Last October, actor-director Jack Tracy made waves with his new web-series, History. The six-episode series followed the life of a New York-based lawyer, Jamie, as he tried to get over a messy breakup with his boyfriend of five years. The story arc also focused on issues faced by members of the LGBTQ community, especially those dating in New York.
Speaking exclusively with Gaysi Family about the show, Tracy revealed that he had a strong connection with the story because he wrote it right after his own break-up.
In addition to playing the lead role, Tracy also managed the entire project, right from scripting to execution and direction, he said.
“I wrote the first season while I was going through a bad break-up — not unlike the one depicted in season 1. I never really had any intention of making the show; I just wanted to write the story. But a few years later I found myself itching to start producing so I dug out the scripts and just figured it out as I went along,” he said.
The web-series received positive response from critics and the media, and made it to some festival selections, including AltFest NY — New York’s locally programmed Gay and Lesbian film festival.
The series makers have now decided to launch a second season of the show!!! The team was itching to get back together, Tracy said, adding that he had started work on the new season immediately after the premiere of season 1. Season 2 will be launched real soon, so follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (@historywebs) to catch on the release.
Excerpts from our interview:
Q. What message did you want to deliver through History?
The show attempts to be as authentic as possible, addressing universal themes of love, friendship and social interaction through the lens of the LGBT community. While that community may bring a certain “flavor” to these issues, and these particular types of gay men have a narrative that can be very different others within that very community, these are issues faced by everyone — every age, every gender, every sexual orientation.
My only goal is for the audience to say, “Oh, I know this”. I want people to see themselves, see their friends, and maybe see a new point of view on issues they themselves face in their relationships and friendships.
History shows one gay man’s life by juxtaposing his “history” with his “present” so the audience can see patterns that he is falling into or attempting to break. As with season 1, no character is a hero, and no character is a villain. Every single character in this show has their own issues–is flawed in some way.
Q. What major challenges did you face in its creation?
We are entirely self-financed and all participants are volunteers — which means we are prone to last minute drop-outs, sudden schedule conflicts, etc. So the sheer administration of coordinating people, finding background actors, booking venues, and hoping the weather works for outdoor scenes was exceedingly stressful.
This year we are also operating under the SAG New Media Agreement to be able to use union actors, which invited a level of administrative complication and frustration I never could have imagined. On top of starring in, writing, directing and producing the show, I also do all of the post-production myself so… it’s just a lot to take on. But in the end, I hope fans will see the amount of hard work that went into the show.
Q. What kind of response did you receive from the audience? Are you happy with the way the show has been accepted?
We’re an underdog show. First off, we’re half-hour episodes — not easily shareable 6 minute clips. This isn’t something you watch on your coffee break, this show should come with a blanket and a glass of wine. In fact, we’re more of a traditional TV show than a web series, to be honest. We aim to look like something you’d watch on HBO, Amazon, Hulu or NetFlix. So since we’re not on those platforms, it’s difficult to get attention from a YouTube audience. It’s just not the same, but it’s all we have, so we make the most of it.
But those who have found our show, typically through LGBT streaming services Revry and Dekkoo are amazing. I never thought in a million years I’d be receiving lengthy fan emails telling me how much they connected to the show, how real it felt, or how it moved them. Two of our background actors this season were fans who wrote the show saying they lived in New York and wanted to be part of it.
Q. You’re planning a second season of History. What will be new this time?
Post-production is just about finished on season 2, and I have to warn you that it’s very different than our first season. In our second season, we are a year later and Jamie is navigating the very relationships he built in season 1 while facing conflicts within the group. We focus much more on commenting on LGBT issues — obsession with social media, sexual compatibility, ghosting, stringing someone along, loneliness, rejection and more.
The through-line this time around is the frayed relationship between Jamie and Will. We left them as the closest of friends at the end of season 1. In season 2, something is amiss. While season 1 was about reinvention, season 2 is about focusing on what’s important and keeping the love in your life intact when tested.
Q. Do you think it’s difficult to distribute LGBTQ-themed content? What was your experience like while distributing History?
This was the first large-scale project that Necessary Outlet Productions ever did, so it really was a test run. We were fortunate enough to be noticed by Dekkoo and Revry — LGBT streaming services — and recruited to join their platforms. In addition, the folks over at the web series aggregation service Stareable also reached out to us to include History in their directory. But other than that, it’s been about festival submissions and word of mouth. But in looking at our viewership numbers — you either watched episode 1 or decided it wasn’t for you, or you watched the entire show, often in a single sitting. And that’s a great feeling, knowing that when I’ve found my audience, that audience eats us up.
Q. When are you planning to premiere season 2?
One of the nice things about not having a distributor is that I have no deadlines! But we are nearly done with post-production, the trailer is out now, so plan to hit the web in September/October.