After two riveting webisodes, EastSiders starring former As the World Turns favorite Van Hansis and series creator Kit Williamson, took a short hiatus leaving the viewers wanting to know what next in the complex … and what appears to be quickly evaporating… relationship between partners Thom (Hansis) and Cal (Williamson).
After Cal figures that Thom has been having an affair with Jeremy (Matthew McKelligon) things got messy! So how is this going to all play out? Well, we won’t know until the series pick up production as anticipated in February. And thanks to fans of the series contributing to the EastSiders Kickstarter campaign, Williamson and his team have met their initial goals to enable them to tape new installments, but are also hoping to raise some additional funding to complete the creative vision.
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Van and Kit to get more insight into what went down between Cal and Thom in webisodes one and two, what we can look forward to when the series begins again, and how important the fans have been to this series with its gritty look at love gone awry, and much more!
What is the latest update on your Kickstarter campaign? And what are your goals, and what will the funds you have raised enable you to do with EastSiders?
KIT: We have surpassed our goal! We are over $21,000, and we raised $15,000 in just four days. The fans have been so incredible! I could not be more grateful to the support that they have shown us. I want to keep the momentum going, so we are going to be offering some cool incentives to keep giving. The first one is dear to my heart, which we just accomplished! We wanted to raise $20,000 so we can pay every single member of our cast and crew, and now we have. Everyone was happy to donate their time from the very beginning, and most of our crew are producers on the project so they have a stake in it, but it would just mean so much to me to be able to adequately compensate everyone for their time and talent. Also, we will be able to up the production value considerably. The second goal is that we are working out the exact details of it, but I sat down to write a second season of EastSiders and realized there was a bridge missing between season one and season two. I would really like to shoot a holiday episode that would bring the story a full calendar year around back to December, where it begins. If we get to $30,000, we could do that!
How many new webisodes will you complete?
KIT: We want to do seven new episodes with the funds. Kickstarter automatically shuts the campaign down on February 5th. The way Kickstarter works is that it is a countdown to reaching your goal that you set at the outset of your campaign. Now, if you don’t make your goal by the end of your campaign, then you don’t get a penny of the funds that have been pledged, and we have already passed that. And so now, it’s just kind of an open safe way to support the show if people believe in what we are doing.
Are there some incentives if people pledge certain amounts of money? Can they visit the set and chat with you and Van?
KIT: Oh, absolutely! If you pledge $500 or higher that is an ’associate producer’ credit, and $1,000 is a ‘producer’ credit, and $2,000 is an ‘executive producer’ credit. All three of those have an option of either an on set visit, or a Skype session. So you can be part of the process and talk to us, and it can be about anything you want. You can talk to us about entertainment, life, the show… it’s your time to spend however you like.
Van you have such loyal fans. Were you surprised at all by the response for the Kickstarter campaign?
VAN: I wasn’t surprised, but one of the great things about a show like EastSiders is so many people watched it originally because they are a fan of mine, but then they watched it and they became a fan of everybody involved. It’s a fantastic show! I think the soap fans are a big part of this, but I think there are a lot of fans who don’t even know me from Adam. And going forward, I think there will just be more of that, which I am totally 100% crazy about.
Let’s talk about the show itself, because the first interview we did together the first two webisodes had not been posted, so we really couldn’t delve into the story, where now we can! What happened in the cliffhanger at the end of the second installment? We saw Cal lying underneath the car! He either passed out drunk or was run over!
KIT: … Or just hiding underneath a car, possibly about to pass out! (Laughs)
In the scene where Cal and Thom were making out in the photo booth, I thought Cal’s behavior was atrocious in that whole episode. Would you agree?
KIT: I don’t know if I could take Cal, he is a lot to handle. Being able to see the night before the first episode gave insight to the viewers into everyone’s motivations. For example, that Jeremy had no idea about Cal and that he was just really excited telling his mom about this “new guy”. I want to keep doing that and diverting people’s easy explanations of a characters action, and making it as complicated as possible.
Prior to the scene in the bathroom at “The End of the World” party where Thom and Cal collided with Jeremy, did Cal have an inkling that Jeremy was the man Thom was cheating on him with?
VAN: No, he did not have any definitive evidence that there was another person until there was Jeremy who came in, and Cal saw the way they acted together, and overheard that Jeremy essentially knew Thom’s whole work schedule, and it was a different work schedule than what Cal had heard. He probably figured that out more from Thom’s reaction than anything Thom had said. Cal refers to himself, which I think is beautiful, as “the roommate”. And Thom says to Jeremy, “My friend was super drunk.”
Thom then must feel like a complete dirt bag!
VAN: Well actually, another part of the great writing of this is the first episode takes place after the second episode. So you see the night before, and then in the very first scene in the first episode that is them waking up after Cal got drunk, and him lying under the car. What you don’t see is the scene where Thom is bringing Cal home. But Kit and I talked about it. We think there was probably a huge blow up fight. And somewhere in Cal’s drunkenness, or in Thom’s mind, Thom thinks that he has also been victimized in a way. That is why Cal asks him in the very first scene, “Well, are you sorry?” Although Thom is a major screw-up right now, Cal was probably acting not too cool the night before.
KIT: I think anytime you are in major shit, or seriously in the dog house with another person, I think it’s a really human response to start racing and racking your brain about what the other person could possibly be wrong about. I think that is what Thom does at the beginning of the first episode by saying, “Well, I may have been cheating on you for months, but you are a tangled up ball of jealousy and dark energy, and you hate me!” So he does not see the causal chain of …. hidden infidelity leads to tangled ball of jealousy. That is for them to work out.
As the “auteur” (as Van called you in our first interview together), why the decision to flip the order of the first two webisodes?
KIT: I wanted to switch the order because I wanted people to think one thing about the characters and then realize there was a lot more under the surface. So to do the first two episodes in chronological order would make it all a lot easier to digest. I think when you are stuck in situations with people; the big part of the emotion in that situation is trying to figure out why people are acting the way they are acting. I think we have a lot more to learn about why Thom and Cal are the way they are at the outset, and why they do the things they do, which is why I am so excited that we will be able to shoot a full season!
Van, how long do you think Thom and Jeremy have been seeing each other? It now appears to be more than just a one night stand!
VAN: I think it’s been going on longer, and this is something I talked about with Kit. It’s been going on long enough that Jeremy knows Thom’s work schedule. It has been going on long enough that Jeremy is talking about Thom to his mother. So there are hints dropped in there that it is a more than one-night stand that has turned into a two-night stand, etc. And also with Jeremy, he does truly have feelings for Thom. I think Matt plays that really well. There is a scene where he wants to get to know Thom, because he is invested in Thom. So for him to get to play that, there would have to be more of a connection between the two than just them hooking up.
Thom must have feelings for Jeremy. The way you played it, when Thom falls right back into a kiss with Jeremy when trying to leave his place, says to the viewer that he clearly can’t just extricate himself from this affair!
VAN: I think Thom does have feelings for Jeremy, but I also think he does not know what his feelings are. I think there is a sense of that he loves Cal very much, and has respect for their relationship, but it’s not enough for him not to cheat. There is also a scene where he gets stoned with Jeremy, and there is a line that is a heart of the scene, “You don’t judge me and you don’t hate my guts.” That is a callback to earlier in the episode where Cal says to Thom, “I hate your guts.” And the way I have been playing that, something must have happened when Thom cheated on Cal in their relationship for it to get to this point. In the second episode, Cal acting ridiculous towards Thom raises the questions, “How long has Thom been acting like that?” and “How much does Thom have to baby sit Cal, because Cal is drunk all the time?” I don’t know if that stuff will be revealed later, maybe not, but he has got to be looking for happiness outside the relationship instead of fixing the relationship, so that happiness can come back to the relationship and he can come back to it.
What reactions have you heard from fans or friends on the relationship between Thom and Cal and EastSiders?
VAN: I think there is universality to it, and it is written so well that everybody has a point character that they can connect to. I think one of the great things that I have heard about it is people are shocked that it is a web series, and that it is web content instead of being on television. That I think is a huge compliment to everybody involved; especially the crew and everybody who made it looks so beautiful and sound so great.
KIT: One of my favorite things about this whole process is hearing from the fans and hearing such a wide array of interpretations and feelings about the characters, because so many people have written to me about their opinions about the relationship, and people love to pick sides. What I love about it is it sparked a lot of really in-depth discussion where they will say, “I absolutely understand where Thom is coming from, and I think Thom should get it together.” And then I will get the complete opposite where people will write or say to me, “I think Cal is just feeling this way, and acting this way because of what Thom has done to him.” So I feel like the fact that it is sparking conversations about relationships is really cool to me, because it is complex and we have all grey areas here. No one is right, and also no one is wrong. You can’t say there is a villain to this show. You can say that somebody has done something bad, and you can say that about every single character on EastSiders, except Ian. (Laughs) However, I think we might see more sides to Ian in the coming episodes, too!
If all goes well and you get all the committed funding, what can we expect to see in upcoming pivotal scenes between Thom and Cal?
KIT: I think you are going to be very surprised by the situations the characters get into. It may seem like at the end of episode one there is a resolution between Thom and Cal, but those wounds are still there, and they have not really addressed anything. They have made it clear to one another that they do love each other.
Will there be a showdown scene with Thom and Cal?
KIT: You may have a showdown scene to look forward to, but I guarantee it won’t be what you would expect! It will be a little bit unconventional.
Van, what do you think of the upcoming scripts?
VAN: I haven’t read anything. (Laughs) I am really excited and I keep thinking, what it is going to be? I am excited to see the writing, and the situations the characters get themselves into to. I am excited to find out what happens next.
Kit, will you give Van a script? (Laughs)
KIT: He has not seen it! (Laughs)
VAN: You also have all of these actors who have their opinions. So when something gets more set in stone, that is the time to give it to the actor, unless you as the writer have some questions you want the actors to help you with. Otherwise, the actors are going to give you their advice when you don’t want it, or you do. I like seeing a script when it’s more solid. I can wait!
So you did not rewrite all your lines on ATWT?
VAN: Well, on As the World Turns we did not have the luxury to memorize all our lines.
So moving forward, will the new webisodes be the same length?
KIT: Every single episode will be the same amount of time, and each episode takes place over one day. Each episode takes place on a different day, and all the action is contained in that one day, and they are all not moving forward chronologically.
VAN: That was something I was hoping was going to continue!
So you are going to play with the viewers so they really have to figure out what is going on? Will there be an EastSiders handbook, then? (Laughs)
KIT: Well, somebody has already made a flow chart! (Laughs) It’s really cool, but a bit unnecessary, because it not a soap opera with a hundred characters on it. We only have to deal with six! (Laughs)
Would you bring on the parents of Thom and Cal?
KIT: That might be happening!
Van, who would you love to play your mom?
VAN: Oh, I don’t know who, but I do have a strong opinion on what Thom’s mom is like. I think Thom was raised by a single mother who was more like a friend to him than a mother. But that is just my idea until it’s not. But Kit pulls rabbits out of his hat, and so I have full faith in what he is doing.
KIT: We have some really exciting guest actors and recurring actors that I am talking to over the next weeks, and so hopefully, we will be able to make those announcements at the end of January once everybody’s schedule is kind of set in stone. I have written parts for people.
Where do you think web series are in terms of monetization, which has been the key sticking point for all the creatives involved to be properly compensated?
KIT: Content creators are going to do what they want to do, and eventually the people who prop up the film industry financially are going to have to figure out how new media fits into a business model without alienating early adopters, who do watch web series and do go to the web for their entertainment. I do not have the answers there. Whoever does have the answers, that person is going to have all the money.
So soapers, are you excited to see more EastSiders? Which character do you side with more at this time, Cal or Thom? Let us know your thoughts!