In Junior Year of High School, in the midst of our school production of The Little Mermaid, I had the questionable idea to produce a webseries. By the Summer, I’d recruited Cristin von Schlag as my co-showrunner. After over a year of hellish prepro, unexpected filming delays, and last minute emergencies, two premiered on my YouTube Channel- an unexpected, fantastic success and testament to the passion of everyone involved. Perhaps foolishly, the production celebrated, and began to develop the long-discussed Season Two.
In June of 2019, despite having a full cast and twelve strong screenplays written, two shut down production.
Even today, I regret this decision, and wish I could go back. I wish I could’ve pushed on just a bit longer, started filming, done something, anything, to make the magic last just a little longer. But the truth is that two died long before the announcement was made. Why? Well… it’s complicated. There were various factors at play, all of which helped speed the webseries towards its inevitable demise. Here’s a few:
Unlike the first season, which filmed the two-part pilot over 2018 and the subsequent 8 episodes over the course of three months, we were hoping to film all twelve episodes of the season over two-three months. This may sound ambitious, but at the time, we had a schedule, availability sheets, and scripts planned out in excess detail, much more than we had our first go around.
This was not enough.
Many of our college students were forced by their parents to take up jobs last minute, permanently disrupting the production, even as others, waiting for an official renewal, made Summer plans. By the time we reached the Summer, it was physically impossible to develop a schedule that would accomodate everyone’s conflicts.
The first season was, in many ways, a miracle. We produced it under much duress and through tense situations that nobody was quite ready to re-experience. Everyone loved two, but it also made us miserable the first time around. Casting was a nightmare, the woods scenes were so buggy and hot we all wanted to die, and we had to film certain scenes in haphazard pieces due to scheduling.
Most agreed to Season Two under the condition that things were better planned this time, something rendered impossible by the Availability issues. If anything, things would’ve been worse this time around, something none of us could’ve handled.
The above factors all put a strain on the production, causing many cast and crew members to check out of the production and stop checking our Discord server. By the end, it was me and co-showrunner Olivia Merryman alone trying to push the production along. The more things slowed down, the more people thought the end was coming and refused to participate.
Things were similar last season, but last time, we were able to pull things together by reminding people just how close we were to cancellation. This time, reminders of cancellation only fed the beast, further eroding trust between cast and crew. Why? Well, we were missing a final, crucial ingredient…
Ultimately, the show failed because of many factors. Perhaps the most important was that we underestimated just how much we needed the amazing Cristin von Schlag.
My co-creator and co-showrunner, Cristin fulfilled many roles- female lead, co-plotter, etc.- but the most integral was that she kept the production together. Charismatic, but firm, she was able to force people to adhere to the schedule, keep everyone motivated, and somehow make filming fun every time it occurred. Nobody could quite accomplish these various items once circumstance forced Cristin to step away.
Without her, it was only a matter of time until we crumbled.
What did i learn?
Even now, it’s hard to find the moral of this story. I’m not sure if there is one. A group of passionate people tried to make something beautiful, and we all fell short, in our own ways. It was a tragedy that still sticks with me today, a failure that spawned a whole series of failed revivals and continuations.
two didn’t just crash and burn. It kept crashing, and burning, and taking me down with it.
So what can I take from this? Maybe the moral is that sometimes people just fail. We make mistakes, and we face obstacles, and sometimes we can’t overcome them. The important thing is to accept our losses when they come about, without malice, or despair, and to keep moving to try to build something new.