We’ve been working over the last year on a book of weird stories told in verse for kids. A welcome collaboration with an old friend – Nick Kulynycz (instagram – @nickkulynycz) who has been doing some fantastic illustrations for the 12 stories written, each a tale of a different child.
As part of the preparation for the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival it was necessary for us to produce a poster for the film, so here it is.
We’re proud to say that our film Melbourne: A Guide to Living will be screening as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. As we get close to the date of the festival we answered some questions for Documentary Drive about our film and what inspired us.
Why the spoof route over a more traditional format?
Sam: Chloe and I really hit it off through our shared love of comedy. I hadn’t met anyone else with such a pure love of comedy; the need to workshop every little joke in daily life until the punch line is just right, even over the simplest pun. The Melbourne film is actually a sequel to a guide to London we made a few years ago and it was essentially a format which allowed us to string together a number of different sketches, comedy bits and erroneous facts about the city. We actually both have a real interest in serious documentary film making, but I guess the instinct to make something funny is there in both of us and it would probably always derail any attempt we made to be serious.
Chloe: Yeah, I guess it’s just simply that our main interest lies in making comedy films, and the mockumentary style is just one way of doing that. I’d love to make a serious documentary some time, but I think that even then it would be focused on a niche topic or something which had some inherent humour to it.
When people think documentaries, they don’t usually think “Yes, comedy gold!” How do you see the two genres fitting together and why do you think it works so well in your films?
Sam: I don’t think it’s a surprise that there’s been a huge surge of fly-on-the-wall style mockumentary comedy since “The Office.” But I think our style of comedic documentary developed out of a different tradition led by people likeArmando Iannucci andChris Morris with shows like “Brass Eye,” “The Day Today” and “Time Spiral.” Whereas in “The Office” the joke lies between where David Brent sees himself and where the audience sees him, with shows like “Brass Eye” the joke lies between the ridiculous assertions being made and the absolute authority with which they’re told. The joke is almost on the audience, you’re either in on the joke, or the joke is on you.
You want to see who will get it and who won’t even question it. It’s also a way of highlighting irony and hypocrisy or sending up authority and pomposity in real life, and so grows out of that satirical tradition as well.
I think it works well because as others have said before, you’re looking for the ‘right’ audience. You don’t want everyone to get it, so that those who do can enjoy it even more. There’s a satisfaction in that light bulb moment when you realize it’s a joke. You’d be surprised by how many people still take the films as absolute fact and don’t even question what they’re being told, even the most blatant ridiculous lies.
At the bottom, through the arched doorway, the first person in line steps out into three inches of piss, lifts up the end of his trouser legs, and wades over to a urinal. Reams of sodden toilet paper decorate the floor, pulping under the onslaught of feet where no one will pick it up, swimming its way around and sticking to the bottom of shoes.
The way these things normally work is you wait for your turn until an empty receptacle becomes available, then you sidle up to it standing shoulder to shoulder with two other men, and try to remove yourself from the reality by staring blankly at the wall ahead, willing yourself to perform the deed which had seemed so urgent only moments before. The more you wish to speed things along, the less able your body feels. A queue of the willing stand behind, staring at the back of your head, waiting for their chance for relief. And then slowly the panic creeps in. Why am I not going? I needed to go so badly a minute ago. Why not now? Have they noticed? They must have noticed. I’ve been standing here for ages. Alright just relax. What, with a wall of other men waiting behind me? Just piss. I can’t. Well try. I am. Well you better do something. Like what? Here we go. No. Right just do your flies up and walk away. And don’t forget to wash your hands.
The assembled crowd do their best to ignore each other while they dance around between the urinals, the sink and the hand dryer; and once finished, make their way back up the stairs, avoiding eye contact with the waiting line of hopefuls. As each one exits he eyes his hands with suspicion holding them out in front, not convinced by the credibility of the soap.
It’s only a matter of time before the Pleasance turn this into another venue.
In contrast the ladies toilets are upstairs and exist in the imagination as a powdered and fragrant spa, with pristine floors, shining taps and, above all, breathable air. The unheard of luxury of going to the toilet without the acrid bite of urine stinging your taste buds and sitting in the back of the throat remains a mystery.
It’s with these thoughts that I join the back of this queue, descending into that foggy hell, with heavy air, flickering lights and gorillas in the mist. The man stood in front looks nervous. Like the first signs of madness he’s scratching and biting his wrist. Someone ought to be looking over these people.
I look across trying to think of my options before someone joins behind me and I’m hemmed in. And then I notice the disabled toilet sitting quietly across the hall and an inner part of me rejoices at its salvation. I am on holiday, why not indulge.
Joining a queue behind another woman I try to look casual so as not to alert anyone else of my discovery, and patiently await my turn. That is the rule after all; women and children first. Patience.
The woman in front of me takes her turn and leaves me stood looking very laid back against a wall outside the disabled door. After a minute or two a man in an electric wheelchair positions himself behind me in the queue. An awkward moment ensues. But hang on a minute, I have my place in the queue. Just because it’s a facility designed for the ease of less able-bodied patrons, why shouldn’t he wait his turn. That’s the rule after all, women and children, then me, then the person behind me in the queue.
Another well-dressed woman walks up to me from in front and says something barely intelligible above the din of the public place. She looks as if she’s trying to muscle her way into the queue so I make clear my intentions. “The queue to the gents is massive. I’ve been here for ages. The women’s is upstairs.” She replies with something again I can’t quite hear and so I repeat and reiterate that this is the queue she sees in front of her now so to perhaps take up her place at the back. This time through the noise and heat I hear her more clearly. “It’s my spine, I can’t make it upstairs. It really annoys me when people use this toilet.”
That’s it. I’m outnumbered and have to concede. Overruled by guilt I join the back of a queue that leads down some steps into a damp underground toilet, and hold up the bottom of my trousers so that they don’t drag along the flooded floor.
We're delighted to present to the market this compact 1 bedroom property. Sleeps 4. Ideal for two couples, or 4 single people looking for companionship. Cosy and self-contained. Newly refurbished kitchen/bathroom proudly boasts kettle and microwave. Ample freezer space in form of box on windowsill (winter only). Cosy yet well ventilated living room leads out onto the roof via (permanently) open window for spectacular views of the city. Currently unfurnished so a blank canvas. Huge potential. Easy access to the city in just under an hour via bus in next borough. Indifferent millionaire landlords live conveniently just downstairs - any problems just bang on the walls. Asking rent does not include; letting fees, admin fees, reference fees, top up fees, extortion fees, more fees, London fees, poor fees, check-in fees, check-out fees, pets disclaimer fees/additional pet deposit. Everything (including happiness) non-refundable. Our guarantee: if you're not happy, it's nothing to do with us. Early viewing highly recommended. This hole will get snapped up.
The London housing market is desperately adorned with beamingly optimistic euphemisms inspired, surely, by nothing less than the altruistic motive of shielding us from the bare cold brutal facts; to spare us the anguish and horror of the reality; a landscape of sub-par homes, competition and desperation. It wouldn’t do anyone any good, neither the estate agent nor prospective tenants pride, to announce “splendid shithole newly arrived on the market boasting roof and running water. Take it before someone else does” – though some properties in London don’t amount to much more.
To search for houses in London is to sign up to war. To fight tooth and nail, ignoring such trivial considerations as to whether you’re actually interested, just to have a chance of snapping somewhere up before someone else beats you to the punch. And the estate agents know it, it’s the nature of the market we find ourselves in. Just as job ads get away with not mentioning how much it actually pays, as if it’s of no importance, because they know people will take the job without even needing to know, so the estate agents can practically bully you into taking what’s available, as if you have no higher dream or aspiration.
“Gorgeous little property”, they’ll say. “So endearingly small and self-contained”. “So conveniently located just above this chicken shop. You like chicken don’t you? I love chicken.”
“Yeah, DO you? So you’d live here would you? It’s a box with a sink. And where’s the bathroom anyway, or am I supposed to wash, shit and cook in the same place?”
There’s almost no point even looking at properties online as they seem to ubiquitously employ the tactic that I recently heard named ‘the old bait and switch’. A property that was already taken off the market weeks ago is repeatedly re-advertised just to hook people in. They string you along, refusing to make clear whether the place is still on the market or not while they can garner as many details as they can and try to fob you off with an entirely different rat hole they’ve been unable to shift.
It boasts this. It boasts that. I can promise that after you’ve moved in you’re not going to be boasting to anyone.
“What’s wrong with it? Don’t you want somewhere to live?”
And the way estate agents talk as if they’re really gunning for you, providing a tailor made service just perfect for your needs. They’re going to learn all your details by heart, familiarise themselves with your wants and desires, intimately understand your innermost hopes and scour the market like Samaritans for your dream home.
“Can I take your name please, sir?”
“Yeah it’s Sam.”
“Not a problem, sir. Not a problem”.
I know it’s not a problem! It’s my name. As if I somehow need you and your company to provide validation of my existence.
And the photos for these properties are terrible, exhibiting the same arrogant belief that anyone will jump at the chance to rent a place no matter what it looks like. Sometimes the only photo attached to an ad is a wonky shot of a front door, as if simply the sight of a letter box might make your heart leap just at the prospect of a slither of fresh air creeping its way in. Sometimes you get 3 shots of the toilet from different angles and nothing else, or a shot of a kitchen sink stacked high with plates, or just a wall, with nothing remotely interesting on it, just a wall.
The photos of the inside of the property are taken on extreme wide angle lenses making the place look palatial, until you step in and realise that the TV would actually be about a foot in front of the sofa. You can imagine the estate agent pressed up as far as they can go into the corner, up on tip toes, trying to aggrandise the apartment for every spare centimetre it’s got.
The shots they use are so wide they verge on fish eye, which is ironic given the fact that the new tenants would be, to borrow the American idiom, living in a goldfish bowl. Particularly if you were sharing a ‘cosy self-contained one bedroom flat for 4 people.’
Still, it’s probably worth a look. We wouldn’t want to miss our chance. So long as we can find another couple to share the rent.
This article in the Independent recently highlights the point nicely: http://www.independent.co.uk/