New local web series pokes fun at the Gem City

By Joyell Nevins

Photo: Caley Rose as Jen shoots the opening of We’re Here Now at downtown’s Cannery Lofts

Get ready for another ode to Dayton—this one from a non-Daytonian, actually. A new web series by Sixteen 37 Productions places three New York City fish into Dayton waters. The over-the-top sitcom provides plenty of opportunity for snide laughter and a chance to look at the Gem City through fresh eyes.

“Dayton is a great city,” exclaims actor Gavin Eastlack, who himself is from New York City. “It’s so artistic—I had no idea. The entire time we were shooting in Dayton, there was not a single time I was missing New York City. From the whiskey bars to the micro brewers, the night life in Dayton is just that—alive!”

We’re Here Now was written, directed, and features Chad Wyckoff, owner of Sixteen 37. He was born in southern Kansas, but came to Dayton from New York City.

Dayton was meant to be a stop in Wyckoff’s artistic journey between New York and California, but he saw a great opportunity to start his own film business here.

“Every time I would go out, I saw something being innovated, something new,” Wyckoff says. “I saw the potential in the Dayton arts scene.”

Wyckoff started working at The Kettering Foundation, and is now the audience and community engagement manager for the Human Race Theatre Company. He founded Sixteen 37 Productions two and a half years ago (named for the year his ancestors came to America).

Sixteen 37 is a film, multimedia, and design company that creates everything from commercials to logos. Wyckoff and his team of more than a dozen “creative designers, web architects, storytellers, animators, directors, actors, and most importantly, dreamers” as the website describes, has now moved into short sitcoms.

“We are the jack of all trades—film, multimedia, marketing,” Wyckoff says. “But deep down at our core, we are creative filmmakers.”

Wyckoff actually wrote the first draft of We’re Here Now before he lived in Ohio. He revisited the script after moving to Dayton, and thought he could tweak it to work for the Gem City.

“I thought Dayton would be a great location for this. I could have these characters exploring this area,” Wyckoff says.

The series centers around actor Chad (although the real Chad notes that this is not an autobiographical series) whose girlfriend has just broken up with him—on the night he was going to propose. To stave off the self-destruction spiral, his agent gets him a job in “Winchester,” Ohio. Chad’s two narcissistic friends, Jen and Gavin, hear about his sudden exodus and come to retrieve him.

Season one centers on the trio’s exploration of Dayton, a.k.a. Winchester, and Jen and Gavin trying to bring Chad back to New York. Along the way, they visit locations like The Cannery, Trolley Stop (complete with a live band), Ghostlight Coffee, and historic South Park. We’re Here Now will be accompanied on YouTube by behind the scenes videos called “Doing Dayton,” with short clips and information about the locations where the show was filmed.

“My favorite day was shooting in the art gallery, because I loved being surrounded by the gorgeous pieces that the owner had collected,” Caley Rose says. Rose is the actress who plays Jen.

The title of the series comes from Jen and Gavin’s “support system,” comforting Chad whenever he’s upset about his life.

“It’s sort of a joke in that the characters of Gavin and Jen think they know what’s best for their friend,” Wyckoff explains. “So, anytime he falls off the wagon or has a crisis they are like, ‘It’s OK… we’re here now.’”

In case you haven’t picked up on this already, Jen and Gavin are not the true-blue upstanding citizen sort of best friends. Actress Rose describes her character as a cross between Samantha of Sex and the City and Regina George from “Mean Girls.”

“She has no filter, which is always super fun to portray,” the Los Angeles actress says (Rose grew up in Buffalo, New York). “Chad’s writing for her was so fantastic and fun to bring to life, because the things that he wrote for Jen to say are so outrageous and often offensive! As an actor, it’s definitely enjoyable to play characters that are very different from yourself and to say things that you’d never say out loud in the safety of a creative piece.”

Eastlack also enjoyed playing a character that is unconstrained. We’re Here Now’s Gavin is unashamed in his womanizing.

“He’s become a bit of a get in, get out, get on with life type of guy,” Eastlack says of Gavin. “I have to say it is fun to just let the inhibitions go and let that side of you out to play.”

Wyckoff had worked with both Eastlack and Rose individually before, but this is the first time all three have acted together. In seven days, they filmed six episodes back to back—and shared a house during the filming.

“Living together helped us to get really close really quickly,” Rose says. “Our characters have been friends since they were young, and Chad and I had worked together before on a different film in Virginia, but Gavin and I had never met before our first day in Dayton. Living together helped us to foster that closeness in real life, which helped us to be more comfortable playing our characters and to better bring those close friendships to life on set.”

Season one of We’re Here Now is six episodes total, and if Sixteen 37 can get enough support (about 150,000-300,000 views), season two will soon go into production.

See the friendships and laughter for yourself on Sixteen 37’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/channel/UC60tWeqy3gFqghUt8Xh6M9Q. For more information about Sixteen 37 Productions, please visit Sixteen37.Squarespace.com.

 

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Joyell Nevins
Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com

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