Veteran Series Producer Pino Amenta (Wentworth) has been around a long time, directing TV since his days with Crawfords TV.
But when he read the script for Five Bedrooms he knew writers Michael Lucas and Christine Bartlett were onto something.
“I said, ‘This will go 5 seasons.’ This feels like a later version of House Husbands or Offspring.’ You have to go up a notch each time,” he explains.
“The comedy was pretty evident to me. It wasn’t big broad comedy, it felt real. I thought ‘If we’ve got good actors and directors it could really work.’ But that’s a trap, because any light comedy / drama is hard to do.
“But it’s a challenge I looked forward to after doing Wentworth, which is pretty heavy.”
The Hoodlum-produced series features Kat Stewart, Stephen Peacocke, Doris Younane, Katie Robertson, Roy Joseph, Kate Jenkinson and Hugh Sheridan, several of whom buy property together.
“They are total strangers at a wedding table and then up comes the idea of real estate, but they think they can’t afford it. One married character says ‘I call bullshit on that. If you pull together you have the buying power of 2 couples.’
“They are 5 strangers, but one couple knows each other: Harry the Indian doctor and Liz, the lawyer.
“Harry (Roy Joseph) has a predominantly strong Indian mother, but he’s gay and hasn’t come out. And when we looked at a lot of guys for the role, many of them said ‘This is my story.’
“He’s very supportive of Liz (Kat Stewart), who is a bit all over the place, and has her own secret.”
“You can’t fool the audience”
Amenta says writers wasted no time in getting to scenes where the property is purchased. There’s next-to-no-time for house hunting an auctions, with a sale happening as part of the story set-up.
“By the first commercial break! In modern TV, as you know, you’ve got to get there. We know they’re going to buy a house so you can’t fool the audience. It’s not 8 episodes about people maybe buying a house.
“But we make a joke about not buying the first house they see.”
The hero location in Malvern, east of Melbourne, proved to be a rambling house with character.
“We were lucky. The owners wanted to rent it for a year, so we snapped it up and redressed it,” he continued.
“They said ‘Do whatever you want, we’re going to tear bits down.’
“Ben is a tradie who isn’t your normal yobbo.”
Each episode also carries a different character perspective.
“Ainsley (Katie Robertson) is the first episode and leads us in. She has a landlady (Doris Younane) and lives in a granny flat. She’s a real estate agent in love with Lachlan (Hugh Sheridan) who has split up with his wife. So he wants to buy in as well.
“Ben (Stephen Peacocke) is a tradie who isn’t your normal yobbo. He observes life and is respectful of women.
“Ben is Stephen, in a way. All the traits we wanted he brought to it. He was very nervous when he started because he kind of had to be himself, which is the hardest thing to do.”
Five Bedrooms begins 8:40pm Wednesday May 15 on 10.