Thursday, June 2, 2016

Meet the Creator: Jake Paque (BAR CROSSED LOVERS)

Jake Paque is a writer, producer and voice actor. He created the digital comedy series Buddy System as well as Bar Crossed Lovers. His scripts range from features to pilots to web content and commercials. In addition to writing and producing, Jake voices numerous characters on shows like Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh!, Winx Club and more. (Twitter: @jakepaque

You are the showrunner for Bar Crossed Lovers, the comedy web series currently running on Vimeo that Wide Eyed Productions is co-producing with StagNation Productions. As both a founder of StagNation and core ensemble company member of Wide Eyed, can you tell us a little bit about how the decision for the two companies to work together on this project came about? 

Yes, I can. Should I do that now? Is that how this works? Ok. Got it. So! I'm an avid content creator; primarily a writer, producer and editor. The work I do is 99% film and television. Wide Eyed has mostly done live theatre, but I learned from Kristin Skye Hoffmann (Wide Eyed's Artistic Director) that the company was interested in expanding into the on-camera world. I came to her with a few pitches for digital series and Bar Crossed Lovers was the one that resonated most with her and the Wide Eyed team. I got busy prepping the treatment and series structure and we were on our way into pre-production. 

Side note: one of the other series I pitched is actually turning into a short film I'm collaborating on with another filmmaker. We're in pre-pro planning to shoot this fall. It's a political thriller - so very different from Bar Crossed

Where did you get the idea for this series? And how did you determine that a web series, in particular, would be the best medium to tell this story? 

After making Buddy System, which is a serial comedy - meaning you kinda need to watch each episode to really follow along with the story - I decided I wanted to make an episodic, something more self-contained. Something where people could pick up anywhere, anytime and get right on board. For instance, Arrested Development is more of a serial comedy than Friends, which is more episodic. A fun part of writing an episodic comedy is finding a way to write in plot points that reward consistent viewers with jokes that they'll only get if they've seen all the episodes. We did a great job with that on Bar Crossed Lovers. For the folks that are following along every week with us, there are comedic rewards in upcoming episodes.  

Bar Crossed Lovers was developed as a web show from the get-go. The premise is designed to fall into the internet video sweet spot of about 1-4 minutes long. If we went longer, or turned it into a full length program, I'd change the construct and integrate B and C stories. I wanted BCL to be as consumable as possible. The type of show people can share easily and featuring scenarios where you could go, “That's happened to me!” Because a lot of us have spent time at the bar looking for the one. And it doesn't always go so great. I mean, right? 

You’re credited as the writer on the premiere (Episode 1 – “The Neighbor”) and as a co-writer with Jenna D’Angelo on the finale (Episode 8 – “The Meeting”). D’Angelo, Andrew Harriss, Madison Comerzan, Sam Byron, Dan Kitrosser, and Michael Ross Albert are also writers on the series. How did the decision come about to pull together this particular group of writers to work on this project? What was the process like in terms of getting everyone on the same page?

Working with the other writers was a treat. The production team sourced a list of writers that we were interested in working with. We reached out to each of them, sending the treatment for Bar Crossed and asking for pitches. The writers who sent back the strongest pitches were brought on board and asked to start working on a first draft. As the head writer, the scripts would get sent to me, I'd respond with any questions, notes or suggestions, and we'd work our way to our shooting scripts. We were really fortunate that everyone picked up the tone from the treatment. Each writer used their own unique voice to write an episode that fit in our world. Something I love about our show is the diversity of our writing staff. We have writers with resumes a mile long and some very young writers. 

One of the tricky parts was getting scripts finalized on deadline. It reminded me how brutal the editing process can be. In a perfect world, I would have been able to sit down face to face with every writer on every draft to talk over notes, but with the confines of the production schedule it just wasn't feasible. So being hyper communicative was key for myself and the writers. 

Among other things, you served as the editor for the series. Was there anything surprising you discovered about the stories told and the project as a whole once you put the pieces together?

One of the joys/challenges of editing comedy is discovering/re-discovering the jokes while you're cutting it together in the editing bay. And on the flip-side, sometimes you're positive something is funny on the page but when you're in the editing bay, it just isn't landing. 

A few instances of found gold...In Ep. 1 – "The Neighbor," Justin (Justin Liebergen) goes to drink out of his straw and misses it, he has to look down at his glass to find it, then sips out of it. It's a tiny little moment that only happened in that one take. It's precious and organic and I think it's hilarious. In Ep. 2 – "The Draper," Kathy (Jenna D'Angelo) is trying to respond to something Jessica (Therese Anderberg) said, but she has beer in her mouth, so has to try and talk with her mouth full. Again, there's only the one take where she got caught like that and it's a gem. 

Similarly, there are some camera moves that were pleasant surprises. In the final moments of a later episode, our DP (Travis Jones) racks focus between two subjects. I didn't know how funny that single camera move was until I'd cut the entire episode together in front of it. 

Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Can you tell us about them? 

For sure. As of now, we have about four more episodes of Bar Crossed Lovers coming out. People can check those out and subscribe to our Vimeo channel:

I already talked a little about my next film, the political thriller. I'm producing and co-writing that. Excited to work with the other filmmaker involved on the project. And I voice roles on a bunch of animated shows like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Winx Club and Super 4. You can catch that stuff on Netflix and all over the place. I attend anime conventions, doing panels about voice over, content creation and the entertainment industry. Honestly, anime and comic book conventions are some of the most creative and supportive environments I've ever encountered, and I have a blast every time I attend one. The people there are amazing. So if you get a chance to swing by a convention I'm a guest at, come by and say hi! 

Watch Bar Crossed Lovers on Vimeo, and follow the series on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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