College can be many different things to different people. For some, it’s a chance to learn more about whatever field of endeavor they hope to enter after graduation; in other words, a stepping stone towards a career. For others, learning is only part of the college experience. With it comes a chance to meet new people, experience new things and to get used to life on campus. For writer/director/editor/ and co-star Matt Giudice, heading to upstate New York’s Hofstra University wasn’t just an opportunity to earn a degree, it was also a chance to bring to life ideas that had been circling his mind for years.
The character driven sitcom OUT OF STATE has aired 12 episodes stretching over two seasons over on its official Youtube page. The series’ cast and crew is comprised of students attending school with Giudice at Hofstra University, and stars Josh Lovell as Josh, a young collegian who is constantly in search of that special someone he can spend the rest of his life with and will do anything to find her. Even more importantly for Josh, making the right impression on a girl is key, and just as he goes out of his way to find ‘the one’, he does so even more when it comes to making her feel right at home in any situation – even if it means going completely overboard while doing both.
In complete contrast to Josh’s passionate, lovestruck manner is his roommate Matt (played by Giudice), a fun loving guy who, unlike Josh, has a cynical view of love and relationships, and is more freewheeling when it comes to the ladies. These two different personalities may often clash, but at the end of the day they’re always there for each other no matter what. The series also stars Deanna Giuletti as Deanna, who instantly takes a liking to both Matt and Josh and, unlike most girls, is more than used to their goofy quirks. Also joining the cast for season 2 are two new characters: the annoying student Hugh Donson (played by Dan Johnson) and Kathy (Alexis DiGregorio), Deanna’s roommate, who like Deanna is equally sociable and kind – and just as alluring to both Matt and Josh.
For Giudice, creating a sitcom focusing on the often unpredictable nature of life in an institution of higher learning was always the goal even before he got to Hofstra. Yet, as he explains, the goal of bringing OUT OF STATE to the small screen didn’t come to fruition until he arrived there. “I have always wanted to make some sort of sitcom. In high school I had all these ideas for a high school sitcom and for college I wanted to do a college one. Finally in my junior year in college I felt that I had finally gained enough skills and friends to start making this dream of mine a reality.”
As mentioned earlier, the college experience is varied for everyone who attends, and so too are the ambitions and goals of every student. Even more so, every college student experiences their own incredible amount of memorable moments (both good and bad), on and off campus. Giudice’s time at Hofstra provided plenty of opportunities to bring some of those stories to life through OUT OF STATE.
“The concept for putting in a university came as a no brainer to me. At Hofstra I am exposed to this huge university setting there is so much to do. I believe college is an untapped resource for stories because it doesn’t seem like there could be any conflict but it really is the opposite. I have experienced so much up’s and down’s in my four years at school and I have kept them all in the back of my mind and now they are the prime influences for all the stories that occur in OUT OF STATE,” he says.
Giudice, Lovell and Giuletti each attend Hofstra, and their close friendship proved to be a major plus when it came to casting and producing OUT OF STATE. “Josh and Deanna have always been two of my best friends. Outside of Out of State, Josh and Deanna have been my go-to actors for a lot of my video projects I have done. I was very paranoid about this web series idea and there was a small list of people I could trust with this. Both Josh and Deanna have a lot of experience in acting so I asked them. They were happy to do so,” Giudice says.
Given the always busy schedules of college students – from classes to homework and other extracurricular commitments, it’s hard for any student filmmaker to produce a quality web series set on campus. It’s a fact of life that Giudice, his cast and his small crew confronted head on throughout filming each episode of OUT OF STATE. “It was very hectic but so exciting. Each season had six episodes planned and our goal was to shoot one episode per weekend (two weekends tops). So the key was organization and planning. I sorted out each scene into things like; who was in it, time of day, and location. Then I would consider the flexibility of my actors for each weekend. The rest was just a giant puzzle of making sure to utilize the free time of all my actors and do all the scenes between certain characters when the free time of the actors overlapped.”
Trying to film those scenes was an even bigger challenge due to Giudice pulling double duty as an actor and as series director. “Josh would come in to do a scene with Deanna. I’d switch in for Deanna and do a scene with Josh that might be 3 pages later. Then Josh leaves and I do some solo scenes, etc.” Giudice also says that when it came filming each scene, having an extra hand on set was crucial no matter how chaotic it got behind the camera. “My wingman behind the scenes is one of my classmates Sam Wharton. Sam is my go to director of photography. As I frantically run around trying to manage each scene, Sam keeps me calm by finding the right angles for every shot. Sam also color corrects all the episodes.”
While producing the show’s first season was quite the learning experience for Giudice and his team, Giudice took what he learned then and applied it when it came time to film OUT OF STATE’s sophomore season. The end result was a dramatically different looking series of episodes that exemplified the experience and knowledge Giudice and his crew gained in season 1. “Season 1 was really a big fat guinea pig to me. I had never done something like this before so their were many flaws and hiccups. By the time I began production for Season 2 I had learned a lot, whether it was for the writing, or the directing approach, or the scheduling, and the overall filming process was a lot better and I think the newer episodes really show that. If you were to give OUT OF STATE one chance for your approval I think Season 2 is really where it shines,” Giudice says.
OUT OF STATE quickly gained notoriety around the Hofstra campus. It also gained the attention of Giudice’s friends, each of whom were eager to contribute to the show’s second season. “After Season 1 aired a lot of my friends really seemed interested in what I was doing. It started getting a buzz around campus and all my friends were eager to help me out,” he recalls.
Along with that increased following came some major additions to the show’s ensemble cast. “I would say the cast really tripled in season 2. We added two supporting characters, Hugh Donson and Kathy, played by my friends Dan Johnson and Alexis DiGregorio. With a new season came bigger and quirkier plots and sometimes that requires a larger cast. This is something thankfully I didn’t have to worry about,” he says.
With intelligent humor and hilarious characters that just about anyone who has ever attended (or is currently attending) college can instantly identify with, OUT OF STATE will also appeal to viewers who are looking for something more substantive than the usually unsophisticated style of comedy found in short form web content. “I think when most people think of content for the Internet they think of short and light videos. Nothing more than 5 minutes and it’s always a fun fart humor laugh. OUT OF STATE is more of a serial situation comedy, and each episode is at least 10 minutes long. Lessons are learned, there’s plenty of drama, and I feel that audiences can relate more to the characters than they can with most other comedic shows on the internet,” Giudice says.
Along with popular TV comedies like THE OFFICE, SCRUBS, and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, Giudice also found inspiration to create OUT OF STATE from an even more influential – and personal – source. “Shows like SCRUBS and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER really influenced my writing for this show. The characters and situations where it was ok to laugh and cry in 30 minutes were interesting to me. I wrote the script but couldn’t quite get myself to pull the trigger. I think my biggest fan, my dad, was the one who really inspired me to reach for this dream I’ve always had. If I was ever going to have the chance to make something like this it would be now; still in school, with a lot of skills and freedom without too much other responsibilities. Oh, I guess I also got my sense of humor from him too,” he says.
As Giudice prepares to leave the creature comforts of a four year university and to enter the extremely unpredictable world that awaits post-grads (especially when it comes to employment), he hopes that OUT OF STATE will be the one thing that will win over some of the most hardened entertainment industry execs. It’s a series that proves that when in college, you can’t pick your roommates but you can surely find ways to make the most of your time with them – and maybe even make a new friend.
“OUT OF STATE is all about friendships in college. College is supposedly ‘the best years of your life’ but that doesn’t mean it’s going to fall into your lap. OUT OF STATE shows how Matt and Josh are thrown into the same dorm room together and take campus by storm to enjoy themselves. They go outside, try new things, and have each other’s back with everything that happens no matter what. OUT OF STATE is about the most fun you can have with your closest friends.”
(Note: The series is not currently closed-captioned, but Giudice hopes to have each episode of OUT OF STATE captioned in the near future.)
For a quick recap of season 1, watch the video embedded below. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)