Skit Box flips gender roles in new TV pilot

Adele Vuko, Greta Lee Jackson and Sarah Bishop are Skit Box: an all-girl comedy troupe that flip gender roles with hilarious results, and they’re developing a TV pilot for iView.

Having made it to round two of joint Screen Australia-ABC initiative, Fresh Blood – which saw 24 creative teams and more than 70 sketches from last year whittled down to five teams that will develop half-hour pilots – Skit Box are in the midst of creating a pilot. In Fresh Blood round three, one pilot will be commissioned for a series.

We chat to Adele, Greta Lee and Sarah about their pilot.

Screen Australia: How did you come up with the concept for your pilot?

Greta Lee Jackson, Adele Vuko and Sarah Bishop: Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am is a compilation of ideas we’ve had from the genesis of Skit Box online in 2012, as well as development with the ABC.

The show explores themes of gender roles in film and TV, from the common female victim archetype in horror films, dating in the Victorian era, and what would a junkie crack den be like if set in a sitcom… So covering all the basics!

We came up with the concept with the ABC, who wanted to see us take our original three Fresh Blood sketches, In A Woman’s World, which aired on iView in 2014, to another level where we explore a variety of topics, genres and concepts from our unique, and sometimes twisted, all female perspective.

SA: Was it something new that you had developed specifically for Fresh Blood, or had you been thinking about the idea for a while?

GLJ, AV & SB: A bit of both actually! Our Fresh Blood sketches from last year had three scenarios based in a world where women have always been the dominant sex. Asking the question, would a world run by women be any better? And we answer with a resounding and ironic, not really.

[The pilot] is an evolution of this concept, where we have included elements of this in some of our sketches, but have also incorporated other ideas from different angles.

We have always wanted to do a sketch variety show where we’re free to explore ideas and genres from a uniquely female perspective. Most of our humour has been based on flipping social or gender norms, and recently we’ve also started playing with other mediums, like animation, and different genres. Turning them on their heads and giving a fresh perspective on entertainment that we’re all familiar with.

SA: How far into creating your pilot are you?

GLJ, AV & SB: We are currently in the final stages of post-production, so grading and final sound design elements.

It’s been a crazy time of year for all of us. Sarah was also playing the female lead in Bedhead, (another Fresh Blood pilot), Greta has been touring her live stand up show Murdernerd at the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Fest, and Adele just gave birth to a baby boy, three weeks after shooting the pilot!

But it has been so much fun so far, and we are dying to get it finished so we can show people!

SA: What’s the main point of difference you’ve found between creating a sketch and a TV pilot?

GLJ, AV & SB: You need a bigger team! The three of us have previously worn many hats in order to make one-off or a series of short sketches. We would share the producing, writing, managing production, directing, assistant directing, coffee running hats to keep within our small budgets. With this funding from Screen Australia for the pilot, we were able to get our amazing producer Michelle Hardy on board and she pulled together an incredibly creative, innovative and all round awesome production team.

With this team, we achieved so much in the pilot that we can all share and be proud of.

It’s an incredible feeling, seeing a group of people hungry to make something great, standing around a half-erected junkie slum apartment set, wondering how to make convincing vomit and where to find a crack pipe quickly… Really rewarding!

SA: If you could make a feature film, what would its one line synopsis be?

GLJ, AV & SB: In a perfect world where money rains down upon us from Hollywood, we would make a coming of age comedy: Set in space, with definite time travel, some romance and a 70s Lost in Space-type feel, we’d call it FOUND in space… maybe.

Keep up with Skit Box on Facebook and Twitter.

Pilots will debut on iView soon. In the meantime, here’s a Skit Box sketch from Fresh Blood phase one: