3some is an award winning web series currently available on YouTube, starring Lisa Gifford as Jen, a woman who has broken up with her cheating boyfriend Rob. Her situation becomes even more complicated when her ex-boyfriend, Paul, arrives on the scene. Lisa is an award winning writer of short films, feature films and plays, who has also directed the web series. Here she talks to Vulturehound about the series.
Where did the inspiration for the story and characters come from?
It’s all an extrapolation of real life. In 3some, Jenny used to be engaged to Paul, and three weeks before their wedding he comes out to her. I know more than one couple where one party turned out to be gay; it’s not something that only happened years ago, it still happens now. There’s still a stigma attached to being homosexual in some families and I wanted to explore that. Equally, Rob is an amalgamation of several people. There’s this macho lad culture that exists in places, where blokes are supposed to be wisecracking, cocky and sleeping around. It’s a veneer, and Rob has a lot of trouble letting that veil slip. He wants to be real, he wants the relationship with Jenny and the flat and the mortgage, but as soon as they hit a bump he goes straight back out ‘on the pull’. All his mates, at this point in his life, are settling down and they’re looking back at him askance. He knows that, but he still struggles with it.
The first incarnation of 3some was as a play that was met with great success at the Camden Fringe. What spurred you to write a sequel?
The play ends on a cliffhanger, and that was a deliberate decision. I had set out to write a piece without heroes or villains. I hope 3some, both the play and the webseries, is something where all the characters are recognisable. No one is ‘bad’ or ‘good’, they’re just all capable of good and bad things. So, with the play’s ending, I wanted the audience to make up their own minds on what might happen next, based on their personal interpretation of each character.
However, after the play a lot of people would come up to me in the bar under the theatre and ask “what happens? Does she go with Rob? What does Paul do now?” In my head I always knew where these characters were destined to end up, so I decided to realise that.
What reasons did you have to turn 3some’s second incarnation as a series of Webisodes? And what advantages or challenges did that decision bring?
My husband, 3some’s producer Elisar Cabrera, is very into online media. At that time, he was running a weekly web review show called ‘Those Video Guys’. He introduced me to webseries by showing me Brent Spiner’s ‘Fresh Hell’. I realised that it was a brilliant way to tell stories, because short webisodes are so easily accessible. What I wanted to do with the 3some characters leant itself well to that episodic format so I decided to take that route.
The advantage of webseries is that anyone can do it. If you can pick up a camera, or have someone pick it up for you, then off you go. The challenge is to make it work, on what are normally micro-to-no budgets. With 3some, we tried to make it the best we possibly could, production-wise, with the very little funds we had. We had a lot of experience within the crew meaning we could draw on that to get a lot out of very little. Some of my favourite series are made with no money, and, in my opinion, some of the worst webseries I’ve seen had a lot of money chucked at them. At the core, it’s down to the writer and director to create something that takes into account the resources they have available. There’s no point putting in a car chase if you can’t afford to do it properly (I say this because series two of 3some has a car chase and my Cinematographer, Jack, has been researching ways of doing it for almost a year now). If all you can afford is an iPhone, then that’s fine; write a series based on someone making video diaries on an iPhone. Just write it well, get the best actors you possibly can, and go from there.
The series starts out as relatively straight forward then the complexity deepens with every episode. Was it difficult to create a drama layered so intricately as to drip feed the audience information yet not give the game away?
My challenge was to get the information from the play in there somewhere without treading too much over old ground. It was working out exactly what was important to show, without just remaking the play on screen.
I needed to get across to the audience that these characters had a past together, and in the case of Paul and Rob, they had been friends for years. So I took snatches of the play as flashbacks that, I hoped, illustrated that, but also showed who these guys were. Then it was just working out where everything fit. In the play, the revelation that Paul is gay happens fairly late on, but in the series I decided that needed to come in episode 3, not only to show how high the stakes are for Paul in coming home to face Rob and Jenny, but also the situation with his parents. To be honest, the process was quite organic, so other than deciding what order the flashbacks should be in, it flowed quite naturally.
The series is all about how past decisions can complicate your future. Do you believe that people deserve second chances or do they benefit from the consequences of their actions sticking?
Oh, that is a really hard one. It completely depends on circumstances, I suppose.
I’ve seen people get eaten up with bitterness over things that people have done to them. I don’t think that does anyone any good at all. I think you do have to forgive, for your own sanity, but it doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting. If a friend hurts you, you might forgive and forget, but if they continue to do it, even though you might still forgive, you also might want to walk away from the friendship for your own sake. So a second chance, yes, but maybe not any more than that. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. We all accidently hurt people, or hurt people for selfish reasons. But nothing is black and white, there are a million shades of grey and I think you have to be prepared to look at that before you can make a decision. Personally, I think in the past I have forgiven people a little too easily, and I’m more cautious now. I’ve perhaps shrunk my circle of friends as a result, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
The series ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. What can we expect from the characters in the future?
Paul is back in Rob and Jenny’s lives full time, so they all have to come to terms with that. Paul needs to start dealing with his sexuality, and making a decision on whether he is going to be ‘out’. Rob has to make a decision on whether he can actually, really settle down and Jenny, well, she has to stop bouncing around all over the place and grab hold of her life. Whether she can do that or not is another matter entirely.
Lisa Gifford, thank you for your time.