You know that thing that people do online? Which is start a blog, write actively in it, then completely stop? I did that thing. But, I kind of have a good reason, aside for laziness (though that’s a strong one). The reason is that, since February, I’ve been working non-stop on LEAP YEAR.
And now, now I’m going to tell you all about it. See? Aren’t I good blogger now?
Sponsored by Hiscox Insurance, LEAP YEAR is a branded series about five people starting their own, individual start-ups. There’s also a contest. And there’s also a baby.
I was going to do a thing where I was going to write about every episode, but the fact is that I missed the first couple of weeks because we were busy, and then I was behind, so I kept pushing it forward, and now it’s too late to do my master plan. So… damn.
What I’ll do instead, though, is tell you some fun facts that from the last 6 episodes and hope to spur you to go watch them, rewatch them, share them with your friends, and then to comment all over them like some kind of crazy person.
Here we go! In no particular order:
1. Craig Bierko was amazing to work with. Watching him rehearse was a joy. He tried to squeeze every ounce of juice out of every single line. As he was rehearsing, he’d ad-lib something, taste it, try it out, and if it was particularly tasty, ask me to have some. After that, I’m pretty sure that Vlad and I, as writers, made a rule to always, always taste Craig Bierko’s cookies. And I mean that in every weird way that it sounds.
He nailed every line, every joke. It was like an acting clinic watching him perform. After he did the first take, we called cut and everyone stood there for a second, letting his genius sink in. That’s with a page of dialogue. It’s unfair how talented he is.
I only hope that our charm and Chinese food lured him into further projects.
2. The majority of Leap Year was shot in San Francisco. Why? Because at the time, most of our team was in SF, and because filming in San Francisco is amazingly cheaper. We don’t need permits as cops never really care or even ask why we’re filming. Also, most locations don’t charge — they’re just thrilled to be part of film.
To give it the NYC look, as that’s where it takes place, we took a week to shoot a few exteriors (and interiors) in New York City.
3. Drew Lanning (Jack), Alexis Boozer (Bryn), Daniela DiIorio (Olivia) and I have acted together for over 6 years. Our crew has worked together for roughly the same amount of time. Wilson Cleveland (Derek, EP, creator of the series and the main man behind this crazy thing) said it best when he said we operate more like a theater company than anything else. I love that. Only the web show world and being ridiculously famous (Judd Apatow) lets you do things like that.
Plus, they’re all really talented, so that’s a big plus.
4. My brother and co-writer Vlad wrote, performed and recorded all the music with his wife, Monica Baranovsky. You can check out their stuff at: http://www.vladandmonica.com — and yes, you CAN hire them! My brother is also Bryn’s creepy, staring date in the party scene at the end of Episode 1 (my brother’s creepy acting face is renowned) and Monica is the girl who comes up to Olivia and Jack in the sushi restaurant, asking them to rate the food.
5. The Leap Year office was an amazing location. We were thrilled to rent it. So thrilled, that we didn’t realize how echo-ey it was until after we got in there before shooting. What, did we politely ask ourselves, the hell were we going to do? Moving blankets! SO MANY MOVING BLANKETS! We hung up wires from one end to the other and covered the ceiling with moving blankets. Furthermore, Dustin Toshiyuki, our sound man extraordinaire, got covers for the lav mics that specifically kill echo. It was a lifesavior and we managed to still get great sound and use the great set. If you want to know what those covers are called, let me know, I’ll have Dustin tell you.
6. We were ravaged by the plague during shooting. First, Justin (DP, Producer, and “Chase Cougar” in Episode 3) got sick a week before shooting. He was okay after a couple of days. But then we started shooting and it hit Daniela — she got better after a day. Then Drew Lanning got it. Then Dustin and I got it simultaneously and we got a delightful three day fever. After that, it really became the plague. It became bronchitis in Hillary Bergmann, our production manager, it literally infected all of Alexis Boozer’s face, and it stole Wilson Cleveland’s voice. Mark Gantt came to shoot for three days and left with it, bringing it back to LA where it killed 17,000 people (just a guess).
It was Satan.
We had to keep shooting, of course, because well — the show must go on and we had a schedule to maintain. I have to applaud the resilience of the cast and crew because, man, we kept it going and everyone was still great. Looking back through my feverish haze, I’m amazed at how phenomenal everyone kept being while carrying the seed of Lucifer in their bodies.
7. Hiscox is one of the best clients we’ve ever worked with. They wanted a good show. That was our main direction. We want a good show. Through production, through post, they have never, ever done anything that would hurt the quality of the series. If every client was like this, and every brand this daring, we’d be seeing a lot more well-funded, high-quality web series. It’s very cool to see them take the… oh god, I have to do it, it’s happening… take the leap.
8. Yes, that’s Alexis playing both characters in episode 6. We didn’t realize how good of a job Sarah Ashton (make-up) and Daniela DiIorio (also the wardrobe stylist) did with Alexis when we shot the episode. Furthermore, Alexis had to go and be crazy good and the result is that a surprising amount of people don’t realize that’s Bryn talking to Bryn. Also, a lot of people actually think she has a crush on me. She’s a really good actress.
9. There are multiple Break a Leg references throughout the episodes. The most notable? Chase Cougar in Episode 3. Break a Leg, for people who don’t know, was our first project and what got us to where we are. We love that show more than we love puppies and kittens wrestling one another.
10. Julie Warner was great as well. A professional, and just a blast to work with. Hopefully she comes around again!
11. Due to some schedule changes, we lost the original office location in the scene with Julie (today’s episode), so we had to scramble to find another spot. The location we had was a basement in a Yoga studio and had pretty much nothing in there. We also had around 3 hours to make it look good. Realizing the small room had no real good walls and felt claustrophobic, we came up with the smartest thing we’ve ever come up with in our entire lives: that “window” behind Julie? It’s the door to the room. Add some curtains, some lights, and voila — the office came alive. It’s now one of my favorite locations. Out of restrictions, genius is borne. Someone said that, probably, right?
12. Editing is done by the great Dashiell Reinhardt — also one of the Producers. Also, the guy with the beautiful girl-ish hair-do in the bathroom scene in Episode 2. He also did the special effects, intro, etc. Justin, who I mentioned earlier, is responsible for the look of the series as our DP. They’re stupid good. It makes me angry.
Let me finish this gushy blog up with a final gushy comment. I’m very proud of this show — I’m most proud of the cast and crew who despite crazy weather conditions, long hours and evil flu’s managed to create a really great product. I love you all and other really nice things.
That’s it for now! If you guys have any questions about anything, feel free to ask and I’ll follow this blog up with another one! Tune in to today’s episode (Episode 7), “Corporate Cupid” guest starring Julie Warner.
Oh, let’s make this easy for you — Episode 7!