Real-life married couple Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall have seen their Paramount+ series Colin From Accounts go from strength to strength, but the show almost didn’t happen with a particularly rigorous balance of COVID protocols during production of its first season in 2021.

The hilarious, touching, and often unpredictable half-hour rom-com has received rave reviews since premiering in Australia in December 2022, winning the Logie (Australia’s version of an Emmy) Award for Most Outstanding Comedy program. The series also found a home in the US on Paramount+ and recently won Breakthrough Comedy Series and Outstanding Performance in a Comedy Series for Dyer at the Gotham TV Awards, adding to the whirlwind of critical acclaim around the series.

Colin From Accounts is set in Sydney, Australia, and centers on the chance encounter between Ashley (Harriet Dyer) and Gordon (Patrick Brammall) after they’re brought together by a car accident that leaves a dog, Colin, injured. With their hands over the entire project, both Dyer and Brammall felt responsible to the crew during the filming of the first season under COVID restrictions. They ensured everyone could work after the production shutdown following a positive COVID test.

We had a little cry because we were saying to the crew, here’s the thing, they all need to pay their bills, and they’re not going to get paid for this hiatus,” recalled Dyer. “We were told we had to at least stop for ten days, and I said to the crew that we loved them so much, but if they have to take other work, we get it, and we were only just over the halfway mark.”

Dyer and Brammall had a lively discussion with Awards Focus about their busy week of Colin From Accounts season two premiering in Australia and their Gotham award wins, whether they would direct in future seasons, how the series became a collaborative effort, and keeping perspective of the finer details of the series.  

Awards Focus: You’ve had a big week with the release of season two of Colin From Accounts in Australia and winning two Gotham TV awards. What’s it been like for both of you?

Patrick Brammall: Massive.

Harriet Dyer: I don’t know where I am right now.

Brammall: Harri’s still getting over that weird New York jet lag that shouldn’t really exist.

Dyer: We never connected to Sydney time from LA because we were only there for three days. Then, I got back to LA and went straight to New York. I’m just a bit like, am I Arthur or Martha?

Brammall: You’re Arthur.

Dyer: And you’re Martha. We’re feeling great, but the treadmill keeps moving underneath us.

AF: The show found a new audience in the US when it came out on Paramount+. Was there pressure for season two to adhere to the characters’ quirkiness, or were you interested in building on top of that and finding growth from the novelty?

Brammall: It’s a bit of both. We’ve been working on season two since March 2023, so it’s been a long process, and I think we felt freer earlier in the process.

Dyer: We found sitting down to write was actually really exciting because, as one of our friends said, we built the toy, and now we can play with the toy.

Brammall: In fact, he only told me that at the launch the other night, and I wish I’d known that earlier. It’s a good way to think about it.

Dyer: When we wrote season one, only Patty and I were cast. We were writing these jokes and voices, and they didn’t have a body or head yet. Now, we have Darren Gilshenan and Genevieve Henry, who killed it, so we know who we’re playing with.

Brammall: It’s such a home-spun show. There’s no writer’s room, no testing of anything.

Dyer: We don’t even have a story editor or someone who writes things down. It’s just the two of us, so it’s gone if we don’t write it down quickly.

[to Brammall] We should get someone to write our shit down.

Brammall: We’ve got a notes app on my phone. That’s worked well so far.

Dyer: Someone’s saving money because we’re buying our own lunch [laughs]. But it was really fun writing the new season.

Brammall: Then, when we edit, we’re essentially creating the episodes in three parts and by the time we’re editing, that’s when we started to feel more of the pressure of season two.

Dyer: Absolutely. No one sees the fun days on set. They’re only going to see the final cut.

Brammall: And you really can’t afford to let your focus up because it’s like you spend a year and a half building a car, you build the engine, the design, aerodynamics and all that, and then someone puts a big thing of flames on the side door and it becomes the flame car. Like, how did that happen?

Dyer: That was the edit – making sure we didn’t put flames on the side.

AF: There can be three separate cuts of the episode for the producer, director, and studio. How did it work when the CBS and Paramount+ came on board?

Dyer: There were director’s cuts happening at the same time as we were finishing shooting the back half of the season. Once the directors were done with their cut, they basically thanked us for having them, and Patty and I looked at the episode and worked with it, and that’s the cut we put up to the network and studio. We had some really helpful notes because there were times when Patty and I, especially at the very end, would be too close to the material and too tired. We wanted to do something special and clever in the end, but our brains were failing us. We no longer trusted our own synapses.

AF: You both have your hands all over the show, from writing, producing, and starring. Did either of you also consider directing some or all of the series?

Dyer: We would never see our kid.

Brammall: That was one of the big reasons we didn’t.

Dyer: As a director, you would have to stay back and talk shots because you wouldn’t have had a chance at any other moment in the day.

Brammall: And in all the pre-production, we’re flat out with revisions of the scripts. We’d have to be doing location scouts, too, and there are just not enough hours in the day as parents.

Dyer: I think if we weren’t acting, it would be easier because instead of being in front of the camera, you’re thinking about the next day. I would also like to direct a short film before I try to because I’ve never directed, nor has Patty, and there would be a really steep learning curve.

Brammall: There’s also an argument to be made that it would be a fit if we directed because when we’re on set, we’re constantly in talks with the directors.

Dyer: There were moments when we’d see the director do something, and I’d go, oh no, that’s not how I saw it in my head. Then they’d come to talk about it and they’d still get the one they wanted, but it might not have been the best use of time if it wasn’t a shot we would use.

Brammall: We also haven’t written down exactly what the shot is in our head, so that’s a skill we’re yet to develop.

Dyer: Also, I don’t know lens sizes. People would need to be very patient with us.

Brammall: On this show, yes, but on another show, maybe not. But one of the things this show has taught me is to…

Dyer: … trust yourself.

Brammall: Yeah. I do know what to do a lot of the time, but not all the time. We’ve both been on the same journey really from different points of view.

Dyer: But even when I was an actor on set in Sydney, I did this show called Love Child, and I’d always ask the camera crew what they were doing next, and if they said this, what did it mean? And I remember one guy just kept laughing at me. He thought I was making fun of him but I’d go no, I genuinely want to learn. He apologized, but it’s fair to think I was being sarcastic.  

AF: What makes the series really warming for me is not knowing when you may be improvising in a scene and prolonging this awkward tension so well or whether the script is full of those little details that draw out at the end of a conversation. Or whether you’re both just having a great time with the material.

Dyer: There are fully written scripts, but one of the reasons we like to be in the edit is because we remember that someone did that really funny thing where they trailed off and then laughed at themselves, and it felt so natural. Trent O’Donnell, who directed the first four episodes in both seasons, is a really big improv guy and would love to play and keep rolling. He would call something outrageous out from behind the camera, so it’s largely his influence, too.

There’s a scene in the trailer that was a whole bit about a guy on a unicycle and me asking him how long he’s been single. It was such an iconic line and that was just Trent calling out to us from behind the monitor.

Brammall: The art department had put that unicycle in there.

Dyer: It wasn’t in the script.

Brammall: We also talked about how Gordon’s house is filled with half-done projects. Things he started and never followed through.

Dyer: It’s such a team sport. That was all props and the art department. It’s when the show really sings with what everyone’s offering and saying. It’s beautiful.

AF: I want to go back to filming the first season because the series premiered in Australia in December 2022. Australia had very strict COVID protocols, so was filming impacted?

Dyer: We started a bit of pre-production before Christmas 2021 when we were told that the COVID insurance was being dropped. So, production had been staying afloat because there was this money you could get if you had a big stoppage, which was now going. There was a moment over Christmas, between 2021 and 2022, when we weren’t sure if we would make it. But then, we were able to start filming in February 2022. There were still protocols and we tested every single day.

Brammall: Everyone was in masks, the whole thing.

Dyer: Patty and I didn’t do a single thing outside of shooting the show. We thought if we were going to get COVID, we’d get it on set, and then we could say we did our best. There was no room in the budget for us to get it and stop the show. There was no success to it so that we could have done two weeks and then try next year.

Brammall: That was so touch and go. The other thing was that there was a scene with one of the actors who tested positive for COVID while we were shooting. We shut down the scene.

Dyer: He wasn’t looking well, and the nurse on set was staring at him going, I don’t like the look of that guy.

Brammall: Then she called it, and he tested positive. So, we cleared the set…

Dyer:  …and put up a tent.

Brammall: [laughs] He just sat there in a tent by himself. We had to make a speech to the crew and hope we’re all good. We didn’t know how it was going to go.

Dyer: We had a little cry because we were saying to the crew, here’s the thing: they all need to pay their bills, and they’re not going to get paid for this hiatus. That’s the whole point of having no insurance, right? So, we were told we had to at least stop for ten days. I told the crew we loved them so much, but if they had to take other work, we got it, and we were just over the halfway mark.

Brammall: By some miracle, I didn’t get it because we were in the scene together. There was a huddle in the scene, and I thought I was definitely going to get it.

Dyer: In fact, what we got was a delightful seven days off in the middle of the shoot with our five-month-old daughter.

Brammall: Also, in Sydney, it was raining like something biblical. The rain was mental.

AF: It sounds like a tough shoot with all the parameters that COVID introduced to sets. Episode seven was also a large set piece with a lot of extras at the bar to celebrate Ashley’s birthday. What was that scene like to film, given the constraints and possibilities of having to shut down the set again?

Dyer: One of the casting directors said that we should employ a group of friends so that Ashley’s friends have an amazing vibe.

Brammall: They’re back in season two as well.

Dyer: They love hanging out together, so they’re the most delicious rent-a-crowd. They’re also insanely talented actors, performers, and writers. They’d all been to Mardi Gras the weekend before we shot in February 2022, and their Instagram stories were full of the biggest crowds we’d ever seen. We were up all night just scrolling and looking at their Instagram, and only one of them got COVID.

Brammall: One of the actors comes and introduces themselves in the show, and then she disappears from the party and no one notices. It’s amazing.

Dyer: Poor thing. She just disappeared. But it was one of those things where if you’re truly busy, your body has a way of holding off a sickness. This has happened to me twice now. Both times, we wrapped and landed back in LA after the edit, and I’ve gotten bad COVID.

Brammall: I did this time as well.

Dyer: So, thankfully, our bodies know we’ve been working, and we don’t have time for that.

AF: So, do you have time to recuperate now that season two has started airing and you’re back from the Gotham Awards in New York?

Dyer: It’ll be nice to sit back and watch the grass grow. We’re just enjoying the beautiful feedback from season two in Australia.

Brammall: It’s also been great spreading awareness here in the States because it’s on Paramount+, and it’s fast-growing, but only some have it.

Dyer: We weren’t sure if anyone was watching it here because we were working in Australia for almost six months. By the time we came back in April, my friend sent me a picture of someone watching TV in West Hollywood through their window, and they were watching Colin From Accounts in their living room.

AF: What have you both taken from this experience of being the creators, writers, and stars of your own show and the journey that it’s also now taken across the globe?

Brammall: There’s so much. I think I’ve gained the awareness to follow my instincts. It’s no small thing to realize that you have a good idea and that it’s worth seeing it through.

Dyer: Adding to that, we understand how much of a team sport it is. We are growing more confident in our vision, learning how to be bolder, and letting other people come in, too. There was a moment in season two where we couldn’t get Lynelle’s house back. The owner didn’t want it, so we got another kitchen that looked different.

People were pitching that there’s a tennis court in this new Lynelle house, and what if we make the scene into a private tennis lesson, which is so Lynelle. It fits perfectly. As much as we’re learning to back ourselves, we’re also learning to try to stay really loose and keep other influences coming in and helping us steer the ship.

Brammall: I think that facility does grow with confidence where I realize I can trust myself. I’m confident enough to let other people also take ownership of it.

Dyer: I’m glad too that I like working with Patty. This isn’t like a marriage ruiner. This is amazing.

Brammall: It’s so special.

Dyer: We want to do more stuff together. As long as we keep a bit of hygiene in terms of we can’t always talk about work.

Brammall: That’s true. One of the other things, too, is that we watched episode one of season two with an audience the other night, and we’d spent so long with that episode. I’d lost all perspective about how it was going to go, and the audience laughed at really little things. It’s so worth protecting the silly.

About The Author

Partner, Deputy Awards Editor

Matthew Koss is the Deputy Awards Editor at Awards Focus and a Senior Film and TV coverage Partner.

He is the host and creator of the weekly YouTube series The Wandering Screen with Matt Koss, which features dynamic reviews of all the latest film and TV releases. His writing has also appeared in The Movie Buff, Voyage LA, and ScreenRant, and he is a moderator for post-screening Q&As.

Since joining Awards Focus in 2020, Matthew has interviewed A-list talent, including Academy Award nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emmy winner Alex Borstein, and Lovecraft Country’s Jonathan Majors, across film and TV. He also appears on red carpets for major studios and film festivals, most recently with Netflix's The Crown and Hulu’s The Bear.

After moving from Melbourne, Australia, to Los Angeles in 2014, Matthew has worked in various areas of the entertainment industry, including talent and literary representation, film/TV development as a Creative Executive, and at film festivals as a Regional Manager. Matthew is also a screenwriting consultant, most recently partnering with Roadmap Writers, where he conducted private, multi-week mentorship consultations, roundtables, and monthly coaching programs.

Matthew is also a producer, and he recently appeared at the Los Angeles Shorts International Film Festival with his film Chimera, directed by Justin Hughes.

He continues to work with entertainment companies such as Warner Bros. Discovery, Zero Gravity Management, Sundance Institute, and MGMT Entertainment.

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