Australian comedy Rosehaven is making its U.S. debut September 27 on SundanceTV. The writers and stars of the show, Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola, talk about their creative process, creating content from their real life, and what it’s like to have a series in the States vs. international.
Cynopsis: What is Rosehaven based on?
Luke McGregor: Rosehaven is based on both of our lives up until now. Celia grew up in a small town and both of my parents are Real Estate agents – we merged the two together and centered the show around a small town real estate agency. I do wonder what sort of show we would have written if Celia was born in a martial arts dojo and both of my parents were astronauts…
Cynopsis: What are the challenges of creating content based on your real life?
Celia Pacquola: As stand up comedians, Luke and I are very familiar with mining our own lives for comedy, to the point where we are actually delighted if something embarrassing happens to us because it’s something funny we can use. Most of the material from Rosehaven is entirely fictional, but if there are ideas that end up in the show from our real lives they’re generally from Luke’s memories of childhood bullying or mine of growing up in a country town, which were both ages ago, so we’re hoping no one from back then will recognize us now.
Cynopsis: How did the show come about?
McGregor: We met on the stand up comedy circuit, then we got to act together on Utopia – an Australian sitcom (Dreamland in the US). We liked hanging out and we had the same sense of humor, so we started writing together and eventually decided to put together a pitch for a TV show based around our friendship. Our biggest fear was having a huge fight or suddenly not liking each other as soon as we signed a contract to make a show, luckily that hasn’t happened. We also recorded a ‘friendship video’ on my laptop just in case we ever do have a big fight – it’s basically the two of us talking to camera saying ‘everything will be fine, get over yourselves and forgive each other!.’
Cynopsis: What was the creative process?
Pacquola: For the first season, (aside from a jaunt to Tassie to pretend to be actual real estate agents for a week) it was a lot of Luke and I in a room talking. Much as we wanted to get straight to writing jokes, there was a lot of discussions about all the big stuff of what we wanted the show to be – who the characters were, what made them funny, how they fit together. Coming back for a second season it was a lot easier and more fun as we already had the palette to work from, the world established and characters that we knew well that we could have fun with. On a purely practical level, we plotted out the series overview and eps together, would take an episode each to write on our own (although often still in the same room) and then would swap episodes until doing passes together.
Cynopsis: Are there differences working on a series for the US, since season two is a co-production with SundanceTV, versus elsewhere? Have you had to change anything creatively to make sure US audiences would respond?
McGregor: Whenever we write a joke on season two – if there’s a way we can make it appeal to audiences outside of Australia (without losing what makes it funny), we’ll try and word it that way. SundanceTV have been really supportive throughout the whole process, but we admit it would slightly easier to write jokes for Rosehaven if everyone on Earth grew up in rural Tasmania.
Cynopsis: Does anything about the show Episodes, about a pair of UK writers who relocate to LA for a US version of their show, ring true?
Pacquola: We’re not very familiar with Episodes, but as much as we know of it, it’s a different story to our own as we made a show in Australia to play on US TV rather than remaking a show in America. Which is probably for the best as our American accents are terrible and if we were re-cast we would insist on Dame Judi Dench and Sir Patrick Stewart to play us.
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