What does an unemployed philosophy and psychology Graduate do to get a job? Well he only goes and creates his own sitcom.
Following the recent release of his sitcom pilot, “Gradulthood”, TheEmployable had a chat with its writer, director and co-star Will Hall-Smith on the meta reality of putting together a pilot episode about looking for work.
The pilot was entirely self-funded. I was able to do it on a micro-budget by pulling in a lot of favours. I was very fortunate because I was able to get a great deal on the equipment and managed to find free locations for us to use. My flatmate did the catering. Also the bulk of the pilot was shot at my flat, which was challenging, but we made it work. It’s actually a two bedroom flat so Tom and Ralph technically don’t have bedrooms…that could be a headache if we make episode two. I held auditions for the cast. Paul Raymond, who plays the group’s nemesis, Julian, was written in to the script after an outstanding audition.
Where did you get the idea for Gradulthood from?
I decided to write the show when I was looking for a job, shortly after leaving university. I was finding it really difficult to start with; way harder than I ever thought it would be. I started to think that my situation was actually quite funny and started to think about all the things I could do to get noticed – film and television are notorious for being difficult industries to break in to. Some of my more ridiculous ideas made it into the script.
Are any of the experiences of the Gradulthood gang based off of real life events?
Yes, but none of the more extreme storylines are based on real life events. When I started looking for jobs, I remember having lots of stupid conversations in my head about how to make myself stand out. Stuff like whether to print my CV on 80gsm paper or pay a bit more for 120gsm – as if something like that was going to be the difference between being employed or unemployed. Those internal dialogues really made me laugh and I just amplified them a bit for the script; the character I play, Owen, has a huge CV, which is 3000gsm, to make sure he stands out. For me seeing how far these characters will go to get a job in a competitive market place was just a great comedic premise.
It’s certainly true to say that the characters aren’t a manager’s first choice. That’s never really been a concern for me; most comic characters are funny because they make the audience feel superior in some way – in this case you get the humour without feeling awkward or guilty because the characters are so unsympathetic. I’m sure there’s a small proportion of graduates who have the same sense of entitlement that Tom, Owen, Emily and Ralph have, but most realise how difficult it is going to be and have to just persevere.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given, or would give to other budding writers and directors?
One of my favourite quotes on success in the film/TV industry is by Harrison Ford: “I realized early on that success was tied to not giving up. Most people in this business gave up and went on to other things. If you simply didn’t give up, you would outlast the people who came in on the bus with you.”
How far would you like to see the Gradulthood series going?
I’d like to see it run for a few series on television. I have ideas for lots more episodes and would like to see the characters develop through their twenties. I am very much hoping to bring more Gradulthood to your TV screens soon.
What would you like to be doing in five years time?
This is a tough question to answer. I’d like to do an Edgar Wright and make a smash-hit sitcom and go on to direct features. Whether that’s realistic or not, I don’t know. It’s early days and there are a lot of things that need to happen. Whatever happens I know I’ll still be making films.
You can find more of Will’s work (did we mean that as a pun? Yes we did.) on his website and also watch the genuinely very funny Gradulthood pilot here too. Good luck to Will – an excellent start to a budding career.
Interview by Ethan Loughrey