UA Students create YouTube series “Subtle Adulthood”

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Photo courtesy of Abby Armstrong

Will Baggett

Two girls sit on a couch discussing adult life, lights are shining on them, and a camera is rolling. They’re part of a small group of film students who meet to put on their own web series, writing their comedy based on their own life experiences.

“Subtle Adulthood with Red and Bangs” is a YouTube show that consists of four episodes around five minutes long. This project was a team effort, consisting of two stars, a director, a sound technician, an editor, and a camera operator, just to name a handful.

“Christina Irion, the executive producer, originally hatched the idea for the series and approached me with it last summer,” said Abby Armstrong, a sophomore majoring in telecommunications and film. “The show however quickly became more than just a ‘what would you do?’-type series and evolved into a look at two old friends spending an evening together, thus creating ‘Red and Bangs’.”

The show aims to poke fun at how our generation is transitioning into adulthood. The episodes range from being about hypothetical muggings, to the way dating has changed thanks to apps like Tinder.

Hallie Tarpley, a sophomore majoring in telecommunications and film, plays Bangs in the series. She discussed the conception of the idea for the show.

“The main driving force for the creation of the show was Christina Irion. She assembled a team and was the driving force from beginning to end,” said Tarpley. “She has this unique ability to make things a reality no matter what it takes and that she did. We started brainstorming ideas for a webseries that could encompass our current life stages and out of it came ‘Subtle Adulthood’.”

“So much pre-production goes into the show, much more than I thought there would. Since SAWRAB was also an independent study, we had to plan and organize everything ourselves,” said Armstrong. “I met with Christina and Hallie weekly to develop the series and plan production.”

As the producers of the series, Irion, Tarpley, and Armstrong, who’s also the director, had to make sure everything was mapped out before they even began work on the project. Each one of them was responsible for scheduling the production of the series as a whole, recruiting a crew to actually create the series, reserving equipment to be used for the show, and planning and writing each episode.

According to Dr. Rachel Raimist, a film professor at UA, Irion and Armstrong were working on this project as an outlet for their directed study course for their film degrees.

“They desired to develop, write and produce a web series during the course of one semester,” said Raimist. “I did share that they had an ambitious timeline, but they were excited so I agreed to work with them.”

Although, she was not present for the filming of the project, Raimist stated that she met with Irion and Armstrong to discuss the layout and the content of the episodes.

“I believe that they learned a lot in this process,” said Raimist. “They developed the characters, drafted the scripts, endured table reads and feedback sessions where they learned what jokes played and what dialog didn’t flow as well.”

Although she was not using this project as an outlet for academic credit per se, Tarpley is still able to transfer her knowledge and experience of working on the show into her academic work as a film student.

“Film is a deceptively challenging major with intense undertones of DIY-ness. So it did not go hand in hand with classwork specifically, but it is the type of project and semi-real world application that is expected of film students that want to get the most out of their degree,” said Tarpley. “Doing side projects is by no means required, but it’s the type of experience you need to be self-motivated towards to both make sense of your classwork and to be successful in the field.”

Armstrong discussed the collaboration that went into the comedic writing of the episodes of “Subtle Adulthood.”

“Comedy usually involves a lot of collaboration, so every cast and crew member contributed to the project,” said Armstrong. “I’m just glad I could make the show’s set feel friendly enough for them to feel comfortable pitching ideas yet professional enough for us to stick to our shooting schedule.”

The series was produced as a project for film students during the past academic year, so as of now, there are no set plans for future production of the show. Some members of the crew and one of the main stars are seniors and will be graduating at the end of this year. However, Armstrong is hopeful that there may be a future for the show.

“Our crew had developed a solid rhythm by the last episode, so if we ever decide to make a fifth episode, maybe it’ll be our best one yet,” said Armstrong.