Luke Eve isn’t sure what’s real or scripted anymore.
Last year, he created with his fiancé, actor and writer Maria Albiñana, the lockdown-themed web series Cancelled.
It was a dramatisation of their real life: Eve and Albiñana had travelled in March 2020 to Spain to get married, only to have the pandemic interrupt. They cancelled their wedding two days out, and then spent they ensuing months in strict lockdown in their Spanish apartment – together with Eve’s mum, Karen, who had travelled from Australia for the wedding.
It proved fertile ground for a short-form series, shot on a mobile phone with Eve, Albiñana and Karen the entire cast and crew.
Funded by Screen Australia and released weekly on Facebook Watch, Cancelled garnered 2.5 million views and a Rose d’Or nomination.
Now, Eve and Albiñana are launching their follow up: ReCancelled.
It follows the couple – still in Spain – as they cancel their wedding for a second time. Then Maria discovers she’s pregnant, just as Luke is about to try to return to Australia to visit his family.
Eve tells IF that after Cancelled, he and Albiñana had begun plotting a second season, but both had hoped to make it much more fictionalised – revealing so much of themselves had been draining.
However, when Albiñana fell pregnant, it seemed natural the series should follow that storyline.
“We took some time convincing one another to do it, because the subject matter would require it to be quite personal again. Of course it should be. But then when we jumped into it we realised that was its true power, so we are really glad it happened.
“I’m really glad we went there again and explored the story authentically and passionately. It’s definitely been a case of life imitating art, imitating life.”
The story explores the layers of complication that the pandemic added to their experience of pregnancy. For instance, Eve couldn’t accompany Albiñana to the doctors for the first few months, which meant he missed out on the first scans and hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Once he was able to be included, he was sidelined because he can’t speak Spanish.
“Being pregnant is a pretty confusing and overwhelming time but when you can’t understand what’s going on it’s quite a trip,” he says.
“And on top of all of that, Maria and I come from different places and different cultures so we are torn between two very different worlds. Should we be in Spain where the pandemic has been bad or Australia which had weathered the storm? But then during the pregnancy the tables were turned and the world flipped, so we were able to quickly incorporate that into the story also. So really it’s a story about two people trapped between different worlds.”
Keeping with the aesthetic and style of the original, the series is once again shot on a mobile phone, but they were able to bring on a small crew to help them – a sound recordist, a cinematographer and a production assistant.
“Overall we wanted to keep it lean both for budgetary reasons and for safety reasons. The pandemic has been quite severe here the entire time and Maria was pregnant, and we were all unvaccinated at the beginning of filming, so we wanted to make sure that we remained lean. The mobile phone allowed that.”
Screen Australia once again backed the second season, with new funding partners including Tourism Valencia, UN3 Untref, The Spanish Embassy of Australia and the Australian Embassy of Spain.
“It really has been an amazing project. The series is actually tri-lingual (Spanish, English and Valencian), it’s a co-production between three countries (Australia, Spain and Argentina) and we have crew working across five different countries – Australia, Spain, USA, Argentina, and Germany.”
Recancelled launches on Facebook today following its world premiere at the Marseille WebFest last week. It topped off a good October for Eve in France: his feature debut, I Met A Girl, played in the Antipodean Film Festival on his birthday. On Netflix locally, was the first time he’d seen his film in a cinema with an audience.
“I love French cinema audiences. They are so passionate and informed. They completely embraced the film and I was approached for days afterwards from cinemagoers who wanted to discuss the movie. It really was a wonderful event.”
As for what’s next, Eve has a number of projects in development across feature film, television and short-form.
He suggests a third and final season of Cancelled may await, but it depends what life has in store for him and Maria.