A Winning Alter-Ego
Writer Matthew Lovkis has struck success with the “awesome” titular character behind his comedy series, ‘The Legend of Gavin Tanner’, which won this year’s Hyperlink scheme.
The character of Gavin Tanner – a Maddington-residing, West Coast Eagles-supporting, weed-dealing, self-proclaimed “legend” – had been kicking around in the mind of its creator, Matthew Lovkis, for considerable time.
“Gavin started as two separate characters who decided to unite without my written permission,” Lovkis relays to FilmInk with a laugh. The first of these two characters emerged when the Perth scribe – currently the Series Writer for 2012’s Big Brother – was trying to amuse his engineer father. “The character was a bogan who knew way too much about the engineering business,” Lovkis says. “I’d see my dad poring over detailed engineering calculations and in an ocker voice offer taunts like, ‘Oi dickhead! Your pressure calcs are all wrong!’ or ‘Hydrometallurgy’s a piece of piss mate, what’s takin’ you so long?’”
And the other character? “He was a speed dealer who would give girls drugs on tick and get them to pay off the debt with sexual favours,” Lovkis laughs. “The dealer would then get depressed and despondent when they finally broke even and left him. He was vulnerable and couldn’t understand the betrayal.”
Meshing these two characters together – and throwing any ounce of political correctness out the window in the process – Lovkis was onto a winner. Along with director Henry Inglis and producer Lauren Elliott, three episodes were fashioned around Gavin Tanner – in which Lovkis stars as his alter-ego – and the trio entered the comedy series into Western Australia’s Hyperlink scheme where they took out the impressive prize of a $70,000 digital film production budget.
An annual competition – which strongly encourages applicants to explore new digital technology and multi-platform distribution – the Hyperlink Fund obviously provides a massive boost. “I think many people in Perth’s film galaxy know about the annual orbit of the Hyperlink fund,” Lovkis says. “It’s a significant amount of money, and gives a team the opportunity to move their careers ahead. We’re absolutely thrilled to get the funding!”
The trio has chosen to use the funding to craft a web series, with the aim then being to pitch it as a pilot for a televisions series. “I think it will work because with only five minutes per episode we can condense the storytelling and cherry pick the big A-story moments that reveal Gavin’s character,” Lovkis says. “We’ll also create self-contained stories that people can watch out of sequence. The way it will change for the full series is to explore more characters in greater depth, have more interweaving storylines and include seasonal arcs people can invest in.”
And if series like Kath & Kim and the even closer in tone, Housos – which satirises Housing Commission residents and celebrates the bogan lifestyle – are anything to go by, The Legend of Gavin Tanner has a pretty sizeable audience. But Lovkis insists his series will chug along to a slightly different beat. “Although still drawing on a uniquely Australian humour and lexicon, the tone is actually quite different,” he says. “Although still in a world of undesirables like Housos, Gavin himself is in some ways an innocent. His world view is that he is king and the world is a great place because he’s in it.”
While hopes for a prospective television series are high, Lovkis and his team currently have their eyes firmly fixed on the web series, which is set to be released online next year. But they’re already finding ways to boost the profile of their leading man in the meantime. “Since the release of the Gavin Tanner promo video, How To Deal Weed, Gavin has been an active member of the Facebook community,” Lovkis says. “He gets daily friend requests from people who have either seen the video or share mutual friends and his ‘client list’ continues to grow.”
Keep up to date with Gavin Tanner’s status updates here and watch the promo video Lovkis is talking about below.