Louise Schultze gets ‘Group Chat’ going with Ellen Robertson, Skye Leon, Megan Simpson Huberman

A concept image for 'Group Chat'

A new series exploring the misadventures of modern dating through the lens of stand-up comedy has entered development through an all-female creative team led by writer-producer Louise Schultze.

Drawing from a mix of real life and fiction, rom-com Group Chat follows four sisters, hopeless at romance, who use a group chat to share their dating disasters and find love. When the middle sister, an Australian comedian in the UK, uses their romantic pratfalls in her stand-up, her career skyrockets – until her sisters discover their mortifying revelations are the joke.

Schultze, who will produce through her company Australian Production House, first came up with the concept in 2016, only to shelve it in preference of other projects on her slate.

Following some post-COVID interest and development investment, she resurrected the idea, conducting an initial writers’ room with filmmakers Skye Leon and Megan Simpson Huberman in the first half of last year.

The project gained momentum a couple of months ago by adding English comedian and performer Ellen Robertson, known for Black Mirror and Outlaw, to the mix, following an 18-month search for the fourth team member.

Schultze said the early development had shown the need for an authentic comedic voice while noting the value of Robertson’s LGBTQ perspective.

“We had our minds set on a few different Australian comedians as we were developing and we knew that without that person in the room, we couldn’t dive into the nuances of what it was like to be a stand-up comedian and the LGBTQ dating space,” she said.

“On went the hunt for the right writer, which took quite a bit of time. We were looking at a couple of comedians represented by United Agents UK, and when they put Ellen into the mix, she just blew us all away.”

As yet, no other creatives are attached to the series, which held its first writers’ room with Robertson this week.

Schultze plans to take the project to next month’s MIFF 37º South Market and aims to begin production early next year on the back of what she described as a renewed appetite for the rom-com genre, as seen in the likes of Binge series Colin From Accounts.

“From Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary in the 90s, bringing what we loved about those shows into a modern story is exactly what I believe women today are hanging out for in their PJs with a glass of wine at home,” she said.

“Films like Bridget Jones’s Diary worked because we could relate and laugh at ourselves. We know that in 2024, not all of the early 2000s content will be relatable for young viewers, which is good. So much has changed in the dating game since then. The way people meet is totally different, thanks to apps. The way we view gender roles has come a long way, too.

“Honouring those changes, passing the baton to gen-Xers, and sharing the joy of the ‘chick-flick’ is a real privilege.”