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October 10, 2018
Culture

How Lucy and DiC went from $600 short film to Screen Australia-backed mini-series

After premiering at the Adelaide Film Festival last year, We Made a Thing Studios' clickbait-inspired short film, Lucy and DiC, is returning to the festival in a new format.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Supplied

At the opening of last year’s Adelaide Film Festival, Tom Phillips and Jeremy Kelly-Bakker, the duo behind production company We Made a Thing (WMaT), celebrated the premiere of their first short film, Lucy and DiC.

Starring Lucy Gransbury and an animated levitating robot voiced by Ethan Marrell (AKA Ozzy Man Reviews), the original film was created on a $600 budget and made use of Jeremy’s extensive experience in visual effects (his credits include Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones as well as many titles from the Marvel universe).

Remarks

Lucy and DiC and The Way will screen at the Adelaide Film Festival’s Made in SA showcase on 15 & 21 October.

Lucy and DiC will screen again at the 2018 Adelaide Film Festival, but this time in much more significant way. The South Australian Film Corporation, Screen Australia and the ADL Film Fest Fund have all funded a much more significant production this time around.

CityMag meets the two creators at their office inside the Pirie Street co-working space Game Plus – a hub for Adelaide’s gaming industry – which we’re surprised to learn has only been their base since early this year.

“We were just operating out of our lounge rooms, really,” Jeremy says.

“We suddenly landed on what felt like a really silly Black Mirror episode” – Jeremy Kelly-Bakker

“We’ve been making stuff for years now and at the beginning of this year we realised we needed to officiate a space [and] have somewhere we could bring people.”

“There was something that excited us about [Game Plus] in particular because it wasn’t necessarily where a film production company would go,” Thomas says.

The two have worked together extensively over the last nine years, mostly on other people’s projects, but the idea for Lucy and DiC came after Jeremy hinted he’d like to create a CGI character. Thomas had the script to fit: a story following one housemate helping another prepare for a first date.

“It was actually based on a really bad clickbait article that I read,” Thomas says.

“I always click on clickbait. I can’t help it. This was something like Twenty things to do to maker yourself scientifically more likeable. I clicked on it and I was in tears the whole way. It was just too funny.

“I sent it to [Lucy] and we talked about doing it as a two-hander between two people, but it was always just a cute two-hander then. It didn’t have that weird hook. And then Jeremy comes in and goes ‘I wanna do a robot.’”

“All of a sudden when it’s this piece of technology feeding her this information, but the information he’s giving her is garbage – what if our technology is just as misinformed as we are?” Jeremy says.

“We suddenly had landed on what felt like a bit of a really silly Black Mirror episode.”

The initial screening at the Film Festival was well received, but it found further momentum once it was posted online.

“People were actually messaging us going ‘What if he came from this background [or] that background?’ So people were really curious about the world and all the empty spaces that we hadn’t filled in,” Jeremy says.

L-R: Thomas Phillips, Lucy Gransbury and Jeremy Kelly-Bakker.

 

With the short film as proof of concept, Thomas and Jeremy spent time workshopping the idea with the SAFC to see how it could be extended and landed on the idea of a web series: an hour of content made up of eight seven-minute episodes, created with joint funding from SAFC, Screen Australia and the Adelaide Film Festival.

The first two episodes of the eventual eight-part series will screen at the 2018 Adelaide Film Festival’s Made in SA showcase, alongside a second WMaT short film, The Way.

The second episode of Lucy and DiC, which sees the characters embark on a wine tour in the hopes of becoming social media brand ambassadors, will screen for the first time at the festival, and the following six episodes are scheduled for release in early 2019.

The web series format has worked well for young creators; cult television shows like The Katering Show, Broad City and Insecure all started as web series before finding their feet, a bigger audience, and a television network to call home.

L-R: Actor Lucy Gransbury and producer Ashleigh Knott.

It’s perhaps too early for CityMag to be drawing such comparisons – Thomas and Jeremy downplay our suggestion they may be on a similar trajectory; however, given the opportunity, Thomas says he would love to see the characters in a longer format.

“We don’t know what the format will actually be; it’s probably the audience is going to define that,” he says.

“You need to go ‘Where is the opportunity?’ Even in writing it, thinking of it as a full hour has been lots of fun because it’s almost like a mini-feature in a way – how does it set up and pay off? But how do each of the little chapters work? Can you sit down and watch one, and can you watch it as a whole? That was fun to play with.”

We Made a Thing’s output extends well beyond what would be expected of an independent filmmaking company of its size, but it’s testament to what can be achieved through Adelaide’s hyper-connected social fabric, Jeremy says.

“When people come to you with an idea in Adelaide, the attitude is ‘Oh, that’s cool! How can we help?’ which is the only way we’ve gotten anything made up until this point,” he says.

To see Lucy and DiC and The Way – “a telekinetic road movie – two characters on the road being chased with some powers,” says Thomas – grab tickets to the Adelaide Film Festival’s Made in SA showcase.

wemadeathingstudios.com

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