I’ve been working on a web series with some amazing people and the incredible Team magazine staff. We’ve been working on it since October but I haven’t said anything about it until now because I wanted it to be up and running before I made any sort of announcements. I’ve learned that just because we started work on something in this industry doesn’t mean it ever gets produced. I’ve written scripts that never even saw the first pre-prod meeting. I wanted to make sure it was pushing through before I said anything.
But we’ve made announcements and pre-production is on its way and they’ll be shooting the first two episodes this month and so I’m excited to share with you a project I’ve been working on for the past two months.
Produced by Team magazine, Hanging Out is a web series about a young gay man in Manila who accidentally ends up joining an older group of friends when he gets the wrong address on a Grindr hook-up. In a way, it’s a coming of age story and it’s also a story about friendship, about love, and about navigating the complexities of being young and gay in Manila.
Team’s editor Paolo Lorenzana, who is a good friend of mine, asked me to join a focus group discussion with some Team readers to talk about putting up a web series about Manila’s gay lifestyle and try to figure out what kind of stories we thought people would want to see. We wanted to be able to add more positive yet realistic representations of gay people in media for the Philippines. After the discussion, Paolo formed the creative team who would come up with the core characters and basic storyline of the show, which included director Petersen Vargas (whose first feature film 2 Cool 2 Be Forgotten won Best Picture at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival), and screenwriters Patrick Valencia and myself.
Patrick wrote the first episode and I wrote the second. We brainstormed on the narrative thread of the first season and while Patrick and I were working on the scripts, the production team held castings for the characters that we’ve created and now that the scripts of the first two episodes have been approved by Petersen, they will be shooting within the month and, hopefully, Hanging Out will be airing online by early next year.
On the latest issue of Team magazine, there is a write up on the cast of the show and we were able to find amazing people, many of them aren’t professional actors and it gives the show so much more rawness that Petersen would be able to mine to capture a sense of realism that we want to present. The script readings were quite thrilling in how each actor was able to find the character’s individual voices and I’m so stoked to seeing how the show is going to come out.
I’m also really excited about this show because I’ve gone through a few drafts of the episode 2 script and it was challenging for me to write in a web series format. I’ve written for television before but I’ve always been scolded that my scripts are too long for a one-hour show. Length has always been my challenge (as well as dialogue). I find my strengths as a screenwriter has always been structure, narrative, and theme. But it has been pointed out to me that my dialogue is weak and I have tendency of drawing out scenes.
A web series, ours specifically, should unfold in a span of ten minutes. I went through several revisions because of length. But as I got closer to the proper running time, I began to really get a feel of the format and the rest of the artistic team gave me good feedback on my dialogue. The show takes on a realistic treatment — the drama and the comedy come hand-in-hand like in real life and we had to approximate that in our writing. I was told my approved script for episode two had a good balance of thoughtfulness and comedy.
I’ve written comedy before but the film was never produced. If ever, this would be my first produced material that is intentionally funny. If I get to continue on this vein, I’d be very happy and I’d be proud of having expanded my range as a writer.
I cannot wait for you to see Hanging Out. I’ll keep you guys updated for when it will be available online and where to find it.
For the mean time, get a copy of issue 7 of Team magazine with Boy Abunda on the cover for more information on Hanging Out and the cast. I also have an article there, or so I was told. I can’t wait to get my copy of it too.