What’s an actor to do in between gigs? From the heady heights of Wentworth, Steve Bastoni opted for the furthest extreme: Welfare. But he’s not signing on at the local Centrelink office ... he’s created, and stars, in a series which spoofs the bureaucracy. And you might be surprised to learn where his funding came from.
Where did the idea for Welfare come from? I was approached by a young comedian, Laura Jane-Emes. She had this idea of a show set in a Centrelink office, a p---take of the system, basically, based on her own experiences. She came to me and said “I’m not sure how to proceed with this, would you help with the production side of things?” It sort of evolved from there.
How did you get it made? The most logical and cost-effective way for us to do it was as a web series, so we decided to raise some money through a crowd-funding campaign. We reached our target easily, just $8000. And an actor, Sara West, who was filming Aussie movie Don’t Tell, showed Welfare to the film’s producers. They were so impressed they decided to invest, becoming co-producers.
“Producing this has given me a lot of freedom creatively. With that comes responsibility” STEVE BASTONI ON WELFARE
Is it more fun being the boss? It’s a far cry from sitting by the phone, waiting for it to ring, for a KFC commercial. Producing this has given me a lot of freedom creatively. With that comes responsibility.
Did you rally your mates when it came to casting? It has been a big advantage having 30-odd years in the industry, I’ve accumulated a few contacts along the way. Peter Helliar came and did a fantastic guest role, Shane Jacobson, we had Pia Miranda, Damien Walshe-Howling, and Daniella Farinacci, from Lantana, plays my wife.
Wentworth fans want to know if Don Kaplan will return. I hope so, I had a lot of fun working with Celia Ireland and Sigrid Thornton, of course, is magnificent. I’m a huge fan of Wentworth. I haven’t been asked yet, hopefully a producer will read this and I’ll get a call.
Kaplan was a meaty male role in a show with predominantly female characters ... It is great to see so many great Australian actresses getting some meaty roles. I actually did the original, Prisoner. I did 10 episodes, playing Julia Blake’s son, who murdered his father, and she was trying to protect him, and goes to jail. I get all kinds of feedback from the diehard fans. WATCH A TRAILER FOR WELFARE, FACEBOOK.COM/WELFARE.SERIES/
Steve Bastoni tackles Centrelink bureaucracy.