Com­edy loosely based on ac­tresses’ life ex­pe­ri­ences

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

A LACK of re­lat­able women on screen prompted the cre­ators of the com­edy web se­ries Flat3 to take mat­ters into their own hands.

The show stars the Kiwi Chi­nese ac­tresses JJ Fong, Per­lina Lau and Ally Xue as flat­mates who get them­selves into silly sit­u­a­tions try­ing to fig­ure out who they are, what they want to do in life and how to ne­go­ti­ate flat du­ties.

The third sea­son pre­mieres on Youtube and Vimeo to­day.

Fong, 28, says she took the ini­tial idea for the show to writer-di­rec­tor Roseanne Liang be­cause she felt there was a lack of strong fe­male roles in the in­dus­try, es­pe­cially non­stereo­typ­i­cal Asian fe­male leads. Roseanne Liang agrees. ‘‘They are usu­ally por­trayed as ei­ther the dragon lady; a slightly in­scrutable, grumpy, over-achiev­ing girl or a pros­ti­tute.’’

The Herne Bay res­i­dent says she started writ­ing and found her style of com­edy was sim­i­lar to that of the three ac­tresses.

She is the di­rec­tor of the 2005 doc­u­men­tary Ba­nana in a Nutshell and the 2011 film My Wed­ding and Other Se­crets.

Peo­ple can re­late to the char­ac­ters be­cause the roles and the sit­u­a­tions they find them­selves in are loosely based on the ac­tresses’ per­son­al­i­ties and real life ex­pe­ri­ences.

‘‘It shows what re­ally hap­pens some­times in your life when you’re a woman in your mid-20s, sin­gle and liv­ing in New Zealand,’’ Fong says.

Pitch­ing their com­edy se­ries to the tele­vi­sion net­works was never on the agenda.

‘‘TV is based on ad­ver­tis­ing and it’s about the main­stream,’’ Liang says.

‘‘We sit out­side that as niche pro­gram­ming.

‘‘We wanted it to be a hit but I think the first in­stinct was to make some­thing for our­selves.’’

Flat3 has at­tracted a lot of in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion from blog­gers and has been se­lected for var­i­ous film and web fes­ti­vals.

The new sea­son is one of four web se­ries to re­ceive $100,000 from New Zealand on Air dur­ing the lat­est fund­ing round.

That’s a ma­jor step up from pre­vi­ous sea­sons.

The first had a bud­get of only $1000 while the sec­ond crowd­funded sea­son cost $10,000 to make.

Liang says the fund­ing was a huge help.

‘‘I’m in­cred­i­bly grate­ful that we live in a coun­try that can support its cre­ative voices like this.

‘‘On screen you’ll see bet­ter lo­ca­tions and light­ing. Gen­er­ally the stan­dard of pro­duc­tion has gone up,’’ she says.

The lack of re­stric­tions has been the best part of be­ing web-based, the 36-year-old says.

‘‘We are mak­ing ex­actly what we want to make.

‘‘No-one’s telling us how to change it for the au­di­ence or try­ing to sec­ond-guess the au­di­ence.’’

Sea­son three is likely to be the fi­nal chap­ter, but the show may yet live on.

Flat3 has been op­tioned for a Kiwi tele­vi­sion pi­lot.

A col­lab­o­ra­tion with an Amer­i­can web-based chan­nel is also un­der dis­cus­sion.

‘‘There’s noth­ing set in stone but we re­ally love work­ing to­gether,’’ Liang says.

‘‘I’ve be­come a bit too used to cre­ative free­dom.

‘‘I won’t be re­lin­quish­ing that any time soon I hope.’’

Go to auck­land­c­ity har­bournews.co.nz to watch an episode of

Funny women,

Photo: STEVEN CHOW Photo: JAY FREW

above: Ally Xue, JJ Fong and Per­lina Lau star in the third sea­son of Kiwi com­edy web se­ries Flat3, which pre­mieres on Septem­ber 26. In­de­pen­dent ap­proach: Writer-di­rec­tor Roseanne Liang loves the cre­ative free­dom of mak­ing a web­based se­ries.

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