Let’s Talk About… Presto’s experiments with short-form

Presto commission 10-part narrative relationship drama Let’s Talk About in an experiment with short-form

By Dan Barrett

It’s the typical romance tale of boy meets girl, girl unintentionally falls pregnant and then girl and boy need to decide what happens next.

This is the subject of streaming service Presto’s first foray into original scripted television. The SVOD service commissioned young filmmaker Matilda Brown to produce the 10-part narrative relationship drama Let’s Talk About, a relationship drama-comedy that explores what happens to a new couple following an unplanned pregnancy.

When Brown first approached Presto about the series, it was already written, with the intention to produce the series for the web. Brown explains, “It just happened that Presto really loved it and they are really excited about having new, original content for their viewers and it kind of works for them.”

Brown admits that one of the most appealing aspects of taking her project to Presto was that the service didn’t have any strict time constraints on how long her episodes needed to be. “It’s so open-ended. That’s also what’s great about these platforms. They’re on demand, so it’s not like it’s a schedule that needs to be factored in. The guys at Presto were completely okay with that, so I didn’t need to change it to suit any particular format.”

Let's Talk About premiered on Presto on 30 October

Let’s Talk About premiered on Presto on 30 October

For Presto, this is their first original series, so one would assume the service would have a strong involvement in the production. Not so, Brown said: “They didn’t stick their noses in at all. Not that I wouldn’t have been open to them, but they were incredibly respectful of the material. I don’t know whether or not they felt like they needed to.”

While not based on events in her own life, Brown was inspired to tell this story based on her own experience of a close friend who got pregnant early into a relationship. Brown explained, “Over the nine months, I was privy to her going through her process of being pregnant and all those changes she was going through and how she was dealing with a new relationship when she didn’t know her partner that well. The difference is that they were very much at a point where they knew they wanted to spend their life together and eventually would have kids. In this situation, they really don’t know if they want to be together or if they’re in love. It’s so early on.”

Just as much as the series is about a pregnancy, the series is about the early stages of a serious relationship, where the awkward conversations that often punctuate the early stages of a relationship are heightened through the life-changing experience of a pregnancy.

To develop the idea, Brown had to look beyond her own personal experiences to the world around her. Brown said: “I’ve never been pregnant. I don’t have a baby. I am not even in a relationship, so I’m drawing on past relationships and past conversations that I’ve had with people, and the people in my life who I’ve watched have kids and how they dealt with it.”

What is the next step for the filmmaker? Brown would like the opportunity to make a film, with a feature-length script being worked on at the moment, but she is also cognisant that the medium is changing and that there are other opportunities to explore. “I feel like the industry is changing with people watching so much on their laptops and their phones. Maybe there’s an audience for those things, so maybe I gravitate towards that. Also, you can make them for so much cheaper. In Australia, we don’t have a heap of money to play with and it’s such a long process to go through funding bodies. Sometimes it’s easier just to do it yourself.”

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