Frustrated at what they saw as a dearth of relevant youth content on TV, openly gay 19-year old Sydney film student Samuel Leighton-Dore and his 20-year-old fellow student James Millynn have set about creating their own show, The Flip, as an antidote to Neighbours and Home and Away.
“I’m just a chainsmoking borderline-alcoholic teenage guy. I feel like my world and the world of other teenagers in Sydney hasn’t been accurately depicted on screen — it’s sugarcoated, it’s fake,” Leighton-Dore told Sydney Star Observer.
In March, the pair auditioned more than 200 young actors to play the roles of a disparate collection of young Sydneysiders, with AFI-nominated Christian Byers (December Boys, The Tree) among the cast. Since then, they’ve leaked teasers for each central character online, with the 12 YouTube clips scoring more than 15,000 combined views in the past three months.
“We’ve taken a snapshot of five different areas around suburban Sydney, five different backgrounds — there’s no standard teenage culture represented, it’s a real mix.
“We’ve got street kids in Glebe, gay teens on Oxford St, private school kids from the eastern suburbs. The different stories are all tied together quite subtly.”
For Leighton-Dore, portraying life for today’s gay teens was one of the motivating factors for creating The Flip. In one of the teaser clips, Double Bay schoolgirl Issy talks matter-of-factly about her brother Ben breaking up with his boyfriend.
She’s concerned about how he’s coping with the end of a relationship; the fact that it’s a gay relationship seems largely irrelevant.
“There’s controversy about a lesbian kiss on Neighbours, but [homosexuality] is such a big part of our culture. We want to make it a natural part of the show,” Leighton-Dore said.
“There are two gay characters, and they both have the same struggles that straight teenagers do — they go through sexual experimentation, family struggles, relationship issues. We’re being as honest as possible.”
One character, in particular, will go through some particularly juicy challenges.
“There’s a closeted character who I think will hold the show together. He’s got a girlfriend, but he forms a relationship with his girlfriend’s little brother. They’re all based on people I know — not that they know that!”
Leighton-Dore and Millynn are currently shooting a pilot for the show, juggled around their commitments as students at the Australian Film Television Radio School. They’re being mentored on the project by a couple of production companies, and plan to pitch to the ABC and Foxtel networks by early next year.
“I’m optimistic there’ll be an audience for this. It’s raw and it’s different — a show written by young people for young people. After all, there’s only so much accuracy a 40-year-old can capture when writing for 16-year-olds.”
info: Join The Flip’s Facebook fan page or see the teaser clips at www.youtube.com/user/TheFlipAustralia