[Editor’s Note: Welcome to Diary of a Web Series, the column that offers you an entertaining look into the machinations of a zero-budget web series made possible by an idea, fortitude, and democratized tools of production. For all the background on why we started publishing Diary of a Web Series – and why we think it’s great – check out the first installment right here. You can watch the web series the diary is about, too. It’s called STRAY and it’s good. Click here to watch it. And you can catch all the installments of Diary of a Web Series right here.]
“There’s something about him,” I mused about Cameron Clarke, an actor who eventually landed the role of Rich in STRAY.
Alison and I had whittled the pool of applications from about 150 online to a dozen in person and then, finally, two who we called back for chemistry reads: Cameron and Matthew. The two had separated themselves from the pack early on, but deciding between them was difficult, since each brought starkly different interpretations of the character.
Either actor would’ve done a fine job, but there was an indefinable quality about Cameron that kept drawing me back to him. Also, I could see Matthew playing other characters on the show, further swinging the pendulum in favor of Cameron.
After some deliberation, Alison and I chose Cameron, who went on to do a great job with the character. An arduous process produced two solid leads. We were happy with our choices and excited at the show’s prospects. Not bad for a couple of web series first-timers.
“He looks like you,” my girlfriend told me when I showed her who we cast for Rich.
“No,” I dismissed, but after taking a closer look at him, I realized she was right. We both have dark hair and fair skin, which surprises some people when they discover we’re hispanic.
“Something about the eyes,” my girlfriend elaborated.
Yep, again, she nailed it. We both had sad eyes – a physical attribute I thought would endear him to viewers. Had I just rationalized that for the familiarity I saw in him?
I was reminded of an episode of Seinfeld in which Seinfeld is saved from being hit by a car by a woman called Jeannie Steinman, played by the deadpanning Janeane Garofalo. After saving his life, Jeannie makes a comment about his collared shirt, a droll observation Seinfeld himself might make. Later, they meet at the diner, where Seinfeld orders his usual. Jeanie orders a bowl of Cheerios, which she discovers is the “usual” Seinfeld had just requested.
Finally, in a moment of self-revelation, Seinfeld divulges to Kramer: “Now I know what I’ve been looking for all these years: myself!”
Had I really just cast myself for my own show? Then, something else occurred to me: Cameron was a younger, taller version of myself.
“Don’t you dare go near him!”
Pablo Andreu is not a creator or a scriptwriter. He’s certainly not a filmmaker. He’s just a guy who decided to make a web series called STRAY. It’s a bromantic comedy in which a brash gay dude and a nerdy straight guy talk sex and relationships while reconnecting in New York City years after college. He hopes it’s funny. By some inscrutable alchemy, his scribblings have wormed their way into The New York Times, McSweeney’s and some others. Usually, you can find him babbling here: https://medium.com/@pdandreu
Photos by Alison Bourdon.