Actor and writer Maria Angelico is tackling the ups and downs of her 20s and finding her groove in new comedy web series, Movement. By Caris Bizzaca.
When actor and screenwriter Maria Angelico was a teenager, she landed a role in Chris Lilley’s We Can Be Heroes – a gig that would inspire her to create her own online series a decade later.
Angelico was struck by Lilley’s approach on the 2005 ABC comedy.
“It was the first project he (Lilley) made on his own and just seeing how that came about was something that was pretty exciting and inspiring to see,” she says.
“I felt like as an actor, it wasn’t a huge role but there was a lot of freedom in it and I think that really sparked something in me.”
Angelico continued on her acting path, but despite telling herself she was “just an actor”, she still harboured her secret desire to write something – to tell her own stories.
Over the years, the screen landscape changed dramatically, including the introduction of YouTube stars, web series, streaming platforms and online catch-up.
While this was happening, with the encouragement of a friend, Angelico began writing part-time.
“I never wrote Movement expecting it to be made,” she says, which meant that she just “went for it”.
The result was Angelico’s six-part web series – a relatable comedy about navigating your 20s (or life in general).
It stars Angelico as self-described “try-hard” Sophia, who enrols in dance therapy classes during the first episode, which are used as a jumping off point for each ep as it tackles relationships, work and life’s obstacles.
“There’s a lot of stuff in there that’s inspired by real life events and there’s a lot where I’ve taken the seeds of events and run with them,” Angelico says.
One truth? Angelico really does have a love of dancing.
“Whatever I’ve created, even if it was terrible assessments when I was studying, I would always incorporate movement and dancing into my work,” she says.
“So with Movement it just seemed like a natural way to express some sort of inner monologue for the character.”
Not only do the dance classes frame each episode, but they play a part in a larger message.
When we first meet Sophia, she is ‘static’ in her life. Enrolling in a dance class gets her moving, whether you want to take that on a purely physical level, or in the bigger sense that Sophia’s life can’t and won’t change, unless she does something about it.
“I’m a big fan of self-development,” Angelico says.
“We’ve all got to work on ourselves and especially at this age that I’m at, I think it’s pretty common for people to feel that way. Using a dance class means it’s not too heavy handed, but still addresses how important it is to do new things and try out new things, in a comic way.”
Comedy seems to have really found a home online, where web series such as The Katering Show and Soul Mates have taken off.
Angelico wonders if it’s because of the freedom web series offer, where you can take more risks.
“With comedy web series there’s something un-sacred about it. You don’t have to be precious with it, even though I find comedy can be one of the most tricky things in regards to timing and rhythm,” she says.
“It’s very spontaneous at times, so maybe having that freedom with multiplatform you can be a bit loose and play with it.”
For Movement, Angelico never set out to write a web series or even a comedy, but when it came to creating the story, multiplatform felt like the best fit.
Although at first, she says they sometimes felt like they had bitten off more than they could chew.
“We were insane to shoot what we did with the time and money that we started with but we got there and its out and its awesome now, so it paid off to be a little bit crazy,” she says.
Even now that the series is releasing, there’s still a sense that this is only early days. The easy-to-binge 10 minute episodes have the potential to reach new audiences every day, that’s to social media and word-of-mouth.
And who knows? If it takes off, maybe Angelico will even treat fans to an extra seventh episode that they filmed but decided not to release. Watch this space.
Movement is on YouTube now.