By Prutha S. Patel (@PSPatel)
Since their more widespread existence as a form of storytelling, web series have been able to focus on topics that perhaps more mainstream shows would be unable. SEND ME, which recently premiered on BET.com, focuses on the idea of a modern woman deciding to not only go back in time, but to also remain in the past...to the days of slavery to be more precise. Read on as the creator, writer and actor of the series, Steve Harper, discusses time travel, the difficulties of writing a series such as this one, season two and more...
For someone who is looking to start watching a new web series, what would be the elevator pitch for Send Me?
SEND ME is about a Black woman who has the power to send Black people back in time to the days of slavery. Her husband is against it, but people are eager to go.
When it comes to other time travel-y shows/films, the quintessential jump points are usually historically relevant for the individual or for humanity as a whole. To bring up a very current example, on Hulu’s 11.22.63, James Franco’s character goes back in time in order to prevent JFK’s assassination and thereby change history as we know it. On Send Me, we seem to have a character who has decided to remain in the 1800s, despite not being able to interfere with history. What has been the most interesting part about writing a character in that situation?
The fun has been in the mystery of it all. I love talking with people who are intrigued by the idea of taking that journey without being able to interfere. And yet, all the characters who want to take the trip want to do it for the same reasons that people want to climb mountains, jump out of airplanes or do dangerous drugs: they all feel they’ll be different on the other side of the experience. That’s such a core American trait. The character who wants to stay is largely a mystery even in flashbacks, and I’m looking forward to exploring how she explains herself (if she chooses to) if we get to make Season 2.
How about the topic in general?
The most interesting thing about the topic for me is how ingrained slavery is in all of us. It’s part of our DNA as a country. The fact that there are people who want to ignore it or look away strikes me as unrealistic. When I made the series, I wanted to create something where an audience could be obsessed with race as I am sometimes. It’s great to hear people wrestle with that – how these 21st century people are engaged in the question of whether they should go back or not and what it means.
What would you say was the toughest part about writing the web series?
The toughest part for me in writing the web series was/is the budgetary constraints. I knew it wouldn’t have the production values of a movie or a TV show and yet the idea has scope and range. I’ve written many short plays in the past (10 minute plays are a big thing in theatre) so I felt capable of putting ample drama in a few pages of dialogue. It was tricky to imagine how to portray something as big and traumatic as slavery in such a short period of time. I was happy to figure it out without needing to have hordes of characters appear to be working in the fields. And once we pulled that off, I have to say, it was fun to create such a large seeming landscape on a budget.
The series premiered on BET last month and each clip is under 6 minutes long, is there an option in place to turn this into something a bit longer due to the response? It’s a fascinating thing to watch and as a viewer, it definitely got me thinking more than a fair number of other shows!
Thanks! The response has been terrific. We were voted “Web Series of the Week” by Indie Series / Serial Scoop.com and we’re an official selection of The Los Angeles CineFest and Web Series Festival Global.
Viewers who want to find out more about SEND ME can visit our website at www.sendmebacktoslavery.com. We have links there to tweets from Trevor (the guy who works at the comic book store), bios of the cast and crew, articles and audio and links to our YouTube page. On YouTube you can see all the episodes and also some behind the scenes video, stuff from our IndieGoGo campaign and even video of real people answering the question of whether they’d go back in time to slavery.
As for more of the story, I would love to create a season 2 with more (and maybe longer) episodes, or to have SEND ME exist as something else. Any of those options require funding. I’m hopeful that the right sponsor or investor is out there to help us create more, but he/she hasn’t appeared yet. If you know anyone, send them our way (hah!)
Are you interested in continuing the Send Me web series with a “Season 2” of sorts? Perhaps in a different era and/or historical figures as well? What era and/or which historical figures would be making appearances if so?
That’s an intriguing idea I hadn’t thought of, but certainly a kind of “spin off” could be possible.
Would you hope to keep the same cast for it? How about new additions to the cast?
One of the best story telling techniques is to build in some mystery and surprise, so I’ll plead the fifth on any specifics about this fictional spin off.
And lastly, anything else you would like to say to the readers and viewers?
Thanks for reading this - and for watching SEND ME. Tell your friends!