In between the first and second cycles we’ll be re-releasing existing web series through Open TV Re-Presents. Open TV Re-Presents is basically our “re-runs.” I’ve asked a select group of artists and producers to combine all the episodes of their series into one “binge-able” file for Open TV beta.
Why re-release series already online? While we like to think of the internet as accessible, in truth people miss interesting and great projects all the time. Algorithms hide programs from us. We get distracted with the hours of video uploaded to the web every minute, not to mention new releases in film, video games, music, art, etc. People tell me all the time they miss programs they swore their social networks would have caught. We clearly need a secondary market for indie TV.
Open TV Re-Presents starts an archive of original series by queer, trans, cis-women, and artists of color. I’m curating shows I find artistic, focused on great writing even in the absence of technical sophistication or lengthy narratives. Some series sacrifice traditional cinematic quality to tell a fuller story, whereas others tease audiences with a short story in order draw them in to fully realized world.
Whatever their relationship to production value, each of these series is historically significant and marks an evolution in television stories by and about queer people. Curl up and enjoy with generosity and love!
Open TV Re-Presents: Kissing Walls
Kissing Walls is full of heart and love. With sharp dialogue and sumptuous cinematography, it is one of the most confident, full realized queer comedies I’ve seen. The team released its first season as three short episodes, which amount to the length of your standard TV comedy pilot. It’s my pleasure to re-release the series as a pilot here, so viewers can feel the show’s confident acting and direction and get comfortable in the world created by Zak Payne.
Zak says: “There are many people in this country who have zero regard for the LGBT community, people of color, and every intersection in between. They don’t want to watch a show like Kissing Walls, and they don’t want you to watch it either. But every obstacle Kissing Walls has faced has only affirmed its necessity as a series. Art remains one of our most powerful tools against oppression. We must continue to demand these stories and continue to demand adequate representation both in front of and behind the camera. I’m entering the new year with this knowledge: making television is hard. Making television about queer people of color is harder. But I think a series like Kissing Walls is worth fighting for!”
Kissing Walls is a 3-part comedy that explores work, sex, and friendship between queer 20-somethings living in Chicago.
Open TV Re-Presents: Melody Set Me Free
Years before Empire, another black queer producer, Kalup Linzy, wrote and produced a drama series about empire set in the world of music and featuring an original soundtrack. Linzy uploaded his epic narrative Melody Set Me Free to YouTube in 2010, following a 2007 short film of the same name. He released three seasons, totaling over two and a half hours of drama: the first independently, presented on YouTube in four separate episodes, and the next two shot at MoMA PS1, produced by James Franco’s Rabitt Bandini production company and released as one “feature edit” on YouTube. As a pilot, the short introduces a reality competition show where Patience, Grace and Faith vie for a record deal. Patience (played by Linzy) wins, and season one picks up with her recording her album for KK Records, owned by KK Queen, Linzy’s Lucious Lyon. Melody Set Me Free replaces American drama’s long-standing tradition of the white male hero or anti-hero driven to maintain or acquire power, with an ethically complex and bedeviled black woman driven to conquer the music industry with the “nasty ass hits” comprising the series’ soundtrack. KK Queen invested the estate of her late husband in the company to conquer the music industry. She is powerful, and the core of the drama is her struggle to keep the company together as her artists pursue their own desires.
Set in a record label ran by dame diva KK Queen (played by Linzy), Patience O'brien (also played by Linzy) continues her journey of being in love and singing. However, she soon realizes it is not the dream she dreamt.
Open TV Re-Presents: Outtakes
Outtakes is one of the most experimental, engrossing web series I’ve seen, and it is the rare show written and conceived of by a transmasculine person, Sylvan Oswald. Not only does the cast represent some of the strongest actors working today, but Sylvan also stars in the series and grounds it as an exploration into how we shape our identities in real life and through media.
Sylvan says: “Outtakes came out of a moment of frustration with the American Theater, where I'd come up as a playwright. In 2013 the conversation around trans artists and trans content was even less developed than it is now. I felt like I was having trouble being heard. There was also a moment of idleness - performer Becca Blackwell and I had some time booked to work together, but what I had in mind was feeling kind of dead to me. So we just started messing around and watching videos online. Naturally we landed on YouTube transition videos. Neither of us had ever made one. We were like, let's make one, but what should it be? ‘Should I play you? Should you play me? Should we play ourselves?’ We shot on my 2009 laptop webcam because that's the aesthetic of those transition videos (and because I don't own a camera and had no prior experience making video). I showed the raw footage, which included me directing Becca, to my best friend, filmmaker and editor Maria Cataldo, who later became the co-director, and said, "What do you think we should do? Which approach do you like better?" And she said, ‘No, Sylvan, this is the show.’ That's how we found the style.”
Season 1 followed creator Sylvan Oswald and actor Becca Blackwell as they set out to create a web series about a guy coming out to his partner, played by Zuzanna Szadowski, as trans.
Season 2 starts one year later. Becca, now Beckett, is trying T, Sylvan’s leaving Brooklyn for good and Zuzanna’s trying to sort out the future with both of them.
Outtakes is a lo-fi web series about two trans guys. It is based on the genre of the transition video, videos created by people in the process of transitioning their gender. These videos, created all over the world in bedrooms and living rooms on laptops and webcams, are a way for trans* people to share experiences and information, and to feel less isolated by reaching out and building community online.
Open TV Re-Presents: Filipino Fusions
Kiam says:“Much of the Filipino food I grew up with was meat-based. I want to create new fusions with Filipino food that take it beyond its origins while questioning what it is exactly that defines Filipino, or for that matter, any culture’s cuisine as it crosses boundaries. What is lost? What remains? My vision is to connect Filipinos, Filipino Americans, and people around the world through a culinary experience by offering new insights, new spices and shifts to familiar (or unfamiliar) dishes and show the breadth of what Filipino cuisine is and could be.”
Filipino Fusions is a cooking show by Kiam Marcelo Juino, star of Open TV Presents: Nupita Obama Creates Vogua! In this show Kiam hosts as Jerry Blossom and shows us how to make Filipino food with a vegan twist.