Among some the huge advantages though, is the chance for filmmakers to reach an audience hitherto only available to large movie studios.
The advent of the web series has revealed the level of talent that there is out there, from acting to post production. Although 617 The Series is only into its first episode, the indications are that this is one to watch.
We spoke to Katie Shannon (right), writer and director supreme, and one of the brains behind the series, who described it as “a cross between Sex In The City and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia“.
With a little guidance from some recognizable locals, three friends from their childhood days in Quincy – Griffin, Scotty and Sully – and three friends from their formative/informative college years – Alana, Siobhan and Cat –will discover what life and love off the Red Line in the hub of New England has to offer.
According to Katie, the characters break down like this:
Alana “is a free spirit with an eclectic fashion sense. She is inappropriate in a lot of social situations and sees nothing wrong with it”.
Siobhan “is a no nonsense type of person. She’s thick skinned, but deep down has her insecurities, especially when it comes to men”.
Cat “works in advertising at a social networking site in Boston. She is comfortable with her sexuality, doesn’t hide it, and isn’t the type that flaunt it either. She loves her job, is determined to be successful, and is a loyal friend”.
Sully “is your friend that is never going to grow up, and never intends to get a real job either. He always tries “get rich quick” schemes that usually cause him more harm than good”.
Griffin “works hard and plays hard. He has worked his way up in a computer software firm. He’s social, outgoing, sleeps around, and is loyal to his friends. He values his friendships with Sully and Scotty and would do anything for them”.
Scotty “has been out of the closet since college and Sully and Griffin have been by his side through the whole thing. He loves his Boston sports teams, going out, and men. He works in the financial district at a well paying job, but doesn’t exactly love what he’s doing”.
Getting the characters and storylines together is one thing, but actually going about filming the thing is a whole other ballgame, with the pilot episode taking a full year to put together.
The idea for 617 was a culmination of a lot of things. I was living in Los Angeles when I developed the concept for the show. I worked as an assistant director on another web series, and when the shoot finished, I was moved to create my own series. I usually write more drama focused scripts, so 617 was a great departure from that. I wrote the character of Griffin first waking up next to a one night stand and it all fell into place from there.
[Producer] Amy [DePaola] and I first met in November of 2010 while I was living in Los Angeles. I returned to Boston that January to begin the casting process. When I had to return back to LA, Amy filmed the auditions in Boston and sent them to me so we could discuss them. Some would say we were in a long distance relationship!
I flew back to Boston in March to shoot the first half of the episode, and then we shot the second half in June. It took a little less than year to get the pilot made and now we are in full swing to shoot two more.
This collaborative style of working is important to Katie and the crew, who stress that “a great number of people have dedicated a lot of time to this project”.
On set we have an amazing and talented crew always willing to go the extra mile for us. My executive producer, Amy DePaola, came on board very early in the project and the two of us have worked tirelessly on it since. We recently created a writer’s table consisting of about eight people.
Our goal in doing this is to keep things fresh and to develop a variety of ideas to work with for each episode.
One of the freshest things about 617 is the city it’s set in. Boston isn’t just the backdrop for this sextet to wander through life, it’s a character in itself.
I definitely wanted Boston to be one of the main characters of the show. I was born and raised in Massachusetts and also completed my undergraduate and graduate educations here so the area will always have a special place in my heart. I’ve lived in a lot of places and this is the city that I always wanted to come back to.
New Englanders, especially Bostonians, are fascinating people. I wanted that to come across in the series. The city itself has somewhat of a small town feel and that’s what I love about it. Also, shooting here has been amazing. Everyone has been so generous as far as letting us use their restaurants, apartments, and boutiques for scenes. The people of Boston really just want to be a part of something that is homegrown, and I love that.
Irish people watching will be aware of our link to the city, but unless you’ve been there, you’ll be amazed at just how Irish it is. It’s a city where “the cobblestone out numbers its inhabitants, and bartenders are the equivalent to rock-stars”.
The first episode introduces us to the characters, with lezzie Cat and nice guy Griifin each waking up to a woman who seemed like a good idea five pints in. The friends reactions over hangover cures is the perfect introduction to the pals and you are immediately hooked.
Well acted, well directed and looking gorgeous, 617 is definitely one to watch. Last word to Katie:
We are currently fundraising on Kickstarter to raise money to shoot two more episodes. If we don’t raise the amount that we asked for then we don’t get any of the money. Please visit our website at www.617theseries.com and click on kickstarter to donate. You don’t want to miss the next few episodes. We have something for everybody!