Here’s the pitch: An A-list TV producer is blacklisted by her secretary and the only work she can get is via court order.
Crewing Up is a new web series about Addie Kemp, an A-list network TV producer of a nationally syndicated political talk show, “Frankly Speaking,” who is sentenced to 500 hours of community service, forced to crew up in the low-key offbeat world of public access. If the mood strikes, the show goes on. But no shows, forgotten shows and stupid shows may be enough to break her spirit long before the 500 hours are in the can.
The show is co-created, written, directed and edited by Melissa Cushman Banczak, a filmmaker (Lilah & the Alien) and editor from Minneapolis. Banczak said that the ideas for the show came to her organically, including an episode where the public access station employees report on a local politician who along with a college fraternity reenacts George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, half-naked.
Crewing Up also deals with the joys and nightmares of working as a crew member to get the job done, whatever it may be, which is part and parcel of the entertainment industry. For Addie Kemp, it’s the nightmare of a lifetime.
The cast seems to be a very talented and eccentric group that work well together (from the promos available online). Tuscon theater vet Dallas Thomas leads as the Addie, joined by fellow names from the Arizona theater scene, Jonathan Northover, Eric Schumacher, Todd Gaston and Stephanie Sikes. Not messing around about the action sequences, they even hired stunt coordinator Robert Linden, who instructs the actors how to safely jump and roll around amidst the shenanigans of everyday life at the station and in-the-field reporting.
“We have a great mix of actors.” Banczak said. “Everyone was cast separately but when we had our first table read, I realized they all knew each other. It took over three hours to get through one 30 minute script.”
MB: We shoot at a public access station where they give us the run of the place, although they did freak out a little when they found us shooting in the men’s room one evening. The scene involved one half-naked character trying to talk the other into a “quickie.” The sex and the nudity didn’t seem to bother anybody, just the idea of us being in the bathroom.
TF: What kind of backing does the show have in terms of budget?
MB: The budget is sort of made up as we go. The only real expense is food, which runs about 20 dollars per shoot day. I try to keep it easy and bring sandwich fixings but three months from now people may start to rebel against turkey and swiss on sourdough.
TF: The picture quality looks pretty decent, what kind of camera(s) are you using?
MB: I shoot with a DVX100A. In addition, we have a three-week story arc that is shot through security cameras and occasionally one of the characters, who stalks an sexy older woman, updates his friends via his webcam.
TF: How many episodes are underway? Is there more than one season planned?
MB: So far, I’ve written 12 episodes. Each episode is broken into three segments and will be uploaded on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Our first season will be 24 weeks or 72 individual episodes of approx 3-4 minutes. We’ve nearly finished shooting our first 9 weeks. Then starting in Oct, we’ll relax a little and only shoot three or four days a month till January. We’ll take a break for a couple months and then come back for a second season of 24 weeks. We have a third season outlined, but that will only go if the cast is still having fun. We have a great mix of actors. Everyone was cast separately but when we had our first table read, I realized they all knew each other. It took over three hours to get through one 30 minute script.
TF: What do you want us, the audience, feel as we tune-in?
MB: Well, we’d like people to laugh. Crewing Up is a comedy with hopefully a lot of laughs and some sex and violence thrown in for good measure.