Follow the journey of interconnected millennials as they navigate the anxieties of online dating, social media addictions and the love of their smartphones through the web series, Discontent (AUS).
The mind behind the series, Sam Rogers, spoke to Melbourne WebFest about his creative journey with his series.
What inspired the concept behind Discontent?
From a very young age, I’ve had a fascination with computers (see the photo attached). I’m not exactly why but maybe it’s something to do with having control over them unlike other aspects of life. Nowadays though it seems like computers are controlling me! When I’m doing something that requires a lot of focus, like writing, I literally hide my phone out of view but still in reach because I work better if I can’t see it. It’s crazy!
I wanted to make a show that explores how online technologies now play such a big part in our lives in negative and controlling ways but also in positive ways too. I was inspired by anthology TV shows like High Maintenance and Easy and how a wealth of different characters, stories and tonal qualities could overlap and become whole by a common theme.
What is your favourite aspect of the series that you’d love your audience to know about?
That it’s about online addiction in its various forms: social media, online shopping, dating apps, streaming binges. These are things I’m sure a lot of us can relate to.
How did you come to decide on your subject matter?
From spending so much time on my phone and becoming really conscious of it and everyone around me doing the same thing. That combined with wanting to tell stories about people my own age and experiences.
Your series looks into the lives of interconnected millennials and their experiences online – through social media addictions and the love of their smartphones. How did you first perceive this as the theme of your series, and how important was it in the development of your series?
The theme was the driving force for the development of the series. I think had ideas for about 10 different episodes and then I reduced them down to the 5 most interesting ones. And then from there, I found ways for the characters to intersect so that they could come in and out of episodes but the episodes could also be self-contained.
Why did you decide on the web-series format?
I love the immediacy and currency of the web series format from an emerging filmmaker standpoint. A web series can easily find an audience and engage with it in a way that something like a short film can’t. I’ve made a bunch of shorts, some that have won awards at festivals but there isn’t much of an audience for them outside of festivals and unless you’re selected at the biggest film festivals in the world they don’t really help your career. Web series I feel, have replaced shorts in terms of talent escalation and what the Australian government is supporting because as well as the potential of a big audience there is also interest from TV or streaming networks. Besides from shop talk, web series provide immense scope for characters, themes and stories to be explored in-depth in a way that a short of even a feature can’t provide.
What was your greatest challenge creating the series?
Probably the amount of time it has taken. We’ve basically made 5 short films off our own backs until the final stages. If we made an ongoing series it would have taken less time. It’s hard to manage a passion project like Discontent and paying rent at the same time and I guess that’s why I harped on about fostering careers in the previous question.
Which character of the series do you think is the most relatable?
I think the main character played by Maria Angelico in Episode 3, Milly, who pops up in episode 2 as well. Milly is obsessed with her phone and finds it hard to deal when she loses it and I think a lot of people can relate to how much they are attached to their phones!
If they only took one thing, one message, what would you like the audience to take away from the series?
To think a little deeper about the effect online technologies have on their behaviour and how much power the successful tech companies have in controlling our attention.