If you have ever had to deal with customers (or know someone who has), then you need to get on board with the hilarious new Australian comedy series Rostered On, which is now streaming on YouTube.
The talent on board for Rostered On, other than the charmingly down to earth Paul Moore (Winners & Losers) are a rag tag crew of mostly new Aussie faces, which include Doug Lyons, Ronn Kurtz, Diana Brumen, Susie Kazda, Jack Garnett, Lliam Murphy, Tara Vagg, Steph Evison Williams, Adam Balales and Stephen Francis to name but a few. It is quite frankly, what makes this show work, without the massive star power to distract you from its core values. We can all relate to it so well and as with most Australian comedies based on familiar subject matter, we as a nation click to it so well because as with most retailers and their staff, we can’t talk about it out loud in our jobs for fear of getting the sack. Rest assured the team at the fictional ElectroWorld do not hold back! The painful truth we all love to hate and hate to love about working in sales is seen in all its glory in Rostered On.
I sat down and had a chat with Director Ryan Chamley and Actor and Co-Producer Paul Moore about their inspirations for Rostered On, some customer complaints and talk about some of the talent on board the new series and even some of Robot Army’s and Paul Moore’s future projects and more.
Ryan and Paul thank you both so much for your time. Since the initial pilot episode of Rostered On, the entire retail team I work with have watched every episode the day it airs. I think it is safe to say you absolutely nailed retail down to a fine art. Can both of you discuss where you worked previously to get to the kind of content we see on screen with Rostered On?
Ryan: The majority of my retail was with a Hi-Fi Retailer I would rather not name, I also worked for Blockbuster Video for a long time, music shop and a surf shop. So, a lot of different retail experience!
Paul: Sort of similar for me as well. I hopped around and worked at Village (Cinemas) and a few different restaurants and a few big chain retail stores like Jay Jay’s and a music store. I have just gone from job to job and the one consistent thing between each job is the customers you get are always very similar. For some reason, customers always seem like they kind of have this upper thing on you. They’re going to spend money and come across to squeeze as much as they can out of you. That is the one consistent thing I have found. I have also found that retail staff I have worked with always seems to rally together, it’s almost like ya know, that it’s head office against us smaller people. There is always that sort of separation, from the bigger organisations all the way down to the smaller ones.
We had a customer come in the other day that got so angry at a staff member because they mispronounced their surname, so the staff member hit back and wrote their fairly long surname down on a piece of paper and said, “You tell me how to pronounce that name”. I think these little victories are what keep us going. Can you tell me one of the worst experiences you have ever had when working in retail whether it be from customers or staff?
Ryan: I had a couple come in and the guy wanted to return a printer that didn’t work, he actually had a receipt, surprise, surprise! But the printer had just hit its 12-month warranty to the day! So, I explained to him how he could return it without a problem within a week, but now it is the manufacturers problem. He then progressed to get more and more pissed off demanding it (the return). He said the printer hadn’t been working for months and they just bought it in before the warranty was up. I told them, we could either send it away or they can deal with the manufacturer themselves, he was just persistent and insisting and then it turns out it wasn’t even his printer, he was bringing it in for someone else!
I had to pull him to a corner of the store and politely tell him he needs to leave before I do something that I get fired for.
Paul: I feel your pain Ryan, don’t worry about that! I am just punching my steering wheel as you’re talking about that. Yeah, for me it would have been when I worked at the music store and you had a lot of die-hard fans and when people would come in and pre-order their CD’s and stuff. I hadn’t worked there long and I ordered someone the wrong CD or DVD. He came into the store on the day of launch for his item and was so excited he was getting it and I ordered the wrong one. He went absolutely nuts and started smashing his hands down and screaming loudly “TODAY’S THE LAUNCH DAY!” I just looked at him and said I ordered the wrong one and he just made a huge scene. There wasn’t a security guard there, so we actually got the store manager who was a lady at the time, she went over and a had a talk to the young man and you know how girls can use their charm, she put on these sexy eyes and calmed the whole situation down, us men can’t really do that and get away with it.
Ryan: *laughs* You can try!
So, you didn’t have Vish (played by Sreedharan Sathiamoorthy) the security guard back then?
Paul: We didn’t but it was a similar case to the Bread Guy (Played by Michael Mack – Episode 1 of Rostered On) coming in and demanding that his bread was burnt and the toaster was faulty, he was that irate. So, it was a great scene to shoot so we could re-enact it.
In a world where there are dozens of streaming platforms and an overwhelming social media presence, what made you jump to a platform such as YouTube to show your series instead of trying to pitch it to a TV Network?
Ryan: I guess it was just an arrogance to say we didn’t need anyone *laughs*, no it wasn’t arrogance, I guess it is very hard to get noticed and the industries, networks and VOD’s have a lot of red tape. By the time it takes to buddy up the people, do the pitch and this and that, we could have made it and entire season for the same effort. So, we thought, let’s just do it! The actors were invested. I think, for them they saw the initial pilot episode was getting them a lot of exposure, so for them it was great to sort of get out there. The girls Susan (Kazda) and Diana (Brumen) have had 40 million people watch one of their scenes and just today Lliam (Lliam Murphy) got stopped at a supermarket to have his photo taken. I think the few days that they came down on set and put in the effort has been worth it. Everyone basically wanted to do it as a stepping stone to get noticed.
Paul: Yeah, gone are the days of sit down at this time and watch this show, that is all gone, people are too busy these days and they want to watch a whole season. To me, that is an exciting side of the platform. In terms or Rostered On, the pilot was pitched to ABC, it was pitched earlier on and they looked at it and went “yeah, it’s great, we love it, well done, just go and get a following”. We wondered how many other shows like this get pitched. They didn’t jump out of their skin and go ‘wow, this is a great idea, great concept, if you put this online it’s going to go off’. We just looked at each other and said, well what’s plan B? We took plan B and it’s taken off, it really is a blessing in disguise. YouTube is the right platform for it to excel. It’s also driven by so much truth, there are so many comments saying, “Oh my god, this is my life”. Being able to relate so much to it.
Ryan: It was definitely the plan, we knew where our audience was because everyone is on Facebook so it was just a matter of tapping into that and driving it over to YouTube. We just tried taking the middle man out of finding our audience.
Rostered On has now garnered a ridiculous amount of infamy on YouTube since it aired its initial pilot in 2016 and now we jump to May of 2017, as of writing, we are 5 episodes in and according to my calculations you have gained one and a half million hits on all your episodes combined so far! Not only is that amazing for any online show, but we have one more episode on the way that wraps up season one… is it safe to say there will be a season two now?
Ryan: Yeah, we are in the middle of a few different options at the moment. We are just trying to work out the best way for us to do it.
I think you might have a certain TV network knocking on your door again soon!
Paul: *laughs* It would be a dream, wouldn’t it? For someone to come knocking and on their knees saying, “look, guys, we made a mistake”.
I haven’t enjoyed anything this much since Soul Mates commenced with the Bondi Hipsters (Nicholas Boshier and Christiaan Van Vuuren).
Ryan: Yes! Nick from Bondi Hipsters and Soul Mates has become quite a sounding board with a lot of stuff for us. He got in touch when the trailer first went viral, telling us he loved our work, I looked him up and wow, Trent from Punchy! There are very few people you have access to that have done what you’re trying to do and come out the other side.
We have actually just started writing another project which Nicholas will star in.
That was my next question, other than Rostered On do you have anything else up that creative sleeve of yours to show us soon, now that you have thrown a bit of that anxiety of success away!?
Ryan: Just yesterday we (our production company Robot Army) got greenlighted for a project and sponsored by a company down here called Karingal, they work with disability and aged care. It is a pilot we are creating in which everybody has a disability and the people that don’t have a disability are treated with the same stigmatization as disabilities are now. Nick (Boshier) has just signed on to play the guy that doesn’t have a disability. The whole cast will be people with actual disabilities, so we are biting off a big chunk that is probably the next thing we are working on other than Rostered On. Paul and I are working hard on ideas for Rostered On now and meanwhile just trying to feed the family and make a living.
Paul, you starred in the wonderful Winners & Losers as Wes Fitzpatrick and now bring your own brand of justice to the retail world in Rostered On, what have you got going on now?
Paul: A lot going on, I mean I am super excited about season two of Rostered On. In the meantime, there is something I have been working on before Rostered On called Random Aussies. That is a show where we go around Australia and find random stories from all these small little towns with some hidden gems. We have 8 episodes of that in the can and just working on distribution with that at the moment. That is pretty cool and we are trying to take it overseas. We have another new project which is a Virtual Reality project. A travel show, but in VR.
One more question for both of you, if you were trying to pitch Rostered On to someone who hadn’t seen it before and had to give a little explanation in the shortest way possible, how would you describe it?
Paul: It’s about a struggling dude who has to work with a bunch of assholes on a daily basis because he can’t follow his dreams and do what he wants to do because he has a family he must support.
Ryan: The show is quite literally about working with retail that slaps you in the face with a little bit of heart at the end.
You all should be able to take comfort in experiencing the pain and laughter of working in retail. So, enjoy it and share the love so we can all look forward to the inevitable season two!