Produced by Rosie Braye, Joshua Longhurst, Tim Spencer
Directed by Sarah Bishop
Written by Zoe Norton Lodge and Tim Spencer
Starring Sarah Bishop, Rupert Raineri, Alex Lee, Remy Brand and Tim Spencer
Digital Platform YouTube
An overachieving people-pleaser reluctantly takes on the role of hopeless fairy godmother when his newly out-and-proud cousin from rural NSW arrives on his doorstep looking for somewhere to belong.
Article by Tim Spencer
I was sitting on top of Rupert Raineri in my underwear in the first sex scene I had ever shot. I was wearing my best underwear, out of respect for my co-workers. One of my fellow producers, Rosie Braye, was crouched behind me inside her own wardrobe at butt height, watching as I ground on Rupert’s lap and rambled about a coding language. It was the second morning of the Ding Dong I’m Gay shoot, a series I had created, written and was now performing in. In the back of my mind a small voice kept repeating ‘you’ve only got yourself to blame’.
The trouble started about two years ago when my other fellow producer, Joshua Longhurst, started throwing ideas around for a gay web series. We knew that there was a large audience out there wanting more queer content. We had made a short film but were frustrated that it was sequestered in the rarified world of the film festival circuit. We wanted to make content that could be easily accessed and build a potential worldwide audience.
I had written episodes about warehouse parties and musical numbers that would never be practical given we had no budget. Despite some challenges, we were determined that the characters had the potential to build and develop a sitcom that could appeal to an audience looking for positive, funny and enjoyable queer comedy.
Joshua and I met with Rosie in early 2017 and our production company Wintergarden Pictures was born. We received funding for our first short film, Cherry Season, and it was shot later in the year. After an ambitious production period in regional NSW with some thirty cast and crew, Ding Dong I’m Gay started to look like a walk in the park. We approached Sarah Bishop to direct and bring her immense knowledge of online comedy. We received money from private investors and finally had the means to bring Cameron, Toby, Sweetie and Lucy to life.
We held a writer’s workshop with Zoe Norton Lodge and we quickly asked Zoe to co-write the episodes. Zoe brought a wicked sense of humour and was immediately aligned with the series’ tone. We played around with the ability to break reality and create surreal lapses that highlight the ridiculousness of modern life. Remy Brand was cast as Toby, the naive country boy who comes to the city looking for help, and Alex Lee was cast as Sweetie, the Chinese student who may or may not be a secret agent.
After our experience on Cherry Season we were keen to work with as many of the same creatives as possible. Jean-Pierre Yomoma was our art director and he raided his friend’s bedrooms to find the perfect items for Cameron and Sweetie’s apartment on a ridiculously small budget. Mike Steel came on board as cinematographer and created a beautiful look for the show. The carefully designed shots and colour palate are some of Ding Dong I’m Gay’s strengths and they really heighten the episodes and ask the audience to pay attention.
The three episodes were shot over two days in Rosie’s apartment. Post production took us over two months and gave us the chance to work with Ben Toupein who animated the seriously cool opening titles. Honestly, I wish I was as cool as Ben’s animation.
Ding Dong I’m Gay is now out in the big world of YouTube and my awkward naked gyrations are there for all to see. On launch day I was nervous about being flamed by homophobes, but I really shouldn’t have been worried. The comments on YouTube and social media have been overwhelmingly positive. As the views continue to build Joshua, Rosie and I are determined to source more funding to produce a full six episode series and develop our audience.
Back on Rosie’s bed, I sat on Rupert in my underwear as we waited for a take. We talked about our holidays, our high school experience and our mutual friends as a room full of crew set up the next shot. We were all there making a comedy about gay sex, coming out, being different and surrounded by weird friends. I only had myself to blame and I was extremely okay with that.