Web Series Wednesday: FRESH!

Cinema Australia Original Content: 

Directed by Elizabeth Fermanis, Bec Peniston-Bird, Amie Batalibasi, Carl Stella, Simon Trevorrow, Grant Scicluna
Written by Nikki Tran
Produced by Nikki Tran and Simon Trevorrow
Starring Maia Absberg, Tony Ting, Rosa Nix, Shrut Palmar, Pauline Grace, Olivia Choi, Kevin Summers, Nyawuda Chuol, and Adam Hetherington

“I hadn’t seen such a diverse representation of a community in a series on Australian screens.”

Article by Simon Trevorrow

I first talked about the series FRESH! with Nikki Tran, the writer and co-producer of the series, back in early 2016. Two years later we have now launched online via YouTube after premiering at Series Mania in July.

When I first heard of the idea I was immediately drawn into the world. FRESH! is set in a fictitious Melbourne market, a microcosm of our wider multi-cultural community. The story and concept was, fresh, as I hadn’t seen such a diverse representation of a community in a series on Australian screens.

Nikki and I sourced locations early on in development as we knew that if we didn’t secure a market a shooting location, we wouldn’t be able to make a series. After a lengthy process of negotiating we managed to secure various market stalls in the iconic Footscray Markets.  This space offered a level of realism we wanted to capture about the world of FRESH!, where the space and people present themselves without the bells and whistles that we have become accustomed to in the commercialised world of customer service.

At the beginning of the process I talked with Nikki about each episode being directed by a different person. We both wanted to work with a range of different directors so we approached three female directors, Amie Batalabasi, Elizabeth Fermanis, Bec Peniston-Bird and three male directors Carl Stella, Grant Scicluna and myself. Each director was free to make individual stylistic choices to support their episode. The result has a similar to the feel to an anthology series, with an  underlying world and characters that tie the series together.

To ground the different directors we wanted to have one director of photography across all episodes. We met with a range of people before Sky Davies came along. Sky had a wealth of experience working on a range of different TVCs, short films and online projects. She was excited about shooting on location and the challenges that it brings from a cinematography perspective.

We started production in September 2016. We had planned to shoot three episodes consecutively that would take us into December, and then return at the beginning of 2017 to finish the remaining three episodes. Each episode was shot over two days, usually a Sunday and Monday, to accommodate the market’s trading hours. We purposely worked with a limited production equipment, meaning there were no dollies, no jibs and no elaborate lighting set ups. We wanted to be able to move quickly, and use existing lights in the location were possible.

We were lucky enough to work with two editors during post-production. Ka-Yin Kwok and Anthony Cox, with five of the episodes cut by Anthony remotely. This presented its own challenges. Anthony worked across all episodes simultaneously, and this process helped keep momentum towards picture lock. In the end, Nikki and I flew down to Tasmania to finalise picture. Anthony had a huge part in shaping the final story, we were incredibly lucky to work with him on the series.

For post-sound we collaborated with a company called Music and Effects, this was an existing relationship as I had worked with them on a previous project. The team was lead by Brendan Croxon, who communicated with each of our directors to help create a unique soundscape for each episode.

The approach we took in realising FRESH! was varied and diverse, reflecting the diversity of stories within the project – celebrating difference and highlighting that we can live alongside one another and accept different views of the world.

All episodes are now available online via YouTube and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s been great to hear people’s feedback on which episode they have connected with the most.

We are excited for the future of the FRESH! and hope to share more stories from this world.

You can watch FRESH! here.

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