(This is the second in a series profiling WGAW members who are forging into the digital frontier)
(July 2, 2012)
Writers and co-creators (L-R) Will Bowles and Josh Flaum share a laugh with Aiden Lewandowski, one of the children who tells a story on their web series Written by a Kid.
WGAW members Will Bowles and Josh Flaum really do believe that kids say the darndest things. In fact, they’re counting on it. Mining the fertile terrain of childrens’ imaginations is at the heart of the duo’s new Guild-covered web series, Written by a Kid, which premieres at Comic-Con with new episodes going up each Wednesday on the Geek & Sundry channel (www.geekandsundry.com) beginning July 18. Through on-camera interviews and the deft use of live action and animation, Bowles and Flaum capture the larger-than-life sci-fi, fantasy and horror stories of the five- to 10-year-old set in three-to-five-minute episodes.
“Instinctually kids are the best improvisers because their brains go to crazy places,” says Bowles. “We knew that if we could support that we would get something interesting and fun.”
The idea of using kids in a sketch comedy-like show was something Bowles and Flaum had been mulling over for a few years, but they couldn’t quite find the right format. Then two years ago web producer Kim Evey - co-founder of Geek & Sundry, which is part of YouTube’s premium content initiative - canvassed them for ideas, and Written by a Kid was developed. “When Will and Josh pitched it we hadn’t seen anything like it at the time,” says Evey.
Drawing on their experience in improv and sketch comedy – they wrote for Damon Wayan’s 2006 Showtime comedy show The Underground - Bowles and Flaum decided to record the (largely unedited) storytelling of children. To do this, they recruited kids under the age of 10, both professional actors as well as the children of people they knew. “We were looking for kids who could sit down, tell us a story and then recap that story,” Bowles says.
As on-camera facilitators, Bowles and Flaum asked the children to make up stories about something that interested them. “We tried hard not to push them in any direction and to get a story they created in the moment,” says Bowles. “It was true improv on the kids’ part.” When it was over, a transcript was made based on the story, which was edited into a cohesive narrative and eventually a webisode.
Working in digital has given Bowles and Flaum a chance to express their creativeness in a new way and at a whole new pace. “It has allowed us to do something we could control, do quickly and get out there,” says Flaum. But the upside of doing a web series extends beyond the creative into commerce. “Three episodes of web series can be used to pitch a TV show or demonstrate an idea,” says Bowles. ”The TV world is recognizing that’s there’s a lot of raw material in some of these web shows that can translate.”
Figuring out how to perform writing services for a New Media project under a WGA contract is simple and easy. For a quick overview of how to cover your writing services in New Media, take a look at the easy-to-use ‘Checklist For New Media Projects’ by clicking here.