|EASTSIDERS creator Kit Williamson stars as Cal in the series which|
premieres December 14
Luckily, Williamson has surrounded himself with an excellent cast, including AS THE WORLD TURNS alum Van Hansis. In the series, Williamson plays Cal, who finds out his boyfriend Thom (Hansis) has been cheating on him, which turns their relationship upside down.
We Love Soaps caught up with Williamson this week to find out more about his career and how EASTSIDERS, which premieres December 14, came to be.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How did you come up with the idea for EASTSIDERS?
Kit Williamson: I just noticed there weren't many stories about gay characters I could relate to in any kind of significant way. They were few and far between and gay characters were usually depicted as archetypes instead of complete human beings. I also think the neighborhood I live in (Silver Lake, east of Hollywood) has its own type of vibe and character to it that I wanted to explore. I wanted to marry these two ideas and tell a story about a couple I could relate to.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I'm not familiar with Silver Lake so I'll be interested to see how its portrayed. Here in New York, a lot of web series try to portray the Williamsburg (Brooklyn) experience in various ways. There was one this year, THE OUTS, that was a great show.
Kit Williamson: I love THE OUTS. I went to college with Tommy Heleringer, who plays Jack's new boyfriend, Scruffy. We went to Fordham together.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Next magazine recently published a story about gay web series in New York, and they talked to Adam Goldman, who created and stars in THE OUTS. Adam said his character, Mitchell, was maybe 65% of himself. I'm curious to know how much of yourself you put into the character of Cal, and would you admit to it being 65% or more?
Kit Williamson: [Laughs] I would not admit to 65% of Cal. Cal is a person who lives in extremes. He's a bit of a lush with a bit of a temper. He's not autobiographically based on me in any way, shape or form. I relate to him as a person though and really like him as a person but it's definitely a character I came up and not born out of me. I would say I'm kind of more a confluence of Cal and Thom. There are parts of me in both of them but neither is meant to be me.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Did you write this show with yourself (as an actor) in mind? Or did you write the story and it just turned out that you ended up playing one of the leads?
Kit Williamson: I was just writing a story. In the beginning as I was writing it I thought I might actually be interested in playing Thom. But when Van read the script and expressed interest in it, I felt absolutely certain he should play that part. He's so perfect for it. Thom is a bit of a quiet, introspective character, and you need someone with thoughtfulness on screen, with a really active inner life where you constantly wonder what they're thinking. Van has that quality to me. When you're watching him on screen you can tell there's a lot going on under the surface at all times. That's an amazing quality for an actor to possess.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You've been involved with web series before. Did you feel the web series format was the best way to bring this story to life?
Kit Williamson: I wanted to write a story that could only be told through this format. I think that's an important thing to consider in web content in terms of how the events of the story unfold from episode to episode, and how the actual scenes themselves flow into one another. I don't think the pilot script could be shot as a 30 minute TV pilot in the way it moves back and forth in time. The first episode actually takes place the day after the second episode. There's some exposition about what happened the night before in the first episode. But the second is where we reveal there are many layers to what went down the night before that the characters aren't being open about. I think that's something you can't really do in a traditional format. Writing for a web series is really liberating in that sense because you can approach it as a way of more directly communicating your story to an audience. It's almost its own storytelling tradition.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I'm glad to hear you say that. It's always obvious in a web series when someone took an indie film script and decided to divide it up into episodes. It usually doesn't play well.
Kit Williamson: Because it doesn't leave you wanting more at the right moments. There's not a finality a lot of time to those episodes, and they just end. I was actually very inspired by THE OUTS in terms of writing longer form web content. It's something I had not really seen done that effectively before in 10 to 15 minute episodes. And some are upwards of 20. What I loved about that was it was the length the story of that particular episode needed to be, and no longer. Could the first episode of THE OUTS be stretched to 30 minutes to accommodate a more traditional format? It could have but I love that it told it in the amount of time the story needed to be told.
|Kit Williamson & Van Hansis star as Cal &|
Thom in EASTSIDERS
Kit Williamson: We'd actually never met. But we trained with the same acting teacher, Lesly Kahn, who is a wonderful acting teacher and coach in Los Angeles. Van and I had both worked with her for a long time.
I went to her with the script and knew this part required a special actor. It wasn't something you couldn't throw anybody into. It had to be someone with a lot of complexity. She sent the script to Van and he met me for coffee, and that's how we started working together.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You both are theater guys so I was looking for some kind of connection between the two of you from the past.
Kit Williamson: We discovered we have dozens of mutual friends. He went to Carnegie Mellon and many of my friends went there. I went to Interlochen Academy, an arts boarding school, and a lot of students there ended up going to Carnegie, so we have overlap through that. And we have a lot of overlap from the theater community in New York, and a lot of mutual friends in L.A.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: The trailer is out today. How are excited are you for people to see this show?
Kit Williamson: I'm so excited because we have been working on this as a team for a long time so it feels like giving birth. [Laughs] It's a little scary, but we have to push through it, and I'm excited to bring this into the world.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How many episodes are planned?
Kit Williamson: We have written and shot three episodes, each of them 10 to 15 minutes long. We also have a bonus video we have planned. We're going to take a week off between episodes Two and Three, the week of Christmas, so we'll have sort of a Christmas present for our viewers then. In January we are going to go back into production to shoot more.
Our first episode episode will be released on December 14. Our second episode will take place at an End of the World party so we're launching it on 12/21/12.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How far in advance have you planned the story in our mind?
Kit Williamson: We have a show bible prepared to shoot more. There are a lot of storylines introduced in the first three episodes that could be their own show. It's an exciting place to come from as the showrunner in terms of the opportunities of things we could do with this. I don't have an end date or cap in mind. I do think eventually it will run its course. It's a story about a couple, ultimately, and stories like that need to have some resolution in order to be satisfying.
In terms of how we're going to move forward, working in three episode chunks, mini-seasons, feels right with the stipulation that we'll do what's right for the episodes as we shoot them. Because it's longer form web content, I want to give things time to live and breathe online so more people can discover it and get excited about it.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch the trailer for EASTSIDERS below and check back soon for the final part of our interview with Kit Williamson where we talk about the fans ("Their excitement is really bolstering our enthusiasm for our own project"), measuring success and much more.
To find out more about EASTSIDERS, visit eastsiderstheseries.com.
- EASTSIDERS Set To Premiere December 14, Stars Van Hansis & Kit Williamson
Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps, worked as a producer on the first two seasons of Emmy-nominated THE BAY, and is executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals.