While there have been exceptions to that tone (notably Desert Road’s Harry), it’s proved hard to break that mould. Hawkins is very familiar with dramedy. She directed plenty of episodes of Go Girls, Outrageous Fortune and Step Dave and produced on Go Girls and Nothing Trivial.
For Dirty Laundry, Filthy Productions tried to make something a little different from those shows, and that should be something we celebrate. Unless we want all our drama to come out of the same mould.
Dirty Laundry began shooting in January, for 17 weeks. When we spoke with Hawkins in October, the final episodes had just gone to TVNZ. Hawkins had been on the show from sometime in 2016, in discussions with the Filthy team about the show. Some of those discussions were about distinguishing it from Filthy Rich. Although Filthy Productions had been supported for two dramas this year, there wasn’t a plan to try to establish a house style. In any case, Filthy and Dirty had quite different demands.
Helping to establish those differences included separating the teams. There weren’t many people (beyond the creators) who worked on both productions, and the shows used different post facilities.
In terms of how Dirty Laundry looks, and how it’s different from Filthy Rich, Hawkins gives a lot of credit to DoP DJ Stipsen.
Shooting with two cameras, going for a lot of coverage, is familiar. “I’ve been doing that on other shows for several years,” Hawkins says. Stipsen challenged that approach, asking “What if we shot it single camera?”
An obvious implication of a single camera approach is that it impacts the number of minutes that get shot in a day. Would it possible to keep to the schedule and budget already in place? The team decided it would change the way people approached their jobs but could work. “For the cast it meant they couldn’t save their performance for take three of the close-up – because they weren’t going to get it.”
The single point of focus helps people focus on set, Hawkins reckons. The shot is lit specifically for that, and not the top-down approach taken on many fast turnaround shows these days. A single POV also slows the pace of the storytelling as well as the shooting day. “You can’t pace it up in post, but it’s not a rock’n’roll fast-paced fast cut show,” Hawkins said.