Student’s show hopes to thrill and terrify

by Carl Lavigne / Beacon Staff • October 23, 2013

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Students filming the first episode of "Boston Uncommon" around the city.
courtesy of Sam Beasley
Students filming the first episode of "Boston Uncommon" around the city.
courtesy of Sam Beasley

Areana is obsessed with herself.  Evan physically cannot make his own decisions.  Phoebe and Mikki are two roommates on the wrong end of revenge.  All of these characters have something in common on the upcoming narrative-horror show “Boston Uncommon.”

Sam Beasley, a sophomore visual and media arts major, said he thinks the show breaks from the mold of traditional student-made television.

“There haven’t been big narratives, as far as I know, like this on EIV [Emerson Independent Video,” he said.

According to Beasley, the show, which will premiere its one and only episode, takes after gritty television shows like “Breaking Bad” and “American Horror Story.” He said his show was created to push the boundaries with plot twists that will make audiences’ stomachs turn.

The horror genre, Beasley said, was a new and tempting prospect for him, because he had never directed a production before creating “Boston Uncommon.”

“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s over-the-top expressive.”

The stories, all of which take place in modern-day Boston, are connected in subtle ways, he said.  A narrator introduces the episode and guides the audience through the show’s morals and lessons, Beasley said.  Each character has a fatal flaw that drives each tale, which Beasley said are derived from classic campfire stories and myths with a twist.  The characters, he said, are college kids Emerson students can identify and connect with, and he said he hopes that will aid the program’s popularity.

The show, slated to air on the Emerson Channel this December, consists of three separate storylines, according to writer, director, and executive producer Beasley.  

The first story, he said, follows Areana, who discovers a mysterious bump on her leg after a one-night stand with the boy next door.  The second features Evan, a student who has a close encounter with death on the Esplanade, said Beasley.  The final story, he said, finds Phoebe and Mikki in trouble after they steal drugs from their neighbor.  How these divergent, disparate stories connect, according to Beasley, is part of the mysterious magic that will create suspense among viewers.

Beasley said he urges viewers to pay careful attention to the details when watching the show.

“Everything has a purpose,” he said.  “Everything is important.”

The script, according to Beasley, was written in January.  He and his co-executive producer, junior visual and media arts major Jessica Doughty, pitched it to EIV the following April.  Beasley said the project has a crew of 40 people and that the show’s budget is about $5,000.

Beasley said he didn’t just want to make another television show, adding that he wanted to blaze trails for other aspiring student directors, the way notables like Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick did.

“I want to inspire other narrative TV projects,” he said.  “I want to expand what people think they can do with [television], at school at least.”

Beasley said he came up with the idea to have the marketing team put together social media accounts for the show’s different characters on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.  Though the accounts themselves didn’t give anything significant away about the plot, he said they will build tension and add to the mystery while the rest of the crew is in the post-production process, Beasley said.

Kelsey Barrett, a junior visual and media arts major and the production designer for “Boston Uncommon,” said this was her first time working on a horror project and she felt it was something special.

“This is something people will actually want to watch,” she said.  “Not a lot of people watch student films.”

The production team, Beasley said, will be holding a special viewing party a few days prior to the release and details will be provided later on.

The show’s tagline,  “Turn off your lights.  Hold onto your friends,” illustrates the mood the cast and crew hope to evoke from its audience, Beasley said.

“It’s very declarative,” he said.  “And hopefully a little controversial.”

  

Thea Byrd, assistant Lifestyle editor and friend of Beasley, did not edit this article.