Sophie Hyde on entering the series space with ‘Fucking Adelaide’

17 October, 2017 by Jackie Keast

Pamela Rabe, Kate Box, Tilda Cobham-Hervey and Brendan Maclean in ‘Fucking Adelaide’. 

The initial impetus behind Closer Productions’ six-part ABC series Fucking Adelaide was to create a show for the web that could be written quickly in between feature work and made with actors the company enjoys working with.

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Director and Closer co-founder Sophie Hyde, whose 2013 feature 52 Tuesdays won the Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award and a Crystal Bear at Berlin Film Festival, said creating a short-form, ‘low risk’ series also seemed a way to crack into the competitive TV market.

“Development of features takes a long time, and sometimes it feels like you’re close and then they fall over and it can feel a bit disheartening. The idea of TV is that you can work all the time, and you can work with characters over a long period,” she told IF.

“You want to be working. You want to be flexing your creative muscle – that’s how you build it.

“As a director, you’re oftentimes a long time between being on set. I’ve always made lots of small things like visual art pieces and documentaries, and various other things, because if you’re not, then you’re the least experienced person on set when you go to direct. That’s a really weird feeling.”

A comedy drama, Fucking Adelaide follows three siblings, Kitty (Tilda Cobham-Hervey, 52 Tuesdays, Hotel Mumbai), Emma (Kate Box, Rake, The Little Death) and Eli (Brendan Maclean, The Great Gatsby), who discover their mother, played by Pamela Rabe (Wentworth), is selling their childhood home. Each episode is told from the perspective of a different character.

The series is written by Matthew Cormack and Matt Vesely, based on a story by Hyde and Cormack. Rebecca Summerton produced and Bryan Mason was both DOP and editor.

Fucking Adelaide premiered at Adelaide Film Festival last week, and will air on ABC TV and ABC iview next year.

While at first the team at Closer thought they would release Fucking Adelaide online themselves, when Screen Australia and the ABC’s Long Story Short initiative – designed to support digital-first, short-form series – came up, they decided to go for it and succeeded in securing funding.

The South Australian Film Corporation and the Adelaide Film Festival also then backed the series, but Hyde said it remains “ultra-low budget” for its length – each episode ranges between 14 to 18 minutes – and as an ensemble series.

“But it was really important to us to show what we could do, and get our foot in the door of episodic, because it’s really hard to break into in Australia,” said Hyde.

The series was originally titled ‘Home’, because it centres around the notion of returning home. But the team started to joke it could just as easily be called ‘fucking Adelaide’ and it stuck.

“It just gave the feeling of the show – that feeling is obviously playful and loving at the same time, and making fun of ourselves,” said Hyde.

That title also allowed Closer to definitively set the production in Adelaide, a city that often “stands in for other places” in film and television, said Hyde.

While the show is yet to air, Closer Productions is already in talks for a full length second season of Fucking Adelaide with the ABC and an international broadcaster. The tricky thing for foreign sales of the first season has been its unusual length, Hyde said. Calling the series Fucking Adelaide and setting it so distinctly in one place hasn’t hurt prospects, however.

“Sometimes the more specific you get the more it travels. What we found is that people who have seen it now in the States for instance really understand the title and relate to it. It’s like fucking anywhere, fucking home, fucking small town.”

Next up, Hyde is attached to direct Animals, an adaptation of Emma Jane Unsworth’s novel by the same name. The film is due to shoot in Dublin as an Australian-Irish co-production, with Closer’s Summerton to produce alongside English producer Sarah Brocklehurst, and Mason to serve as DOP and editor. Closer is also developing a series with SBS, and Hyde is producing the next film from Maya Newell (Maybe Baby).

Fucking Adelaide has an Adelaide Film Festival encore screening tonight, and will screen on the ABC next year.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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