Nowadays, there are several movies, tv shows, and web series that follow gay and bisexual men in their teens, 20s, and 30s. But, there are very few that follow men in their 40s or older.
Thankfully, we now have one more.
Last week, we shared with you the trailer for a new web series titled West40s. Now, Instinct Magazine is happy to share with you the two creators of the series and the very first episode.
The series created by Mark Sam Rosenthal and Brian Sloan follows a group of friends (played by Dalton Blaine, Dan Domingues, Jeff Hiller, Matthew Montelongo, John-Andrew Morrison, and Rosenthal himself) as they adjust to their lives now that they’re in their 40s.
The series synopsis goes:
“In their 30s, they’d meet strangers on the Hell’s Kitchen sidewalk and have sex in less time than it took to climb the four flights up to their apartments. But now past 40 they’re all wondering what they want for the long haul – and questioning whether they can still make it up those stairs!”
Comedy Central writer/producer and playwright Rosenthal met director, writer, and producer Sloan in 2001 while watching an amateur strip contest at the Stonewall Inn. Since then, the two have enjoyed a devoted friendship and creative partnership. It was that friendship that helped to inspire West40s.
“We wanted to make a show about the challenges of aging that wasn’t depressing and sad,” said Rosenthal. “Being in your 40s in a gay neighborhood now full of millennials can be an eyeroll sometimes, but we also think it’s kind of a riot.”
“We wanted to look at the humor involved in that, while also being realistic about it too,” added Sloan. “We felt that turning 40 is often portrayed as the end of gay life while, in many ways, we sort of saw it as a beginning of a new chapter. Not to mention the start of back pain.”
After the inception of the series, the two creators crowdfunded it on Kickstarter to great success. Now, they are pleased to release the very first episode of the series today (found below)!
Instinct Magazine spoke to Rosenthal and Sloan about the series, their process in creating it, today’s premiere, and their hopes for the future.
Instinct Magazine: What was the inspiration for this web series? When did you have the idea for West40s?
Mark Sam Rosenthal: It started because I was living in the Hell's Kitchen when I turned 40. I had been there for about 5 years and the neighborhood kept getting younger and gayer, while I kept getting older and gayer. Then one night, I popped into Duane Reade on 9th Avenue for some Advil and saw this twink twerking to Britney in the greeting card aisle. I knew this was a "special" place. And that's when I knew we had to write this show.
IM: Once you got the ball rolling with your idea, you had to find a way to fund it. What was the Kickstarter process like or any other crowdfunding experiences you two had for the web series?
Brian Sloan: The Kickstarter turned out great and was much more successful than we had even planned. We initially were trying to raise 17K and went way over our goal when people responded so strongly online to the concept of the show. We ultimately got over 23K and found an outside investor as well who helped produce the first episode. I think the Kickstarter really demonstrated what we knew–that there was a big audience out there waiting for something like this show.
IM: Once you got the money, you had to figure out how to produce the series. What was the process like for casting, finding the set/location, and filming?
Rosenthal: We got a lot of great collaborators through my work at Comedy Central–that helped us make this on a limited budget. We were able to pull in an amazing professional crew who I had worked with there, and made the show look amazing. For locations, from living in the neighborhood I had my favorite blocks and streets that we used for our outdoor scenes. And for the interiors, we utilized one of my favorite nightspots The Fairytale Lounge. And I'm not going say how many times I've been there before.
IM: It seems that his web series is an ensemble piece with a main cast of five men figuring out what they want in life. That puts a lot of pressure on the actors to both find ways to make their characters standout and also make them meld together as a group. How does episode one see these characters (and their actors) fit both those demands?
Sloan: It is an ensemble but we definitely wrote each character to be a pretty unique guy. We wanted to create a diverse group of friends who were connected in different ways, which you really get to see in the birthday party scene. We let the actors do a lot of improv in that scene to make it feel more like a natural groups of friends. So you see them hanging out for fun at the restaurant, but you also see their different reactions to getting older in all of the misadventures of the night.
IM: West40s has an interesting perspective to share. What storylines/topics are you most interested in tackling with future episodes?
Rosenthal: We're looking at how these characters mature into new habits when old ones are ingrained. Also, the idea of open relationships in middle age and what that means for these characters. And, people are really interested in the character of Luis having a son, so that will play a role in future episodes too.
Sloan: I want to do an episode where they leave HK and go glamping!
IM: Lastly, as episode 1 airs on Youtube and West40s.tv, what thoughts are currently going through your heads as its creators?
Rosenthal: Don't read the comments!
Sloan: I just hope we get a lot of people to watch. And that we find a way to keep making more episodes this fall. Show us the money!
While episode one released today, Sloan and Rosenthal already have the next five episodes, which will explore the lives of these diverse characters living and aging into midlife in Hell’s Kitchen, scripted and ready. Now, they are just looking for financial backing to support the production.
Until that happens, let's celebrate the first episode being released today!