[Exclusive!] Web Series Wednesday: The Big Spaghetti

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Adriane Daff in The Big Spaghetti.

Directed by Zoe Pepper
Written by Adriane Daff, Zoe Pepper and Tim Watts
Produced by Susannah Day

Article by Zoe Pepper

Adriane Daff, Tim Watts and I all studied together at WAAPA a long time ago and have been making theatre together ever since. The characters in The Big Spaghetti were born out of extended improvisation when we were developing a theatre show. That show is now The Irresistible, which is playing at Dark Mofo in Hobart next month.

The most satisfying part of creating The Big Spaghetti was that we weren’t creatively answerable to anyone, so we didn’t reign it in at any point. And the result is an undiluted nugget of Adriane, Tim and my creativity. Hopefully we’ll find a niche audience for this baby.

At its heart, it’s a story about being your authentic self, which sounds way too earnest when it’s said plainly, but that’s what sits underneath it all. Gabby does everything she can to win the love of her friend, it’s a wild ride but ultimately a hollow experience.

Tim Watts in The Big Spaghetti.

This project has already opened a lot of doors. After seeing the rough cut, Lauren Elliott from Mad Kids jumped on board as Executive Producer, and she’s been an integral part of our festival, awards and marketing strategy. Earlier this year, The Big Spaghetti was programmed as part of Slamdance Film Festival in Utah which was really amazing and it was there that it caught the attention of Leslye Headland (co-creator and director of Russian Doll). Then earlier this month winning the ADG award for Best Direction in an Online Comedy Series was truly unexpected – the competition was tough it was a real honour to be nominated alongside directors whose work I really respect.

The Big Spaghetti premiered at Revelation Film Festival in July last year and screened as part of NextGen Web Fest where it picked up awards for Best Editing (Elaine Smith), Best Actress (Adriane Daff) and Best Direction.

Before The Big Spaghetti, we made a short video based on that initial improvisation called Melissa and Gabby. We wanted to see if the aesthetic and performance style which is so familiar to us in a live performance context would translate on screen. It’s super lo-fi, we shot it in my office one Saturday afternoon. It was really fun to make. We thought the style held up on screen so we decided to dream up a bigger narrative for these characters to go wild with.

In developing the story for The Big Spaghetti, we split our time between plotting in a writing room and improvisations of scenes that we’d dreamt up in the plotting sessions. And then we’d oscillate between these two ways of generating material. We film all our improvisations and then transcribe the bits we like and shape that into the script. I really enjoy the spontaneity of improvised dialogue – it makes a different kind of sense and is always way more lateral than the stuff you come up with when you sit down and write.

Adriane Daff in The Big Spaghetti.

The biggest challenge was the serialised structure, trying to make bite sized stories that had their own complete arc. It was great to start to get a bit of a feel for this style of storytelling and strive to end each episode with a hook, but dang it’s hard.

The shoot was a quite hectic but a lot of fun. We shot the whole thing at my house which is a classic rookie mistake that won’t happen again. The DP Timothy Goodacre was really instrumental in pulling the crew together. He’d seen a lot of my theatre work so had a lot of faith in what we were making so he pulled in lot of favours and to bring our amazing crew together. And on day 1 of the shoot the reality of what we were doing dawned. After shooting our little proof of concept video (Melissa and Gabby) with a grand total of five people there were suddenly nineteen people in my backyard. Haha let’s just say it blew out compared to what I’d expected.

Ocea Sellar, the amazing production designer and Olivia Simpson, the equally amazing costume designer, who’d both come over from Sydney, slept in “Gabby’s bedroom” for the week and cleared out on the days when we shot in there. Everyone really pulled together to make the spaghetti dreams possible.

There’s been a really amazing response to The Big Spaghetti so far and I can’t wait to hear what people think now that it’s out in the big bad world.

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