Image: Get Real Estate (AUS)

This year at the festival, we’ve received submissions that just make us L.O.L. We’ve had the great honour of seeing how web series have managed to transform the seemingly mundane into something much more spectacular.  

Based right here in Melbourne, Get Real Estate (AUS), Real Melbourne (AUS) and Unreal (AUS) are three series that have captured this humour perfectly.

Get Real Estate explores the quirks and intricacies of Australia’s second most popular national sport, real estate, through a comedic lens.   

“Melbourne is very much defined by its architecture and we show snippets of the property landscape throughout the series. For most people, their homes represent their most valuable asset,” says producer & writer Marcello Barbaro, who also stars as ‘Marcus’.

Barbaro successfully showcases the humour in real estate and comments that “the centre of this spectacle are the real estate agents. [They’re] a rich tapestry of characters!”  

The web series is set entirely in a ‘kind of car’ and explodes in fun creativity. Notably, it’s also shot with only one background, which makes it all the more interesting.  

“In the end, we made the decision to use green screens so that we would spend more time on the actors’ performances, and I think we made the right choice,” says Barbaro. “It was definitely limiting, but also forced the creativity.” 

The setting of the series truly made the characters more dynamic – after all, there is so much to learn about a person when stuck in a long car ride!   

This unique way of filming the web series has led us to see how each character is different with their strong personalities, and Barbaro explains how the use of phone calls allowed him to introduce this into the series.  

“The protagonist is a man who considers himself an alpha male but is viewed by everyone around him as the complete opposite who lacks any self-awareness. This flawed character-type that I’ve come across over the years has always intrigued me. Once I found a ‘world’ to put him in, I got really excited.” 

Building character development and strong narratives in each episode, Get Real Estate makes you almost forget that you’re watching a car-based series. The short stories capture the compelling narratives which continue to develop throughout each episode.  

Real Melbourne is another series that was inspired by the creator, Justin Edbrooke’s, time in the corporate world. Using Melbourne as a character in itself, Real Melbourne uses people and their different personalities to bring the comedic tales to life.  

“Melbourne is teeming with a rich tapestry of people and personalities,” Edbrooke explains.

Image: Real Melbourne (AUS)

When asked about further inspirations for the series, Edbrooke gave us an insight into how Real Melbourne started.  

“I was working in a high-stress corporate job at the time and stumbled on the word sonder, which means the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. I realised that I’m the central character of my own story, and all my extras and supporting characters were central to their own story. The idea of exploring those lives came organically and quickly took shape in the form of a web series where they could be discovered from all angles.” 

Edbrooke finds a way to humorously engage with the audience in each featured story throughout, allowing us to feel for the protagonist who is just trying to live their best in day-to-day life. 

“Whether it’s a real estate agent overthrowing her arch-nemesis or a struggling actor battling with himself, there needs to be a likeable hero facing a relatable life hurdle at the centre of it all,” says Edbrooke.

“The series weaves these individual stories together to support a wider ethos about acceptance, understanding, empathy, and respect, all told through a comedic lens.” 

In creating Real Melbourne, Edbrooke makes us think about our role as citizens in our own city. “Real Melbourne serves as a gentle reminder that everybody out there has their own story to tell… so try not to get angry at that guy who just cut you off on the freeway, or the lady who pushed in front of you in line for coffee, because they might be going through something that you just don’t know about,” says Edbrooke.   

Like Edbrooke says, the power of something like sonder has the ability to shift our perceptions. So just have a laugh and enjoy your day even when you feel like there is nothing extraordinary happening. 

If laughing about life in Melbourne just isn’t enough, laugh in the face of history! Just as the last season of the production of REAL (an award-winning series produced with La Trobe University’s Department of Creative Arts and English), UnReal moved beyond reality into a situational comedy mockumentary narrative series, following a crew of four people. 

Producer Amelia Latham explains how the crew of four work to put on a live-to-air historical television program, ‘Real Historical Events from the Past’, that’s constructed to follow a featured historical event.  

Image: UnReal (AUS)

While the comedic tone was greatly influenced by other mockumentary television shows, this was further developed by looking into each character to discover their personalities and quirks.  

“We did not want the characters to be an expected representation of their role. Rather than a producer that was ‘put together’, dedicated and on top of their job, we created a character that is in shambles with a gambling addiction and a want for the show to succeed so she can pay off her debts,” says Latham.   

“We wanted to emulate the fast-paced tone and fly on the wall style while having those moments where the subjects interact with the mockumentary crew to acknowledge them.” 

UnReal is a prime example of how students in Melbourne have continued to shape the growth of web series. No idea is ever too ridiculous and in a city like Melbourne, anything works.  

When asked about Latham’s advice for other aspiring students, she gave pointers that could assist all.  

“Do not be afraid to let the project develop and move away from your original idea, stay true to what you are working to create, but do not be rigid in allowing creative necessary changes. And though cliché, do not be afraid to take risks. It might be that what you originally planned is the best option, or you might discover something so much better!” 

These Melbourne made series show how many stories exist, and how much talent can be found in our city. Inspiration can strike at any point, so make sure you seize the day wherever you are!  

If you’re lucky to be in the city during Melbourne WebFest, make sure you come to check out these series in action, to fast track your revelations.

Get your tickets to Melbourne WebFest 2019 here.