Filmmakers collected stories from real women who work in STEM, then turned them into a web series.
Having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day in the workplace isn't the best.
But thanks to new web series Resting Pitch Face, arriving on YouTube Feb. 19 in the US, those experiences have been put to good use: comedy.
Resting Pitch Face is a show about women in STEM fields. Samantha is a research scientist in a lab, Mahala a cybersecurity dev at a games company, and Olivia a textile engineer at a sportswear company. The show speaks to fans of Can't Cope, Won't Cope, Girls and Broad City -- shows that feature young women banding together as they deal with the difficulties of work.
Resting Pitch Face just also happens to be about women working in STEM fields.
It's also about male-dominated workplaces. "No inappropriate clothing," a male manager tells Sam. "I mean, you could be growing a baby under there and we'd never know."
It's clear director Claudia Pickering and writers Nicola Parry and Jessica Harris didn't hold back when it came to giving outrageous lines to male characters.
"Looking at those experiences through a comedic lens meant that we actually had fewer boundaries," Parry said.
"It became a fun way not only to call out outdated behaviour, but to shed light on the exciting opportunities available to young women in STEM fields today."
Bridie Connell, who plays Sam, reacted to the appalling scripted situations like she would in real life.
"I would just do what I often do in these moments and employ my coping mechanisms: grin and bear it, use humour to get through it, silently eye roll, visualise an acerbic take down of the boss… and then debrief with my friends," Connell said.
The "Pitch" in Resting Pitch Face refers to a plot device. In the show the three protagonist literally pitch a potentially world changing idea at a competition called Hack Match.
They encounter situations like bro colleagues compiling databases of all the "boob reveals" in Game of Thrones , lines like "I hope you're not proving to be a distraction to the boys" and accusations of causing catfights by talking in meetings.
As ridiculous as those situations sound, they're drawn from real-life experiences. Production company Grumpy Sailor surveyed real women working in STEM and found more than enough material.
"Around the time we started story development for the series, we posted a survey out to a bunch of our friends, colleagues and women in tech we knew and got roughly 20-ish responses," producer Claire Evans said.
The team sent those stories to the writers, then gathered a group of 10 women who worked in each aspect of STEM to sense-check the stories and make sure they were authentic.
"There's no other show like it," director Pickering said. "It's across various STEM fields, rather than in just one."
Pickering is a fan of Hidden Figures, the Oscar-nominated film that told wider audiences the story of black female mathematicians working at NASA during the '60s. Resting Pitch Face puts out a similar message as the Taraji P. Henson-led film, but with a tone straight out of HBO's Silicon Valley.
"The whole goal is to encourage women to choose a STEM career while peppering in comedy," Pickering said.
According to a 2017 study, the number of women working in core STEM industries grew by 2 percent from the previous year in the UK. It's still only 24 percent though.
Unlike Pickering's previous projects, Resting Pitch Face was crewed entirely by women -- producers, the cinematographer, production designer, the lot.
"I like to put women on screen because those are the stories I feel like I can authentically tell," Pickering said. "Because I'm a woman, and hey, I enjoy being one."
Pickering has done her own time working in STEM. She used to be an architect ("to make money for a tick") and a photographer taking headshots for tech startups.
"I have lots of experience hanging out on the tech scene," Pickering said of her time working in Silicon Valley. "It's so funny, because it would literally be like you'd shoot 20 guys and then one girl -- and the girl would look kind of dead inside, just exhausted, not part of the brodown. The browdown's insane."
Resting Pitch Face spoke to Pickering, then.
"Just being a woman basically working in any boys club industry, basically anything that's not nursing or teaching, it's going to resonate somehow."
Resting Pitch Face hits YouTube Feb. 19. Watch the first episode here.