/News 25.08.20


Brisbane and Melbourne based post-production house The Post Lounge has played an integral role in the lockdown dramedy series Retrograde which was broadcast on ABC (Australia) and its streaming platform iView.

The six by half-hour series centres around the topsy-turvy life of Maddie (Pallavi Sharda) and her friends as they navigate the pandemic, partners and the new parameters of life, all from the safety of their very own virtual bar. The project is said to be one of the first original dramas to be conceived and completed during the current pandemic.

The series was created, developed, financed and produced at breakneck speed during the initial Australian lockdown due to the COVID-19. Shooting began in June in Melbourne and had to adapt as lockdowns changed across Australia.

Unless Pictures and Orange Entertainment Co developed the series and with the assistance of The Post Lounge, the unique filming system that allowed for the actors to be in separate spaces while playing off each other’s performances on Zoom. Footage was captured on an iPhone and Macbook Pro camera system designed specifically for the production.

Post was undertaken in Brisbane where the show’s significant user interface and screen-life graphics were created and episodes were delivered to the network approximately twelve days after shoot. Remote working underpinned every aspect of the production with COVID-19 measures requiring many of the team, including producer and showrunner Meg O’Connell to remain in Brisbane while production occurred in Melbourne some 1800km (1120mi) away – O’Connell still has only met the director, some of the writers and most of the cast virtually.

To enable the creative team to work closely on shoot days while also adhering to social distancing and capacity limits, a “digital control room” was built where the director, first AD, cinematographer and actors could all communicate while producers, writers and investors looked on or visited from around the country. Sets were run by ‘Technical Operators’ who could control the camera system (socially distanced) via iPad and also ensure the quality of the footage.

(L-R) Pallavi Sharda, Ilai Swindells, Nick Boshier, Max Brown, Maria Angelico, Esther Hannaford, Shapoor Batliwalla

Kurt Royan, The Post Lounge CEO and also Executive Producer and Post Creative Director on the series, says the project is a great example of Australians being creative in the face of adversity.

“When the producers came to us with the project we were immediately onboard and excited for the challenge. It was great to work alongside our own team at Orange Entertainment Co as well as Unless Pictures and our Technical Director Xavier Muhlebach to basically reimagine how production and post-production could be achieved under COVID-19. Not just to shoot in a way that was safe, but one that also provided the data security required when you only have reduced personnel on set with actors.

The team had to rethink everything from the way the director communicates, through to the post-production workflow – we loved being part of a project that shows how adaptive and fast-moving Australian creatives and the greater industry can be.”

Kurt Royan, CEO The Post Lounge and Executive Producer and Post Creative Director on Retrograde

Producers O’Connell, Dan Lake and Jackson Lapsley Scott also enjoyed the process of finding new ways to tell stories in problematic times.

“We pitched the project to the ABC in late March and our first episode was on air on 8 July, which meant we were concurrently in development, financing and production while also being in post – it was at times tough but overall really satisfying and though we hope it won’t be a necessity for a long period of time, it’s nice to know you can build great character chemistry, drama and comedy even with actors who aren’t in the same room”

The series has now aired on ABC + iView in Australia and the producers are in talks with various distributors regarding international sales.

Retrograde is an Unless Pictures and Orange Entertainment co-production for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation with principal investment from Screen Australia in association with Screen Queensland and Film Victoria as well as investment from The Post Lounge. 

Starring Pallavi Sharda, Ilai Swindells, Maria Angelico, Esther Hannaford, Max Brown and Nick Boshier with guest star Ronnie Chieng
Created by Mark O’Toole & Meg O’Connell
Produced By Meg O’Connell, Dan Lake, Jackson Lapsley Scott
Directed by Natalie Bailey
Executive Producers Kurt Royan, Sally Riley, Que Minh Luu and Andrew Gregory
Lead Writer & Co-Producer Anna Barnes
Series Writers Anna Barnes, Declan Fay, Michele Lee, Meg O’Connell
Script Producer Sophie Miller
Post Production by The Post Lounge with Bronwyn Ketels as Post Supervisor
Feature Image: (L-R) Pallavi Sharda, Ronny Chieng, Maria Angelico, Ilai Swindells, Esther Hannaford