When someone we know and love passes on, the grief felt by his/her family and friends is counterbalanced by the memories they share of that person. While death is the end of physical life, it’s the beginning of what people down on Earth hope will be a peaceful afterlife for their dearly departed up above. In the supernatural comedy series GUESS I’M A GHOST, though, death provides a second chance for a selfish, lie-prone young woman to be the model friend she never was in life.

Created by Chris Sullivan, GUESS I’M A GHOST’s 8 episode first season (premiering April 29th on Vimeo) is the surreal redemption story of Diane (played by Kelsey Siepser, who also produced the show). On her way home from a disastrous social outing, Diane’s life comes to an unusual end when she dies in a freak ride-sharing vehicle crash.

Diane’s acquaintances learn of her passing on social media, but when an unexpected hiccup puts Diane’s journey to eternity on pause, she turns into an invisible yet prominent presence in the lives of the friends she wronged. One of them was ex-high school pal Courtney (Caroline Bloom). Before she died, Diane had a one night stand with Courtney’s ex-boyfriend as soon as he left her.

Kelsey Siepser stars as a young woman whose untimely death unexpectedly leads to a second chance to fix her mistakes in life in the upcoming comedy series GUESS I'M A GHOST, premiering April 29th on Vimeo.

Kelsey Siepser stars as Diane, a young woman whose untimely death unexpectedly gives her a second chance to fix her mistakes in life in the upcoming comedy series GUESS I’M A GHOST, premiering April 29th on Vimeo.

Courtney’s blamed Diane’s Uber driver Dusty (Susan Shearer) for causing the crash that took her life. Since the accident, Courtney has aggressively used social media to convince Uber to fire Dusty.

Diane understands she’s got one final opportunity to patch things up with Courtney and to convince her to give Dusty a chance to rebuild after the collision.

Social media’s application as a dating tool is also looked at in GUESS I’M A GHOST, as Diane tries to create a proper parting of ways between her and a one-time Tinder fling/struggling advertising campaign creator Marc (Eugene Young, HBO’s VEEP) who still has fond memories of their only date.

First created as a class project for THE BIG BANG THEORY co-executive producer Dave Goetsch’s web series writing course at the University of Southern California, Sullivan later shared directing duties on his show with fellow Trojan alum Nicole Danser and editor/director Julie Cohen.

While Sullivan’s college years were the chronological start of GUESS I’M A GHOST’s development, the series’ plotline was based on his memories of seeing the painful news of his friend’s untimely passing, and the online tributes to that friend.

“The idea initially came from finding out about the death of a friend through social media, and seeing how people reacted and spoke about that person in such a public way,” says Sullivan. “I’ve always been interested in ghosts, and thought it would be funny to make a show where the ghost functioned more as an annoying roommate then in a scary, horror movie way.”

L-R: GUESS I'M A GHOST co-stars Eugene Young and Kelsey Siepser.

L-R: GUESS I’M A GHOST co-stars Eugene Young (HBO’s VEEP) as Diane’s one-time Tinder fling/struggling ad man Marc, and Kelsey Siepser as Diane.

For Siepser, starring as Diane in GUESS I’M A GHOST was an experience that had as much meaning to her on an emotional level as it did on a professional level.

“I was brought on the way a lot of the actors came on board in the beginning, through a friend, and felt a real connection to Diane, the series and Chris,” she comments.

“I really loved how much Chris made it a collaborative endeavor once we got down to rehearsing. When he asked me to keep playing Diane for the series, I was thrilled to be able to keep working on this project.”

Sullivan’s authenticity – both evidenced in his creative point-of-view and in his concept for GUESS I’M A GHOST – solidified Siepser’s praise for the series’ writer/director/producer. “I always love whatever acting opportunity I get, but this was a show that I could see myself watching, which made it very exciting. I could tell that this project was very personal and Chris writes with honesty about people behaving badly, which I love, and I think (that) makes for great material.”

Sullivan spoofs some of his experiences with “people behaving badly” throughout GUESS I’M A GHOST. “I think every character has some passing resemblance to relationships I’ve had. At this point, most people have been either ghosted or ghosted on someone they went on a date with, or they had two completely different reads on that night.”

One of GUESS I’M A GHOST’s characters, though, has a real-life counterpart that also shares the same transportation gig with her fictional representation. “I actually had an Uber driver named Dusty, and some of the bizarre stories Dusty tells her passengers are verbatim things that driver said,” adds Sullivan. “I was scrambling to write down everything she was saying in my phone because it was so weird but also kind of sweet.”

GIAGST9While bad dates have even haunted the most love-skeptical among us, the 21st century enigma of digital narcissism on Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram; take your pick) is also put under Sullivan’s microscope in GUESS I’M A GHOST.

“With Courtney, I also wanted to poke fun at the self-righteous characters we sometimes become on social media, but also showing that even though that self-righteousness can seem annoying or fake, in the end, it’s worth it if it brings some good somewhere.”

GUESS I’M A GHOST is one of a countless number of low-budget web series that have had to maximize both the valuable time that it has to work with actors and crew and the paucity of cash it has to help get every episode on film. With Sullivan and his show’s collaborators simultaneously committed to other projects, and with increased time spent by Sullivan on fundraising for GUESS I’M A GHOST’s completion, it took longer than normal for all involved to spook up the series’ production.

“Getting a whole group of people together for weekends of shooting for not a lot of money was tough, and weeks or months went by where we couldn’t shoot,” Sullivan remembers. “Fundraising is always an issue, and we needed to take time off to launch an IndieGoGo campaign to finish the second half of production and post-production. I also took time off from this for a few months to produce a play, which put things on pause for about three months.”

Convincingly showing Diane’s ghostly activity in GUESS I’M A GHOST may have looked like a complex task for the show’s production crew, but the high-tech and low-tech methods that Sullivan and his team worked with effectively did the job for every scene.

“The supernatural elements were pretty easy to do, actually, ” Sullivan says. “It’s mostly just flashing lights and some editing tricks to make it seem like she’s appearing or disappearing. It was always meant to be a little funny and low budget-seeming.”

GIAGPS5None of that visual spectacle was possible without Siepser’s spirited (no pun intended) playing of Diane.

“I really like from the beginning we established that we would just believe that she is a ghost – like she just shows up,” adds Siepser. “I agree that it definitely lends to the comedy – shooting some of the moments where I had to scare people were  some of the most fun I have had on set. I’ll never forget Nicole Danser demonstrating exactly how I was supposed to make this creepy shadow sneaking up on Eugene’s character, Marc! Scaring Eugene was always fun!”

While GUESS I’M A GHOST’s humoristic style and storyline is similar to such comedies as the HBO web-to-TV hit HIGH MAINTENANCE and NBC’s THE GOOD PLACE, Sullivan wants his show to entertain viewers, and for it to motivate them to be better people while time is still on their side.

I’m just hoping people will watch it and laugh and maybe take something away from it,” Sullivan says. “I also hope it showcases everyone who worked on the show’s talents and maybe provide some career opportunities for them.”

NOTE: GUESS I’M A GHOST’s official Vimeo page address will be announced closer to the show’s premiere date. At present, there are no plans to add closed-captioning and subtitles to each episode.

The series’ promotional trailer can be viewed here: