Welcome to the news blog for This Is Art, a new comedy webseries about a group of young artists struggling to stay afloat in NYC. This is the first of many production updates for the show and I wanted to start out by offering a little background on the project.
Emily Floyd and I have been writing this show for about 8 months. We fell into the collaboration after sharing hilarious stories about our trials and tribulations as artschool postgrads. These experiences made great fodder for an entertaining story and we began developing a few central characters loosely based on people we’ve known in the business and recognizable archetypes in the performance community. As the characters took shape, a story developed wherein several artists from various stylistic backgrounds are thrown into a situation where they must develop a show together. In a way, this kind of story really harkens back to those classic movie musicals where everyone gets together to put on a show in the barn.
Emily and I were adamant about filming down the first season all at once so that we would eventually be able to shop around the finished product to distributers. I always describe our goal as a creating a fully functional car without the gas. Currently, we have a 15 episode season and a story we’re dying to tell. There is no question that this creative endeavor has been a labor of love.
At first, it was very tempting to pound out the series as fast as we could and get it online, but in the end we decided it was best to take our time not only with the writing of the show, but with the planning of how we intend to fund it, syndicate it on the web, and create an interactive and stimulating experience for our audience. I had some idea of how to start because of my prior experience writing and producing O-Cast, a webseries about the Greek gods living in NYC that was released in 2009. Sadly the show turned out to be so demanding in terms of production that it ultimately wasn’t sustainable.
With O-Cast, I learned a lot about writing/producing/marketing a webseries, but even with that background, my knowledge of the new media industry has fallen a behind the times. One thing has become very clear: The New York Webseries community is alive and kicking. It’s incredible to see how much it has developed in just a few short years.
We are planning on starting a Kickstarter campaign at the end of June in order to raise the funds to make the first season, but we’re still working on our plans for distribution and publicity. There will be a separate “Digital Spotlight” post soon on the blog detailing the second part of our project and how we intend to find and serve our audience.
In the meantime, we have put a lot of effort into figuring out who would be best to fill out our production team. After considering our strengths and weaknesses, Emily and I decided we needed to find a director who could assemble his own production team, a composer to write the original music and orchestrations for the show, and a graphic designer/web guru who could help us develop our visual presence online.
Once our script was done, I began attending events around the city- everything from Tubefilter mixers to webseries screenings in order to find a director for our show and learn from my peers. I didn’t realize that a simple post on Facebook would draw the attention of an old friend from high school who was now living in the city and working for College Humor. James Herron responded to my call to arms with a link to the reel for his production company, Illium Pictures, which not only impressed me because I didn’t realize he was so talented, but also because it was a damn good reel with impeccable production value. I have to admit, opening with a space ship is probably what sold me. Because I love space. I digress!
Emily and I took James to lunch to discuss our plans for the show and we all agreed on a few rewrites that we should take care of before casting/production began. By the end of lunch, we had our director onboard and with every day that passes, we love him even more. I honestly can’t remember what this project was like before he became a part of it.
We desperately needed to find a composer. We wanted to have an original song in show which had yet to be written, not to mention we needed someone someone to write the score. Ever since we made the decision to put an original song in the show, I had my heart set on someone very special for the job. I had worked with Sean Keogh on a few of his new musicals while we were in college and I adore his style. Sean has a way of writing songs that become an actor’s dream to perform. He also has a great sense of whimsy that I thought would be perfect for these special “departures” in our show. When we finally approached him about joining our team, Sean not only agreed to work on the project, but also made us cookies and freshly baked bread. Sean, I think I speak for Emily and myself when I way simply and succinctly, “Yum.” If you’re interested in Sean’s work, you can check it out on Youtube.
Next, I approached my friend Bryan Vu, who is a graphic designer and artist based in Houston, Texas. Bryan’s work always speaks to me because a lot of his artwork is inspired by geek culture, but moreover he has such a unique aesthetic and his work is very clean and striking. He was a big supporter of my last show and we’re both a part of the fan community for the webseries, “The Guild,” so I knew that he was familiar with the territory. I really wanted him to design our logo and to help us develop and design a website that would provide a portal for our viewers to watch the show, follow along with our progress between seasons, and connect with each other online. I was honored when he agreed to donate his time and efforts to us. His design for the logo is at the top of this blog post and he will be making continual changes to the website as we prepare to launch the series in the fall.
Last, Emily and I had to recruit Clint Okayama, for whom we had written a very specific role in the show. Honestly, one of our biggest fears was the fact that he might say “no.” We would not have known what to do- probably cry for ten years and then take another eight months to rewrite the entire show. Lucky for us, it didn’t come to that. He joined our merry band without any qualms and I cannot wait for you all to see his character in action. Clint is a tremendously gifted actor and a very generous collaborator. We’re blessed to have him.
Currently, we are knee deep in auditions and there will be another production update with a casting announcement when we complete that process early next week. We will provide more in-depth entries on our cast and crew as we round out the rest of our team.
Day by day, our show is taking shape. Every time someone says “yes,” I am filled with overwhelming gratitude.