … Like, at the time … It was pretty loose in terms of the way we kinda pulled it all together, and it was crowdfunded as well. So, I felt a bit weird about it, if we were going to get sales, as to how you then distribute money back to crowdsourced. So, I was a bit confused by how we would do that. And some of our legal agreements with the rest of the crew were in place, but they were pretty loose. Everybody was just doing deferred.

So, to be totally honest, I kind of, didn’t chase sales for it. It wasn’t my goal with it because I knew it would be a nightmare trying to … Like, if we suddenly sold it for $20 grand, I was like, “Uh, how the hell do we distribute that?” Like, it would be nice, but it just wasn’t something that I chased.

But what I really wanted for it was exposure and getting it out there, and using it to raise awareness for me as a filmmaker, but then trying to get the next series made, which was High Life.

[Goal for Low Life – 24:34]

Eva:

I guess, just on that, we had a conversation previously and, you were, sort of, saying that you had different goals as a director, with each series.

Luke:

Yes.

Eva:

What was your goal with Low Life?

Luke:

It was weird with Low Life because, again, I just didn’t quite know what a web series was, in some way, so, I knew I was interested in it as a format. So, the goal really was just to get it out there and get it seen, and I wasn’t quite sure …

I learnt a lot from the process of sending it off to festivals and we distributed Low Life for free on YouTube and we put it on Vimeo as well. And we just kinda plunked it out there, really.

And really, the goal was just to raise awareness for, I guess, me as a filmmaker but also, I became really passionate at the time, about mental health and mental health issues, and I was, sort of, targeting a lot of those kinda groups through social media, who really responded to it and I actually got quite a kick out of that. That was actually quite a life-changing experience for me.

So, the goals were both personal and professional in a way, whereas with High Life … the goals were very different.

[Series Structure – 25:45]

Audience:

My question is how many episodes in the series of Low Life or each series?

Luke:

Low Life is 6 by 6. Actually, some might’ve even been five. Like, it was pretty fluid. And High Life is 6 by 10.

Audience:

Okay, and have you committed to six for any particular reason?

Luke:

No. I don’t know, I really loved a lot of British TV and that was, you know, formats were six. I just thought it seemed to work for me. There was a lot of shows floating around, that were maybe either 8 episodes or 10. I didn’t have the budget for that, so I thought that six was a good, palatable number.

[Camera Equipment – 26:30]

Audience:

What camera did you shoot it on, at the time?

Luke:

Low Life was a RED camera. It’s a nice camera, and the DP was, like I said reasonably inexperienced at the time but he’d also shot a heap of short films. So, I knew I was in good hands, but he did a nice job with it.

We didn’t have a lot of lights. A lot of it was natural light, again, just due to budget and also because of the way we wanted to shoot. Like, I wanted to move around a room and not be constricted by lighting and things like that. So, it was both stylistic, as well as economical. (laughs).

[Distribution – 27:03]

Audience:

So, what are the lifespans like, in terms of rolling it out now? And what do you do now, now that web series have been around for a while?

Luke:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Audience:

In terms of … Have you rolled out through the festival circuit and then dump it on Vimeo or …?

Luke:

So, I think one of the questions we get to it later, but we might as well jump in now is with this, we just dumped it. So, we just released all six episodes in one go. I just thought that was the way to, kind of, get it out there. People like to you know, binge stuff, and I just thought that, you know, who the hell is going to want to wait around a week, for an episode Low Life? And so, I just put it all out there at the time.

When it came time for High Life, we didn’t do that. I didn’t release it for free. We held onto it purely for sales, because things had changed in the market place, which I was really aware of. And also, I just felt like it was good to hold onto to it. So, they had very different distribution strategies, which we can talk a little bit about later as well.

[Improvisation – 28:01]

Audience:

Firstly, you mentioned that you strayed from the script and let things happened with your actor when it was taking shape… I just wondered how much of a solid structure you had at the start of the filmmaking.

Luke:

It was really solid. It was a very heavily scripted project, and it was just little things. Like, it wasn’t huge.

There was a couple of scenes that were completely improvised but generally, I’d say 90% of the project was to script. It was just particular moments with Henry, we’d try something, or I would give him an idea, and we’d just play around with it a little bit.

But it’s … Yeah, it’s probably close to, like 80 or 90% of it is scripted.

[Low points of production – 28:35]

Audience:

What was the lowest point for you, in making Low Life?

Eva:

(laughs). That’s a good question.

Luke:

(laughs). I think afterwards, like, after it was done, I was like, “Bah, I don’t know, what do I do know?” Like, I probably sat on it for months before … ’cause there wasn’t really web fests and stuff out, I just didn’t know what to do with. So, it was probably afterwards, you know, after you do a shoot, you always get the kinda blues afterwards anyway. And I sort of felt like I’d made it but now what, in way. So, it’s probably then. Like, the actual making of it was like a really wonderful experience. I was very lucky, like, I think it was positive just because it was in LA and it was a new environment for me, and working with new people.

Luke (29:14):

And that was just one of those … It sounds like a really cheesy thing to say, but it just felt like a really blessed kinda project. Every time if something bad happened, something better would happen to salvage it. So, yeah, it was really afterwards, I guess. And then, that got picked up by … Like I said, Melbourne WebFest was the, sort of, turning point for that.

[Shooting the Series – 29:32]

Audience:

How many cameras, or did you shoot point and shoot, or what?

Luke:

It’s all single camera.

Audience:

Single.

Luke:

Yeah. It’s all single cam.

Audience:

How many scenes did you shoot in one day?

Luke:

It was, like, six, or seven per day. It was about seven per day, which is, you know, reasonably quick, I guess. But again, the shooting style made that a little bit easier.

Eva:

How many shoot days did you have, Luke?

Luke:

Six, so it was … Yeah, six, yeah.

Eva:

Six, okay. Yeah.

Luke:

Uh or five, five and a half, or something like that.

Eva:

And what’s the total duration?

Luke:

36 minutes.

Eva:

Okay, great.

Luke (30:07):

(to audience member). Yeah. Hi.

[Getting Stephen Fry as a Producer – 30:09]

Audience:

I saw that Stephen Fry was the producer of High Life.

Luke:

Yes.

Audience:

How did that come about?

Luke:

—Should we talk about that now?

Eva:

Yeah.

Luke:

Yeah, that’s right. You’re jumping ahead!

Eva:

(laughs). Yeah.

Audience:

Sorry (laughs).

Luke:

So, when I did Low Life, obviously, Stephen Fry is a very, kind of, vocal advocate of mental health and mental health awareness, and I was really active on social media about trying to get the project out there, and I thought that he would be the perfect person to try and target, or to get it to.

Some friends of mine had just made a film, a documentary where he was in a particular segment of it. And so, I had his assistant’s contact details, so I emailed him and asked if he would just be nice enough to watch it. I didn’t say, you know, tweet about it or anything. I just said, “Could you please watch it?” And he did. He got back, like, about a month later or something like that and said he loved it, and it was great, so that was really nice.

Then around a month later, when it was mental health awareness month in the UK, I sent him a cheeky little message and just said, “Hey, if you loved it, would you mind kinda tweeting about it?” ’cause he has, like, 13 million followers or something. So, he was nice enough to do that, which was nice in terms of a spike, in terms of our views and things like that, and some awareness, which was really fantastic for us.

And then, after we got that first cheque from CanalPlay, and I knew that we had some money there, and we’d be able to do a proper job of High Life, I just emailed him and said, “Hey, do you remember, (laughs), do you remember Low Life? It’s, uh, this guy again.” Um …

Audience:

(laughs).

Luke (31:43):

“Would you mind, (laughs), would you mind executive producing, this web series?” And he wrote back and said, “Well, I don’t really know what we would do. I don’t know what a web series is, but we like what you did with the last one, so, sure, let’s do it.”

So, they came on-board as an executive producer, which essentially, was, kind of, you know, there’s different … there’s varying degrees of what an EP does, but they were essentially, at first, sort of, added their name to it, which helped us try and get finance out of the UK, and it definitely helped in terms of raising some future finance here in Australia, and especially helped in terms of getting us a sale to the BBC, at the end.

But it was really a process of a couple of years, and it was actually quite organic, and I was just very lucky because he was, you know, he was the perfect person to target for the show, really.

Yeah, and then, during the making of High Life, actually, they were amazing. So, he was busy, but he has a producing partner that he works with really closely, and we would probably almost speak, like, every day, every two days. They were incredibly giving of their time in terms of script development and also looked at cast, and just gave feedback along the way, helped with the edit as well, gave thoughts and feedback. They were amazing for, you know, basically no money. They were incredible. Yeah.

[What would you change? – 32:56]

Audience:

Would you do anything different?

Luke (32:58):

Uh, no? I don’t know. I’m kinda … Yeah, I prefer not to … Yeah, I … Yeah. (laughs). No, I think it’s fine. I mean, I, you know, if I had more money and all that sort of stuff, of course you would always go back — and I’m a different person — but, it is what it is. You know, I think it’s product of who I was at the time and the resources that I had at the time, and it was really life-changing for me, so I’m very proud of it and happy for it to stay as it is, I think.

[Outro – 33:25]

Xoe:

This has been part one on How To Make A Successful Web Series, in conversation with Luke Eve.

Stay tuned for part two where Luke will be discussing his follow-up series, High Life.

This podcast was brought to you by Screenwest. Screenwest wishes to thank Lotterywest for their continuing support of the WA screen industry.

Today’s episode was edited by XB Studios, with music by Andrew Wright, and produced by Eva Di Blasio for Screenwest.

[Transcript Ends]

In Conversation is a Screenwest production.

Screenwest is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing strategic leadership and assistance to the film and television industry in Western Australia.

Get a behind the scenes look at the world of screen production as industry insiders share their experiences, insight and expertise.

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