CBC has launched a new 10-episode digital series Save Me, which takes a comedic yet poignant look at people’s lives just before the 911 call.
The anthology series comes from Canadian actor Fab Filippo (Ready or Not, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Queer As Folk and Billable Hours) who stars as paramedic Goldie and follows the anthology format like HBO’s High Maintenance and Netflix’s Easy. Joining Filippo as his fellow paramedics are Amy Matysio (Wolf Cop), John Bourgeois (Designated Survivor), Suresh John (Mr. D) and Loretta Yu (Blood and Water). Over 40 Canadian stage and screen talent also appear throughout the series including Sonja Smits (The Best Laid Plans), Brent Carver (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), Jean Yoon (Kim’s Convenience), Emma Hunter (The Beaverton) and Suresh John (Mr. D).
Each episode is able to quickly hook the viewer into the lives of people who are the cusp of trauma. The character-driven situations and humour play a key role in the show’s hook, which viewers will find similar to High Maintenance, the Vimeo web-series turned HBO series which follows “The Guy” as he delivers marijuana to a wide variety of clients in New York City. “I loved High Maintenance,” says Filippo over the phone. “I told [producer] Lisa Baylin at iThentic that I wanted to do a show in a similar structure. That’s where the idea of the paramedics came. It thought it would be cool to have a paramedic come in and out, like “The Guy.” That’s where the idea sort of started. I was a big fan of how they show a cross-section of the New York population, where it was full of characters and humour.”
While High Maintenance was a big inspiration, Filippo looked at other short stories to develop the format and structure. “I didn’t want it to feel like a TV show or movie. What’s great about digital is that you can (sort of) break the form.”
Filippo, who went on a ride along with real paramedics to learn about the process says that usually once a patient is delivered to the hospital, the paramedics don’t really receive any updates on them. While a paramedic may play such a critical role in the event of a person’s life, they’re in it for such a short window — which we can relate to as we say hello and goodbye to the characters in Save Me. “The idea was to explore trauma at both ends of the ambulance. From the paramedics to the patients.” This was also key as to developing the show’s structure as they got to start anywhere on the spectrum, “we could start an episode with the paramedics or with the patient.”
Filippo would also like Goldie to be a bit of a mystery like with High Maintenance’s central character, who is played by its co-creator, Ben Sinclair. “I’d like to keep Goldie more of a mystery than the other paramedics, for sure, if we’d get to do it again.”
Whether a second season would make its way online again or the format could cross over to TV, Filippo is happy that his voice and vision is being supported. “I’d be ecstatic if we went back again in digital, but then if we were to go to TV, we’d have so much more time to tell deeper stories, create twists and develop arcs. I would love both scenarios. On an artistic and creative level, going to TV would be amazing.
Filippo’a return to TV would also be welcomed by fans. In addition to his starring on Billable Hours from 2006-08, the actor is remembered by many Canadians who grew up in the ‘90s thanks to his appearances on Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Ready or Not and Buffy the Vampire Slayer where he played Scott in the show’s second season. “When I filed Buffy, it hadn’t become the iconic show that it is now. I was just punching in and punching out. It was just a job… I had a good time and it was great to meet all those guys, but then that show cracked. It must have been what it was like being in the original Star Wars movie and having no idea what it would become.”
Filippo is also still remembered from his time playing Busy’s [who was played by Lani Billard] older brother Dom on Ready or Not. “It’s funny because the people who watched the show were hitting puberty at that time, so they had these crushes o me at the time, so when they see me now they’re these 20-something or 30-something women! They see that I’m pretty old now and get sad,” he jokes. But this was a show that was on every single day for at least five years on YTV after it ended its original run on Global. “You’re a part of peoples’ growing up. You have no idea the importance you have in their psyche. It’s crazy, actually.” Filippo does still keep in touch with at least one cast member. “Lani and I, we’re Facebook friend and we’ll message each other every once in a while… That’s kind of it. It was a lifetime ago!”
As for what he’s watching these days, Filippo is a fan of Netflix’s Stranger Things. “I’m also a big fan of the Australian comedy Please Like Me. I loved that show and was so sad when it was over. I’m more into the half-hour shows than the hour-long ones, like BoJack Horseman, Master of None.”