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The Creative Core that is Ludo Studio

By Stephen Chinnery/ Film and Television
Welcome to Ludo Studio, where creating an episode of a show in seven days; churning out ideas for comedies, animations and dramas; and juggling a number of creative roles is all part of the daily grind.

Through the doors of Creative Enterprise Australia, up four flights of stairs and tucked away in a colourful office is where I found Ludo Studio.

The Emmy Award-winning team behind the frosted glass sliding door have proven that you don’t need an extensive film studio space to achieve big within the industry – just passionate, creative minds, full of ideas.

Left to right: Charlie Aspinwall (Creator/Producer), Daley Pearson (Creator/Director), Nick Boshier (Creator/Actor), Meg O’Connell (Producer/Production Manager) – missing from the photo is Business Affairs Manager Daniel Schultz.

Left to right: Charlie Aspinwall (Creator/Producer), Daley Pearson (Creator/Director), Benjamin Zaugg (Animator/Director), Meg O’Connell (Producer/Production Manager) – missing from the photo is Business Affairs Manager Daniel Schultz and Creator/Actor Nick Boshier.

A Creative Network

While Ludo certainly has a creative core (photographed above), they also outsource to a network of up to twenty people.

This “extended family,” as it’s been named by O’Connell, consists of mainly post-production roles, such as, animators, editors, composers and writers.

“Every show we’ve made we’ve just built on whatever that original team was [and] we’re slowly starting to get to know more creative people,” says Pearson.

While coordinating their own projects can be stressful at times, Aspinwall explained that their space at Creative Enterprise Australia is a huge help, because it allows them to be surrounded by a network of creative people. The last thing they wanted was to be in an office somewhere on their own in the city.

Ludo’s creative network also extends to Screen Australia and Screen Queensland who have assisted them in their projects, giving them the chance to enter a development phase.

“We’ve got support from these government agencies to make stuff. We’ve gone a little bit into creating mode,” Pearson says.

“Creating mode”

Ludo’s developmental stage has seen them write, direct and produce a wide range of shows over the years.

There’s Doodles, an interactive comedy that takes drawings from the public and turns them into animated characters within real-world scenarios. Doodles is in its third season with ABC ME and now available to watch on iView.

Meanwhile on Earth, provides a comedic snapshot of our modern world through sketch comedy and is also available to watch online.

A particularly well-known project of Ludo’s is #7DaysLater, a multiplatform drama/comedy that interacts with an online audience. Ludo asks their audience for inspiration for the following week’s episode, an innovative idea that won Ludo an Emmy Award.

Seeing not only the quantity but the variety of shows Ludo produces, led me to ask the team how they come up with their ideas.

“We have The Social Circle, which is a writer’s room. That sort of encapsulates it,” says Aspinwall.

“We’ll have our ideas we like, but then we’ll pitch the ones we think are good, out to the marketplace. As soon as we get one on the hook, we put it into a writer’s room. We end up with something that has a focus, somewhere to go,” says Aspinwall.

Taking the time to brainstorm and build on ideas together is crucial to Ludo’s creative process.

“It’s good to have a collaborative environment working on one show, especially once you’ve got it cracked. If you don’t, it gets messy. There’s no centre of gravity,” says Pearson.

“Once you’ve got the world solved and the logline solid, I think you can start to pull people in. And people genuinely and generally make it better,” says Pearson.

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Developing the Creative Idea

Ludo trials their scripts in front of live audiences, taking their ideas even further.

“Over the next few months we’ll be having live script-reads of features, some half-hour sitcoms and some animation projects,” Pearson says.

It’s something that has the team quite excited, to be able to conduct these live read-throughs, particularly for comedy.

Pearson stresses it’s not just about listening to the audience, but listening to yourself once there is an audience in front of you.

“You know once you’ve sent an email the spelling and grammar suddenly becomes obvious? Take that and put it into reading a script in front of people. It’s not that they’ll necessarily have great ideas, it’s more that your mind is now in flight or fight mode. You’ll start to think: is this actually working? Or was I just cheating myself in front of my laptop?” says Aspinwall.

Aspinwall also touched on the idea of developing through producing. For example, the Ludo team will create a small sequence to get a feel of the flavor.

This was the method they used for #7DaysLater, where they made something tangible that somebody can watch and respond to, rather than something to be watched passively.

Ludo’s creativity, drive and ambition has allowed them to work with internationally-renowned actors, like Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Josh Lawson (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Any Questions for Ben?) and John Jarratt (Wolf Creek), as well as YouTube stars, such as the team behind CollegeHumor.

“We’re starting to do bigger shows with international people and starting to move into hour-long drama and features,” says Pearson.

You can check out Ludo Studio and their projects here.

To read more about the Emmy Award-winning #7DaysLater, check out their news post here.

You can also find them on Facebook where they share some of their behind-the-scenes content, which provides even more insight into their creative process.

For media enquiries contact meg@ludostudio.com.au.