How one CapU student and her sister decided to make a place for themselves through their web series
Helen Aikenhead // Features Editor
Capilano University’s own Madison Long, a third-year student in the Acting for Stage and Screen (ASAS) program, alongside her sister, Taylor Long – also an acting student at Langara’s Studio 58 – have teamed up to create their own comedy web series.
The series, Birdie + Bee, welcomes viewers into the fantastical, but very real world of two 20-something best friends, navigating the world in a comedic coming of age story with the added twist of childhood nostalgia. The whimsical nature of the show Long credits to influences ranging from The Wizard of Oz, to Broad City, to the colourful and storybook like visuals of a Wes Anderson film.
Long wants to make it clear, however, that despite these influences, Birdie + Bee is by no means an attempt to recreate anything. The show is its own unique depiction of two very different young women discovering who they are in the backdrop of a modern-day fantasyland.
The sisters play many roles, apart from their respective characters, in the production of this series. They act as show creators, writers, producers and, of course, actors. They also recruited local actors from around Vancouver along with fellow CapU students, Nathan Mayes and Braeden Saucy of ASAS. Mayes acts as a co-producer and part-time director, while Saucy appears on-screen as the evil witch.
For many acting students, Madison explains that creating a web series is an incredible opportunity to flex their own creativity. “We’re told a lot at Cap ‘create your own content,’ because at the end of the day, it is something you have the power to do and a way to get yourself out there.”
As this generation is constantly on the hunt for exciting new content online, the web series format lends itself well to artists carving out their own space in the industry and can greatly increase their exposure. With what started as quick sketches clocking in at around five minutes a piece, the pilot episode of Birdie + Bee, which is about 80 per cent wrapped, is reaching almost 20 minutes. It’s in that format flexibility that also makes the web series route an attractive one to creators.
The sisters took advantage of this freedom when writing the episodes, one of the many things Madison lists as a unique feature of this project is that while the heart of the series stays constant, the episodes aren’t afraid to bend genres. From a musical episode to a horror episode, the series will ultimately include six instalments, which will keep viewers entertained and on their toes.
Despite all its freedoms and the ease of access of a web series, Madison promises there is nothing easy about the project. On why despite all the benefits, not many people peruse creating their own web series, Madison says, “A block is how much work it actually is…what I think stops people sometimes maybe is that its time and money [and] you’re getting no returns besides getting it made until it’s out there.”
That’s why the Long sisters turned to crowdfunding, setting up an Indiegogo earlier this summer.
Due to the prop-heavy nature of the show in addition to the high costs of equipment, location bookings and other costly set demands, turning to an arts-friendly site like Indiegogo is a great option. But they aren’t stopping there, putting their show to the test, the Long sisters have also put Birdie + Bee in the running to be one of 30 StoryHive finalists. The competition seeks out new talent from across BC and Alberta, in hopes of helping artists like Madison and Taylor to help produce, and continue building on their projects. As well as $10,000 in production grant money, StoryHive finalists are given a platform in which their shows will be hosted, “I think that’s what StoryHive’s all about, kind of giving everyone a chance to just show their stuff.”
The Birdie + Bee Indiegogo page is still live and voting for the pitch on StoryHive has opened so be sure to check them out and give them a vote at https://www.storyhive.com/project/show/id/2988. Find Birdie + Bee on their Facebook page at: Facebook.com/birdieandbeetv.