Philippe and Tinker, two sneaker addicts line-up for hours to buy a new pair of collector’s items. It’s a failure. Disappointed, they decide to change their plan. Their new goal: pull off a heist. But things go haywire.

Slippers (CHE) director Ludo Jaccard joined Melbourne Webfest, to tell us what it was like to bring to life a web series which cheekily revolves around the exclusive sneakerhead culture. Jaccard also shares the challenges faced during development and production and how the team successfully pulled it off.

What inspired your series?

A mix of different things, of course, the weird world of sneaker fashion (which I’m not a part of), classical gangster and heist movies, Edgar Wright’s comedies (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, etc.) with characters who are up to no good but are profoundly stupid. The goal was to have fun!

How long have you been working on your series?

One year from writing to release.

What have the reactions from the sneaker community been like for Slippers?

Great for those who have a sense of humour and self-derision! Some members of the community really helped us out. Some people didn’t get the irony. I guess it’s true for every comedy on every subject, so we didn’t really care. In truth, our goal was for a wider audience to like it!

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Posted by Imajack on Thursday, February 6, 2020

Slippers Trailer

What was your greatest challenge creating the series?

The short time we had to shoot everything with quite a big crew and a small budget. I had to reduce my shot list and make hard decisions. One week before the shooting, one institutional producer pulled out from the project because of contract problems with the writers. We nearly had to cancel the whole production, but fortunately, our other producer (Swiss TV) stepped in and raised their commitment at the last second or so!

We had two or three really long takes which we couldn’t rehearse properly. Thankfully, everything went well! Some scenes needed a lot of extras but since we didn’t have a big budget, we had to go with smaller teams of extras than expected. We then had no other choice but to cheat. But I had a great team of Assistant directors who took care of that with great success. And of course, the extras did an amazing job! They stayed on set during endless days in the middle of a serious heatwave, in the middle of the summer holidays! Cheers to them!

Because of advertising law regulating public-funded productions in Switzerland, we didn’t have the right to show brands on-screen too visibly (Nike, Adidas, etc). Or if we really needed a close-up, we had to balance the screen time of each different brand, so in the end, we wouldn’t be accused of disguised advertising. To tell you the truth, it was quite frustrating to make a sneaker web series without being able to shoot close-ups of said sneakers as we would have liked…but we managed to do it!

Has the end product strayed far from your initial vision?

Not really. If I had to do it again, I would rather go with a slightly smaller crew to have more time for some scenes or cut the general length of the script, but this last option would have been impossible because the script was well written and structured.

The characters contrast each other perfectly, what was the character development process for Philippe, Tinker, Simone and Superman like?

Indeed, the writers spent a lot of time developing the characters before writing the script, in collaboration with the producers and I. Our goal was to have a well-functioning group of different characters. We took inspiration from different characters that we liked in movies and tried to balance the whole thing. We also took inspiration from real weird people we knew and tried to pinpoint what was funny about them, without mocking them.

The writers did an excellent job creating the heart of that story and the characters! Our two writers also played two main characters, so it helped a lot to develop each character accordingly. Sometimes the visions would be a bit different but it was my role to weigh in and to give some clarity on that. I had the chance to have a cast who understood each character’s motivation. It was quite easy and really a pleasure to direct them.

What was the release strategy for your web series?

The project was partly funded by our national Swiss TV network and they were responsible for the distribution. They chose to release the project under the youth radio station label Couleur3, in order to have a wider audience from the start. This radio station is known to release small comedy sketches on the Internet, to be watched on your phone for instance. Thanks to them Slippers received quite a lot of advertising before the release, even on TV and papers. That’s the plus of having a network on your side!

The minus is that you don’t control your strategy anymore, but they did a good job of selling the spirit of the series (my production company created the trailers, visuals, etc). The release worked pretty well but people from the network and from the audience didn’t expect this series to be so cinematic in terms of visuals, writing and direction. People had to adjust to the idea that Slippers wasn’t a thing you watched on your phone during a 5-minute cigarette break, but more in front of your TV at night on your couch. When they did, they liked what they saw I guess. As many filmmakers around the world, we prefer our content to be viewed on a reasonable screen size (on a computer, TV or a cinema, why not?) than on a phone.