Have you ever wondered just what goes on inside the minds of people? Now try to think of what would happen if scientists found a way to do that! That scenario plays out in hilarious fashion in the new comedy web series NARRATORS, now airing on its official Youtube page. The series’ first episode debuted on May 5th, 2014, with plans for 7 more to air later this year.
Created by and co-starring Cory Dumesnil of New Orleans’ EFI (Elysian Fields Independent) Productions, NARRATORS takes place in what he calls an “alternate present day” where it suddenly becomes possible for people to use whatever unoccupied space there is inside their brains to communicate with others (a.k.a. “narrators”).
That inner dialogue often leads to some wacky and painfully awkward moments for its protagonists. There’s Luke (played by Dumesnil), who’s smart and kind but not necessarily self-confident or even all that lucky in his romantic pursuits.
That’s in large part due to his inner “narrator” (voiced by Mason Joiner), who despite his good intentions only serves to make Luke’s life more complicated as he tries to help him navigate the rough waters of the dating scene.
In episode 1, he meets Michelle (Kalyn Hepting), whose knowledge (or lack thereof) of the Holocaust ends up being a major turnoff for Luke during their date. Mixing it up even further in the series’ second episode is the incredibly, horrifyingly bitchy Karen (played by Susan Gordon, who was also Michelle’s voice in episode 1).
Just as Luke and Mike’s outside personalities contrast with their inner ones, so too does Karen’s. Her narrator, K, is lovable, caring and everything that Karen isn’t. Instantly, K and Luke become smitten with each other. Luke and Karen, on the other hand…not so much.
Just as much as he contrasts with Luke, so does his “narrator” (voiced by Cameron Gill), whose inner dialogue is much darker and unsettling. Of course, it also doesn’t help that even though everything Mike’s narrator says to him makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, he decides to go along with it anyway.
A veteran performer well versed in the unpredictable and always entertaining nature of improv comedy, Dumesnil developed NARRATORS from his experience in that popular style of comedy and from an equally popular game played among actors who take part in it.
“My background is in improv. I’ve been doing it for a little over 7 years now. The idea for NARRATORS came from a short-form improv game called Inner Monologue. The basic premise is that two performers are doing a scene, and two additional performers are voicing their thoughts. The leap to making a world where a person had this extra entity in their brain seemed interesting, so I ran with it.”
For Dumesnil, creating NARRATORS was a challenge primarily because his background is not necessarily in film production. “My friends started a production company, EFI Productions (Elysian Fields Independent). They were all graduates from the film department of the University of New Orleans. I myself, am actually a graduate from the math department. So while I have a creative mind, I lack the training and expertise in filmmaking that they possess. I am, however, the one who created the show. Teaching math leaves you plenty of time to write scripts.”
Despite that lack of expertise, Dumesnil remained undaunted when it came to bringing NARRATORS to the web. For him, just the task of getting it from script to screen was an incredible accomplishment. The importance of hard work, especially by those who do it no matter what obstacles they face, is what inspires him as a filmmaker.
“I see far too many people who give up, or don’t even try. Having a job in mathematics, I’ve always felt I needed to work just a little bit harder than everyone else to prove I can be creative. So I admire and am inspired by anyone who realizes that putting in effort is worth it,” says Dumesnil, who adds: “I’m always trying to make new stuff. Whether it be films, or a novel, or a podcast, or live shows. I’m always happiest when I’m busy making something new.”
Yet, he says, those friends made all the difference when it came time to roll the cameras. “I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by talent. The actors and voice actors I use all come from a pool of friends and colleagues that I’ve worked with in the past. I could go on and on about how each person you see and hear on this show deserve much more praise and attention than I, but we should probably keep the interview moving.”
“We lucked out with the weather being nice, and not having any technical issues. The one big headache we had, in the pilot, was shooting the scene with Luke and Mike on the steps in front of the house. There were bugs biting us through that scene, and the traffic on the nearby road made the audio a nightmare.”
With comedy, characters and situations that Dumensil says will instantly attract college-aged viewers, he feels that NARRATORS is unlike most comedies because of those characters and because of the unlimited possibilities that the show’s storyline and atmosphere provides. As he explains, much of that comes directly from the contrasting personalities of the people on screen and their “narrators”.
“For instance, a cop could be “good cop” while his narrator is “bad cop”. Or a political analysis show where a guy and his Narrator are the two hosts, constantly bickering and talking over each other (though all we see on-screen is a man ranting at himself). So, to answer your question concisely, NARRATORS has created a very rich world, and my team and I bring a sharp, quick-moving comedy that I don’t see enough of these days.”
Described by Dumesnil as a “slightly less chaotic IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA”, he hopes that NARRATORS will be a success with all those who are trying to make it in this always changing, always unpredictable world. As he explains, the funny is all in how you get used to it.
“When I started writing NARRATORS, my only goal was to make something that was funny and original. I’d be lying if I said I had a message in mind. That being said, I suppose the message and theme can be summed up by the word, “Adapt”. We’re seeing how all these characters adapt in different ways to this new world. That need or resistance to adapt is what drives the entire show.”
(Note: The series is not currently closed-captioned or subtitled, but Dumesnil hopes he can have that feature in place soon.)
The first episode of NARRATORS can be viewed below: