“Lorraine of Terror” Begins…

Sometimes, making this show is more hectic than anything we could put onscreen.

Since our last episode, we’ve juggled the departure of several cast members, the tragic last days of some broken equipment, and the descent of Batman into our fair city (and into the schedules of many of our cast members, who are featured extras and stand-ins throughout the filming of The Dark Knight Rises).

But perhaps most complicated of all is the news that Affogato — the cafe where we film the show — will almost definitely be closing at the end of August.

(Side note: anybody want to buy a cafe?)

All of which sounds crazy, right?

In fact, it’s not unlike the upheaval that Ben, Dierdre, Gary, Madison, Reggie and (the newly-unemployed) Sam are going through with their new boss, Lorraine, suddenly in charge of the cafe.

So, while we could just drop you into our new storyline headfirst, we’re going to treat you better than that: we’re going to roll things out slowly. Because, frankly, there’s a lot of change headed your way over these next nine episodes, including:

* several new characters making their debuts

* a few old favorites saying their final goodbyes

* a new location (?)

* a new website (?)

… and, of course, a DVD.

These last 9 episodes will wrap up The Baristas’ first season, and then they’ll all be made available on DVD, which will include behind-the-scenes footage, director and cast commentaries, deleted scenes, a “lost” episode and more.  Those of you who were fans of our previous show, Something to Be Desired, may recall that STBD was never released on DVD, so this will mark the first time you can (legally) bring Glenn, Dierdre, Sam and Astrid into your living room (digitally, anyway).

And then, if we’re all lucky (and well caffeinated), it’ll be on to Season Two…

… if we — and Affogato — survive Lorraine of Terror.

Stay tuned.

Saying Hello to New Episodes (and Goodbye to Old Characters)

Sienna (Laurel Schroeder) and Rich (Erik Schark) filming The Baristas
Even Rich can't keep Sienna on the show forever.

On August 1st, new episodes of The Baristas will return, but several of your favorite characters will soon be departing. Actress Laurel Schroeder (Sienna) moved to Houston before filming for these episodes resumed, but three other actors did squeeze in a few final scenes before they bid Affogato adieu.

While we can’t tell you who else is leaving the show (or when), we can say that these next 9 episodes will mark the end of the line for at least two more of the cafe’s customers and one of its employees.  (In fact, we’ve already said goodbye to all four of those cast members off-camera, so watching their final scenes come together over the next two months will be a bit surreal for us to see.)  In the meantime, enjoy our talented cast while you can — because you never know when it might get shaken up all over again…

5 Things We Learned from Our First Audience Survey

After our first season of The Baristas came to a close, we asked (via our email list and on our Facebook fan page) for our fans to take a survey and let us know what you liked (and didn’t) about the show so far.

Here are 5 things we learned from your responses:

The Baristas Cast - Dierdre Walker (Lacey Fleming)1. You really, really love Dierdre. On a 5-point scale of “Love” to “Loathe,” 82% of all respondents said they “loved” Dierdre, which was the strongest response to any character on the show.  (Astrid came in second, which means you guys really, really like girls, too…  Speaking of which…)

2. You really, really like the girl geeks. Game Night, Poker Night and St. Patrick’s Day are three of our overall highest-rated episodes, and they also happen to showcase the virtues of “girl geek” customers Debbie, Lydia and Sienna.  (Hmm… Do we sense the opportunity for a spinoff?…)

3. Simon is the most polarizing character on the show. Some people love our hapless British marketing guru, some people hate him, and some people aren’t quite sure how they feel about him yet.  (Maybe it’s the eyepatch?)

4. We had no idea you spent so much time on our website, but you do. A full two-thirds of you come to our website every week to watch the show, which surprised us, because we thought you were all watching us on Facebook. (So… maybe we should spruce this site up a bit, eh?)

5. Everyone wants something different. Aside from “more Dierdre,” “more girl geeks” and “more Rich,” there’s not a lot that our audience can all agree on. Some viewers want more drama, while others want more slapstick. Some of you would love to see the characters go outside of the cafe every so often, while others would like to see fewer characters altogether. And while a few of you are definitely not fans of a possible Dierdre & Chase romance, we also can’t ignore the public’s request for “more sex.”  (After all, we do have room for cream…)

So, while a survey like this proves that we can’t please everyone all the time, it also lets us know that the ideas we have up our sleeves for Season Two are bound to get all of you talking when we return with all-new episodes in August!

The Baristas: Now Starring Elvis!

Pittsburgh Penguins: Inside the Igloo - Back CoverIf you’re a hockey fan, you’ve probably heard Pittsburgh Penguins announcer Mike Lange announce “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building!” after a Pens win.

And you may also have noticed someone dressed as Elvis refusing to leave the building… er, the old Mellon Arena… and becoming a cult celebrity among the Pittsburgh Penguin faithful.

It turns out “Elvis” in this case is actually actor Will McMahon… who also happens to star as Ben on The Baristas!

Here’s video from Elvis’s triumphant return at the 2011 Winter Classic, when the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Washington Capitals:

Look for Elvis… er, Will… as “Ben” when The Baristas launches on January 31st!

5 Tips on Casting for Skill, Sustainability and Sanity

Whether you’re producing a web series, a stage play, a movie or a bootstrapped startup, the most important decision you’ll ever make is this:

“Whom should I surround myself with?”

During production, your cast becomes your family. You’ll love them, you’ll hate them, you’ll argue with them and you’ll be forever in their debt — and, by the time you’re done, they’ll all feel the same way about you.

Since August, I’ve been producing The Baristas for a January 2011 release. And while a handful of actors are crossing over from their 6-year run on Something to Be Desired, the vast majority of the faces I’ve surrounded myself with are brand new. In essence, I’ve known some of these people for less than a week and I’ve already entrusted them with the future of both my creation and your viewing pleasure.

Am I crazy?

No. I just have gut instincts, common sense, and the unsettling ability to divorce myself emotionally from whatever’s in front of me at the time.

Here are 5 tips on how I used those traits to assemble a cast I believe in*.

Continue reading 5 Tips on Casting for Skill, Sustainability and Sanity