Metro, Boston

New Series Explores ‘Staying in Boston’ After Graduation

A new web-series is looking to change how college graduates view Boston by following one woman’s decisions of life, love, and finding a career.

Staying in Boston follows Cecilia (CC), a Harvard graduate, who quits her steady job and eschews her paycheck for a series of odd jobs while she pursues her passion of acting amid self doubt and a chorus of naysayers.

According to writer and creator Jan Velco Soolman, the show is about “taking a chance and doubting yourself, but not being afraid to do it.” This idea hits close to home for Soolman, as well as director/executive producer Vincent Morreale. Soolman attended business school and currently works in marketing, but always knew she wanted to write for her profession.

“I decided I didn’t want to wait anymore,” Soolman said. “I wanted to put myself out there and see if my writing resonated.”

Soolman’s decision led to the creation of CC and the concept for Staying in Boston. “She’s a lot like me,” she said. “My writing reflects what I was dealing with before I decided to put my writing out there.” Soolman has also written many short plays that have been featured in the Boston Area, including Like Wet Cereal to a Bowl, The Character of Imperfections, DING!, Holiday Hang-ups  and Welcome to the Hate Store.

Morreale shares a similar experience to Soolman and CC. He planned to start his own film company, but had many doubts. “There’s that portion of your mind telling you that you have to have a steady job and be a responsible adult,” Morreale said. “There were times when people told me to stop, that I was wasting my time and that my goal wasn’t realistic.”

Nevertheless, he chose to pursue his love of film. As a director, he has won awards for his short comedic films Death on Toast and A Spritz in Time. Morreale also contributed practical effects for the short Zombie Attacks and extensive digital effects for the film How to Win the Internet. The two met when one of Soolman’s plays was being shown at the Boston Actors Theater. At first, Morreale was completely opposed to the idea of the duo collaborating on a web-series. A previous experience working with a web-series deterred him from the idea. After looking at the script Soolman proposed, however, Morreale was completely on board. “I sent him the script to take a look at and he loved it,” Soolman said.

After a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website along the lines of Kickstarter, the two raised enough money to get started. The show held auditions in South Boston, and eventually cast local actors Drew Linehan, Michelle Mount and Mario DaRosa Jr. as the three leads in the show.

Besides being what Morreale calls “a natural and relatable show,” the show is also a love letter to the city of Boston. Staying in Boston showcases many of Boston’s sights and venues, including many scenes filmed at The Pour House, a Back Bay favorite. “We wanted to show the uniqueness of the city and highlight what Boston is all about,” Soolman said. In addition, Morreale describes Boston as a beautiful city with a fantastic history and great people. “I think that the city grows on anyone who spends any amount of time there,” he said.

Morreale and Soolman also sought to challenge the stereotypical version of Boston portrayed in many films and TV shows. “We wanted to show Boston in a little bit of a different light. Boston is such a cool town and there are many sides of Boston we wanted to show off,” Morreale said.

During the series, many characters in Staying in Boston question CC’s choice to begin pursuing her acting career in Boston. The main character wants to pursue a career in acting, despite refusing to start her career at popular bases like L.A. and New York.  “That’s a big part of why this show and the concept work,” Morreale said. “Boston, like CC, is the underdog. Boston also has a wonderful theater and independent film community.” Morreale adds.

Staying in Boston has been nominated as an Official Selection in both New York City and Los Angeles’ web fests in addition to nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Writing awards.

In addition to such accolades, Staying in Boston has also had a great deal of positive feedback from the public. “There’s been a lot of excitement about this,” Morreale said. “I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback and the message resonates. We had a full house at our screening in Kendall and everyone loved it.”

Morreale and Soolman hope to continue their success in their individual work, as well as with the show. One aspect the duo would like to pursue involves working with the city of Boston. Staying in Boston showcases many of the unique aspects of the city and working with the city in the future would be a great opportunity, according to Soolman. The show is also searching for an investor, and hopes to create a second season of the series in the near future.

“In the end, what we really want is for people to give it a chance and watch it and share it,” Soolman said. “I hope people like it. I hope people take something away from it.”

Featured Images Courtesy of Staying in Boston

February 26, 2015