“My high school English/Drama teacher thinks I have talent. So I’m moving to Los Angeles to be an actress!” -Patience Owen
Leaving Bliss is the story of Patience Owen, a naive 25 year-old girl who leaves her small hometown to pursue the dream of acting in Hollywood. Five episodes of the dramedy web series have been released with the fifth one bowing last Friday.
The series, from first time web series creator Shanna Micko, is well written and acted in its exploration of the themes of finding love and finding your place in life. Patience is played by writer-creator Micko, who is a graduate of the USC Professional Writing Masters program and does sketch comedy with Elders of the Dark Tower. Amongst a YouTube front-page feature and the buzz of David Lawrence from Heroes guest-starring in some future episodes, I sat down with Shanna to discuss the arrival of Leaving Bliss.
“I wanted to self-produce something that I could act in, and at first I thought it might just be a 3-minute sketch, like some of the stuff I had done with the Elders. But when more and more details about Patience started coming to me, I started to see a life for her that warranted more than a 3-minute one-off. I wanted to give her more time and room to live, so that’s when I decided to turn my idea into a web series.”, explained Shanna.
This is Shanna’s first venture into web series production and like most first time web producers I’ve talked with she’s grown as an artist during the process, “I wrote, produced, casted, helped edit, created the website, etc., and I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it has been as an actor to play all these roles. In a way, it has changed my perspective on productions. It has also made me tremendously invested in the project. I’ve never felt so passionate about anything I’ve ever worked on.” says Shanna.
Talking with Shanna, it’s clear that this experience is fun and motivating, “One of the most fun aspects of the show for me is discovering new things about Patience. She’s such a funny, weird little character, and I’ll go through my day and see something, like a website dedicated to pictures of baby hamsters, and I think, “Oh, Patience would love that!” And then I Twitter from her voice and tell everyone about it. I love Patience so much because, honestly, she is my 11-year-old self that I’ve learned to restrain over the years, so in a way I’m reliving part of my childhood through her.”
“When I was 11, Shanna added, “I LOVED things that were colorful, sugary, and cute, and I had crushes on boys that were way too cute for me, and I wore glasses that were about half the size of my face. And for most of my life since, I’ve looked back at that 11-year-old girl and laughed at what a nerd she was. But now that I’m honoring her, I am realizing that girl still exists in me through and through.” She admits that it was tough to get going at first, but now that it’s rolling with six episodes in the can and great fan feedback, she is enthusiastic to continue the biweekly Friday releases.
Shanna makes doing a web series sound easy. She credits a lot of the success to close relationships including director-editor-boyfriend Steve Yager. Steve’s work has been in the L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival, Sketchfest Seattle and Sketchfest NYC. Shanna and Steve love the freedom and lack of pressure their run-and-gun freeform production style allows.
The supporting cast is a mix of quality actors casted from audition, like Patience’s roommate and love interest Madison played by Brent Bailey, and parts written with specific people in mind. Everyone delivers under Steve’s direction, and good writing and directing prove once again, that that is what it takes to make a go of it on the web, not sponsorship or big crews.
Shanna hopes she can inspire other actors with the series. With a steadily growing subscriber count, the front page of YouTube, and what amounts to an ever-growing body of quality work, I think she is.
The real question is will Patience find love and her own path to happiness in Hollywood. Maybe she’ll start a web series? Maybe she’ll win the heart of Madison? May be you should just watch and find out.