Wesleyan is having a web show renaissance of sorts this year—two student-produced shows have aired, and another is in the works. “Enrolled,” Wesleyan’s very first web show, chronicles the life of four best friends, played by Chris Correa ’10, Robby Hardesty ’10, Caitlin Winiarski ’10, and Josh Margolin ’11. “Wannabes” is “A Mighty Wind” or “Best in Show” in a college setting that chronicles a bunch of overachieving, egomaniacal Wesleyan students. Sasha Solodukhina ’11 and Jannie Trelogan ’12 want you to “Blackout”—on a blind date—for their web show. The Argus sat down with these web auteurs to discuss whether life imitates art, the inspiration of the ACB, and the Internet.
Sasha Solodukhina ’11 and Jannie Trelogan ’12
Argus: How did you come up with the idea for the show?
Sasha Soldukhina: On the ACB there are posts saying “PM me” and “I wish Wesleyan had a dating scene.”
Jannie Trelogan: We started joking that the only way people would date is on a TV show. The next day Sasha said, let’s make a show.
SS: We pitched the idea and some people seemed into it.
A: Why did you decide to release it as a web show?
JT: It’s an accessible way to distribute your work – you can get it to a very wide audience very quickly. I think they are one of the most exciting new media manifestations. Before this, you’ve never had the ability to put out a film on your own without having to work with a studio.
A: How did you come up with the name “Blackout”?
JT: Blackout – it has a lot of great visual aspects. We can do plays on words with light and fire. We thought about it in depth.
SS: You immediately go to “Oh yeah, I was so blackout last night”—who knows what you did? Are you going to be able to talk to someone you hooked up with?
JT: It’s a blind date show, love is blind, blackout is darkness and blindness – we incorporated all those connotations.
A: What kind of response have you received so far?
SS: We’ve had a substantial amount of interest in the show. We are feeling out the first episode to see what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully the episode will create something that is appealing, and people will want to be on it—it won’t be totally humiliating. Whoever wants to be part of this, we would love to work with them.
A: How are the dates going to be set up?
JT: We want to work with the community, we want to hold them in local venues. We’re hoping that somehow this can promote businesses in Middletown while allowing us to use different locations and get people off campus.
SS: I feel like there will be a couple of other surprises that you will have to wait and see from the show.
JT: The format is so flexible. You have to know what people are comfortable with, whatever their stipulations are.
SS: Most of the people we have heard from are more outgoing and whimsical, and open to doing this – our questionnaire kind of invited that response. We want people to think of this as something easily accessible and not overwhelming, if they were to participate. I don’t think you would be any more uncomfortable than at a college party – we’re giving you a “drunken blackout” alternative.
A: How are you making the matches – for compatibility or viewer entertainment?
SS: We’re not going to put together people who obviously won’t get along together.
JT: All the people that could be on the show are really great people, really interesting and cool.
SS: Even if they don’t end up together, I think it could push people to get out of their comfort zones. It’s going to be a very lighthearted approach. I don’t know if people would do it to meet people or for fun, to see themselves on TV. If they want to be on it just to be ridiculous, that would be great too.
JT: From other college dating shows, they don’t end up in love but sometimes they do, so whatever. Maybe you will fall in love with someone else you saw on the show. It’s fun, it’s a show about dating—that’s an interesting subject. It’s hard to do a scripted show about dating that feels remotely genuine, but if you get people in a room eating – with a couple of cameras before them, it can be
Chris Correa ’10, Josh Margolin ’11, Robby Hardesty ’11, and Caitlin Winiarski ’10
Argus: How did the idea for the show start? Have you done web shows before?
Chris Correa: This summer, Robby and I were living together in New York. We sat down in our kitchen, I came out of my bedroom and I typed “the sitcom” on top of a Word document, and we came up with the idea. We wanted to make a TV show about Robby and I, living at college. I started the production company; they were on board. It developed into a web series about these four people living on a college campus.
Josh Margolin: We all talked about it, started having meetings, writing ideas, watching TV shows – we watched a lot of Hulu last semester. For research.
A: How much are your characters based on yourselves or Wesleyan students?
JM: I think our characters are extensions of ourselves.
CC: I’m absolutely me. I annoy Robbie. Josh is nothing like his character. We had a nice meeting about the characters, clarifying things, having a season-long arc, there’s a lot more “acting” in future episodes.
A: How much is the show specific to “Wesleyan?”
CC: We started off a little more neutral. As we’ve continued, we’re more interested in involving specifics and bringing Wesleyan into it. We’re trying to depict a university experience that could happen anywhere, but since we’re at Wesleyan it does relate.
A: What’s involved in shooting the show?
JM: A lot of very early cold shoots, it was absolutely freezing. Our schedules were so busy; we were only free really early in the morning or late at night last semester.
Robby Hardesty: We spent a long time on it. We had a half hour debate on whether there should be a pause. We take the writing very seriously. Each time we’re getting closer to a tighter, more well thought-out arc for each episode.
A: What’s in store for the next few episodes?
CC: Nothing is set. There will be more Jaffe, more of the four of us.
Caitlin Winiarski: There will be some surprises along the way, some twists. We like to layer the surprise, like a seven-layered bean dip.
A: Why did you decide to release “Enrolled” as a web show?
JM: New media is a very exciting avenue to start producing entertainment in. Seeing how you can stretch that medium and try to navigate it. It’s huge, but it’s hard to figure out how to make something successful, unless it’s a viral video like “Charlie bit me.”
A: How does filming a web series compare to other film experiences, like working on a senior thesis?
CC: It’s up there with the best experience I’ve had here. I’ve been in a thesis film, and that’s interesting, but it’s not very collaborative. It’s one person’s final vision. We really sit down and work together. I think we’ve also worked together before, we have a chemistry.
A: What do you think about all the web shows on campus?
JM: I think it’s pretty cool. Each one is totally different – one’s a sitcom, one’s a mockumentary. They’re all using this new medium, which is exciting, it just helps all of us.
CC: The other thing I think this has allowed to happen is that the Film Department is very exclusive and people don’t always get to produce their own movies. This has opened the doors for people to do that and have it be seen. I think it’s a great movement, we can see a lot more artists flex their creative muscles.
Garth Taylor ’12, Aaron Peisner ’12, Dan Obzejta ’12, Claire Randall ’12, and Sarah Stein ’12
Argus: How did the idea for the show start?
Garth Taylor: In high school I did a web show for a few years, it was really a teen drama/comedy type thing. YouTube was really new back then, it was something interesting people in my high school could watch. I lived across the hall from Sarah and Claire and we had this Wesleyan “Real World” idea—everyone would live in one dorm room. This year came around, I was exposing Aaron to the show I did in high school, we thought about doing a show this year. I was walking home from work and it hit me, these characters came in my head.
A: What’s coming up in the upcoming episodes?
GT: There will be a lot of new characters, we’ve started doing the new episode. There are other supporting characters who will shine in the upcoming episode. The obsession between Chloe and Daniel continues. I think that all the characters keep getting stupider. Normal people get smarter, these people get stupider, and their delusions get bigger. Sarah’s character, Charlotte, is seeing some rivalry, and James is trying to find himself. The ACB is a theme on the next episode.
A: How much is the show based on Wesleyan students?
GT: Yes and no. Some things are based on Wesleyan stereotypes, some are completely ridiculous. Charlotte is ridiculous with her love for Lady Gaga.
Dan Obzejta: James is not me, but he’s not not me. James is me and Dan, and every aspiring film major…or every film major’s worst enemy. The film department takes themselves very seriously. [Note: Garth and Dan are applying to the film major.]
GT: I knew that the show was going to be three people in the arts. The arts were music, dance, and at Wesleyan – film and drama especially.
A: Do you include Wesleyan references?
GT: Yes, I do. I love this school very much. Whenever I’m home, I’m always talking about this school and how much it is better than my friends’ schools. I like to put in references, since it’s the setting of the show. I don’t have to try to make anything really Wesleyan other than what’s going on. Unless I add a scarf to a character—that’s really Wesleyan. Everyone is really passionate about whatever it is they do here. Even if it’s the stupidest thing. The borderline between passion and self-obsession is sometimes blurred here. Very much.
A: Why did you decide to release “Wannabes” as a web series?
GT: NBC said they wouldn’t pick me up. It was basically what I’m used to, I’m used to YouTube and making Facebook groups.
Claire Randall: It just seemed like it’s really accessible to everyone. Wesleyan has shown itself as a community in watching it.
Sarah Stein: YouTube is nice because it spreads really quickly. I sent the link to a friend from home, another friend IMed me and said she was watching it online.
CR: YouTube is such a staple of our culture. People do sit down and only watch YouTube for several hours. While that might not be the ideal of a weekday night, it definitely happens.
A: What do you think about the current variety of student web shows?
GT: I love “Enrolled,” I think it’s hilarious. Right when I had started writing this, the first episode of “Enrolled” came out.
DO: I don’t see why we shouldn’t have as many things going. The Internet is the new modern gallery.
GT: The Internet is the new book. I hope to have everyone more together on something. Holla, “Enrolled,” we would love to work together.