Fully committing to a lifelong romantic relationship is a serious decision, it’s no wonder so many have found themselves with cold feet. Yet, what if the closest members of your family put your life choices up for debate … during dinner?
In the new comedy web series I DON’T, created by Chad Diez (LAPS) that’s the problem faced by Alex (Zachary Davidson), a soon to be college graduate intending to propose to his girlfriend Helen (Lillie Claire) in front of the whole family. The web series version of I DON’T will premiere all of its four episodes on July 4th weekend on its official web site and Youtube page (see link below).
While Alex and Helen are already on the verge of getting hitched, Helen had yet to meet Alex’s family – mainly his older brothers Michael (Adam J. Smith), a happily married family man who’s enjoying the benefits of a committed relationship, and Eddie (played by LAPS’ Art Hall, who also co-produced this series), a man who’s perfectly happy being a bachelor.
As you might expect, they have conflicting views on whether or not Alex should head for the altar. Obviously, Michael feels Alex should marry Helen, while Eddie tries to give him all kinds of reasons why he shouldn’t. What results is a polarizing, if not brutally honest debate on the merits of marriage.
A series which was 10 years in the making, I DON’T was developed as a feature film by Diez. However, after various stops and starts over the years, and with several different versions of the original story having been written and thrown out, Diez created what would be come the web series as a short film. Through the web series version of I DON’T, Diez feels he’s finally achieved his goal of presenting a hilarious story of young love, marriage, and all the family drama that’s bound to come with it.
“Almost a decade ago I got this idea, more of an opinion about marriage and kids, that I wanted to make into a film. I just never had the story to fit the concept. It took me all this time after flushing out several plot lines to get a solid script. And looking back, this show is the closest to the original idea I had and why I ever wanted to do this in the first place,” he says.
Although the final version came out to 13 minutes, Diez felt that the edited version’s effectiveness was somewhat diminished because of the new edit. “It was passable as a short film that way but it left a lot of good stuff on the cutting room floor. Stuff that made the story worth watching. I didn’t like that,” Diez recalls.
It wasn’t until later that the concept of putting together that extra footage into a web series, and the possibilities presented by the format, would soon come into focus for the show’s creator, who himself cut his teeth on his previous web series LAPS.
“It wasn’t until I was at this event and another filmmaker on stage said that he took his 20 minute short and cut it up into episodes to make it as a web series. So I decided to do the same. If I could find the right moments to start and end each episode then I’d do it and I did. The show is much better for it. Plus, this way I go back to my web series roots which I know and love,” he adds.
Diez also says that another reason he decided to combine all the footage left on the cutting room floor into its current form as a web series is that while the audiences for web series have continued to grow, short films don’t necessarily attract instant viewership.
Yet, he adds, presenting I DON’T as a web series makes a tremendous difference on the story’s overall impact, while taking advantage of the vast advantages provided by the web as a whole for all filmmakers.
“We live in a great age right now where technology and emerging platforms have made filmmaking an even more evolving art. Some have taken a feature film and cut it up into episodes and visa versa. My responsibility as a filmmaker and a screenwriter is to make sure the story is still there. Period. I transformed I DON’T from a short film to a web series because it better served the story,” says Diez, who adds that while he hopes that his show will gain a wide audience, he hasn’t taken his eye off the ultimate prize: “I want to turn this baby step into the big great leap; a feature film.”
Before all that, though, Diez and his talented cast and crew, including his LAPS cohorts Hall and co-producer Erik Urtz (editor of this blog and co-producer, with Hall and Diez, of I DON’T), had to charge their way through a very long and tough shoot.
“It was chaotic to say the least. We had 4 days to shoot 24 pages of script. One day was all dining room scenes and that shoot went from 1 PM to 3-4 AM. It was grueling and people were grumpy. It was exhausting on my end, mentally and physically. 2 days were spent shooting in a bathroom where a lot of the dialogue heavy scenes between the brothers take place,” he remembers.
Then, the unpredictable – and unexpectedly loud – final day of shooting took place on location. “The last day was spent in downtown L.A. at a photo studio with Lillie Claire’s character, Helen. That shoot was difficult at first because we rented the studio, but the owner took off and left their yapping dog behind. So there was some audio that had to be thrown out. Every production has its hiccups, (but) overall I’m glad to not have any major ones.”
Although Diez cites such films as the adaptation of Nick Hornby’s HIGH FIDELITY (with John Cusack), his own relationship with his parents and even a romantic relationship he had prior to meeting his wife as among his primary inspirations for creating I DON’T, he feels that the short film and the web series stand out because of its portrayal of the anticipation, anxiety and responsibilities that come with married life.
“No one is tackling the subject of marriage and kids like I am in this series. It’s a drama and while other dramas might dance around the issue of how hard marriage and kids are, I’m looking at this issue in the face with a pointed finger,” he says.
No matter if it’s people who are already married, about to be, or are undecided about taking the plunge, plus their families and friends, I DON’T is a series for everyone who’s ever been affected by that great institution and all the drama that comes before the big day. Says Diez: “Everyone has an opinion about getting married and having kids. My show will have a particular opinion that you just haven’t ever seen before.”
(Note: The series is not currently closed-captioned, but Diez says he would like to add captions and subtitles (in Spanish) to each episode before its premiere date of July 4th on Youtube.)
ON THE WEB: www.IDontSeries.com
The show’s trailer can be viewed below: