Fairy Floss (AUS) finds housemates and friends; Jacob and Savanna, interviewing for a room in their Melbourne share house, but neither could be prepared for the outrageous characters they will encounter over the course of their day.

We spoke to Harry Quinlan, the writer and director of Fairy Floss to get a look into the crazy world of housemate hunting and the process of creating the unique characters that make up the series.

Why did you decide on the web-series format?

This is my second web series after another I made in 2017 called “Plum Loco.” Before Plum Loco I was attempting to make short films, but it seemed like such a circuitous route to get them out there and even if you got into one of the festivals it was only going to be seen by a small audience there. I remember just wanting to make something that was available for people to see. That’s what I like about the web series format, next to maybe the music video, it’s basically the only format available for the amateur film-maker that it is designed to be seen by the public immediately.

What inspired your series?

It may not surprise anyone to find out that the idea for the series came from a round of housemate interviews I conducted with my own housemate. We were seeing one person after another and I literally thought, ‘this is like a tv show.’ Everyone gets their own little episode all about them. Then the intervieews started staying too long and the next person was arriving. At one point we had three interviewees in the house at once. It just seemed so obvious to me that that was the climax of the show. Plus housemate interviews are just so ripe for dramatic tension and comedy, the idea of them is just so strange.

Fairy Floss Trailer

How long have you been working on your series?

We filmed in December last year. Post production took a little longer due to lockdown so a lot of it, such as colour grading and sound mixing, had to be done via correspondence.

What is the most interesting element of your series for the audience?

I would hope that it’s the characters. I wanted the audience to think at the end of every episode, who’s coming through that door next? I didn’t want the audience to watch the next episode because they wanted to find out what happened in the end, I wanted them to watch it because every episode was enjoyable, the best way to do that was to try and write compelling characters.

What was your greatest challenge creating the series?

Casting. There were 12 on-screen speaking roles to cast and every single one of them had to be great enough to support an entire episode. It was like casting twelve leads. I am the most disorganised person in the southern hemisphere so organising all those auditions and keeping track of all the possibilities for roles was very hard for me. If you’re an actor that auditioned for this series and I never got back to you, I’m sorry!

Despite all this, I got very lucky with my actors. A lot of them just materialised at the 11th hour and they could not have been closer to the character. Having said that, the hardest roles to cast were of course my two leads played by Jesse Bouma and Madelyn Sheahan. I had this clear idea that I wanted them both to be really easy going, constantly bemused by the characters they encounter, never judgmental or shocked. They’re supposed to be people you would like to live with. But actors want to emote constantly, it was really difficult to find people that could do relaxed and bemused or to do it without seeming flat or bored. As soon as Jesse sent in his tape I knew he had to be in it, he just got the vibe exactly right.

When you’re casting you’re also sort of just hoping the actor will show you something different or interesting in themselves. I remember when Maddy sent in her tape, she attached the wrong file to the email and when I opened it, it was just a clip from a Godard movie of a woman going absolutely hog-wild, dancing in a bar. I thought, ‘either this is a mistake or this is the biggest flex I have ever seen in my entire life. If her tape is good, she’s got it.’

Were any of the characters based off your own housemate hunting experiences and what was the character design process like?

I remember I had vague outlines for some characters and certain situations I wanted to include, sometimes just the outfits I wanted a character to wear or an anecdote I wanted them to tell, but I had no idea which character would have which traits and how a lot of the story would unfold. If you have the idea as you’re writing it, I’m not sure if it’s better or worse, but it’s always less predictable. If you use the first idea that comes to your head then your audience can probably guess what is going to happen. Then the audience’s experience of watching the show doesn’t become one of discovery but one of waiting. If it’s coming to you as you write it, that’s always the best feeling, it’s like you’re watching it happen.

As for whether or not any of the characters were based on my own experiences, my elite team of lawyers has advised me to state that any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Which prospective housemate would you choose to live with?

Personally I might just choose Violet for the pure drama of it all. Her life seems like it would produce a lot of great material.

What is the future for your series?

My fortune teller recently moved inter-state to pursue their dream of entering a pyramid scheme so I have as little information about that as you do, however this is very much a standalone story so there are currently no plans for further episodes.