"Euston Prep" gets its head in the game

New web series sets mystery at a fictional boarding school in New Hampshire

By Samantha Pearson
On April 13, 2012

  • i completely agree, people are just too lazy to participate in any new traditions. its really sad. Anonymous #comment 2

In an ever-changing media climate with minimal job availability, a group of recent college graduates and current students are making their own way in the star-studded city of Los Angeles. The creative team behind "Euston Prep," a web series that adapts the classic story of Sherlock Holmes into a modern day, fictional boarding school set in New Hampshire are striving to create the best, highest quality show that they can.

But despite a professional look, a fully functioning website, and cast and crew members working virtually for free, budget for the project is extremely low. To combat fees, the creative team have turned to fundraising efforts on the popular website Indiegogo, where fans who want to see the production get started and reach its potential can donate money to help out.

According to Executive Producer Annie Liu, the show has come a long way since its initial conception during a casual conversation she had with fellow Executive Producer Andrew Connor. The creative team has a six-episode story arc planned, each episode with a run-time of 45 minutes. Having recently hit the cusp between pre-production and production, Liu said the big push is for funding.

"The initial investment will pay off," Liu said. "Each episode after this will be much easier to shoot and we plan on releasing the show on sites like Blip.tv and Vodo.net, which use advertising to fund future episodes."

Director Kacy Bartleigh said one of the biggest benefits of a web series is the fact that it is, by nature, free. With websites like Hulu and Netflix offering streaming television for a monthly fee and iTunes selling individual episodes and complete seasons, being able to stream something brand new for free gives it appeal.

"With the economy the way it is and everything, I think people need a healthy escape more than ever," Bartleigh said. "And the beauty of Euston Prep being a web series is that ... it has a little of everything: mystery, adventure, class, playfulness, comedy, wit, and lovable characters."

"Euston Prep" follows three main characters through a series of mysteries reminiscent of those in shows like "Veronica Mars." The series takes place at a fictional school based on multiple New England preparatory schools. Connor's own experiences at a boarding school in New York, equivalent to the schools featured on CW series "Gossip Girl," helped to inform the creation of "Euston Prep." Testimonials from other crew and friends of the crew also went into the process, along with some research, though Connor and Liu said they are comfortable taking some liberties since the series is fictional.

"Originally it was going to be college, but then it evolved into boarding school because we wanted it to be super prestigious," Connor said. "Setting it in college, even at an Ivy League school - while there's the prestige there, I feel like colleges are a bit more inclusive. I wanted it to be like really fish out of water for [our character], like he's thrown into this world he's never seen before, so a rich boarding school seemed to fit that."

The main characters are cast and the show's website features photos and information about the cast and crew. Liu said that as the weeks progress, the creative team is starting to cast other roles and bring on more crew members, but things can't really get moving until budget has been met.

As of Thursday, the production had raised almost $3,000 on Indiegogo. Its goal is to raise $25,000, with just over a month left in the campaign. Benefactors will all be given personal thanks and depending on the level of donation, can also receive gifts from the creative team. The reason for such a large budget, according to Connor, is that everyone involved in the project wants to make "Euston Prep" the best it can be. Liu also emphasized this point.

"We didn't want to make something that was done in someone's apartment with a webcam," Liu said. "We want this to be really high production values, like an actual television show that just HAPPENS to be on your computer, you know?"

One of the biggest struggles has been finding filming locations that can bring a true sense of New Hampshire to the series. Despite having people from all over the world involved in the production, according to Liu, most of the cast and crew are located in southern California. Connor said he imagines "Euston Prep" as being somewhat rural.

"We want to include the small-town feel of New Hampshire. In my head, Euston is a little bit secluded with a small town close by where the students go to get coffee, get books, things like that," Connor said. "Still, I can see it being close to a lake and very 'at one' with nature. I think we will see more of that come out in the later episodes."

Bartleigh emphasized that all of the funding will go toward things like location permits, equipment rentals, music licenses, costumes, props, food, etc. Cast and crewmembers do not benefit monetarily from donations made by fans. She said her biggest dream for the series is getting to complete it.

"The characters are going to reveal themselves more and more throughout the season and the audience is going to love them even more for it," Bartleigh said. "My biggest hope is that we get to do a complete season with the support of a loving and devoted following."

Connor expressed similar sentiments, as did Liu. She also mentioned the ambitious nature of the project and said she believes "Euston Prep" has incredible potential that has yet to be realized.

"I think we have something here and I know it might come off as too ambitious, but hey, we are dreaming big," Liu said. "... I feel really confident we can deliver."

More information on the series can be found at www.eustonprep.com. For a full breakdown of how the budget will be used, check out the Indiegogo page at www.indiegogo.com/Euston-Prep. "Euston Prep" can also be found on Twitter @eustonprep and on Facebook.


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