As one of the most watched web series of all time on Hulu, fans of Dorm Life will be happy to know the season is about to return. After a Christmas break before second semester, things are looking up for the forlorn, and love sick bunch. Tubefilter caught up with show creators Jessie Gaskell, Jim Brandon, and Brian Singelton to get the low down on all the upcoming hook-ups, heartbreaks, and life in the dorm.
Tubefilter: How did you guys come together to make this show? I get the sense you guys are college buddies for real.
Jessie Gaskell: We all went to college together! The seven creators – Jim, Jack, Jessie, Jordan, Brian, Chris, and Mark all met through our involvement in a comedy/sketch group that emcees a show at UCLA called Spring Sing. So we worked together writing sketches and making comedy videos and eventually some of us were approached by ASM (Attention Span Media) to develop this series. Pretty amazingly most of the cast and crew from both seasons are current and former UCLA students also, plus we based nearly every story line off of something that actually happened to one of us while living in the dorms at UCLA, so there is a lot of community there. But when I say “based on” real experiences, that might mean “exaggerated from” real experiences. Just as a disclaimer.
Jim Brandon: I guess we just liked making each other laugh so much that we decided to keep going.
Tubefilter: Dorm Life is one of the most watched shows on Hulu. How did you guys get to be so popular.
JB: As far as shows created specifically for the internet, we are the most watched show on Hulu. I think one reason why we are popular on Hulu is that the Hulu viewer is generally looking to watch serial content, and not just one-off videos. I think Dorm Life is best when you get to watch the entire series the whole way through, rather than just one episode out of order.
Brian Singleton: We are very excited about our partnership with them and are seeing wonderful returns and feedback from viewers who place our show on par with shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Office. Obviously, we are thrilled that people are consuming web shows alongside TV shows and enjoying both equally.
Tubefilter: Is there a production company behind the show in addition to all the work you do as creators?
BS: The show is produced by Attention Span Media — a social media studio that specializes in developing content that communities can form around and optimizing them for the internet. The budget for the first season is estimated at $300,000 (as listed on IMDB). We film the show at a small university in Los Angeles on an actual dorm floor. Due to our agreement with our location, we can’t release the name of the university. However, it was an ideal location to shoot. We got an entire dorm building to ourselves and basically moved in (in character), set up our rooms and started shooting. I think each actor felt a certain amount of ownership over their room (even though it all was part of the bigger set) and this made a huge difference in creating the energy that we were looking for.
Tubefilter: When can we start watching the new season?
BS: We do not have a specific launch date just yet. We will be ready to launch in November but may have to push back the launch date due to ongoing negotiations with partners (NDA prevents us from disclosing which partners). We hope to launch it by the end of this academic semester. People will be able to see the second season at www.dorm-life.com. The episodes will be totally free for the viewer. There will be 1 episode uploaded each week and a total of 25 episodes. Each episode will be between 7-10 minutes. Not sure what day will be our upload day but it will likely be every Monday.
Tubefilter: Are there any new characters this season? What can we look forward to in this second semester?
JG: There are new characters! I think there are some people that fans are probably dying to meet and see how we’ll deal with. There are also some pretty life-changing developments for old characters, both positive and negative, and we get into some heavy stuff. For the freshmen the second semester is for some about getting to know yourself even better, growing into the adult you’ll eventually be. For many people at this age you’re feeling even more comfortable and yourself and having more fun at college, but some are also realizing the college experience can force some tough changes. And for our characters with less-than-great decision making skills, they end up lying in their own graves – I mean, beds! Don’t want to give anything away. (Just kidding, nobody dies… except a little self respect).
JB: There are a handful of new characters that show up this season. Like any dorm floor, people come in and out of our lives, and visit for an episode or stay for the series. As for things to look forward to: there will be more animals that die, a la Moons Over My Hammy. It’s not that we think animal death is funny, it’s just a reality of the Dorm Life world.
BS: The second season is the story of second semester. Our floor comes back from Christmas break after spending some time at home ready to tie up the lose ends from last semester. All the questions we left the end of Season 1 will be addressed- Did Mike blow it forever with Brittany? We know Abby is engaged but is she totally out of the picture? With Shane on academic probation, will his partying lifestyle have to be put on hold so he can get his act together? How will Danny B get out of the friend zone with his Mystery Hot Girl? Do Steph and Marshall get married? We find out in second semester! This season also features several new characters who have been lurking in the background of Season 1.
Tubefilter: Will there be more budding romances after all the guys struck out at the end of the first season?
JG: Romance is definitely a big subject in Season 2, because we have on the one hand some loose ends left with Mike and Britney, but there is also Danny B who is just discovering his own sexuality (slowly) and Steph and Marshall who don’t realize how bad they are together. So I think there’s a lot of figuring out and people are still on uneven footing in their love lives. College is so much about exploring these weird unclassifiable relationships like “friends with benefits,” one-night-stands, platonic spooning, etc. You know, all that stuff people do that you can’t really put a label on. And we definitely wanted to give people something else after leaving them hanging on such a low note at the end of season 1.
BS: Freshman year is about experimentation. The four guys struck out at the end of season one but they definitely will be swinging for the fences this season. They have one more semester before they have to move off of the floor for summer break and they will not let the opportunity of Dorm Life pass them by. Where else can you meet people, hook up with them, and then pretend like you don’t know them, and have that be a normal thing? There will definitely be budding romances for several people on our floor. The questions is- will any of them stick?!
Tubefilter: Are there any bigger plans for the show beyond Hulu?
JG: Dorm Life, the Quarterlife Years? Dorm Life: the Movie? For sure all of our characters will be coming out with fashion lines within the next few months. Steph will probably release a country/soul album. I also imagine our current characters could move on but new freshmen would move onto the floor. I think the franchise is just getting started.
JB: Feature Length Movie Musical: Semester at Sea.
BS: Hulu has been a great distribution partner with us in the online space. Additionally, we are negotiating with some television groups for broadband rights to the show. You will soon be able to purchase Season 1 on DVD also. Because of Danny B’s popularity in most European countries, we are expecting success international sales.
Tubefilter: Any other teasers you can give us?
JG: I think as writers and performers that we really hit our stride at the end of Season 1, and Season 2 picks up right where we left off. There is a higher joke-per-minute ratio and I think the characters are really getting comfortable with themselves. So although at points we as a writing team thought we might have “jumped the shark,” I think the Season is overall very very fun and full of insanity. I hesitate to say “wacky.” That’s all, I just hesitate to say that word.
JB: Songs will be sung, fights will be fought, and kisses will be kissed.
BS: This season we have more episodes and each one is longer. This lets us really get deep into relationships and story lines. This also let’s us explore issues that we didn’t have time to get into last season. While love and heartbreak are inevitable topics, we also will see some characters face extremely unexpected challenges and find themselves in tragic circumstances. Dorm Life isn’t all daisies this semester but hopefully all will end well. No guarantees though!
JG: This show really was borne out of the most loving wombs. We put so much of ourselves and our friendships into the show and this really has been the most talented group of writer/performers I’ve worked with. I think we’ve resisted falling into some of the same lines that other web videos and series have taken, going the blue route always or pandering. This was a very sincere effort and I think we really stayed true to our intentions, and it shows! It is beautiful. And we’ve all been so lucky to be able to work together and have this to show for it.