Einfach Maria (DEU)
This year Melbourne WebFest was lucky to be hit with several themes surrounding the complex lives of women. Ride the wave into the world of dating, complications, struggles, drama, mistakes and comedy.
No better series showcases these themes more than Einfach Maria (DEU), How To Know If You’re Dating a Narcissist (AUS), Dee-Brief (AUS) and Bonnie The Elephant (AUS). The world of dating in the 21st century isn’t all fun and games, as the quest to finding ‘the perfect match’ is becoming more and more difficult.
Student series Einfach Maria (DEU), produced by Maria Kempken, takes you on a journey through the eyes of Maria. Struggling through her life in an upside-down world, her friends are nowhere to be seen and she’s lost her job. With courage, she learns to wheel her way through the madness as she searches for Mr Right, facing all odds with the fun factor guaranteed.
Kempken explained that dating can only come into proper formation if you’ve got yourself figured out first. Einfach Maria focuses on self-acceptance and stamina, ensuring that everything is going to work out.
“You have to find yourself, especially in the 21st century. If you have that, I think Mr Right isn’t far away. Go out, show yourself, be yourself, talk to people and don’t be afraid. Don’t hide, be yourself.”
In being given the chance to connect with the characters, Kempken intentionally broke through the fourth wall, allowing the audience to feel Maria’s emotions and circumstances. “By breaking the fourth wall, we’re giving audiences the chance to do that. You feel closer to the characters, they speak to you and invite you to be part of Maria’s world and thinking,” says Kempken.
Official Selection series How To Know If You’re Dating a Narcissist (AUS) demonstrates a ‘how-to’ guide to the dating world. Parodic TV host Kristy Best abrasively whisks you through a surreal lifestyle parody hellbent on teaching women everywhere on the know-all guide on how to know you’re dating a narcissist.
Positioning her web series as more of a ‘how-to’, Creator Kristy Best gives a comedic spin to a serious topic, allowing her viewers to feel more comfortable when discussing narcissistic personality disorder.
“I think there are massive cringe moments for any viewer in this series, but it has managed to attract people who may usually shy away from such a serious topic if not for the comedic element,” says Best.
“All I ever wanted was for it to be more accessible than it currently is and a simple guide that saves people doing all the research you have to do to discover the same facts.”
Best wants to give audiences a clear understanding of narcissistic behaviour, allowing them to think about their own personal life matters. The dating world can be clouded by lust and infatuation, but sometimes we must dig deeper to find the hidden signs.
“We’ve had many viewers comment on how similar the series has been to their experiences dating,” says Best. “… It can happen to anyone. As I parody a TV Show Host with all the answers in this series, we see she has also dated narcissists….it doesn’t matter who you are, you can be in this same situation, so don’t be so hard on yourself for having a bad experience.”
Moving into a more serious tone, Dee-Brief (AUS) tells the tale of Dee, who is on a mission to put the pieces back together after breaking up with her long term, on-again, off-again partner. Moving in with her best friend Kate, life is about to change as adjusting to ‘single’ life is a hell of a lot different from what she remembered.
Coming together to join creative forces, Producer Jessica Pearce and Director Sarah Hickey found inspiration through real-life situations and relationships.
Pearce says after coming out of a particularly difficult breakup, she wanted to do something that paid homage to the amazing female friendships that had supported her.
In order to connect with their audience, Hickey says that going down the path of shooting the entire series as improvisation as a result of finding leads, Alexandra Hines and Chloe Martin allowed the story that was created to breathe new life by adapting it to a universal story.
Dee-Brief can be seen as a web series of self-discovery and realisation, with the characters resembling moments that we can all relate to.
Hickey explains that everyone clings onto a little something different from Dee-Brief.
“… The takeaway is actually the part that resonates most with me and my story, and that is the idea of being brave enough to walk away from something that isn’t working it means you are confronted by having to find out who you are as an ‘I’ and not a ‘we’.”
With mixing the combination of drama and comedy into one, Dee-Brief gives audiences a chance to laugh the most when the humour is in the absurdity of the circumstance, not because someone has made a joke within the dialogue or action. Hickey believes that life is truly stranger than fiction, and more often than not, the moments that make you pee your pants a little are the strangest of life’s coincidences. That is the kind of humour that is captured and tried through Dee-Brief.
In between all the drama and seriousness, comes the fun. Bonnie the Elephant allows you to follow Bonnie through the forest on her quest for love, dildos and orgies.
By creating a cheeky adult animation set inside a children’s storybook, creator Holly Hargreaves wanted to try something different.
Hargreaves explained that after years of experience working with children and having read many children’s books, she wanted to put her well-versed rhymes into action. “I thought it would be funny to mix that innocence with adult humour,” says Hargreaves.
Giving the genre a different perspective through animation, Hargreaves wanted a medium that allowed for her sense of humour to be portrayed as best as possible.
The series was originally considered as a live-action web series, with actors in animal costumes, Hargreaves decided to go with animation giving the web series an extra kick of creativity. “I thought it could be funny, but decided to go with animation and I’m glad that I did.”