Being in love isn’t all easy, especially when you’re in a relationship with someone who always does his/her best to make that relationship a difficult one.

Sometimes, though, the differences and mannerisms that make such a pairing hard can often lead to its success.

In the new comedy VENUS ATTACKS!, one such duo learns that no matter how cruel they are to each other, the obvious romantic feelings they share eventually end up taking greater precedence over whatever antagonism they feel.

Written, created by and co-starring Levi Wilson, VENUS ATTACKS! portrays the story of Bo (played by Wilson), a barista who’s in love with his feminist girlfriend Julia (Dina Cataldi). While both share the same romantic feelings for each other and a New York apartment, Bo and Julia exhibit their own self-centeredness in hilarious fashion.

He thinks that Julia’s incredibly shallow, while she thinks Bo’s the classic male chauvinist with an exaggerated sense of superiority. Also, Bo’s mother (played by actress/writer Nancy Eng) was partially based on Wilson’s real life mother, who shares some of the same characteristics as her fictional counterpart. “(My mother) is a ball busting Tiger Mom from a lineage of Thai stage performers,” he says.

Rounding out the cast is Mario Cory (series director) as Bo’s father, Wilson’s real life wife Lisa Hammer as Julia’s sister and Judy Stadt as Julia’s mother, a fervent feminist professor. As Wilson explains, the sibling rivalry between the sisters, as well as their clashing personalities, could make for great comedy if VENUS ATTACKS! becomes a web series.

“I like the idea that Julia has rebelled a bit against her mother’s values while Julia’s sister becomes the embodiment of them. I’m not holding my breath but I’d love a future opportunity to flesh those characters out more. The interactions would be gold,” he says.

The short film premiered on June 6th at a public screening at NYU, before a full house of its producers, cast, crew and financial backers.

Currently streaming its official trailer on the popular comedy video web site Funny Or Die (the trailer video is embedded at the end of this article), the show is currently a standalone piece and is set to premiere there sometime soon. However, Wilson says that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of expanding it into a full web series once the money to produce it becomes available.

Originally commissioned as a stage play by the production company State Of Play Productions, Wilson developed the stage version of VENUS ATTACKS! with the help of an actress who has since gone on to one of TV’s most acclaimed dramas. “A year before, I had won a one act festival in New York (for a play called SOMETHING LIKE PENGUINS),” he says.

“It was partially workshopped with the help of a wonderfully talented actress named Christiane Seidel who is now on BOARDWALK EMPIRE (the popular HBO drama). Christiane was also working with a theatre company called State of Play and they commissioned the play (VENUS ATTACKS!) as part of a series. After a few meetings with them I started writing.”

Wilson also found plenty of inspiration from his own life, and in particular, all those embarrassing moments when he was less than his best. “I’ll be honest, I get a lot of my short play ideas from stupid things I did as a teenager and this one is absolutely no exception. Christ, I was a jerk!”

Having brought the one act stage version of VENUS ATTACKS! to the public, Wilson then set his sights on transforming the story of two self-obsessed young lovers and their daily conflicts to the small screen.

Yet, as he explains, there would be some significant differences between the original stage version and its online adaptation.

“The shooting script has a few additions from when it was a short play. But now that we’ve decided to develop it as a sitcom it’s taken on a whole new life! The treatment has a lot of potential now because I’ve added lots of love triangles, meddling parents, and lesbians. Who doesn’t love lesbians? Christians. I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for this answer. So it’s a good start,” Wilson says.

Along with an expanded cast of characters, the key role of Bo has also changed in a way: a new actor (Wilson) is portraying him. “…State of Play produced the entire one act and they held a casting call where I found two great actors. But for the film I put myself in the male lead and kept Dina Cataldi as the female lead. The rest of the characters are new. I wrote them in exclusively for the short film version.”

Wilson also found his writing process transformed as he worked on the short film version of his play. “I tend to write a bit stream of consciousness when I do shorts, just because it’s kind of fun to throw characters into a scene where nobody knows what’s about to happen, including me! Having to reverse engineer the show has been quite a challenge for me,” he says.

That challenge reached its biggest stage as filming began. Shot over 3 days in a cramped, noisy New York apartment, the tight space and unpredictable atmosphere would make for an extremely hectic shoot.

For Wilson, his cast and small crew, trying to capture all of the hilarious moments in the lives of the show’s fictional couple was a task that involved the cooperation of everyone – both inside the apartment and even far outside.

“…Basically, we had to deal with noises most other productions with a higher budget would not have remotely tolerated, including noisy kids upstairs, parties next door, and being under the La Guardia (New York airport) flight path! But you’d never know it! The cramped space made it very difficult for each set up. Since we didn’t really have permission to shoot we couldn’t leave equipment outside of the apartment so it all had to be inside. Still, everyone did an amazing job and proved themselves as professionals,” Wilson remembers.

Nevertheless, Wilson learned a lot about just what it takes to create a successful short film. It’s knowledge that he now seeks to apply if VENUS ATTACKS! ever becomes a web series. “I can tell you right now that doing this has taught me a lot about funding, crowdsourcing, the limits and advantages of DSLR rigs, and, something I can’t stress enough, shooting to edit. Because I don’t think we did that and it can really be frustrating during post,” he says.

“We all had enough experience to avoid the elementary mistakes but it’s those sophomore mistakes that can kill you. It’s when your vision becomes more refined but your hand hasn’t quite caught up though you might not know it to look at it.”

Despite whatever imperfections there may have been in the final edit, Wilson believes that VENUS ATTACKS! will succeed by accomplishing a task that’s more important than any fancy equipment can achieve – making a lasting impact on the viewer.

“If you can’t make your audience feel anything (and most people can’t) then you can blow all of your fancy 4K cameras out your A-hole because all you’re gonna get is Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Not that you can’t have a Transformers movie but, seriously, it can have a story. It can have compelling characters. And it can also have stunning 3D SFX. Why stop at 3D? Why?!”

Perhaps the biggest reason Wilson feels VENUS ATTACKS! will succeed is that unlike many romantic comedies, it doesn’t sugarcoat the more difficult aspects of love and relationships in today’s modern society.

“It’s a pretty honest look at how couples can behave and I’d like to think that it doesn’t rely on cliches. Maybe I’ve invented a few new ones! A lot of ‘romcoms’ (that must be the genre!) tend to rely heavily on cliches and if they want to be edgy they end up pushing the envelope in ways that are, frankly, unrelated to the subject,” he says.

Through the awkward and often hysterical escapades of a young couple whose relationship is fraught with as much tension as there is romance, VENUS ATTACKS! proves that no matter how much of a jerk we’ve all been at one point in time, there’s always a chance to look back and laugh.

Says Wilson: “In reality, relationships are funny and raunchy without having to do anything to enhance the material. Everyone has acted completely selfishly or manipulatively at some time or other. You are probably doing it right now! Relationships are about psychological disorders and emotional frailties, awkward desperate sexual encounters and bodily fluids. It practically writes itself!”

(Note: Regarding closed-captioning, Wilson says: “It’s not something that we’ve thought about at this juncture. I’m not against it and perhaps it’s worse that it never crossed my mind. Especially after the awareness campaign by Lydia Callis!”)

The show’s trailer can be found on its official Funny Or Die page:


The official trailer for VENUS ATTACKS! can be viewed below: