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Subclass 417

It seems like everyone in the world is talking about immigration these days. It can be sobering, angering, inspiring…all of these things almost simultaneously. Everyone has a personal perspective on the subject, which is what led award winning Writer, Actor and Producers Christian Heath and Elijah Egan to create Subclass 417. This Docu-Comedy Web series follows Ryan and Ben, two 20-something struggling Actors trying to make it on a Working Holiday Visa in Australia. The series title, Subclass 417, is the official government title of this type of visa.

While focusing specifically on British and Irish Nationals seeking a better life in Australia, the template is one that applies to many places. There is a consistent levity and heart to this story that is exponentially expanded by Actress Linda Jean Bruno as Chloe, the girlfriend of Ben. Known for her numerous award-winning films and work on Australia’s internationally beloved hit TV program Neighbours, Bruno is often the reality that grounds and softens the sometimes juvenile male characters in this award-winning web series whose popularity led to it being picked up by Channel 31 in Australia.

Developed by Ben Casey and Elijah Egan, Subclass 417 is a comedic slant on the influx of twenty-something English and Irish nationals who relocated to Australia in search of opportunities and a brighter future. The plight of immigrants is rarely carefree but the story Casey and Elijah have crafted seeks to concentrate on how unaware and somewhat disconnected Ryan and Ben (their characters) are from the gravity of their circumstances…at least for the most part. To ground them in reality, the story needed some strong relationship partners for this duo of new Australian residents. Strong female leads with plenty of heart are often the linchpin for an audience in an immigration tale (ala Oscar-Winning-Actress Nicole Kidman opposite Tom Cruise in Far and Away and Oscar-Winning-Actress Kate Winslet opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic) and Chloe (Ben’s love interest) was tailor made for Bruno to contribute in just such a manner, literally.

Much of the comedy in this web series stems from the misunderstandings and inadequacies of Ryan and Ben, reflected back at them by the wiser/more worldly partners. Chloe is the point of comparison for her boyfriend Ben in the docu-comic presentation of their behaviour in context, as well as the cutaway interviews wherein the reality of Ben’s behaviour is voiced through Chloe as the ever-loving and forgiving partner (as opposed to Ben’s skewed views). While Chloe is an academic overachiever and natural caretaker, Ben is obsessed with Kanye West and impressing others with his high end sneakers. There’s a balance in the union between these two characters that is rooted in young romantic love. The chemistry of Bruno and Egan on camera sets the undertone that gives credence to this seeming personality mismatch, making it very much believable.

While a vocal percentage of the entertainment industry bucks against online entertainment, Subclass 417 is held up as a great success. Originally created and aired as a web-series, it has won a number of awards both nationally and internationally including: an Official Selection at Austin WebFest 2014 in Texas, Official Selection and award winner at LA WebFest 2014, and Official Selection at the Roma WebFest. No small part of the attention and accolades this witty and humorous production received is the fact that Subclass 417 was picked up for broadcast TV by Australia’s Channel 31, proving that the story was equally attractive to online and more traditional based viewing audiences. While she has had plenty of experience in award-winning films and internationally successful award-winning television programs, Bruno confirms that the web-series is enticing to her and many of her peers.

She notes, “This web series provided a medium through which I could show another side to my acting ability for the industry to consider. Telling my Agent or a Casting Director that I have an ability is one thing; it’s another to be able to present them with a concise and entertaining snippet in context. The web series as a whole is about the skill of telling a story with limited time and limited budget. It’s a TV series that can be easily shared with people all over the world. A web series can act as a more accessible and succinct showcase of ideas, skills, and talent for everyone working on the production; both in front of and behind the camera. The generally smaller teams also enables more input from each individual because the dialogue between cast and crew is generally more available. A web series by virtue of its very format is more accessible. Traditional broadcast TV is following the web-series with features like on-demand which make a program available anytime and anywhere.” Only a few short years ago there was an unwritten rule that film professionals did not cross over into television but the excellence of cable TV programming has shattered that notion; web-productions seemed to be poised to mirror this occurrence as well. In addition to her upcoming film work, Linda Jean has been cast by Subclass 417’s Director Max De Bowen (also known as Max Orter) for his TV series documentary “Inside Web Series” and a sci-fi short film entitled “Game On”. Bowen, whose work has been featured in such prestigious festivals as the Cannes Court Metrage, brought Bruno aboard in particular for her innate sense of dark humour, comparing her to Aubrey Plaza. She’ll also return to the web-series format later this year for the production Franco’s World, where Linda will be playing alongside award-winning Actor and Writer Robert Rabiah.

Written by Kelly King

Subclass 417 Reviewed by JaamZIN on 10:10:00 PM Rating: 5
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