Paramedics SUV (AUS) follows Eric and Rebecca, an eccentric couple who find themselves in witness protection. They are provided with a new house, new identities, and new job covers. They decide to commit 100% to their new careers as paramedics despite having zero training, and inevitably, hilarious and awkward situations ensue.
The 2020 Spotlight Selection series’ writer, producer and lead actor Rudi Baker talked to Melbourne WebFest about how the series came to life and the adventures along the way.
Why did you choose the web series format?
Basically we begged, borrowed and stole (that stole part won’t hold up in court BTW) to make Paramedics SUV, so the shorter format style of a web series definitely suited us. Also, the series features quite slapstick comedy with two main characters who are quite intense, so we thought the audience would be better off receiving Eric and Rebecca in small doses at a time. Plus of course, the format is just brilliant for filmmakers to get their creative in front of a huge number of eyeballs without the requirement of a network.
How did you come to decide on the subject matter?
My brother actually owns the ex Oran Park Raceway ambulance (he bought is just to be a goods-carrying van) and I always drive it whenever I stay with him. People are always looking at it a little weirdly whenever you drive past, and I often imagined how bizarre it would be to actually dress as a paramedic and drive around trying to assist people with absolutely no medical qualifications whatsoever (I take long drives and get bored a lot with plenty of time to think…don’t judge me).
One day, I drove to Emma’s (who plays Rebecca) and told her to come out to the street and take a look in my van. She looked at me like I was a creep but I convinced her it was all above board and when she saw the ambulance and saw the comedy potential, she was in…(in the series, not the van).
As Eric and Rebecca point out in the show, an ambulance (and everything that goes with it) is not easy to procure, how did you do it?
As mentioned above, my brother owns the ex Oran Park Raceway ambulance so the vehicle already had the sirens and a couple of decals on it. We just added a few more stickers including the reverse print ‘Ambulence’ decal at the top front (so people can see it in their rearview…it’s a paramedic/ambulance/industry thing…you probably wouldn’t understand…lol) but we deliberately misspelled it as ‘Ambulence’ so the police wouldn’t charge us with impersonating a real ambulance. I received a lot of props from an actual paramedic friend who I won’t mention so he keeps his job and we purchased a stretcher off Gumtree and were good to go.
What was your favourite scene to shoot and why?
We had a lot of fun shooting the jogger scene in episode 1. It certainly took concentration to maintain a deadpan expression while somebody off-camera sprays blood over Emma’s and my face through a prophylactic with a pinprick at the end (which I’m pretty certain is the only time you ever want a hole at the end of your condom…).
Did anything unexpected happen during the making of your series?
We were filming some pick-up shots out the front of the 1st AD’s house that required me to be stuck in a body bag while Emma fiddles with the stuck zipper. After we got the shot and left the police turned up to the house responding to reports from a neighbour that some people were trying to transport a dead body in a body bag! True story!
What’s the future of the series? Are there more episode in the works?
We would love to continue Eric and Rebecca’s story and we’ve even left the final episode of Paramedics SUV up in the air ready to go straight into season 2 which is pretty much ready to go as soon as we can secure some funding.