UPDATE: LET'S MAKE THIS SERIES EVEN BETTER.
Guys. We reached our Kickstarter goal exactly one week after we launched. We are so thrilled and overwhelmed by your generosity and support. BUT...
Our journey is not over yet. We still have time in the campaign, and by hitting our STRETCH GOAL of $6,940, we can take Season 1 to the next level with -
- Location shooting (we have our hearts set on this beautiful church for Episode 2 that is currently beyond our budget.)
- Better camera + sound equipment (tiny upgrades can make a huge difference in quality.)
- Professional art direction (we're thinking "bright noir!")
- And a hilarious and magical title sequence!
So please keep sharing our trailer and campaign with your friends and THANK YOU for everything!
Scroll down to the EXPENSES section for more info on our stretch goal and budget!
Meet Titus and Dronicus
(Share this video! Link: https://youtu.be/505ULpVcseA)
Titus and Dronicus is a web series about two private eyes – and best friends – who investigate crimes inspired by Shakespeare's plays. Each season we dive deep into a different Shakespearean play, and discover insights, surprises and unexpected hilarity as we lovingly dismember some of the Bard's most famous works. We are inspired by the crime noir Los Angeles of Raymond Chandler, and the coconut-clapping silliness of Monty Python, not to mention the larger-than-life ambition of Shakespeare himself.
In Season One: Hamlet, Titus and Dronicus are hired by a mysterious dame called Ophelia, who wants them to investigate her weird, melancholic boyfriend who’s obsessed with his father’s death. Season One comprises 3 episodes with some additional Vlog content from our intrepid detectives!
Who are we?
We are Better Than Shakespeare, an L.A.-based theatre and production company. We are an ensemble of classically trained actors, playwrights, and sketch-writers (classically trained sketch writers) that believe in storytelling that's fun and silly but grounded and good.
In the summer of 2014, we debuted our first production at the Hollywood Fringe Festival – Much Ado About Something – which became one of the sleeper hits of the summer.
Here's what our audience had to say about the show!
And here are some reviews from our HFF website:
- This is the most gloriously insane and fanatically irreverent production of a Shakespeare play I’ve ever seen–and that’s a very good thing. [Full review]
- What a fun show! Shakespeare’s comedy gets a new and very modern take on this tale of love with aliens dropping in to stir things up. [Full review]
- These guys PLAY! That’s the most exciting part of this show is that you can tell the cast is having fun most of the time. [Full review]
- There is a sweet madness that this show gives off and a joy that comes from ripping apart Shakespeare and making it a hoot. [Full review]
- Tell ya friends. Tell ya neighbors. This is by far my favorite show of Fringe thus far. Yes please, more please. Bravo to Megan Kelly for her brilliant directing/writing prowess! [Full review]
Why a web series?
Because it’s going to be so much fun. The script is hilarious, our actors are brilliant, and you will love these characters as much as we do. Titus and Dronicus is a true delight for Shakespeare nerds, noir mystery connoisseurs, Angelenos, or really for anyone who’s ever tried to work with their best friend.
Plus, we have so much material. We’re starting with Hamlet, but we have the scripts done for Season 2: Macbeth, and Season 3: Romeo and Juliet. Titus and Dronicus won’t rest until they’ve figured out every fishy mystery in the grand entirety of Shakespeare’s canon.
Filmmaking is expensive, y’all. The playwrights who wrote this web series were quite surprised to discover that!
Our ACTUAL BUDGET for the web series is $7,000. But the weekend before this Kickstarter went live, a benefactor came forward to pledge $3,000 to our project IF we meet the rest of our budget via Kickstarter. As a result, our fundraising goal has come down to $4,400! (Accounting for Kickstarter fees.) We are so thrilled by our benefactor's generosity and we need your contribution more than ever, so that we can achieve this amazing gift at the end.
Here's how we're breaking it down.
We’ve embraced the challenge of low-budget filmmaking by creating a character-driven story that relies on the strength of its performances and storytelling. We’re working with incredibly talented artists and crew members who are either doing this for free, or are being drastically underpaid.
Here’s what we absolutely need in order to make this web series happen.
The $7,000 ($7,440 with Kickstarter fees) will be going towards:
Our STRETCH GOAL is $9,500 overall (i.e. $6,940 on Kickstarter.)
With the additional $2,500 we can:
- Increase our post-production, camera and sound budget. What seem like tiny upgrades can actually make a huge difference. We have big stylistic ambitions for this web series, and with better technicians and higher quality equipment, we can make our Elizabethan noir vision happen on screen.
- Rent much more interesting locations for two of our episodes – two indoor locations which are currently out of our price range.
- Increase our art direction and costuming budget to make our episodes look stunning.
- Shoot additional footage to create a hilarious and magical title sequence for 'Titus and Dronicus'.
- Pay our director, editor, DP and actors a little bit (or a little bit more) for their incredible talent and all the time they've put in.
What’s the timeline?
We are scheduled to film the first season during two weekends in June. After completing post-production, we’re aiming to have Season One: Hamlet, released at the end of July!
Why should I contribute?
Because you love Shakespeare. Because you love the combination of silly and smart. Because you love Philip Marlowe. Because you love L.A. Because you want to watch something really funny on your lunch break. Because you’re already a fan of Better Than Shakespeare or any of the work done by our incredible writers. Because you want to be a part of this crazy universe we're building. Because you want to one day see Titus and Dronicus Season 32: The Trials and Tribulations of Titus Andronicus (oh man, we’re drooling at the thought of it.) Because as artists we support each other, and what you give to us comes back to you when you need it (just like we’re hoping will happen with us this time!).
Also, we have some sweet rewards. Here are just a few of them:
$50: Get an autographed copy of Madhuri Shekar’s award-winning play In Love and Warcraft.
This hilarious play about love, video games and virginity has been getting productions across the country, and across the pond in London as well. Get a special copy of your own with a personal note of thanks from Madhuri!
$100: Titus and Dronicus SOLVE your problems! Shoot us your most pressing question in life, and our intrepid detectives will get to the bottom of your dilemma in true Agony Aunt style, through a special VIDEO advice column!
$120: Get a personalized, hand-lettered Shakespearean sonnet in iambic pentameter. Whether it’s addressed to you or to a special someone (your parent, significant other, long-lost twin, pageboy, robot companion), we’ll show our gratitude to you, dear patron, in the best way we know how.
Check out the other rewards in our sidebar!
Meet the Team
Evan Smith (Titus): Evan's previous credits include Romeo and Juliet with the Independent Shakespeare Co., Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me with the GROUP repertory theater, and the Messenger in Better Than Shakespeare's Much Ado About Something. He hails from Bloomfield Hills, MI and is a graduate of the USC MFA Acting program.
Corey Walter Johnson (Dronicus): Corey is a graduate of the MFA Acting program at USC. He was part of the 2014 NBC Diversity showcase and performs sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade in shows such as Average Dicks, This Is The Show? and Onassis: It's Getting Dark.
Megan, Madhuri and Seamus are playwrights and TV writers based in Los Angeles, and have been working on this project since last August, following the very encouraging success of Much Ado About Something. They’ve been having a blast.
Megan Kelly is a playwright and TV writer, based in Los Angeles. She is currently the writers assistant on the upcoming Hulu show 11/22/63 starring James Franco. She is the co-founder of Better Than Shakespeare, and wrote and directed their world premiere, Much Ado About Something, for the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Her plays include The Solace of St. Mark’s and The Ascent. She earned her B.A. in English Literature from Wheaton College, and her M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from the University of Southern California.
Madhuri Shekar is a playwright based in Los Angeles. Her plays include In Love and Warcraft (now available on Samuel French) and A Nice Indian Boy. Her plays have been produced and developed at major theatres around the country, including the Alliance Theatre, the Center Theatre Group, the Old Globe, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. More info at www.madhurishekar.com.
Seamus Sullivan started drawing his own comics in 5th grade, which is around the time he realized he should stick to writing. He's a proud member of the Helen Hayes Award-Winning Flying V Theatre Company in Washington, DC, and has written a number of productions for them, including Incurable and Me and the Devil Blues. He's also a company member of Los Angeles's Sacred Fools, for whom he wrote the long-running serialized play Mr. Mimblegast. He once spent a year writing 50 short plays about Horatio.
Liz Rizzo grew up in South Florida, where her passion for motion pictures drew her from a Boca Raton movie club, to film classes at PBCC, to FSU Film School, where she directed the award-winning film short, Every Little Girl's Dream. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue a directing career in 2002 and continues to direct short-form projects, thriving on the collaboration and creative energy on set. Her most recent short, Zero Sight: Bad Call, from Red 5 TV's YouTube show, The Continuum, recently played at film festivals in LA, NY, and Orlando. A member of the Alliance of Women Directors and a WriteGirl mentor, she is a yogi, a gamer, and a lover of vegetables. Watch more of her work at www.LizRizzo.net.
Editor + Music Composer
Greg Nicolett is a composer for video games, television, theater, and the occasional viral video. His latest project, MUTED (starring Chandra Wilson), aired on HBO in February. You may have seen him behind the piano in SHIA LABEOUF LIVE, in which he composed the choral and string arrangements. Upcoming projects include a web-series for the Machinima network, the video game A DRAGON NAMED COAL, and an interactive theater experience in Orlando, THE REPUBLIC GAME, by DreamWorks producer Sarah Elger. http://www.gregnicolett.com/
Zach Evans is a producer with over a decade of experience creating content for film, television and the web. Zach produced and co-concieved of the idea for ‘Ride The Wake,’ the first fictional film set in the world of wakeboarding, and lead the production team for Schick’s very successful branded entertainment action sports web series ‘Clean Break' (which later became a television series.) Zach was Consulting Producer on the independent feature ‘How I Got Lost’ starring Aaron Stanford and Rosemarie DeWitt, Lead Producer of the international travel series ‘Adventure Guides’ on the Outdoor Channel, and Producer of two popular sponsor-integrated web series for Accelerade and New Balance. From 2003 to 2006 Zach was Director of Development for Castle Creek Productions. He graduated with high honors from the University of Michigan, and is a die hard fan of Michigan football.
Our thanks to: Arjun Kamath, Meena Ramamurthy, Noopur Sinha, Jess Malivuk, Bruce Chen, Kate Grabau, and the Better Than Shakespeare gang.
Risks and challenges
Look, it’s low-budget film making. Of course things will go wrong! But that’s why we’ve worked our asses off to get the script as sharp as it can be, to assemble a crazy talented and committed team, to confirm as many logistical moving parts as possible, and to budget for a contingency fund. We are also grateful for our incredible network of friends, colleagues and supporters who have already loaned us invaluable support leading up to just this Kickstarter. There are many more people involved in this project than you see on this page, and together, we'll make this happen.
IN ADDITION to our generous benefactor's $3,000 donation to help us reach our $7,000 budget, we ALSO have an additional $1,000 donated by another party to be used exclusively as a contingency budget. That buffer will be enormously valuable in helping us move past the inevitable bumps in the road.
At the end of the day, we’re theatre people. We fix things on the fly, and we finish what we start. And we cannot wait to share this story with you!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (22 days)