Ryan, Bastian, Sofia and Elodie are four young people whose backgrounds, nationalities and personalities are as different and diverse as can possibly be. Yet, besides the fact that they’re sharing a home and their lives in Berlin, there’s one undeniable fact about all of them – they’re best friends who stick together no matter how unpredictable and weird life gets. That’s the setup for the new comedy web series POINTS OF YOU, created by series co-stars Ryan Wichert and Sebastian Hasse and co-produced by Kathrin Benoehr.
The series debuted last November and is now streaming its first season of 8 episodes on its official web site, Youtube page, and other platforms including Webisodes Network and Pikdip. It’s a series that utilizes a distinctive storytelling approach that’s just as diverse as the characters portrayed in it (more on that ahead).
Wichert stars as Ryan, a young aspiring actor from Britain who will do anything to get his first big break even if it means taking the most ridiculous parts. Ryan’s known for his tendency to be extremely boisterous and easily excited, and is longtime friends with the socially awkward German IT student Bastian (played by Hasse).
Together, they maintain a steady, yet somewhat weird friendship despite their odd quirks: Ryan is the more outgoing and sociable of the two, while Bastian is much more of an introvert.
The group also includes two smart and beautiful young women with their own distinct personalities and habits. There’s the beautiful French law student Elodie (Kim Zarah Langner), who knows what she wants in a man but whose temperamental nature could make her goal of finding romance more difficult than she hopes, and despite Bastian’s feelings for her she sees him as little more than a good friend.
On the other hand, Italian physics student Sofia (Sara Manni-Malas) is a highly structured, fervently spiritual yet often practical scientist who cares deeply for Elodie, Ryan and Bastian (and often uses Bastian as a test subject for her own experiments). While she often finds her strait-laced personality at odds with Elodie’s otherwise romantic view of life, Ryan has the ability to bring out the funny in her; a special feeling that exists amidst her otherwise black and white view of the world.
With a cast and production team that literally spans the globe (120 people from 14 different countries), Wichert developed POINTS OF YOU based on his own fascination and first hand experience with different cultures throughout the world, including those who played a part in his own life. “As I grew up bilingually, my mother being British and my father being German, I was used to co-existing in two very different cultural environments. From an early age this sparked an interest and a certain fascination for other nationalities and cultures,” he says.
Perhaps the most significant development in the series’ creation came when Wichert met his future series co-creator and co-star, whose own personal experience was just as similar to his. “When I then met Sebastian – one of the other producers – we quickly bonded over this mutual interest. He later on spent 6 months living in France and upon his return we decided that what we had experienced, namely different cultures, stereotypes, national clichés, linguistic misunderstandings had a huge comedy potential and leeway. So we started planning a comedy format where all these aspects could be integrated.”
Along with those experiences came plenty of other sources that influenced Wichert and Hasse to create POINTS OF YOU. “We’ve drawn inspiration from lots of different places. Comedy wise I have always been inspired by slightly wackier and almost absurd comedy formats such as Seinfeld, Monty Python and also Friends. And the international aspect is slightly influenced by the French movie “L’Auberge Espagnole” (English title “Pot Luck”).”
Although the first season totals 8 episodes, four stories are presented but with two totally different perspectives. It’s a distinctive storytelling approach that not only sets POINTS OF YOU apart from most web series comedies, but also exemplifies the show’s emphasis on characters whose backgrounds and views are as diverse as the countries they come from.
“We’ve given each of our four characters their own perspective to tell you their side of the story. And because they see things differently, they each have a different cinematic style. We’ve also included our character’s thoughts, as it’d be a shame to miss out on what goes on in their heads. And as they obviously don’t all think in the same language, we’ve added subtitles in eight languages,” Wichert says.
Assembling the series’ talented cast of performers was already made easy thanks to the fact that Hasse and Wichert were not only actors, but made up the male portion of POINTS OF YOU’s ensemble. Finding their female counterparts did take some work, though, on their part. Recalls Wichert: “With me and Sebastian being actors ourselves, we had already found half our main cast from the get-go. Sara who plays Sofia went to the same acting school as Sebastian and we always wanted to work with her. When it came to casting the part of Sofia, Sara was our first choice and fortunately she said yes. For the part of Élodie we held castings in Berlin and as soon as we met Kim, we knew that she was perfect for the part.”
While Wichert and Hasse had little difficulty finding their show’s ensemble cast, producing and filming each episode of POINTS OF YOU was another story – but that task would be made much easier thanks to the talent, teamwork and dedication of its multinational cast and crew.
“As we didn’t have any funding, we ran into all sorts of challenges along the way. How to get equipment? What to use as a location? Where to find catering? But Sebastian, Kathrin (Benoehr) and me enjoy a good challenge. We worked incredibly hard to pull it off and in the end it all somehow fell into place. We had so much amazing help and support and really couldn’t have managed any of this without all the great people around us,” he adds.
A comedy that will entertain audiences with great humor and characters, POINTS OF YOU is a show that speaks the universal language of laughter; one viewers all over the world can understand no matter how it’s spoken. Says Wichert: “Here at Points Of You HQ we think that international is a lot of fun. In a way all those national stereotypes and preconceptions are hilarious! Of course some are true, but others are just wild! But ultimately they makes the country you live in interesting and colourful. How boring it would be if we were all the same!”
(Note: Regarding the show’s closed captioning, Wichert notes: “The show is closed captioned on YouTube but on other platforms we had to use Open Captions as their players did not support Closed Captions. We also offer versions of all episodes with open cations in either German or English on YouTube, as some mobile devices don’t show the CC function and we wanted to make sure that everyone could still enjoy subtitles.”)
ON THE WEB: www.pointsofyou.eu
Webisodes Network: http://www.webisodesnetwork.com/points-of-you