New World School Grads Hope To Create TV Sitcom About Being Haitian In Miami
Photo courtesy of Edson Jean.
For Edson Jean and Joshua Jean-Baptiste, the true story of Miami is made up of a million small vignettes of daily life that come together to create our collective reality.
The two New World School Of Arts graduates are Haitian Americans who want to tell a uniquely Miami tale of youth, sex, and technological obsession on television. And after a modest Kickstarter campaign success, the duo are well positioned to make their dream a reality.
"I feel like Miami is in a weird, almost adolescent phase where it's trying to find itself, alongside artistic relevance," Jean-Baptiste said. "This city has always been an escape for other people from other places, leaving the actual natives in the shadow."
Jean-Baptiste grew up in Miami and attended North Miami Beach Senior High School, where he "left alive, and with my hopes and dreams still intact." He ended up at the New World School where he both graduated from high school and received a college degree in acting.
While at New World, Jean-Baptiste roomed with Jean. A artistic partnership was born, as was an idea for a comedy show.
"The foundation comes from his real life experiences," Jean said of Jean-Baptiste, who was two years behind him at New World. "While in school, Josh struggled with women because he was the ideal nice guy. He would often come to me for woman advice. I would assist, but knowing how to execute a plan is a lot different than actually executing it. He would come back to me time after time and we would laugh together as he shared his stories of how he fucked it up this time. After a while I told him, 'We should write this, it's golden,'" Jean said.
Those experiences bred the basic concept for their tv project titled #Josh.
Jean explained it as being centered around a "digitally dependent Josh, [who] is forced to coexist with his promiscuous problematic cousin Wes, and face his fears of a human connection."
After raising just over $2,800 from a Kickstarter campaign at the time of this article's publication, the duo plans to film a quick "sizzle reel" in hopes of pitching the show to networks like HBO and Netflix. With Miami based 5k Productions on board, the team is excited about the future of creating a 30-minute show. They even already have the first season fully scripted.
Photo courtesy of Edson Jean.
"After we complete the sizzle reel that Miami is helping us fund, our producers will be well armed for securing the funding for the first season," Jean said. "Once funded, we will work with the amazing Greg Clark and Rob Morrison of 5K productions to produce that whole first season independently. Then, it's all about making the deal that works best for the show."
But while things may be looking up, more money will still be needed in order to make the show network quality.
"Thankfully we know a lot of actors that are more than willing to work with us for free, but working with a production company, [securing] equipment, and people to run, it costs a lot," Jean said. "Asking for favors so many times can only go so far, if you want something of quality."
While the show aspires to be a comedy program first and foremost, it also is trying to provide some insight into what being Haitian American is like in South Florida.
"It's everything to my work. The Haitian culture has framed me into the individual that I am," Jean said. "I have my mother to thank for that. So many Haitian Americans adopt the culture of our African-American brothers and forget where they come from."
You can learn more about #Josh and donate money to help them create the show by clicking here.
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