Atwater Village serves as the setting for “Fletcher Drive,” a comedy series about three roommates that made its Internet debut Thursday night. Atwater residents Paddy Connor and Robert Dierx came up with the concept and teamed up with a small group to write and produce a series of six to eight-minute long webisodes, which weave in the groups’ experiences as Hollywood production assistants and residents of the Eastside. Atwater residents will recognize scenes filmed at a Fletcher Drive auto repair shop, liquor store and Fosters Freeze. Executive Producer and Silver Lake resident David Rose said “Fletcher Drive” represents the evolution of webisodes into more fully developed “micro-sitcoms” and other programs created with an Internet audience in mind:
The webisode is the infant that is fast growing to become tomorrow’s “web-show,” and the son of the “TV show.” Webisodes have had hit or miss quality, and erratic release schedules. Fletcher Drive is part of a new concept. The micro-sitcom offers high-quality content with a consistent release schedule. While smaller in length and scope than a sitcom, the micro-sitcom can be shot in a third of the time with a quarter of the cost, keeping the characters viewers want to get to know.
Click on the link below to read a Q&A with Rose about Fletcher Drive.
How long are the episodes?
Here’s where our unique branding comes in. Fletcher Drive is a micro-sitcom. We’re far longer than a webisode should be. As the season progresses, our character development is much deeper than the “joke, joke, joke” format of webisodes allows. But, this isn’t a 22-minute, half hour sitcom. Our episodes are between 6 and 8 minutes. Put three of them together and you have a “Beavis and Butthead” style half hour show for television … if you wanted to.
How many of the folks involved in the production live in Atwater?
The crew is from all over. Nick and Zak live in Glendale. Robert and Paddy live in Atwater. I live in Silver Lake. Tellier and Jessica, our media manager and script supervisor, live in Silver Lake. Peter Mccann lives in West LA. Frank Schwab, our B-op, lives in Culver City. Steve Zissou said it best, “we’re a pack of strays.”
Any neighborhood scenery or references residents can relate to or recognize?
One of your advertisers, Luis Lopez Automotive, has generously contributed to our project and loaned us their location for a day. We’ve run screaming through the Fosters Freeze on Fletcher Drive with cameras rolling in the middle of the night. Our lunches are usually Zank0u Chicken, El Buen Gusto, or homemade by Zak’s lovely lady Sara Powell in Glendale. Ray’s Liquor Store on Fletcher Drive has been featured, and is the preferred location for wrap beer pickups.
When did you start working on it?
All five of us have been working on FD since December 2011. The original concept was Robert and Paddy with a camera. But, when Zak Wright, a friend of Paddy and Robert’s got onboard with the concept, he realized the potential this project had. Nick and I were brought on to handle the production design and scheduling aspects. After the first episode, we collectively realized that FD could be way more than two guys and a handicam. Now, here we are, prepping episode number 5 and constantly surprising each other and ourselves with new ideas and concepts.
How much does this cost and who is backing it?
The true figures are confidential. How much does it look like we spent? Everyone on team FD is committed to creating the highest quality program possible with the budget we have. We’re a scrappy bunch. Nobodies mama raised a fool.
We are the backers. All five of us put up the money we save and hustle for. It’s a cash and carry operation. We’d welcome talking to the networks about shooting a pilot. As a team we have the knowledge and ability to successfully produce a pilot for television. But, right now we’re having fun playing with the online format.
What are the advantages of a webisodes vs. traditional TV?
Web series are an outlaw world. It’s also very egalitarian. I see the internet as being the public access station I grew up watching. The cost to get the tools of the filmmaking trade have declined dramatically. The dividing line between Team FD and a kid in Nebraska with an iPhone shooting 1080 is the technical know-how and experience.
What we are seeing is a replay of the transition from radio to TV. A shake up in the power structure is fine by me. I’m an independent producer. As long as there are projects and funds, I will continue to work. But, that’s not the case for the structures of networks. The writing’s on the wall. In a years time, the landscape of media will be unrecognizable. I hope they’re ready.
Enter the “webisode.” The webisode is the infant that is fast growing to become tomorrow’s “web-show,” and the son of the “TV show.” Webisode’s have had hit or miss quality, and erratic release schedules. Fletcher Drive is part of a new concept. The micro-sitcom offers high-quality content with a consistent release schedule. While smaller in length and scope than a sitcom, the micro-sitcom can be shot in a third of the time with a quarter of the cost, keeping the characters viewers want to get to know. Our production schedule also allows us to incorporate what is new in pop-culture in our episodes. South Park pioneered this, with great success. This innovative concept has jumped to single camera TV, and viewers are more entertained for it. But, I saw a high quality parody of a Superbowl ad on YouTube, shot by Martin Usher, the next day. No one can pivot like that, no one except web producers.
The web-series format (the small small screen) also allows major celebs to get back in touch with the essence of filmmaking. Changes can be made on the fly. Actors can play with the parts. There’s no S&P guy sending memos telling the writer to cut out cigarette smoking or competitor brands. We can make those choices ourselves. The actors can make those choices based on their character analysis.
The Academy Award winning cinematographer may not be able to hack it in the small small screen. But, the young guys working as a DIT, or a reality shooter, or a camera assistant does. He/she’s hungry, has got that spirit, knows how digital works, and has the skill. James Petersmeyer, Yueni Zander and Will Myers, our cinematographers, have that spirit.
Do you plan to go beyond the first season or to land a cable or more traditional TV show?
In five years this will be the traditional show. The difference is it will be accessible worldwide, on the go, and on demand. All of us will continue to shoot Fletcher Drive as long as we’re enjoying it and still laughing. All of us on the creative team will continue to create online content because that’s the way to reach our generation. All of us on FD would greatly enjoy the chance to have a show on cable or network TV. Team FD’s current focus is to be the best series on the Internet