Rock and roll may be here to stay, but enduring through the rapidly changing music industry can be a big challenge for any musician. In the upcoming comedy series MAYBE SUNSHINE, actress/singer Lisa Hammer portrays a comically exaggerated version of herself as an aging rocker who gets stuck in a series of awkward, uncomfortable and often wacky situations during her quest to reclaim the pop music stardom she once enjoyed.
Whether it’s her fellow band members who just want to get high while “getting it on”, disappointing date nights with seemingly dull men, obsessed fans who’ll do anything to get close to her, or just about anyone who tries to make her life a living hell, Lisa encounters a wide variety of comedic characters throughout all 7 episodes of MAYBE SUNSHINE.
Produced and written by Hammer and real life husband Levi Wilson (VENUS ATTACKS!), and featuring original songs by Hammer’s band Radiana, all episodes of MAYBE SUNSHINE (premiering sometime this summer on platforms to be announced) feature a talented supporting cast of actors/musicians who each contribute memorably to the show’s music and its comedic storylines.
That ensemble features James Glayat as Radiana’s lead guitarist and resident crackhead Jimmy Bomz, whose sociable nature is offset by his penchant for statements that are sometimes obscene, and sometimes highly prophetic. Melissa Patterson plays Lisa’s longtime friend/intern and backup singer, Missy Riggle, whose inability to just say “no” often gets her into major trouble.
The latest predicament Missy finds herself in involves her being in the center of a love triangle with the constantly feuding Gunz (real name: Grzegorsiewicz) brothers: keyboardist/guitarist Jonno (Jonathan Forte), and Jake-O (played by Jacob Heimer), who incessantly pesters Jonno to let him be part of the band despite the fact that he can only play banjo.
Louis Cozza portrays the band’s drummer Louis “Thunder” Ahmet, a man whose formidable skills behind the drums are matched only by his highly irrational fears, plus his avid beliefs of the latest conspiracy theories. Rounding out MAYBE SUNSHINE’s cast is Andres Restrepo as the band’s intimidating, no-nonsense manager, Diego Diego.
The concept for MAYBE SUNSHINE was originally developed by Wilson several years back. As he explains, though, his desires to make a series that would both bring back his spouse’s real life rock band, and to mix in scripted, yet completely wacky sitcom scenarios for them to play in, proved to be the real impetus for its overall creation.
“I wanted to revive the band and figure out a different way to get the music out there. Lisa has told me a few stories of her touring days and I thought it would be a great idea to put the two together.”
It was then that Wilson decided to combine Radiana’s original music with scripted comedic narratives; elements that would form the crux of MAYBE SUNSHINE as a series. “It would be a fictional comedy featuring the real band, like the Monkees, but with a bit of LOUIE because she’s older and more jaded,” Wilson adds.
Perhaps the biggest factor that led Wilson to create MAYBE SUNSHINE is the one person who’s more than just his producing partner. She’s his partner in life. “I wouldn’t believe in this show so much if it was about anyone else. If I just came up with the concept and Lisa wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have even tried to make this show. It would just remain on my list of interesting ideas for a show, which happens to be a long list.”
While the concept of combining a real life rock band (notable examples being The Beatles and The Monkees) with a fictional narrative in movies and TV shows is nothing new, MAYBE SUNSHINE is probably the only web series in existence that manages to do both. For Wilson, both its expansive scope of production, and its ambition to mix great music with uproarious comedy, are what truly sets his series apart from the rest.
“Nothing real is happening on our show, but there’s a lot of truth! It’s a very ambitious project and I knew it from the beginning, but I didn’t want to limit what we were doing.”
After the scripts were written for each episode, Wilson and his production team – including producers Hammer, Carolyn Maher and Sean Mannion – had to find actors who not only could convincingly play the roles written for them, but who possessed strong musical talent as well.
“We held a mixed casting session/band audition and put out a call looking for actors who could play instruments and musicians who would act. It was an interesting start,” remembers Wilson, who adds that the casting process proved to be multi-beneficial for him and his team. “So now we have all of the issues of a film production, and a live band, plus all of the fun!”
Whatever problems that Wilson and his team may have encountered during filming of MAYBE SUNSHINE gradually disappeared, resulting in a highly productive and enjoyable shoot that was made even more smooth thanks to the talent, hard work and cooperation of those who helped contribute to its success.
“I’m honestly amazed at how well things have gone,” Wilson says. “I’m constantly surprised at how many people will come out of the woodwork to facilitate a project that you believe in and they think is fun or exciting. People have been very generous with their time and amazing locations and talent.”
Wilson’s no-limits approach to all aspects of MAYBE SUNSHINE’s production is one that’s exemplified by his talented cast and crew, and his desire to overcome the typical boundaries of low-budget indie filmmaking.
In fact, he says, it’s the impressive DIY ethic of one acclaimed comedian/actor/filmmaker that truly inspires and drives Wilson to excel in his career.
“Louis C.K. is actually a great inspiration, and he should be for any filmmaker on a budget. I’ve worked on his sets before, and he shoots very cheaply and very deliberately. Half the time he’s operating the camera to get the shots he wants,” Wilson says.
“He edits himself, he writes the shows, he directs, he performs. He’s the hardest working man in showbiz right now as far as I’m concerned, and he deserves every accolade he’s gotten. No one can fucking touch him.”
Combined with rocking original music and hilariously uncomfortable humor a la Louis C.K and Larry David, MAYBE SUNSHINE memorably proves that, according to its tagline, “you may be too old to rock, but you can still roll.” It’s a series that serves as testament to the resourcefulness, determination and talent that Wilson possesses as a filmmaker. Yet, he adds, his real goals are far more expansive.
“I want to be able to tell a great story and not have to rely on a limited scale. I don’t want that kind of experience reserved for HIGH MAINTENANCE or ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK,” says Wilson, who encourages all filmmakers to reach beyond whatever boundaries may exist in their creative pursuits. “I guess I’m getting impatient at my age. We don’t have to settle. The technology is there. The talent is there. Be bold!”
(Note: Regarding closed-captioning/subtitling of MAYBE SUNSHINE, Wilson says: “It’s unfortunately not closed captioned at the moment. The hope is to have that option available if we can get a following enough to have steady funding.”)
ON THE WEB: maybesunshine.weebly.com