Director Sophie Hyde talks home, family and F*!#ing Adelaide as Closer Productions’ six-part comedy drama series comes to a national audience.
With so few major Australian television or film productions explicitly set in Adelaide, Closer Productions’ Fucking Adelaide set out to do just that. Director Sophie Hyde tells The Adelaide Review that the series was initially titled Home, and the final title was originally a joke to justify the setting.
“That felt like it would give us this permission to unashamedly set it in Adelaide and everything,” says Hyde. “It was half taking the piss and half loving the place.”
Over its six episodes Fucking Adelaide tells the story of six family members coming back together when Mum decides to sell the family home. Some of the kids have left the nest for other cities, while others are sticking around. Besides riffing on the city in which it’s set, the story is one about what makes family and home, says Hyde.
Asked whether this could have been set in any other Australian city, Hyde says it certainly could have, but the key to this tale is Adelaide’s status as a smaller town.
“Fucking Adelaide for us stands in for that idea of your home — all the things that are familiar to you and all the things that are stifling,” says Hyde. “All the things that you love but that are also difficult — that’s your family and your home city. Personally I think it’s a small city that the term suits the best, as it’s really different to what Fucking Sydney or Fucking New York would be.”
Does Hyde think this story will be received differently outside of Adelaide, considering interstate rivalries and persistent jibes about state-wide blackouts? Possibly, but audiences might find expectations of mockery undermined.
“I think that if people come to it going, ‘Oh yeah, fucking Adelaide, what a shithole’, then that’s great because it’s not how we think of it,” says Hyde. “It’s a mix for us, a love-hate relationship. We love all of those things about Adelaide, so there’s a great deal of affection in our series, but we can joke about it being a shithole. In fact there’s a whole ‘shithole’ song in the show about Adelaide being a shithole.”
This leads to a consideration of how Adelaideans themselves tend to see their own city in a self-deprecating way. Hyde says that Fucking Adelaide’s principal writer Matthew Cormack describes Adelaide as a middle class family, and recounts asking the show’s cast which family member Adelaide is most like.
“They all basically described their own character in the end,” laughs Hyde, who goes on to detail how these characters reflect some elements of Adelaide’s cultural life.
“We begin with Eli, who’s a queer character who’s had to leave Adelaide, and I think that certainly when we were growing up that was a difficult thing, and lots of queer people that I know left Adelaide,” she says. “That doesn’t necessarily happen all the time, but it’s something that’s difficult to manage in a smaller town when you’re young… [Then you have] Kitty who went to art school, having a good time, and the mum is certainly like a lot of people we’ve known around the place — that sort of slightly progressive quality but also quite comfortable.”
Having made its debut at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2017, and gone on to tour to international film and television festivals, Hyde says that the series has been well-received across the board.
“I was in Lille for Series Mania and the festival audience there was excellent,” she says. “It played with subtitles there so I was a bit worried that the music, which is the voices of the cast doing songs, might get lost. But they particularly loved the music and because they only saw three episodes, they were asking what would happen next and, ‘when can we see another season?’”
On that question of a second season, Hyde can’t be sure there will be one, as Closer Productions’ immediate schedule is a busy one.
“I’d love to,” she says. “We were talking for some time about another series and there was quite a bit of interest in it, but we’ve been on a feature film, then another series, so we haven’t pursued it in great depth, but I’d love to. I think there’s loads to keep drilling into in the family and in Adelaide.”
One such project is Animals, the film adaptation of Emme Jane Unsworth’s hit novel, starring Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat, which Hyde also directed.
“We were filming in Dublin and finished a month ago, and now we’re into editing,” says Hyde. “That’s what I’m doing now, deep in the edit suite cave putting it together. I loved it — beautiful cast. We’re now just laughing our heads off in the edit suite.”
“Yeah, in Adelaide. In the same shed that we cut Fucking Adelaide in, with our chooks right by our side.”
Fucking Adelaide is now streaming on ABC iview and will screen on ABC TV from July 15.