The days of traditional film and television consumption are on the brink of extinction. A large majority of people consume content via a few taps on a mobile device. Some people lament the loss. Some people celebrate the digital cloud that hovers over our heads.
Mel Oates and Jess Anderson of Carrie at Heart Productions are two people who prefer to celebrate.
“The web is just where people consume content,” says Oates. “We want as many people to see our show as possible.”
The show is The Manor, a soon-to-be-released web series co-produced by Oates and Anderson with Oates also writing and directing.
Inspired by real life, The Manor is crafted as a seven-part series that spans seven rooms – one room per episode – in an ancient downtown house.
It stars Heather Power, Renee Dumaresque, and Shawn Parsons as three 20-something roommates whose individual dilemmas collide to achieve the series’ compelling and eccentric comedic tone.
“I lived in a big, gorgeous house on Cathedral Street with two roommates,” explains Oates.
“The house was built in the 1890s and had been a funeral home, a home to twenty Russian circus performers in the 60s, and a ‘green house’ at one point. Solid history. We named it The Manor and we developed a bit of our own language and sayings.”
The series marks Oates’ debut as a comedy writer and director, and she credits the cast with making her job a joy.
“They are so friggin’ talented and hilarious, it’s not fit,” beams Oates. “They’ve taught me so much. They’re all such incredibly different actors. Figuring out what each of them needs from me has been interesting and challenging.”
Apart from artistic challenges, Oates and Anderson also shared fears about how to produce a series on a very limited budget. Those fears were alleviated when they realized how much support the local community provides.
“We’ve had a couple of snags, but nothing can stop us!” says Anderson.
“We were lucky enough to get funding from the NLFDC for the first two webbies, and Mel received an ArtsNL grant. Other than that, virtually everything else was done in-kind, meaning the awesome cast and crew donated their time and talents towards this project. We couldn’t have done this without them.”
“The NLFDC has been a rock solid support,” adds Oates. “I like to think of them as dream catalysts. We have such a skilled, talented, and enthusiastic crew. I’m so grateful to them. I want to clean all of their bathrooms and bake them cookies, but not in that order.”
A successful Indiegogo campaign also added some dollars to the team’s duel with their deadlines and now the series is set to be released all at once for your binge watching pleasure in late fall 2015.
Or is it?
Oates might have different ideas: “We’re going to launch the series out of a cannon off of Signal Hill into the stratosphere with a stream of glitter and gun powder behind it.”