The Woodstock Opera House is the backdrop for an original web comedy series that creator Jeff Cook hopes could one day find its way into mainstream media such as Netflix or Hulu.
Film Stripped Productions has just completed filming the first three episodes of “Upstaged — The Series,” a workplace serial comedy that takes place in a community theater.
The series follows the lives and interactions of employees who work behind the scenes at the Calhoun Theater. A new owner has just purchased the theater, and staff members nervously prepare to meet their new boss and ponder their job security.
The show’s production coordinator, Christy Johanson, said the first season will consist of 13 episodes, which should be completed some time in March. At launch, the first episodes of the series will be available free of charge online on a dedicated YouTube channel, and Johanson said at least one other cable access channel so far has shown interest in airing the show.
Cook’s ultimate goal is that “Upstaged” garners the attention of a mainstream video provider like Netflix or Hulu, which specialize in airing original series.
Cook, the creator, writer and director of “Upstaged” has teamed up with Joel Bennett, the head of photography, to bring Cook’s vision to life. Bennett also plays the lead role in the series.
“They are the power and the brains,” said Johanson, who said they also are financing the production themselves. “As of right now, everyone is volunteer,” she said, “but if it makes money, we’ll all make money.”
To supplement the costs of production, they have launched a GoFundMe Page www.gofundme.com/upstagedtheseries that includes a description of the project and the principal players and gives donors an opportunity to support the series.
Perks are included with various donation amounts such as the opportunity to have the donor’s name appear in the closing credits of the first episode for a pledge of $25 to a speaking part in an episode for $500.
An interview with Cook and Bennett about the inception of the series and a teaser video can be viewed at youtube.com/channel/UCRobCIcUT9RV4gIsMi_yOZA or links to these can be found on the Facebook page Upstaged-The Series and their website UpstagedThe Series.com.
“The series has a lot of strong roots in the community,” said Johanson, who has been acting and working backstage at the Opera House for the past 20 years.
The community ties are not limited to the cast but extend to the venue itself. In descriptions of the series, Cook refers to the Opera House as one of the biggest stars of the series.
“We call this a love letter to the Opera House,” Johanson said.