• Alessandra Mellville

Using comedy to tackle the cancer conversation

Cancer isn’t something to joke about, so why make a comedy web series about a millennial diagnosed with breast cancer? Well, it makes sense.

Image: supplied

Excuse Me? is a new six-part web series following the journey Alice Knight, a 23-year-old who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. After weighing up her options she decides to undergo a double mastectomy, but not before embarking on her Goodbye DD’s Bucket List with her sister Lucia and friends, Max and Jemima. With her friends by her side, Alice attempts to find inner peace, resolve tensions with her dad and gets up to some mischief along the way. Although Alice is 100% sure of the decision that she has made, the people close to her aren’t always so supportive. People don’t always react in the best way when faced with horrible news, loved ones often make it about themselves because they simply don’t know what else to do.

Image: supplied

As millennials, Cancer isn't something that we often talk about. Maybe it’s because we consider it to be something that happens to older people, it's not often that you'll hear of a woman in her 20s having breast cancer. We might not notice the symptoms or go to our GP for regular check-ups but here’s the thing, according to The American Cancer Society, about 9,000 young adults die from cancer each year. Cancer accounts for nearly 10% of deaths and is the 4th leading cause of death for people ages 20-39, behind only accidents, suicide, and homicide. It’s the leading cause of death from disease among females in this age group, and is second only to heart disease among males.

It’s a pretty scary thing to happen to a young person, to anyone for that matter, but unfortunately it’s likely that you will be impacted by cancer in some way throughout your life. The best thing anyone can do is to be vigilant. Get to know your body so you notice when something changes; get that mole checked out and encourage your friends to do the same.

Image: Facebook

Not only does Excuse Me? bring attention to the cancer conversation, it also shines a light on women in the film industry. It’s no secret that gender inequality within the film industry is bad. Like, really bad. For example, did you know that of the top 100 grossing films of 2016 only 11% of writers were women and 4% were directors. Only four women have ever been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director and only one has ever won. Between 1994 and 2013 women only filled 5% of camera and electrical roles on film sets. We think it's time to get more women behind the camera!

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100% of our crew are women. Every leadership role was filled by a woman. I’m not going to lie; it was, at times, a struggle to put together an all-female crew. There were times when the thought crossed our minds to just hire a guy (especially when it’s the night before a shoot and your soundie calls in sick) but we didn’t. We knew how important it was to make a stand and let me tell you, the series wouldn’t be the same if it hadn’t been a proud vagina fest. The energy was unique. There is something so empowering and comforting about being around so many women and hopefully you can see that in the series.

Writer/Producer: Alessandra Melville

Director/Producer: Rylee Williams

Starring: Lucy Kate Westbrook, Ellie May Stewart, Philip D’Ambrosio and Celyren Phipps.

Photography: Clare Hawley

Check out the trailer below and follow on Facebook and Instagram.

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