UNLOCKING FAME Miami alumnus Sheldon White stars as Cody Montgomery alongside Meaghan Madson, who plays the character Avery Magnolia in the new web series Spin.
Photo contributed by Laura Palmer
By Libby Mueller, Senior Staff Writer
Miami University alumnus Jeff Graham ('12) and MU senior Laura Palmer co-wrote a web series called "Spin" this summer in Los Angeles. The fast-paced comedy is about a young Hollywood star and his entourage who find themselves thrown in jail, and was discovered by an L.A. production company. Award winning director Ty Leisher, alongside Bam!PRODUCED, will finance the production of the series through crowdfunding.
"It's 'Arrested Development' meets 'Entourage,'" Palmer said. "This young star named J.R. winds up in a Hollywood jail, and subsequently his entire entourage is thrown in jail with him. In order to get out of the situation, they have to figure out how they got there. There are twists and turns and relationships, but ultimately they have to figure out how to spin their story so that it's not detrimental to their Hollywood image."
The project started with actors from Scott Sedita Acting Studio. They had an idea for a web series that took place in a jail. One of those actors, Sheldon White, is a Miami alumnus ('12). He contacted Graham and Palmer and asked them if they wanted to write the script for the series.
"Our good friend Sheldon is out here as an actor and he's at an acting studio with five other actors," Graham said. "In this media climate, it's common for starting actors to generate their own content. Sheldon, with his other actors, said, 'Hey, why don't we create our own project?' They invited Laura and me on to write for them."
Palmer, who worked as an intern on the set of the "Late Show with David Letterman," "Saturday Night Live" and "Conan," is no stranger to comedy. She brought her background and comedic talent to the script.
"This is the first piece that Jeff and I wrote together and we wrote it in a Burbank Starbucks," Palmer said. "He is really great at keeping the story going and keeping the plot and narrative strong. My strength is in the comedy end of things. He'll get the story going and establish relationships and I'll be able to put in the comedic effect."
At first, Palmer said she believed they would be producing the series independently, if at all.
"We were just reading it in our apartment with the cast and we didn't think we'd have the resources," Palmer said. "But through the course of the next week or two it found its way into the hands of Bam!PRODUCED. The producers came to a table read and picked it up. It kind of feels like magic when people are reading your script, when you see your characters come to life."
Ty Leisher, working with production companies Bam!PRODUCED and Man of Silver Productions, will produce the web series alongside fellow award-winning producers Lex Edelman and Zach Silverman. The project will be funded through the crowdfunding website IndieGogo. The IndieGogo account is set to launch in November, and donors will receive perks that may include digital downloads and signed merchandise.
According to Graham, the process of writing the script went well and he hopes for the chance to write a season two of "Spin."
"Amazingly, the project has been pretty smooth," Graham said. "Laura and I write really well together. We have good creative chemistry and we banged out the series in about two weeks. It's changed a lot since our first draft, but there haven't been many setbacks. Laura and I fell in love with the characters in Spin and I could see us trying to write more, especially if the series does well."
Graham said everyone who is working on the project is passionate about its success, which he believes is one of the reasons there have not been many obstacles.
"It's kind of a passion project for everyone involved," Graham said. "It was the actors' idea, so they're excited, and the directors and executive producers are excited about the project, as well."
White, who has been acting since the age of 13, said that if someone has a passion, whether it is for writing screenplay, acting or something else entirely, the key to success is persistence.
"If you have a passion, persistence is key," White said. "If you look at acting, for example, there are thousands of actors who come to L.A. every single day, but then there are thousands leaving every day because they've given up. If you have a talent and a passion, keep going for it."