Bethan Williams began her passion for acting and writing at the University of Lincoln where she achieved her English and Drama degree. Shortly before graduating, she was offered an acting and writing role within Zest Theatre Company, where she was an original cast member of the production ‘Gatecrash’. Since then she has continued to collaborate with various production companies and writers.
Tom Bridger has been working professionally as an actor for over a decade in theatre works, short film and commercials in the UK and abroad. He won Best Unproduced Screenplay at The British Independent Film Festival 2018 for his script ‘The Hippo and the Room’, and his co-created web-series ‘How to Be Like a Man’ was officially selected for London Lift-Off Film Festival.
Together they co-created, wrote, and directed the first series of comedy web series ‘Self-Help’ and ‘Self-Help series 2 ’, which won numerous awards throughout 2020 and 2021, including Best Web Series at Unrestricted View Film Festival 2021, Best Lockdown Project at UK Offline Web Fest 2021, and Best Concept in a Comedy at the British Web Awards 2020.
Hello Bethan, hello Tom! It is so good to see Self Help back again! I enjoyed every bit of it. It’d be great if you could share how your experience of shooting it was!
Thanks for having us! The shoot was great but very intense. We only had two days where we could get everybody together, and there was a lot to cover. So we had to find a balance between keeping the momentum going and also allowing time for the actors to feel free and try things out. But overall, just a lot of fun having all of us together. Could have done without Charles Cromwell (Gordon) twerking between takes though. Nobody needs to see that.
Last time you guys had to shoot everything separately and I’m pretty sure it was taxing. But this time things became much easier. Would you please tell us what’s the major difference you have witnessed this time?
The biggest thing was the energy and chemistry from having the actors together in the same room. They would feed off each other, offer tiny expressions and subtle differences in line readings that would give an exchange totally different energy than intended (in a good way). It was pretty exciting for us as writers actually, to see these scenes coming to life.
Self-Help has won several awards and collected love from across the globe. Do you guys have bigger plans for this particular project? If yes, how do you two visualize that?
We’d love to get Self-Help out there as a half-hour comedy series. More locations, more characters, but also more time with the characters we’ve already got – there’s so much we’d like to explore with them.
Bethan, my question would be to you! Have you two ever come across the perspectives clashing with one another’s. How do you guys resolve that?
There are clashes at times. The way we’ve tried to dispel that is to do our best to hear the other’s opinion out. If we aren’t a fan of what they’re suggesting, we’ll either put a pin in it and come back to it or we just won’t go there – otherwise it’d be like beating a dead horse.
Among the two of you, who contributed the most to craft Veronica? What inspired you to create such a vibrant character?
The initial spark was from a terrible self-help guru Bethan saw on YouTube. From there it’s been a mix of both of us, adding aspects to Veronica from various funny events and people in our day-to-day lives – whenever we saw someone saying or doing something stupid, we’d write it down and save it for Veronica.
Satire is a demanding genre and you two are doing a great job at representing it. It’d be great if you tell us what makes you stay firm with Satire?
We’d say our approach to satire is more to approach it through the characters, rather than trying to make a grand point about anything. If we’ve done our jobs right their behavior is satirical enough!
Do you guys wish to try different genres? If yes, what would you like to explore?
Bethan: I’d maybe want to do a psychological thriller.
Tom: Sci-Fi. Get me on a spaceship.
What is your view on sarcasm as a tool of criticism?
It’s generally not a helpful way of getting a point across but it’s definitely a way of making yourself look smarter. The criticism and sarcasm from the characters is a reflection of how each of them think they know best, Tricia and Lauren in particular.
How did you guys come up with the Lauren storyline? Do you guys draw your stories from real-life incidents?
We wanted a character who would embody Veronica’s insecurities, and also give a more tangible link to Veronica’s parents and her relationship with them. And by introducing some conflict we felt it was a nice way of showing the growth of the friendship between Veronica and Tricia.
Tom, my question would be to you. According to you, what makes a collaboration successful?
Communication! Talking about things. I’ve definitely not been the best at this. An ability to compromise and bend, too. Again, not the best. I have a school report card for Theatre Studies that says ‘Tom could learn to take the ideas of others on board so it’s something I’ve been working on for a while. But some of our best work has come from having to compromise and change ideas that were very set, to begin with, so it’s an incredibly valuable thing. Hopefully, I’m getting better! Even if it is in tiny, tiny, tiny increments.
As directors, what kind of themes do you two wish to present?
How everyone is putting out a version of themselves. That being authentic today is almost impossible but something we should all strive for. There’s also the idea of relationships being built in strange places, and the value of being there for people even when they’re bugging you a lot.
Self-Help has been an immensely popular and loved series. How far do you guys wish to continue it?
If a half-hour TV series ends up not being on the cards, maybe we’ll make more off our own backs. We do love writing these characters, and working with these actors.
My last question would be to both of you! Do you guys have any plan to make “Self-Help” into a feature-length film?
If the interest and funding were there, absolutely! If making that first series over the internet showed us anything, it’s that we’re adaptable.
It was nice talking to you two! Thank you for your time.
Thank you for having us! We really appreciate it.