Virtually everyone who’s ever picked up a movie camera has dreamed of being the next Spielberg, Hitchcock, Capra or Welles. Unfortunately for some, those dreams of breaking into the highly competitive and exciting world of Hollywood don’t always go according to plan.
Soon to premiere its first season of 7 episodes (along with a bonus episode), the new comedy web series A GUY GOING CRAZY follows one budding filmmaker who learns the hard way that the road to Tinseltown has more than its share of bumps and wrong turns. The series has been submitted to various web series festivals, with plans to air online soon afterward.
For Felix (played by series creator/writer Rich Camp), it doesn’t help that the obstacles he faces in his attempts to become a successful filmmaker are often due to his well meaning but misguided friends.
For instance, there’s Slats (played by Jeff Desisto), Felix’s best friend. Even though he’s a dedicated cameraman, his offbeat sense of humor slowly but surely puts Felix on edge during those long shoots.
Even worse, Felix also has to contend with Lenny (Matt Zuena), whose abrasive and obnoxious personality is bound to disrupt Felix’s work in one way or another. Another annoying figure that causes plenty of trouble on set is Pewter (Derek Colantuono), the group’s resident geek who’s highly obsessed with the movies and who desperately wants to prove himself as a filmmaker.
Meanwhile, Benji (Alex Pires) is so dedicated to filmmaking, he chooses to spend quality time with Felix and his crew, rather than with his pregnant wife and their child. Adding to the tension is Felix’s high maintenance girlfriend Beth (played by Audrey del Prete) and his loving but highly controlling mother. All of these wacky characters converge to make Felix’s life and his pursuit of becoming the next great American filmmaker a living hell that’s worthy of a movie itself.
“The storyline of this web series is based on different periods of our filmmaking pursuits, especially GOTTA FIND BARRY (our first real feature) where we were starry eyed yet naive. Our story was one of true friendship, passion and failure, something I thought not only aspiring filmmakers can learn a lesson from but all people who are just trying to find happiness in life.”
Having gained plenty of experience through trial and error on set, Camp and his crew know all too well how difficult it can be to keep cool in the face of chaos. “Most of the team and I have been working together for years on many projects. Through our younger and more naive years, we created many projects and comedy sketches that helped us grow in our skill sets,” he recalls.
Despite all the difficulties that come with filmmaking, perseverance is crucial. As Camp says, his character is the perfect embodiment of that truth. “The lead character (Rich) represents anyone who wants something more in life and learns quickly how hard it may be to achieve what he is hoping for.”
In real life, it’s a lesson that Rich and his friends have learned just as well. “Also, as a group who’s never given up, we’ve learned that no matter how hard things get, the only thing within your control is drive and ambition, which may not seem like much but is all that is needed to succeed in life.”
As series director Chris Esper (whose personality is lampooned by Colantuono in each episode) recalls, he set out to direct the series because he encountered many of the same struggles that Felix’s character endures in his quest to be the next great cinematic auteur. “For me, as a director, what made me want to make it is not just because I liked the material but also because I found a connection to the characters,” he says.
“I may know who these characters are based on from my own personal experience, but I see myself being a lot like Felix. He starts out with everything going really well and feels on top of the world, but when disaster strikes he sees how life isn’t easy. This is something I went through coming out film school. I thought I had everything figured out, but soon realized what I was up against and connected with Felix because of that.”
Although a majority of the characters in A GUY GOING CRAZY are based on people he’s known and worked with in real life, Matt Zuena’s character Lenny was based primarily on himself. In addition, Alex Pires’ role as Benji is the only totally fictional character of the whole ensemble.
While Camp was careful not to over-exaggerate his portrayal of the facsimile characters during writing, his concerns would eventually subside. “…I realized that these exaggerations created more than realistic portrayals of the characters that may have basis in reality but (are taken) to a hyper realized dimension, putting together the most extreme elements of each of their personalities,” Camp says.
For Camp, bringing A GUY GOING CRAZY to the screen was the fulfillment of his lifelong dream of being a filmmaker. Yet, he never anticipated just how big of a challenge he and his team would face before cameras rolled.
“Coming out of film school you think you have the world by the heels, but on this production I realized I was in for a rude awakening of exactly what my childhood dream would require. The fun, heartfelt and times of our lives moments inspired this show. However, during the production of this web series, I not only lived the storyline but realized how true my pre-meditated thoughts of what it meant to make a web show actually meant,” he says.
As any filmmaker will tell you, being on set can be a long and often hectic experience. Such was the case for A GUY GOING CRAZY. Yet, as Esper remembers, the long hours and hard work definitely paid off in the end.
“We shot the entire first season during an 8 day period for about 12-14 hours a day. We would shoot at one location for a few hours or even a day for each episode it was needed and then go to the next and so fourth. I’ve never taken on a project this big before, so for me it was challenging, but a fun challenge. Every day was different and we sometimes had to rethink our plan.”
Adds Camp: “As the producer of the project, writer and star, I pushed my cast and crew to their limits, but due to a fun and laid back atmosphere at the end of each shooting day, we all hung out, shared a meal and laughed about the chaos that was shooting. Tensions were high, (and) laughs were many, but our passion was present through every shot and every scene, which I believe shows itself in the final product.”
Camp’s experience would play a huge part in the show’s successful production. “As with any project, I’m a pretty harsh critic of my own work. However, prior to shooting the project I had taken into consideration all I had learned on previous projects. It’s remarkable how much you learn on everything you work on,” he says.
Looking back, though, Camp feels there’s still plenty of room for improvement as season 2 approaches. “Watching this season, I am proud but also cringe as certain choices I made both as a writer and an actor. However, I have learned to take these hopeful changes into consideration on future projects, including season two of this web series.”
One major factor that makes A GUY GOING CRAZY unique is that it doesn’t rely exclusively on straight comedy or thematic storytelling elements in each episode. As Camp recalls, it’s produced that way for a very important reason.
“I did everything I could to intermingle the two in the final product to create something that was not only funny but had a story many could relate to. At 27, I’ve worked hard over the years and can visualize all my mistakes, (and) changes I wish I had made, but I wanted to convey these messages to an audience and (to) showcase that life is all what you make it, and nothing but hard work, drive through the low times and passion is what will make your starry eyed, possibly even stupid, dreams come true.”
While many movies and TV series like 30 ROCK have taken viewers behind the scenes of showbiz, Camp feels that A GUY GOING CRAZY is more of a tribute to the comedic minds who’ve inspired him as a filmmaker over the years than it is an homage to past portrayals of “the business”.
“I would love to compare this series to 30 ROCK as it is a project I can wholeheartedly relate to as a meta story of creating comedy. But I won’t do that, as I know it won’t hold a candle to it. I’d say rather than (to) compare this to anything, I will say it’s an attempt to show my passion for comedy and storytelling that has been inspired by my many comedic idols,” he says. The show’s production style also takes a page from another popular sitcom.
Adds Esper: “When preparing for the show, we would often watch episodes of THE LEAGUE for its humor, shooting and editing style. So, I would somewhat compare it (to) that.”
While not all of us are blessed with the ability of entertaining the world through movies, TV shows and the like, A GUY GOING CRAZY will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever tried to pursue their dreams of success no matter how long the odds.
“I think what sets this show apart from other shows is that it’s not just a show about filmmaking, but rather it’s about trying to find a way to do what you love. It’s something all of us relate to. We have a dream or desire but there’s always something stopping us from making it happen such as the people in our life or even ourselves. This is something Felix goes through a great deal and those who see it will sympathize and understand what he’s feeling,” Esper says.
A GUY GOING CRAZY is about much more than the misadventures of a young filmmaker pursuing his dreams in spite of well meaning but misguided friends and family. It proves that through hard work, determination and dedication, we all have a chance of achieving success no matter what we set out to do. It’s a message Camp seeks to send throughout each episode.
“I don’t know how successful this comes across in the show, but I wanted every episode to represent a different challenge in life as a twenty-something and how despite not finding a solution, you find the power to continue. Each episode ends with the lead, Felix, failing at the one thing he wanted to achieve and yet the next episode shows him pushing through to the next step. Things will never come easy in life, but if you wake up everyday with a positive and passionate attitude, you will get much farther than letting life beat you down,” he says.
(Note: Regarding closed-captioning, Camp says: “We hope to produce a closed captioned version for the deaf and hard of hearing as we want everyone to be able to enjoy this show, and (we) feel it’s a little thing we can do to bring the happiness and fun of our show to as many people as possible.”)
ON THE WEB: www.aguygoingcrazy.com