The internet isn’t just for porn anymore, as the Vancouver shot Lily and
Oliver, about two gay 20 year-old college students, makes its debut online
The show’s creator and producer Jamie Chapman has created the online series as
part of his final project as a student at the Vancouver Film School (VFS). Starring
VFS acting student Jori Phillips as Lilly and VFS acting alumni Kyle McMurray,
Lily and Oliver
revolves around the lives of the two title characters, and their friends Mia and
Gabriel (Lindsay Jackson and Brian Knox McGugan).
Looking to create a show that didn’t pander to gay stereotypes and caricatures,
Chapman says he wanted a show that he would actually want to watch.
"The characters and story should always come first, and the fact that they're
gay shouldn't necessarily be the crux of it," explained Chapman. "To me, this is
why shows like Queer as Folk are held to such high regard. I want this
to be a high-quality, professional show that is about gay people, but not just about
them being gay."
With the idea for the show coming to him when he was in Calgary for Christmas,
he landed on the idea of making a film about two BFFs who were perfect for each
other, but were both gay. From that initial idea, Chapman first decided to
make it as film short, then as a web series and finally deciding on the final product
refers to as a 'social media series'.
But more than just the fact that going online means 'free', something Chapman
says is especially enticing for a poor film student, he also says that like television,
it is a medium that allows for more character exploration without the inherent risks.
"I love the idea of a series," he said. "I will almost always take a well done
television series over a well done film, as it gives more time for character and
story development. Television is a fickle bitch to break into, it isn't like film
where you can make it, shop it to festivals and hopefully get bought and distributed.
With television, you pretty much need to get invited in or just win a proverbial
lottery with a script that gets noticed. So going online means I can distribute
it for free, and have people watch it."
But getting people to watch, whether on television, on film or online is never
an easy task. To help, Chapman has surrounded himself with three others who know
a few things about online series: writer Lindsay Jackson who was part of the online
series Border Patrol, director Bob Woolsey, creator of the Leo nominated
web series Bob and Andrew
and his mentor Nicholas Humphries whose show
received international distribution and been seen on Space and online at Syfy.
Also designed to help draw an audience is the social media aspect of the show,
which Chapman says will come soon. As the show’s characters are big on technology, they
will extend the social media outside the series with the audience able to subscribe
to Lily and Oliver’s YouTube account, follow their Twitter account, and read their
"At VFS we get to learn about how people consume entertainment," said Chapman.
"Things like YouTube and Twitter have become so synonymous in our daily communication
with each other, that it seems like a natural evolution to use these for storytelling.
It has been done before, but is still in a very infant state. The idea of always
having the story with the audience and being able to follow it in different ways,
I think is really cool."
With the show’s pilot
being released to the world on Monday, June 27, 2011, Chapman’s first responsibility is to it as
his final VFS project but with plans that extend beyond graduation.
"Part of the project is to create something that I can take out of VFS to hopefully
pitch to producers and investors to get made into something real," he said.
With an investor package in the works and building an audience with the one episode,
Chapman admits that with the show’s budget coming out of his own pocket, until an
investor comes on board there isn’t any more cash for more episodes. He explains
that this is also the reason why the pilot doesn’t end on a cliff hanger.
The pilot, about ten minutes in length, is Lily’s coming out story and Chapman
says while it’s not an unfamiliar story, it is a good way to set-up the tone and
relationships of the characters.
"There are so many awesome story ideas that we want to do, give all the characters
time in the spotlight."
But for those other characters to get their time, Chapman needs an audience and
with such high hopes riding on the success of the Lily and Oliver pilot,
he isn’t afraid to ask for one.
"I really need everyone help to spread the word,
as a large audience is literally the biggest weapon I can have to give it a future,"
he said. "I really, really encourage everyone who
goes to the site to
tell their friends, like the
Facebook page and try and spread the word. The show has a metric ton of heart
and passion of so many amazing people behind it, we really think people will like
for more information and to watch the pilot episode.