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by Matthew Eeles
Re-formatting a web series into a feature film isn’t common. But it is something we’re seeing more of lately.
Two Western Australian web series have found a new audience this year alone with Greenfield enjoying a recent cinema run, while Bec Bignell’s Homespun web series has found festival success in its new feature film format.
Melbourne producer Scott Day is now busy in post-production on his new feature film, Wanda & Sully, which was originally filmed as a web series. And as any filmmaker will know, it hasn’t been an easy process.
“Making a filmed piece of media in general is quite difficult, regardless of whether it’s a film or web series,” Scott tells Cinema Australia.
“As a web series, we filmed a season consisting of five episodes and it was an intense experience, especially since it was being made on a shoestring budget. We wanted to change Wanda & Sully from a web series to a feature film in the edit because the episodes were too short and inconsistent in length to be viable, and we realised it would also be approximately 90 minutes which is the perfect length for a film. Also, it’s more likely that more people will see it if it’s a feature film and that’s ultimately what every filmmaker wants: for their film to be seen.”
Scott graduated high school in 2013 and immediately entered Swinburne’s Film and Television course before taking a break.
Scott used his time to make an animated short film called Everyone’s a Robot utilising connections he had made at Swinburne. The passionate filmmaker began working as the production manager at a Melbourne based production company TeePee Studio, and briefly studied at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment.
Scott’s new web series-turned-feature film, Wanda & Sully, follows high-school students Wanda, played by Mieke Billing-Smith, and Sully, played by Grant Young. The two must work together to investigate the student representative council president’s affairs and bring him down after discovering he’s potentially involved with an embezzlement scheme.
“Back in high school, a friend of mine was the student representative council leader and, when he quit, he told me it’s because the student representatives were essentially for show and had no say in anything,” Scott tells Cinema Australia when asked where the idea for the film came from.
“I remembered this about a year before Everyone’s a Robot was finished and it made an impression. I also always wanted to make a film or web series about high school, and I thought it would be funny if the head of the SRC bought coffees for everyone with the school’s money in the same way that a politician would pay for expenses with taxpayers’ money. That’s how it started and, from there, I wrote over 100 pages of material based on high school conspiracy theories.”
As well as producing the film, Scott co-wrote Wanda & Sully with New Zealand based animator, actor and screenwriter Joshua Marchant.
The two met on Tumblr in 2013 when they started following each other’s blogs. In 2018 Day wrote the first draft of the Wanda & Sully script before approaching Josh for some constructive criticism.
“I didn’t realise this, but Josh was also interested in getting some writing experience and offered to rewrite the script, so when he did, I was thrilled with the result and felt we shared the same vision for the project,” says Scott.
“From there, I did some minor rewrites and tweaking just to make sure everything was perfect.”
It was then that director Matt Williams was approached to direct the film.
Williams read the Wanda & Sully screenplay and interpreted it in the style of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer in that, where Buffy manifests teenage anxiety as fantasy monsters, Wanda & Sully manifests teenage anxiety as conspiracies.
“Matt’s a great guy with a very unique vision,” says Day.
“He has a very good working relationship with the actors and was very receptive to their needs on set, which brought out some really good performances, especially from our lead actors Grant Young and Mieke Billing-Smith. I can’t wait to see what he does next because he has a lot going for him.”
As post-production nears completion, Scott is hoping Wanda & Sully gets some exposure at film festivals around the world as well as securing international distribution.
“I’m also hoping a distributor can find Wanda & Sully a home on a streaming service like Netflix or Stan where it can be seen around the world. Accessibility is important and all I want is for people to watch it and enjoy it.”
Keep an eye on cinemaaustralia.com.au for updates on the film.