NIDA’s Ben Crisp debuts on ABC iview with ‘Goober’
On 26 December 2016, ABC iview launched Goober, a short comedy series created and written by NIDA staff member, Dr Ben Crisp. We caught up with Ben to talk about the show, how he managed to get on the free internet TV service, as well as the other projects he’s working on.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Melbourne and grew up in Adelaide, and have been acting and writing since I was in school (my stage debut was goofing around in my Year Three performance of The Emperor’s New Clothes). I studied at the Adelaide College of Arts and the University of Adelaide while working as an actor on the local stage and screen circuit in TV shows (ABC’s Anzac Girls, Foxtel’sChanged Forever) and theatre productions (The Odd Couple, Don’s Party), and along the way started to write, produce and direct. Among other jobs, I’ve worked as a commercial director, film and cultural studies teacher at the University of Adelaide and the University of Lancaster, radio host and producer, and theatre reviewer.
What exactly is your new comedy series, Goober, about?
Goober is a comedy about Harry (Brendan Williams), an Uber driver with autism, who loves his passengers and wants them all to be his next best friend, even though he’s not very good at social situations. Harry’s Dad (Shane Jacobson) coaches him through his life, and also through his crush on Wendy (Ashton Malcolm), the drive-through attendant with whom Harry is head-over-heels in love. Every episode, he gets caught up in a situation with a different set of passengers, and struggles to get a bit closer to Wendy.
How did you come up with this idea and what was your inspiration behind the main character, Harry?
The idea for Goober came from a conversation I had with directors Brendon Skinner and Simon Williams, about how common it is now for people to have funny little human moments with complete strangers in the confines of a car. We wondered what life would be like for a driver who just loves to get to know people, but doesn’t quite understand the social “rules” – rules that people really use to keep themselves disconnected from other people.
How did you manage to get the show on ABC iview? Do you have any advice for other series creators out there?
ABC’s Head of Comedy, Rick Kalowski, has been really enthusiastic about discovering and supporting new talent. One of his strategies was a partnership with the South Australian Film Corporation to develop original short series for the iview platform. I have had a long relationship with Brendon Skinner and Simon Williams at Gravity Films in SA; they are fantastic collaborators and we found we had this great opportunity between some larger projects – we actually explored a few different concepts to bring to ABC but Goober was the stand-out. We partnered with Kirsty Stark at Epic Films to create and develop the concept, and Rick gave great feedback. I think a great team is key to a strong production.
If you’re creating or trying to create a series, now is the best possible time to do so because so many platforms are looking for content. Practically, proof-of-concept goes a long way – it can help to shoot a small sample of the material to show the broadcasters.
Can you fill us in on the other exciting projects you are working on at the moment?
There are a few exciting things in the works with the new year starting. We have two feature films optioned for production, both action-adventures, and have been developing two more comedy series for television. I’ve also been approached by a few producers to develop a caper comedy feature and a historical horror film, both really interesting projects.
If you haven’t seen Goober yet, you can watch it here for free.