Created, written and starred by real-life husband and wife team Adele Vuko and Christiaan Van Vuuren, directed by Van Vuuren’s brother Connor, and featuring the couple’s own children in key roles, Australian zom-com “Over and Out” features as one of Canneseries best-buzzed titles in the short-form competition.
The series’ five, five-minute episodes follow Lewis and Freya, a young couple and their two toddlers, struggling to make things work in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies, cannibals, monsters and a host of other dangers that frighten almost as much as the perils of parenting. The series uses over-the-top humor to lampoon current hot-button issues such as the anti-vax movement, PC culture and the shifting of once-traditional roles in the family structure.
Australian production house Midwinter Films, behind Toronto Film Festival Discovery player “The Butterfly Tree,” produced the series, which was developed with assistance from Screen Australia and Youtube, and will be available internationally on YouTube starting June 14.
Vuko and Van Vuuren each have impressive CVs of TV and film work behind and in front of the camera. Both featured heavily on the popular Australian sketch comedy show “Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am,” and each has taken turns directing, occasionally on each other’s projects.
The two talked with Variety about short format series, working with zombies and the possibility of a full half-hour version of the show.
Can you talk about the series’ development?
Vuko: This has been a fun and challenging labor of love – literally – as we created, wrote and starred in the series together. As a married couple, this sometimes caused arguments. But, most of those arguments ended up being used or inspired new storylines for the show, so it was a win-win situation. We have wanted to explore the daily joy, horror and hilarity that is raising two small children. Many parents understand that it’s a constant duality of hardship and wonder, and so much funny stuff in between. We also wanted to tell this story in a unique way, and as avid genre lovers we felt that dealing with the normal day-to-day horrors of raising kids mixed with the actual horrors of fighting off apocalyptic monsters was the best way.
Is it related to “Me and My Mates”? Or does Adele just have a thing for Zombies?
Vuko: Ha! I love all things zombie, vampire, witch, dragon – anything supernatural or magical! But this is different to the project “Mates vs. Zombies” that I acted in in 2014. Zombies are still so fun to write and explore, especially in a new way like through the minutia of managing family and domestic chores in a world riddled with them!
Two Australian series made the Official Competition this year, is it just coincidence?
Vuko: We are so thrilled that our fellow Aussies from the project ‘Robbie Hood’ are here with us! It just goes to show that Australia has a wealth of diverse, unique and interesting stories to tell and there’s no stopping us from getting them out into the world.
And how does short form content do in Australia?
Van Vuuren: Australia punches above its weight in terms of international audience for web and short format content. Short form series seems to be replacing short films as the way that most people break into film and TV. That was certainly our path. It’s an effective way to build an audience, establish characters, prove that something works, learn a bit about your world, and discover what and what not to do with particular ideas moving forward. Short form seems to offer a more uninhibited film making process.
Can you go into the freedoms afforded to by the format?
Van Vuuren: There are both creative benefits and challenges. The benefit of making something yourself is that you are free to take scripts and ideas wherever you want to go. The obvious creative challenge is that you normally have a very limited budget. In this case we managed to contain the majority of the sort form series to one location. In the context of the long form series we’ll be looking to expand the world, show more of the post-apocalyptic setting, give more space for comedy and have more action!
Was “Over and Out” always meant to be a short form series?
Van Vuuren: Our vision for the show has always been as a half hour comedy, but we used the short format as a proof of concept. An opportunity to build our audience, stick a creative flag in the ground and get a better understanding of the show that we want to make.
So we may see Lewis and Freya again?
Vuko: We certainly hope so!
Van Vuuren: Absolutely. We are developing the series as a long form half-hour comedy, so hopefully we see a whole lot more of them.