A proposal for a low-budget comedy web series
By Georgia Clark and Rob Moran
Nothing But Net is an edgy black comedy web series documenting three inner-city flatmates’ attempt to fulfil every 20-somethings rite of passage: start a band.
Joe is wanna-be boho artist who secretly prefers John Grisham to Jack Kerouac, and desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend Amy from her new rock star boyfriend, Justin. Oscar is an adorably naïve computer geek, hoping to lose his virginity and secure rare collectables on eBay, not necessarily in that order. And the loud-mouthed, outrageous Charity is looking for as many thrills, spills and chances to humiliate her hapless flatties as possible.
The look is light, fast-paced and explores the contemporary world of share-housing and inner-city living with a decidedly dark edge. The style is deadpan, the dialogue is clever and the morality reflective of a young web audience who are after anything but family values.
The episodes are characterized by highly implausible or ridiculous situations which the characters respond to with misplaced emotional responses, and morality reflecting their deep flaws. We never end on a family moment (maybe really sarky ones). The leaps of story can be similar to The Simpsons, the character attitudes can be a bit Seinfeld (selfish, reflecting recognisable situations), the heights of craziness and the pace can be Arrested Development.
In order to be an achievable low-budget production, each script has been created to be shot over two days: the first on location in the film-makers’ local neighbourhood (Darlinghurst), and the second in an existing share house. This is a natural response to an entertainment environment that is increasingly online, and looking for provocative laughs over high production values.
Joseph (Joe) A middle-class twenty-something who desperately wants to be bohemian artist but secretly prefers John Grisham to Jack Kerouac. Joe is interested in appearances over substance and is the kinda guy who keeps his fake DVD collection (Antonioni, Jarmusch, Hal Hartley) on display hiding his real DVD collection (Beetlejuice, Dude Where’s My Car). Has recently broken up with his first long-term girlfriend Amy but is under the impression they’ll probably get back together (he’s wrong). He’s recently deferred his thesis (again, an obscure arts topic he has little actual interest in) and is working in a local café. He fashions himself as a writer, and is ‘working’ on a screenplay. Joe’s tendency to lie about what he’s doing/ capable of/ interested in constantly lands him in hot water as he attempts to save face. Much of this will revolve around the band. When faced with a decision, Joe’s need to impress Amy tends to win over anything. The series arc takes us to a point where it’s possible they get back together. At his best, Joe is likeable and neurotic.
Oscar: Our lovable innocent. The child-like Oscar is a fairly sheltered pop culture loving virgin who lives life with a certain lassiez faire attitude, and has quite low expectations of himself. Like many nerds he has little understanding of women and want they want, and is not really in touch with his sexuality. He has many quirks and interests (a lot based around the internet) and is the most intelligent of our three. He’s a good cook, alphabeticizes his DVDs by genre and is studying architecture. Joe and Oscar have been friends since primary school.
Charity Opinionated, headstrong and fearless, Charity is a gutsy girl who moves through boyfriends, jobs, political concerns and phases at lightening speed. She never has any trouble getting laid, and speaks her mind with ease. She’s happy to tell it like it is when it comes to the guys and is the kind of flatmate who will eat the others food and borrow their things without asking, but is impossible to guilt trip as she genuinely doesn’t give a shit. She shoplifts and has a large sense of entitlement. She has a quick tongue and is able to insult anyone. She is attractive, but never plays ‘pretty’: unless it suits her purpose. She is physically the strongest of the three. If we ever see her working is abusing the corporate sector by acting as an overpaid consultant in the media (not taking a lot of calls). Charity comes from old money, and she’s not ruthlessly wealthy (she lives in a sharehouse), but she is the richest one of the house. Charity’s arc is about rorting something. She fires the guys up and gets them doing things. She’s not afraid to shame and ridicule and tell them what she really thinks of them. However when the band have to unite in a difficult situation, she’s onside with them.
Montgomery (Monty) The band’s manager. Extremely eccentric in an old-worlde way – while he’s young he acts almost timeless. ie. Refers to the band as ‘my young protégées’. No matter of absurd disaster can ruffle Monty’s feathers, and being an (extremely hopeless) band manager is just one of a series of roles and exploits he has. Many of the outlandish situations he puts the band in are a result of these conflicting interests.
Amy Joe’s sweet ex-girlfriend, who broke up with Joe because he lacked direction. She is very sweet but cluey enough to realise Joe is kind of hopeless. He was kind of punching above his weight with Amy, and it makes sense now she’s with Justin.
Justin Cool if inarticulate lead singer of a local rock band, and Amy’s current shag.
Episode One: Failure is Funny
Dickens novel in hand, Joe has all the trappings of a boho writer: but he’s not living the Parisian dream at this café, he’s working there. Humiliation quickly presents itself as Joe is forced to serve his ex-girlfriend Amy and her new guy, Justin (someone Joe knows from primary school). Joe was under the impression they were on a break, not broken up. Under duress, Amy admits the truth – he had no direction: Justin is really “going places”. This is not helped by the fact Joe has recently deferred his thesis topic again (he claims this is a step forward). Before he can ascertain what that means, Justin and Amy leave.
Desperate to find out what she meant – why is Justin ‘going places’? – Joe skips out on the rest of his shift and races home to find out who Justin is online.
He bursts into his flatmate Oscar’s room – interrupting some an important bidding war on Ebay. Bargaining with his oldest friend to get off the net, he finds out Justin is the lead singer of a local band. Oscar thinks everyone in band is cool, inadvertently flares Joe up about it, describing Justin as “Fabrizio Moretti and Jude Law love child, in a non-gay way.”
The boys argue over the best way to now impress Amy in order to win her back: Oscar’s ideas reveal his pop culture nuances but complete misunderstanding of what girls like, while Jo’s are about appearing to be something, rather than actually being. They decide to ask Charity.
Charity is watching slowed down version of a nature documentary while making out with her latest conquest. Oscar: “Are they my liquorice allsorts?” Charity: “Is this my fist in your face?” Before another spat starts, Joe leaps in for a decision about the best way to win Amy back. Charity witheringly suggests the obvious “Why don’t we start a band.” Befuddled, the boys ask how. Charity indicates a previously unseen corner of the room – and all the music equipment an ex-flatmate has left stacked in the corner.
The three realise their first goal as a band has presented itself: they’ll need a MySpace page.
Episode Two: Heroin is Funny
Now they’ve decided to start a band, they’ll need songs – but Joe is finding it hard to think of things to write about. He tries getting drunk, reading Beat poetry and (chickening out of) cutting himself.
After drinking Oscar’s vanilla essence which he needs to finish baking with (in lieu of a love life Oscar is an excellent cook), Jo is on his way to Woolworths when he runs into Justin and Amy, and mentions that he’s started a band. Amy is surprised – and fairly impressed. After stumbling over some band jargon – demo-ing, to demo, one demos – he attempts to up the cool factor by ‘accidentally’ admitting to having a drug problem. Justin scoffs that marijuana isn’t a drug problem. Jo is quick to retort it’s not marijuana – it’s heroin. Before he knows it, he’s sheparded off to score heroin with Justin. Damn.
Back home with the heroin, and the clueless Joe and Oscar are trying to piece together exactly how to ‘shoot up’, piecing knowledge together from movies. Charity to the rescue, she uses Oscar’s diabetic needles faster than you can say ‘Lust for life’.
Joe has a spaced out dream sequence trip involving formation dancing, which introduces us to the band’s manager, Monty.
Coming to, and he finds himself tied to a park bench with Oscar and Charity. In the middle distance, Amy and Justin are enjoying a romantic picnic and making out. Charity explains now he has material to write a song. Oscar and Charity leave him tied to the bench.
Episode Three: Abortion is Funny
After a one-night stand, Charity falls pregnant.
Oscar and Jo get home to find Charity selling off their belongings (incl. Oscar’s priceless collectables) to pay for an abortion (Joe: “What about your stuff?” Charity: “I need my stuff”). In order to pay for this – and under the agreement he can get them a gig by the end of the week – the band take on a manager, Monty.
Montage: Charity enjoys playing up being pregnant: Getting seats on public transport, folding stuff on her stomach, hiring out DVDs like ‘Look Who’s Talking’ and ‘Junior’, people touching stomach – all while reading books on abortion. Joe isn’t happy with her behaviour – Amy is quite sheltered and conservative and wouldn’t like how lightly Charity is treating all this.
Monty has gotten them a gig and proudly displays the posters. It’s 60s themed night, at their house, called which he’s labelled as an Abortion Fundraiser, with a set list of 60s classics like “Bye Bye Baby”, “Baby’s Gone Away” etc. Jo is horrified – Amy will freak out! The gig is off!
Racing over town to remove the posters he bumps into Amy and Justin. Amy assumes ‘Abortion Fundraiser’ are a badly named support. Catching on, Jo explains they’re not coming. Amy is impressed and excited by the idea of the house party gig. The gig is back on!
Coming home after work to get the house ready for the gig and Joe is horrified to find the poor taste decorations covering the house. Ripping into his flatties, he heatedly explains how important it is that no one gives away the nature of the fundraiser: his chance to impress Amy is at stake, and insists they get rid of them.
The 60s party is in full swing as Joe carefully monitors conversations, making sure there’s no slip-ups. We glimpse Oscar chatting to a girl, Lucy, Charity enjoying a drink – everyone is having a good time. Amy arrives and Jo is relieved to hear she can’t stay long. Taking her aside the two share an intimate moment. Amy explains she thinks Joe is really changing – the gig looks like it’ll be great. Joe is ecstatic, and suggests she come to his room to get some of her CDs back. Flirtatiously Amy agrees.
Jo opens the door to his room to discover all the inappropriate posters and decorations have been stored there. End on Amy’s look of horror.
Episode Four: Virginity Is Funny
The gang are discussing where Oscar should take the girl Lucy he met at party – the others rib him about finally popping his cherry. On his high-horse, Oscar waxes lyrical about the state of ‘romance in the 21st century’ and that he won’t be falling prey to the ‘wham, bam, thank you mam’ politics of dating. Lucy is really special and he intends to take things slowly.
Several hours later, Oscar and Lucy fall through the front door, rotten drunk and en route to the bedroom.
In the bedroom and mid make-out session, Oscar is trying to sweep off the stuffed animals he has near his bed. Lucy tries to keep them on, she thinks they’re cute. In a final attempt to get rid of them Oscar accidentally pushes Lucy off the bed. She leaves.
The next morning a crestfallen Oscar is lamenting his misfortune. Out of the room and his phone rings – it’s Lucy. Charity hangs it up. Joe is surprised Charity has changed her tune on Oscar pursuing Lucy. Charity reveals to Joe why. She had a camera set up in his room to film Oscar having sex in order to sell it on the internet. From watching over the footage she is convinced Lucy is a plushie – someone who has a sexual fetish involving being dressed as a stuffed animal. Charity thinks this is a bad idea – she’s been down that path before, and let’s just say, she’s banned from the set of PlaySchool – and together, Joe and Charity plan to sabotage Oscar’s relationship with her.
Montage: The duo see through their plan to sabotage relationship: they send Lucy teddy bears with their heads ripped off, make threatening phone calls and fax grafitted pictures to her work.
A few days later and while consoling Oscar about his failed relationship, the truth about the video accidentally comes out. Charity is self righteous – we’ve done the right thing! Oscar is furious – and states he’s off to get Lucy back. (Charity: “What are you gonna do?” Oscar: “Something I should have done a long time ago.)
Dressed as a teddy bear, Oscar bizarrely yet romantically surprises Lucy at her place of work. They kiss….
Episode 4: “Bestiality is Funny”
An important song-writing deadline approaches but Jo has the flu. After overdosing on dodgy Mexican flu medication, Jo becomes convinced Oscar’s pet bunny is his (talking) new muse/ girlfriend. As Jo’s mental health deteriorates, his loved-up creative output grows exponentially, leading Charity and Oscar to decide to secretly keep him doped up to make the deadline for the contest. Things get complicated when the relationship turns sour, forcing Charity and Oscar to act as relationship counsellors, all while keeping their activity secret from Amy.
Episode 5: “Masturbation is Funny”
The band decide to write their first single about masturbation. After arguing over who gets to write the song, Charity and Joe decide that however can ‘hold out’ the longest is can. Oscar warns Joe this might make him might have feelings for Charity but Joe denies this with extremely colourful descriptions of how unattractive he finds Charity, as Charity has the same conversation with a girlfriend. Oscar adjudicates this rather gross competition, (which is, of course, tastefully filmed from the shoulders up!) during which Charity and Joe develop unwanted feelings for each other. Nothing seems to be able to rid them of their undesired desires until the pair share a genuinely intimate kiss and expression of emotion (“I love you”), and are repulsed back to their usual state of low-key loathing.
Georgia Clark and Rob Moran