Check out writer James Peoples’ clever new mystery comedy web series, “F’N YOUR LIFE UP!” produced and distributed by Dennis Dortch and his team over at Black & Sexy TV.
A man wakes up, alone in an apartment with no way out. His only means of communication is via a web chat device. He works with his closest friends to figure out how he got there and why there’s a dead body in the bath tub.
For those of you that are fans of The Cypher Avenue Podcast, you may remember that James Peoples and I live-brainstormed the initial inspirational seeds of this show in a conversation about the state of LGBT web series back in 2014 (our pitch starts around the 49:00 mark).
To his credit, Peoples sifted out all of the bad ideas that we threw at the wall and fleshed the premise into a unique series with an ensemble of interesting characters and situations.
Directed by Fred Leach, the series stars Derrick King, Lauren Daggett, Israel Dixon and Kendall Johnson. While the quality of the writing, directing and acting are light years beyond most of what we see from many LGBT web series lately, there still seems to be a “focused grouped” feel in the pilot episode that we hope gets smoothed out as the series progresses.
“F’N YOUR LIFE UP!” is described (in ALL-CAPS by Black & Sexy TV) as a “THRILLER/HORROR” series, however nothing is thrilling or horrific in the premiere episode. It seems that it was determined that ‘comedy’ should be the main goal as the lead character Will, played by College Boyfriends’ Derrick King, hams it up in every scene. Even the simple acts of answering a cell phone or using a laptop are turned up to 10 by the actor.
Hopefully there’s room for subtlety as the series progresses…and hopefully the filmmakers allow for quiet moments in this mystery/horror/thriller show. In the pilot, when the soundtrack isn’t loudly banging hip hop beats during what should be tense & suspenseful moments, the actors are shown saying out loud what we are already seeing on screen.
In one early scene, Will sees his shoes on the ground:
He pauses and then says out loud, “My shoes.”
Thanks bro…we hadn’t notice them.
This is a minor quibble, but we don’t need to hear Will (and others) narrating all of these visual moments and clues that are already being told through the character’s eyes (and the camera). Cinema 101: Show don’t Tell.
This brings me to the three attractive supporting characters, Kendall, Netty and Kev (the implausible openly gay BFF in the group of only straight people), who are established as Will’s best friends. They are primarily seen through Skype-like chat windows that Will manages to pull up on a laptop while stuck in the strange apartment.
This is not a bad way to include more characters into a story about a man stuck in a single location, however their interactions add little support to the story besides warning Will that he should find a way out.
It’s almost as if during the pitch meeting the producers said, “You remember that hit movie GET OUT? What if, instead of that boringly subtle Oscar nominated performance by Daniel Kaluuya, we made someone more funny like Lil Rel the lead character and what if…follow me…what if he had, not one but, THREE friends hilariously telling him to ‘Get Out’ the entire episode instead of just a few scenes? Hilarious, right? Who needs all that horror and thriller stuff, comedy is King on the web! I love it, it’s greenlit! Production starts next week!”
I don’t have any inside information on the pitch or production of this series, so this is all my tounge-in-cheek speculation. However, while I definitely feel the series and concept is full of potential, I’m looking forward to seeing how they smooth out the kinks of finding the story, style and characters of this new show as it goes on.