John Gleeson introduces us to his comedy web series Follywood.
Follywood is a comedy transmedia web series set in a film school called St Judes. The web series is seven episodes in duration and follows the unfolding chaotic events on a film course – the quintessential melting pot environment for narcissism, despotism and pseudo-intellectualism.
Follywood as an idea emerged on the M.A creative media practice course in Filmbase 2018 whereby I had to create a practical project for my final term dissertation. Having studied Film and English in UCC and continued my studies with film in Dublin, I had a plethora of material to draw inspiration from. At the end of May, with the scripts completed, I sought the help of Eleanor Bell, my friend and co-producer, who helped organise the project with me or should I say, for me! Quite simply, Eleanor was the organisational backbone of this series and a great support for me throughout the numerous mini-disasters which were to occur. Together, in the space of a week, we rounded up 10 savvy, hungry and talented actors.
The two main comic leads proved quite difficult to find during the initial casting process, enter stage left Mike O’Dowd, a serious actor originally from Tralee living and working in Cork, who is one of the shining lights of the series, providing a galvanic performance as Gus, the bitcoin extraordinaire come self-proclaimed successful script doctor. Mike was kind enough to offer his time, staying in Dublin for one week to come work on the series.
That left the final piece of the puzzle to fill being the role of Shaun, the preening mature student who never ceases to find an opportunity to mention his wealth of knowledge and expertise in “the industry”. Paul Nugent exquisitely filled this part, having seen him act in a similar role in another web series with his wife Anna Nugent, who also is in Follywood as the P.C ideologue Mars.
I would encourage people to watch the web series for the innumerable comedic performances plastered throughout the series, brimming with talent from Olwen Jennings as the humane Grace, Dave O’Neill as Dave, the world-weary journey-man actor, to Gerry Cannon, as the gormless and enigmatic director of the college Brian, who answers a question with a question leaving everyone bewildered as to the upcoming happenings on the course.
I am very grateful to Conor Murphy and Matt Nolan of Dublin Business School who did everything in their power to offer support to the series in providing both locations and equipment. We had a very small guerilla crew, which was the way we had envisioned the series, filming in the manner of my favourite comedy The Thick of it. A chaotic aesthetic was needed to match and capture the frenetic scenes, quick dialogue and sometimes off-the-cuff moments as they transpired. With this approach in mind, the series was shot in the style of a documentary but is not a mockumentary.
I was fortunate to acquire three equally competent cameramen, however, the majority of the principal photography was filmed by my good friend Colm Connolly, who I could not have finished this series without. I cannot express enough the importance of having a professional sound operator and Danilo Zambrano was imperious as just that and one of the nicest individuals I have ever worked with. Danilo is the embodiment of stoicism; his graft and organisation of the sound files was something I greatly appreciated and wholly underestimated until I began editing the episodes.
The series was filmed in just eight days and I was humbled by the support and commitment everyone involved gave to bringing the series to fruition. I hope that our work won’t have been in vain and that a lot of people will see the series.
The seven episodes are available on YouTube