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March 10, 2014 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Capital Culture

A forthcoming comedy series set in our very own Wellington, Capital Culture, is generating a lot of buzz. Philip McSweeney got drunk with a couple of its cast members, and what he discovered Will Surprise You.

Although Capital Culture was only filmed last summer, it’s a project that’s been five years in the making. “We first had the idea when we were all living in Melbourne,” Izzy tells me, “and we were living next door to these scenesters… They’d sometimes have ‘silent parties’, y’know; we’d walk past their flat and there’d be about 20 people in there and none of them were making any noise,” she continues, chuckling at the recollection.

Capital Culture is a forthcoming mockumentary web series conceived by four young women and close friends – in alphabetical order, Isabelle, Martine, Miriam and Virginia (although she prefers the diminutive Gin) – that delves fearlessly into Wellington’s hipster culture. Obviously, their perceived pretentiousness is the main butt of the joke, but is it, I ask, a kind of gentle lampooning, or more of a satirical jab? “Both,” they resound in unison. “I mean, we’re definitely playing heightened versions of ourselves,” Gin explains, “maybe qualities that are in there but don’t really come out – do you know what I mean?”

I do, and though I’m loathe to make an obvious comparison, I can’t hear the terms ‘heightened versions’ and ‘four 20-something females’ without thinking about Girls. Was it an influence? “I mean, we all love Girls,” Gin says tentatively, and would take it over Sex and the City(!), but she also stresses that their mini-series was in an embryonic shape well before Girls came into the limelight. Instead, she cites Chris Lilley as a major influence (“So funny!”).

The events surrounding the filming of Capital Culture bespeak something like a success story – the group took their pitch to PledgeMe and raked in more than enough of the money required, and enlisted friends and acquaintances to make cameo appearances or provide technical assistance as required. The result, however, looks much more polished than the bare-bones nature of filming would imply, and this is thanks to the “tireless” work of an editor and director “who were absolutely fantastic… I’m so glad we got them. Honestly, we couldn’t have done this without them [and all the other volunteers] and we are so, so grateful,” Izzy says, while Gin nods in vigorous assent. I’ve heard this line a lot in my time, but it’s never sounded as genuine as it did coming from them. Is there a second season in the works? There’s a bit of hush-hush at that, but a certain mischievous glance indicates that Capital Culture isn’t quite finished yet.

Obviously, based on the parodic characterisations, there is going to be a bit of awkwardness with family members – when I ask if there’s anything in the series that they’d be embarrassed to show their grandparents, they both wince. “Yeah, definitely,” Izzy says with a twinkle, before talking about a close-up of her derrière (in costume!) while myself and Gin laugh uproariously, before talking more seriously about a drug-taking scene that they decided to leave on the cutting-room floor. And though there’s awkwardness, there’s nothing overtly offensive – Gin fields my query about whether there were some self-imposed limits, saying: “Yeah, like no racism. I mean [the aforementioned] Chris Lilley, he’s funny and he can do stuff like that with aplomb, y’know, but we’re not at that level yet.”

Other than that, the big concern is how the series will be received. Already, YouTube commentators have called it derivative, and “even though we think it’s hilarious, we don’t know if other people will.” But, having seen the trailer and been given an insider’s look into the process, I think these girls will be able to leave the criticism in their wake. Don’t miss it – Capital Culture could well become cultural capital.


Capital Culture officially premiered on YouTube on Sunday. The link is available here:

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