If the idea of a show centered around entry-level angels that hire hookers to cuddle, sleep in the houses of the rich and famous, and generally handle most of Heaven’s scut work sounds intriguing to you, go ahead and check out Circledrawers, the latest web series project by Poppoli Pictures and Cicala Filmworks.
Created by Icelandic filmmaker Olaf de Fleur Johanneson and NY-based writer and filmmaker Stefan Schaefer, Circledrawers stars Sharon Angela and Steve Schirripa from The Sopranos (“Rosalie” and “Bacala” to fans of the show) as well as Icelandic actors Benedikt Erlingsson as “Mozart” and Hilmir Snaer Gudnason as “Oleg.”
“Circledrawer” refers to the title of the lowest tier of angel – they live in human bodies and yearn to be reincarnated, but must complete a list of 1571 heaven-assigned tasks before they may get another shot at humanity. So far, the indie series is eight episodes into its nine-episode debut season (with the last episode due next week) and two stories have come to light; a special emissary named Oleg has appeared in Iceland to conduct a performance review, and a young man named Lewis is born in New York and raised as a human for twenty years – even though he’s actually a Circledrawer.
If the premise wasn’t enough to tempt you into checking out the show, then I imagine the production values will. This is no amateur effort. That the show is shot and displayed in HD-quality video is not unusual for web shows these days, of course. What is unusual is that Circledrawers itself is downright beautiful to watch. Pay attention, folks: this is how a mood is set. Fortunately, we were able to get some insider details about the show from co-creator and actor Stefan Schaefer himself.
Tubefilter: What is the creative inspiration behind Circledrawers?
Stefan Schaefer: Olaf Johannesson and I met at the Berlin Int’l Film Festival in 2003. He had the idea of creating a film about low-life angels – angels stuck in an IRS-like bureaucracy, trying desperately to be reborn as humans, but not really understanding the system. We wrote a feature film script based on this idea, entitled DIARY OF A CIRCLEDRAWER, and then each got side-tracked by other film and TV projects. Several years later we were between projects and decided to shoot a short film/pilot based on material in the feature script.
Tubefilter: How exactly did this multi-continent collaboration work?
We co-created and wrote Circledrawers. I produced and act in it. Olaf directed. Production companies included NY-based Cicala Filmworks (my company) and Poppoli Pictures (Olaf’s company). Of course there were many other talented actors and production staff that brought this to life. Olaf and I have collaborated on four films in the last five years, and have numerous other film and TV projects in development.Tubefilter: Why decide to use the web television medium?
Stefan: We shot Circledrawers as a TV pilot, thinking we’d pitch it to conventional broadcasters. But then we got wrapped up in other projects and the content just sat there. About nine months later we decided to test the waters of web TV, as we had seen numerous comedy shows work, building large audiences, but hadn’t yet seen a sci-fi/drama work well. We wanted to plant a flagpole in this new terrain, learn from this first season and, hopefully, produce additional seasons.
Tubefilter: Is there any particular plan for the show? What’s the release schedule?
Stefan: Nine episodes over nine weeks. We hope to shoot another season, with closer to 20 episodes.
Tubefilter: What equipment do you use to produce Circledrawers?
Stefan: HD camera package (Sony EX1) with 35mm film lenses.
Tubefilter: In terms of production budget, are you sponsored, or looking for sponsorship? Is this a full-time job?
Stefan: We received some funding from the Icelandic Film Fund to do this as a short film. But it wasn’t enough. In effect we threw in much of our equipment and expertise for free. We are looking for sponsorship and, just this week, had some very promising meetings.
Yes, we produce films, write screenplays and create visual media as our work – day and night.
Tubefilter: What kind of response have you gotten from the public?
Stefan: We’re very happy with the response we’ve received. We have a global audience in the tens of thousands, building in number each week, and we hope to be able to create another season utilizing some of the lessons learned.