Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Web Series We Love: “Recess Stories”

Series Review
You, your tweens, and “pre-tweens” will love the fictional web series, Recess Stories. Each two-to-four minute episode takes place on a school playground during (appropriately enough) recess. The team behind Recess Stories succeeded in creating, “a cross between Peanuts and Seinfeld.” All twelve episodes are available for free streaming and downloads, can be watched online, or your phone, or on t.v.

The stories are by definition, short and sweet; they’re also disarmingly real and documentary-like in their unpretentious look. There’s drama but no tears. In one episode, a girl announces, “I’m not going to be here tomorrow, but my twin is.” The twin’s a princess, and shows up on the playground in her purple princess cape. She looks just like recurring character Petal, and shows everyone how to play princess tag.

Two episodes are about the trials and tribulations that go with playground “hard time” better known as getting a timeout “on the wall.” We never see the teachers who put the kids on the wall, but we hear about them. Hilariously. I was half expecting someone to bust out a harmonica. One little girl moans that she hasn’t been put on the wall since second grade. The humiliation of it all!

There’s drama with a sense of fair play in the episode, “The Girl Who Stole Everything Pink,” where, as the title suggests, a girl is falsely accused of theft, but quickly vindicated, apologies humbly offered. In the pilot episode, “Kangaroo Club,” a few of the boys think the girls’ club is “stupid,” but another wants to join.

Creative team Kenton Jakub and Shelley Latham of Maine-based Beeswax Productions shot the 12-episode series during the summer of 2010. Beeswax worked with a rotating cast of 41 kids aged seven to thirteen and a crew of six local teenagers. They applied the same working philosophy that Shelley uses with her play productions: create the conditions and the opportunity for everybody to be amazing. The results? Well, amazing. I think serious students of filmmaking owe it to themselves to take a look. Recess Stories is one of the only live-action web-series for kids. Inspired to create? Hope so. The world needs more series like Recess Stories.

Beeswax shot season two this past summer and promise new episodes soon. Not soon enough for me! When’s Recess already?

Have you seen Recess Stories? Share your thoughts here.

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