After years of tossing around ideas for a television show, Aaron Kerr and Scott Lutley, both 23 and recent University of Calgary graduates, finally put their ideas into production last summer. Using mainly their own money, equipment and circle of friends, the webseries 2219 was born.
The series follows the life, love and drama of four very different male roommates struggling to cohabitate with each other: Leo, the emotionally volatile aspiring filmmaker; Ace, the science major; Jeremiah, the workaholic salesman; and Nestor, the architecture student, sex fiend and axe murderer.
"It's just four guys trying to make it in the world," Lutley grins. He looks at Kerr, "I don't know, do you have anything to add to that?"
"No. That was perfect," Kerr laughs.
The first episode of the show was written four years ago and looked very different from what it is today.
"The [scripts] sat for a long time, though. They sat for years," Lutley explains. "Every now and then we'd write just a partial script or whatever, but we were busy with school. We just weren't in a place where we were ready to do it quite yet. And then we just decided, 'Alright, we're gonna do this or we're just gonna dream about it.' Every weekend, or weeknight, we were still living together so we would sit down and hammer out as much as we could."
Two months before starting production, in May 2010, Kerr and Lutley spent their spare time finding actors, crew members, equipment and a set house. Kerr knew most of the crew members from his classes at SAIT, while the cast members were a mix of high school friends like Robin McIntyre, friends of friends like Gauntlet news editor Brent Constantin and local professional actors like Asia Walker and Stage West's Bryan Smith.
There was no external funding for the production of 2219. The cast and crew members were all volunteers and provided most of their own sound, lighting and camera equipment. Kerr's uncle was able to provide them with a steadicam and green screen. All other expenses, such as props, costumes and renting a house for four months, came directly out of Kerr and Lutley's pockets.
"We thought if we had a finished project, we might be able to screen it," says Lutley. "We did have contracts with people. It was kind of based on, 'If we make money, everyone will make a bit of money.'"
"We've lost a lot of money," adds Kerr.
"We pitched the scripts to The Comedy Network -- they didn't want us," Lutley continues. "That's as far as we got. We might try the Banff Film and Television Festival."
"The price to go is like, 500 bucks," Kerr reminds him.
"Oh," says Lutley. "Well, whatever."
Three episodes of 2219 were screened in December at SAIT's bar the Gateway. Currently they have edited four of the 10 episodes they shot in the summer, a process which often consumes many hours of the night. All around, they agree producing 2219 is a lot of fun, but also very exhausting. Looking back, the two filmmakers explained some of the challenges they faced and what they would have done differently.
"I think that it's important not to wear too many hats when we do our next project," Kerr says. "Scott and I were trying to do too much, I think, and we could have had someone else do it or divide the roles up more clearly."
Since everyone was volunteering their time, it was often hard to synchronize the cast and crew's schedules. If someone didn't show up, the planning they both did the day before would often be in vain. Kerr and Lutley would have to shoot completely different scenes or just simply write the character out for that day's filming.
That is not to say that filming 2219 was nothing but planning, scheduling and stress. Shooting a comedy show with a bunch of friends during the summer had a lot of perks too.
"It was hard to complete shots 'cause we were laughing so much," Lutley recalls. "Even between shots the tech guys would start joking around and we were all in stitches and it'd be hard to get things done, but it didn't matter because we were all having such a good time."
What's in the future for 2219? Lutley and Kerr aren't sure. They've been making videos since grade nine and aren't about to stop yet. They also have characters and jokes that didn't make it into the show they would like to use in new comedy sketches. And while future projects might not be related to 2219, they admit that the show's storyline could still continue past the 10 filmed episodes.
"There wasn't a fire in the end that kills everyone," Lutley states.
"Yeah, we wrote that out," adds Kerr. "We didn't know how to do the fire."