In case you haven’t already heard of YouTuber Joey Graceffa’s new web series, Storytellers, go on and edify yourself. We’ll wait.
Looks good, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s to be expected when each member of the core production team comes with their own set of impressive credentials. Joey himself is best known for his daily vlogs and his recent stint on The Amazing Race – not to mention a lengthy list of music videos, parodies, and music video parodies, some featuring previous co-collaborator and current Storytellers producer Whitney Milam. Besides playing the Katniss to Joey’s Gale in a few Hunger Games parodies, Whitney is best known for her role producing the highly successful web series School of Thrones. Plus, Storytellers will be directed by Michael Gallagher, whose mix of comedy and horror experience is best exemplified by his work on the YouTube series Totally Sketch and the feature-length horror film Smiley.
LeakyNews had the privilege of chatting with Whitney and Joey about Storytellers, so read on for more details on the show itself, how you can determine the show’s additional elements, and how you can support the show…
LN: So, diving right in…tell me a little bit about Storytellers.
Joey: Storytellers is a combination of two shows – Skins meets Are You Afraid of the Dark? – and we’re taking the whole aspect of Skins where it follows a group of six friends and how each episode revolves around one of them individually more closely, and the whole Are You Afraid of the Dark aspect comes from the campfire scenes that happen at the beginning of each episode.
So it’s really two stories that are happening at the same time.
Whitney: That is, in each episode, we start to see how the stories are connected and how each character is connected – both the characters sitting around the campfire and the people in the stories they’re telling which just so happen to look like them. How are they related? How are they connected? How do they overlap and cross over? We find out more about this as the stories go on – and it all becomes one big interconnected story.
The last episode, just as in Skins, is called ‘All’ – it’s all of the characters’ stories coming together.
There is, as Joey says, a horror element to sitting around a campfire telling scary stories, but each story is a very different kind of story – reflecting back on the character that’s telling it. So there’s a lot to play with and it’s a lot of fun. We wouldn’t call it a horror genre so much as a thriller or a suspense drama.
Check out the character list from the Kickstarter page:
HUNTER CROWLEY (supernatural abilities) – Likable, outgoing, and charismatic, Hunter is a natural leader, and more powerful than even he realizes.
MAI HIMURA (curses and enchantments) – Shy, sweet Mai has always lived in her best friend’s shadow, but there are different kinds of shadows in her family’s past.
SKYLER EVANS (ghosts and possession) – Skyler is the kind of gorgeous popular girl everyone loves to hate, but there’s more to her icy shell than meets the eye.
FINN SHAH (fear and insanity) – Quirky aspiring filmmaker Finn starts out as a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to scary stories—and, well, life. Let’s just say he doesn’t stay that way for long…
BLAZER WALLACE (paranormal sci-fi) – The only thing anyone really knows about rebellious outsider Blazer is his name—and even that’s questionable. Exactly what sort of secrets is he hiding?
CELIA CROWLEY (fairytales and wishes) – Hunter’s little sister is a rising senior and the youngest member of the group. Celia’s an idealistic dreamer, but dreams can far too easily turn to nightmares.
LN: How’d the idea of Storytellers come about?
Joey: Well, I’m really into sci-fi/fantasy-type stuff and I’ve always wanted to do more acting on my channel. So I thought up the idea of doing a web series and kind of really had fun just creating a new world.
Whitney: We sat down one day and just really talked through all of Joey’s ideas, put them together, came up with interesting characters and ways that they would interact with each other, and he guided me along the writing process the whole way. So it really is Joey’s brainchild – I’m just putting his ideas to paper.
LN: What’s the current stage of the production? Have you got a premiere date?
Whitney: We are in the very late stages of pre-production right now – we’ve nailed down the scripts; we’re nailing down the cast and we plan to start shooting within the next couple of weeks. Production will last through September and we hope to premiere in October.
LN: Are there any kind of exciting details you can give at this stage re: the cast list?
Whitney: Well, you might recognise a few members of the cast from current and past TV shows! We want to really surround Joey and fill out the cast with really strong, established actors who’ll bring something exciting and unique to each role.
We plan to announce the cast in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned for information on that. As of now, everything’s being kept under wraps but we hope that people will be very pleasantly surprised by some of these names!
LN: How long will the series be?
Joey: There’s seven episodes. How long each episode’s going to be…has not been fully determined yet.
Whitney: We’d say anywhere between ten and twenty minutes, most likely averaging on fifteen.
LN: Are you planning on doing any transmedia elements? Will the characters have Twitter accounts or vlogs?
Whitney: We are very intrigued by that idea, so it has been discussed. There are lots of possibilities, essentially, is what I would say. We don’t want to limit ourselves yet, but a lot of it will depend on fan reaction and demand. If people are interested in seeing transmedia elements along those lines, we would love to hear from them – because again, it’s an issue of fan demand for us right now. When we’re in the stages of pre-filming, there’s really so many possibilities and so many directions we can go beyond just the episodes.
LN: Between Kickstarter and YouTube, it seems like people who have a strong existing fanbase have a really good way of funding their creative pursuits. So Joey, would you ever move away from vlogging towards purely devoting your time to creative web series like Storytellers?
Joey: No, I don’t think so! It’s not about abandoning for me, but expanding. I’m not going to stop vlogging, which has been successful for me. So yeah, I would definitely try to just do both.
Whitney: I think it’s exciting to see all that Joey is capable of. He’s clearly a capable vlogger and now I can’t wait for him to show everyone how capable he is as an actor as well. And a showrunner, in fact.
LN: And you guys have both worked together before – mainly on Hunger Games parodies and adaptations.
Whitney: Yeah, we’re a good creative team, I think! I used to write the lyrics for some of Joey’s stuff, and this is the first time I’ve written something a little more involved. So it’s been really fun – especially an original work, it’s been great to go through that process, rather than a derivative work based on someone else’s creative projects. It’s been great to combine our talents and strengths and make something new.
LN: Yeah, what are your thoughts on writing, producing, and generally creating new material as opposed to parodies or adaptations, which is what you’ve both tackled together in the past?
Joey: Yeah, it was really fun just being able to create my own characters, and come up with their background stories and what I wanted – and it was so weird because while we were coming up with these characters, I felt really attached to them and like I was in their world. It was really exciting every time we would sit down and talk about them because it was like we were going into their space – and it was really neat to create this new world.
Whitney: Yeah, there are limitless possibilities and a lot to work with there. It’s intoxicating for sure. I love working within mediums that I’m already a fan of, but I think there’s nothing more rewarding than creating something that other people can be a fan of as well.