Web Series Wednesday: Coffee Zombie

Cinema Australia Original Content:

A still from Coffee Zombie featuring Gary Lee and Coffee Zombie (Suhasini Seelin) in Melbourne’s Pesgrave Lane.

Concept, Produced & Directed by Suhasini Seelin
Concept, DOP and Edited by: Wilari Tedjosiswoyo
Starring: Suhasini Seelin
Guest Starring: Harlene Hercules and Gary Lee
Supported by: The City of Melbourne Arts grants (artist in residence) program

Article by Suhasini Seelin & Paulina Carvajal

An average Australian drinks at least one cup of coffee a day and one in four say they can’t survive the day without one! A study called ‘Australian Attitudes towards Coffee’ by McCrindle Research proves it, but do we really need numbers? One look around busy city streets every morning, with people lining up in cafes is more than enough to see the importance of coffee in urban lives.

Coffee Zombie is a series about a character who can’t function without a coffee… in their reusable coffee cup. It’s safe to say we all know someone like that. We hope to understand our current day relationship with this seemingly magical drink that can solve our morning problems. Subtly.

The inspiration for Coffee Zombie came not so much from statistics, but personal experience.

My utter incompetence to function without coffee made me question whether I’m addicted. Little everyday tasks seemed to prove a comic affair  – such as ending up with different socks on each foot, or a t-shirt back to front, or not being able to spell coffee- in the half asleep, pre-coffee state of mind. Through the series, we have extended these simple ideas further and played out internal thought processes using silent physical comedy.

This series began as an experiment during an artist in residence program at Melbourne’s Boyd Community Hub in Southbank, through a City of Melbourne grant. Inspired by the history of the room, which originally was a school where girls learnt typing on an old typewriter, we wanted to film some mundane actions reflecting their state of mind. This grew in to a little series of situations that reflect the ‘zombie’ state of mind, pre and post coffee.

The series is driven by one character performing trying to navigate through daily challenges.

Suhasini Seelin. Photo by Wilari Tedjosiswoyo.

The simplicity of the idea meant that we required minimal pre-production. And the fact that Melbourne has such beautiful buildings, cafes and alleyways that make a great backdrop was a bonus. The challenge was to also maintain simplicity in the execution, and find situations that communicate the same thing differently, while also bringing in different ideas and thoughts each time.

The silent form, inspired by legends like Charlie Chaplin and Mr. Bean helped keep the series format relatable and the expression subtle – sometimes exaggerated, sometimes real, sometimes obscure and sometimes over the top.

Each two minute episode has an everyday situation that the character faces – at home, at work or outside. Through this  we explore themes that provoke deeper musings such as meaning of the repetitive, mundane daily cycle of life (Legend of Sisyphus), the significance of waiting, how far one would go to get what they want, and the simple joys of life.

The larger reflection and question we explore is, do we as an urban society need to be addicted to something to function? Be it coffee, or technology, or social media, or video content, or being busy. Do we need a saviour rescuing us all the time? Is this system sustainable and for how long?

Thinking sustainability, Coffee Zombie leads the way with the reusable coffee cup as a weapon in the war on waste. The coffee cup is a catchy symbol, cool accessory and hard to miss throughout the series. The aim is to normalise the reusable cup or at the very least spur curiosity. All characters use their own cup, and no disposable cups used in the series. It’s safe to say ‘No plastic waste was created during the making of this series’.

The series aims to hold up a mirror, and give people a little chuckle, a little thought, a little glimpse of life – while they sip a coffee or prepare instant noodles!

Someone like me, who has OCD (Obsessive Coffee Disorder) would really enjoy Coffee Zombie.

The series runs from 4th-10th Feb, and all episodes and related content can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/coffeezombie.

Instagram: @coffeezombie.melbourne


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