It’s no secret that technology and the internet are changing the way we communicate with one another – a topic filmmakers regularly grapple with. Riffing off this storytelling device, exciting emerging filmmaker and BA Screen 2017 alumna Imogen McCluskey has made an entertaining and engaging web series Love Bug, which premiered Sunday 5 April on the AFTRS Facebook page.
The only difference is, the whole series was filmed in self-isolation.
With writer/director Imogen McCluskey and her frequent collaborators Justin Amankwah and Maddy McWilliam each in their respective homes, the series was built from screen recordings of texts, zoom calls, FaceTime recording and DMs between two fictional characters, ‘B’ and ‘G’ – a modern couple figuring out their porous relationship in a time of mass anxiety.
“Dating a soft boi is confusing at the best of times”, says Imogen, drawing from her own experience to write the series. “Lines are blurry and you’re constantly second-guessing yourself and where you stand. They’re loving and affectionate, up until commitment or defining your relationship comes into the conversation – and often you’re gaslit into thinking you’re just plain crazy. Am I making this up? Does he even exist? Am I insane?”
Still from Episode 1. Maddy McWilliam as ‘G’ and Justin Amankwah as ‘B’ over Zoom.
“You’re in a state of flux and unknown – anxiety is only compounded by the current environment. Unease and anxiety are rife amongst everyone across society today and particularly young people – with many losing their jobs and futures thrown off course. But we still want to connect, fall in love and build communities online; which I’m so grateful for. Love Bug is my way of looking at these intersecting issues and creating a fun, relatable short series you can watch in one sitting.”
The turnaround on this series was short – from conception to writing, rehearsals and filming all took place in one week, with post-production taking another few days. The series stars Maddy McWilliam and Justin Amankwah, both exciting young performers and frequent collaborators of Imogen.
The cast and Imogen filmed the face-to-face calls over Zoom, with Imogen watching on as director on a minimised screen. “It was an odd sensation, but as similar to a real-life set environment as we could make it”, says Imogen.
“Producing content from three different bedrooms across Sydney proved to be a technical challenge,” says actor Maddy McWilliam. “However, I wouldn’t have changed anything even if I could. For me, acting at home, with only my wardrobe for costume, was so nostalgic and playful. It brought me straight back to being a kid and shooting home movies with my cousin.”
“I was so instantly on board when Imogen brought up this short film because of how uncertain everything is feeling at the moment,” says actor Justin Amankwah. “It was nice spending the day doing something fun, productive and safe. And I think the story will be fairly familiar for a lot of people.”
Still from Episode 2. Maddy McWilliam as ‘G’
Completing the team was Lucca Barone-Peters, another frequent collaborator of Imogen’s, who made the music for the series. The entire team first worked together on Imogen’s graduating short film ‘Gem’, which won the EU Film Prize upon graduating in 2017, and premiered at Film Fest Ghent in Belgium the following year.
“If the audience responds well, we’ll definitely make more episodes,” says Imogen. “It’s a fun place to end Season 1 – and lord knows we now have time on our hands!”
Watch the series – which is exclusive to the AFTRS Facebook page – below.
For new couple B and G, attempting to date while separately self-isolating brings whole new meaning to ‘it’s complicated‘.
Posted by Australian Film Television and Radio School on Saturday, April 4, 2020
See more of Imogen McCluskey’s work here.