“Dick Grayson, who was Nightwing, is Batman right now. Tim Drake, who was Robin is now Red Robin because he’s convinced Batman is still alive, so he’s going all over the world trying to find him.”
This was the topic of conversation when I stepped on the set that fine January evening. Spirits were high and nerds ruled as crew members focused the camera and checked audio levels in the local comic shop that was today’s location. Actors and crew alike oogled the merchandise and tried to guess at the prices of some of the rarer items. “I know the price of everything in the store so if you break it, I know how much it costs,” the girl behind the counter, who was overseeing things and making sure nothing got out of hand, assured everyone.
Ragtag Productions, the team of Hofstra University graduates Angel Acevedo, Brian Amyot, Steven Tsapelas, and Patrick Cohen, who found success in the web series world when they sold their series We Need Girlfriends to be developed into a pilot for Sony and CBS, are hard at work on their new internet venture. My Future Girlfriend will be a five-episode, sci-fi romp that is a twist between How I Met Your Mother and Quantum Leap. And they said it couldn’t be done…
I had a chance to chat with Steven Tsapelas on set and get the lowdown on how the shoot is going and what is planned for the series.
Tubefilter: So what are we doing here today?
Tsapelas: Right now we’re prepping to shoot one of the scenes for the first episode of My Future Girlfriend. And it’s a scene involving the lead character going to a comic book store and meeting…possibly…the girl of his dreams. Possibly. No spoilers. That’s the girl right there. *points to Brigitte Hagerman, who plays Lisa in the series*
Tubefilter: Did you specifically write this so you got to hang out in a comic book store?
Tsapelas: I mostly write things I want to see or do. Like if I write that I’m hanging out in a comic book store, then I get to hang out in a comic book store. If I write about girls in glasses, I get to hang out with girls in glasses. It’s a very lonely existence in my room. I dream and imagine things and then they come true.
Tubfilter: How big is your crew?
Tsapelas: Right now we have Jeff Billings, he’s shooting. We have Chris Hall, he’s our sound mixer and Evan Menak is his boom mic operator. Ritchie Filippi is our assistant director and Brian (Amyot) is our director and that’s the bulk of our crew right now. We’re going a little bit smaller today because we’ve been going on the run stealing shots at locations we don’t have so when we do that we tend to run a bit lighter. Like I’m doing work that I don’t normally do. I’m keeping camera reports and all that kind of stuff.
Tubefilter: How long is the shoot going to be?
Tsapelas: This is the third day and we’re doing ten days plus possible pick-up days here and there.
Tubefilter: How is this experience different from We Need Girlfriends?
Tsapelas: This is different in that this is five episodes and it was all written at the same time. With We Need Girlfriends, we were going on a month-to-month basis and shooting our episodes as we did them. With this, we’re shooting it more like a film so every weekend we’re shooting bits and pieces from the five episodes … This is like one big film shoot for us. Also it’s a little different that we are in LA as opposed to New York so there is more driving involved. In New York, we’d just walk a block and it’d be a totally different location. We also don’t have the same amount of equipment we had in New York (they are shooting on the Panasonic DVX-100). But we have a great crew. All of our old Hofstra buddies are here … We’re independently producing this. It’s myself, Patrick (Cohen, who also acts in the project), and my brother George who are putting in all the money for this one. And Brian (Amyot) is also producing this.”
Tubefilter: What is your hope for this project?
Tsapelas: Our ultimate dream is as opposed to We Need Girlfriends, which we wanted to sell as a TV show, this is more of a movie. We’d like to sell this as a movie. So it’s kind of like a demo, hopefully it gets popular and builds up an audience and then we can do something bigger with it. But right now this is the low-budget, what-we-can-do version of possibly a bigger story.
My Future Girlfriend is planned for a Spring release. “May-ish,” Tsapelas added. “It’s being edited right now as we speak. Angel (Acevedo) is taking care of the editing.”
Photos courtesy of Ragtag Productions