‘Patrick’ is a pilot episode. It is an experiment. Patrick needs you. Katie McAllister talks to the creator Finnian Williamson about his new web series.
KM: Okay (swallows). Alright, Finn. We’re at HJ’s buddy.
FW: Mmmmm (chewing)
We had just been to see Little Men at Sommerville and hadn’t eaten dinner. It’s 10.30pm on a Sunday night and the chips are the kind of dry-crunchy that only people who eat at HJs on a Sunday night deserve #thisislivingbarry
KM: First question, thanks for talking to me about Patrick, you’ve just got some of your sauce on the table just there.
FW: Ohh fuck.
KM: Woody Allen or Wes Anderson?
FW: Woody Allen. He knows how to do it. I’d prefer Woody for the stories he tells. Wes Anderson is just the look, I’m not a huge fan of his stories compared to Woody’s. He’d have pretty good pillow talk. It’d be good. What about you?
KM: No comment, this is my interview.
Two young teenagers walk into HJs, looking like the most exciting thing ever was to walk into HJs at 10.30pm on a Sunday night #prayforkatie #prayforfinn
KM: So who is Patrick?
FW: A vain, superficial young man who has grown up in the Facebook era that we all have and now has his own show, which he is excited/nervous about. Through the show he is trying to charm the audience into liking him, by hiding his mental health issues, but because of his need for validation, for his deep desire for the audience to like him, he can’t stop his problems getting out onto the screen.
KM: Why should we care about Patrick?
FW: Because I think he is someone we can all relate to in some way. We all have Facebook and we use social media to get attention, to get likes, to get appreciation. This is like an antidote to that. I haven’t seen a web series that has a direct OUCH HOT CHIPS message about that yet. He is a different character to what you normally see.
KM: Why do you want to take the piss out of vlogging/web series so much?
FW: Because I think it is something that needs the piss taken out of it more – it is such an attention seeking thing for people. I don’t think there is enough out there about the dangers of fame online.
We both realise the dulcet tones of our chip-chewing will mean this interview can’t work as a podcast. Somehow Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales manage to record almost all of their glorious Chat 10 Looks 3 podcast in cafes eating food. But we aren’t Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales. Or even the person who buys them coffee.
KM: So. I’ve seen Patrick. A very clear takeaway for me was the theme of mental health. How big is this issue for you?
FW: Extensive for me. I know it will apply to a lot more people I don’t know. But creative people having more mental health issues is a huge stereotype. A lot of people who aren’t performers are just as likely to have those issues. For Patrick, the whole show is a performance so he can get the audience’s attention and be distracted from his mental health problems through their appreciation.
We are sitting outside. I notice that there is an R U OK poster on the door behind us. I tell Finn and he chews with gusto in agreement those posters aren’t enough to solve mental health issues.
KM: This one point, where Patrick turns to the camera in the middle of a party and asks “Is this is it? The past twenty years for this?”, is pretty hectic.
FW: Well yeah, when someone works towards something for such a long time and is so focused on that, it’s kind of like you see reaching that goal or doing that thing as what will make you happy. But when he reaches it, when he makes his show, he kind of realises, well, okay, this is it. I don’t feel any different than I did before. It’s like he is having a very early midlife crisis. Instead of taking twenty years to get the job of his dreams, it’s the internet, so it is instantaneous. It’s like a mid-life crisis but for the internet era.
KM: It felt pretty bloody nihilistic. Like he is confronting this feeling that nothing has meaning, that he is part of this meaningless world and it is really hard to watch because as a viewer you’re like, oh, I’m part of this world.
FW: Well yeah, I think Facebook is a pretty meaningless world. If you get sucked into it and you always have Facebook in the background, you start treating it like it matters, and it doesn’t.
KM: So what do you want audiences walking away thinking or feeling?
FW: I hope they feel like –
KM: Can you not talk with food in your mouth? What the fuck? Just swallow?
Finn gulps on water to wash down dry chips.
FW: I want people to take away that Patrick is a unique, different take on the world of Facebook. I want people to be confronted by the ending. I want people to want to see more. To think about how they use social media and reflect on how it impacts their mental health.
KM: It’s very fashionable to have depression now days.
FW: Like the R U OK poster, it was basically a Facebook trend and mental health is now more in the mainstream. Patrick isn’t about the mainstream mental health stuff, it’s not as clean as that. It delves into the darker underbelly of what it is like to be anxious or confused when you know that talking about your suffering will make a shitty facebook status.
KM: People will probably link you and Patrick together.
FW: Fair enough, I am playing him, there is footage of me as a kid and it is based on me. A very exaggerated version of me. We both grew up with Facebook, we both have a sense of humour, we both look the same and dress the same. But, he is a character, he isn’t actually me. He is so much more obsessed with getting peoples’ attention than I am and he is more focussed on getting what he wants, to the point of desperation. He gets punched in the face, I’ve never been punched in the face. We are not the same, he is a character.
KM: Ok, if you had to come up with a shitty quote for Instagram about Patrick, what would it be?
FW: What? I need time to think.
KM: Nope, come on, awful HJs light lighting up your beautiful face, gut response. Go.
FW: Everything is going to be ok.
KM: That’ll do it.
I notice a cockroach at my foot as I turn the recording off and check my notifications.
Interview by Katie McAllister
Interview with Finnian Williamson, creator of soon to be released web series, ‘Patrick’s How to be the Best at Everything‘ that was made entirely by a volunteer Perth crew.