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Young islanders return, then get...'Wrecked'
It’s a classic story of running through the motions. Endure high school, get into a good college, graduate.
But then what?
Islander Liz Ellis opted for the natural next step — shoot a television show.
Ellis, a 2007 Bainbridge High School graduate, went to Hampshire College in Massachusetts. While she enjoyed her studies in film, she wasn’t immune to the procrastination that befalls many college students.
She suffered a bad case of putting off work when she should have been making progress on her senior thesis — a documentary theater piece.
“That project wasn’t going well and I like writing comedy, so it was a good distraction,” Ellis said.
She began writing what evolved into a script for a show. The script caught the attention of friend Charley Pope.
“He told me I was an idiot for not just working on the thing that was clearly so much more fun, and less stress,” Ellis said.
“So I switched my project to that, and started developing the script I was writing into a pilot,” she added.
Soon, it wasn’t just Pope who became enthusiastic about the endeavor. Other classmates, including Nathaniel Buechler, another island student at Hampshire, wanted to make the pilot a reality.
The pilot became “Wrecked,” a web-based television series that premieres Monday, Oct. 15 on the show’s website.
Ellis returned to Bainbridge Island last summer after graduation with a cabal of Hampshire graduates in tow — all eager to work on the production.
Ellis and Pope stepped up as executive producers. Ellis then took local actor Gabe Carbajal on board to help write more episodes. Buechler even returned to the island to man a camera and edit the series.
Soon, with a script, a crew and a cast, cameras were rolling for “Wrecked.” The series was filmed in Seattle, where it is set, and partially on Bainbridge Island at locations such as the San Juan office building on Winslow Way.
The show revolves around Spencer, a young woman who experiences a life-shattering event. Spencer picks up the pieces with the help of her friends and faces the challenges of entering the real world.
“It’s about how she deals with the everyday struggles of life, getting a job, getting a crush on a cute boy,” Pope said.
The filmmakers believe they have something that can make audiences laugh, and more.
“Just because the show is funny does not mean that it ends well,” Ellis said. “It is not a redemption story, and it is not for children.”
Not for children is correct. “Wrecked” is the kind of show that twenty-somethings tell their parents they aren’t mature enough to watch. Its humor can lean toward the more mature and gritty end of the comedy spectrum.
“‘Wrecked’ is about adults, and the kind of conversations adults have,” Pope said. “In a lot of places it goes out of its way to be particularly ribald, but it’s the way adult people have conversations with each other.”
Pope noted that while some may consider the show vulgar at points, it’s only in comparison to network television where shows are considerably toned down for various reasons.
“‘Wrecked,’ in comparison to my daily life, isn’t that vulgar,” Pope added.
But the web series was only half of the reason the recent college graduates banded together. It wasn’t just a television show they were producing. They were starting a new company: Honey Toad Studios.
“It is a part of a new movement in independent television to create a culture where filmmakers are making products that people want to watch, instead of what people want buy,” Pope said.
“We believe people shouldn’t have to pay for a piece of art until after they have consumed it,” he added. “People have an option of whether or not they want to donate money.”
New episodes of “Wrecked” will be released every Monday for six weeks.
Once the show premieres, Honey Toad Studios will be running a kickstarter page — a website to raise money for projects — to help fund a second season of the show. A link to the kickstarter page will be active on Honey Toad Studios’ website.