Why He's On Our Radar: Adam Goldman has managed to do what few people before him have done: he has made a narrative web series that people are actually talking about.
"The Outs" is a look at gay life in contemporary Brooklyn that sees the local dating scene through the eyes of Mitchell (Goldman) and his best friend Oona (Sasha Winters, who came up with the concept with Goldman). Men meet each other through Grindr, sure, but they also attempt to ask out the delivery guy from the Mexican restaurant. They take care of their exes when they get drunk and depressed. A cruel sexting trick ends a date.
The series is at once absurd and sweet. For those that are living within a similar urban, middle-class, gay millieu, the scenes, especially those that depict the awkwardness of courtship, hit close to home.
You just had a screening for your fifth episode. How did that go?
There was a line out the door, which has never happened before. We used Public Assembly [in Williamsburg]. And it was great. It was our biggest crowd!
What was the impetus for making "The Outs"?
Eighteen months ago, my boyfriend at the time said "You look really desperate in blue." I was wearing a blue shirt at the time and I thought "Wow, that's really fucked up." And he said, "You wrote that. I'm quoting you." And I said, "No, I didn't." He said, "Yes, you did," and he sent me the scene I wrote. That turned out to be the last scene of the first episode. The character names were different, but I was interested in exploring that relationship — why those two guys hated each other so much. And the whole show grew out of that. I wrote six episodes at that time. We made the first one without knowing if we'd be able to make them all. But we were all really happy with the result, so we kept on trucking.
As of last night, with the release of the fifth one, we have 90-minutes, basically a feature. The first night that we were shooting, I got home, I realized that if we were to make all 6 — or ultimately, all 7 — of them, I would have tricked myself into making a feature. And I would never, with a gun to my head, choose to do that. Because of the episodic nature of it, that's where we are.
You're quite proud (as you should be) that all of the funds for the film were raised on Kickstarter.
We made the first episode out of pocket, and we tried to raise $1,000 to make the second and third episodes, which we naively thought we could make for $500 each, which is hilarious. We made $1600 with 50 backers. We asked for $8000 to make the back end of the show, and we made over $20,000. People were watching and it was picking up steam. That was from 503 people. By that point, I didn't know those people, but the first 49 were friends and family and friends of friends.
What has surprised you about who's watching?
The spread and the scope of the show. We had someone last night from Dublin, whose sister caught us at the Gaze festival in Ireland, and told her to find us in Brooklyn. We had someone from Jamaica who posted on our Facebook wall saying this is the only gay thing in my life, thanks for making it. We have viewers in China. I know women and gay men like the show, and that's fine. That hasn't been as much of a surprise. The way that we have been watched internationally has been great. I don't know that anyone abroad is writing about us on blogs, but it's great!
What made you decide to make a web series, instead of a film or a pilot?
It's an incredibly, relatively speaking, cheap way to get your story out there. Primarily, I like long-form storytelling. Characters that grow over time. Even if it's just six or seven episodes, growing with these characters makes it all richer. We could do what we're doing in two hours. To me, there's something about drawing it out over six months over your — the viewer's — life. You can look back and say "I saw the last one six weeks or six months ago. What was going on with me then?" I've always liked comic books and television. My favorite feature films are from people like Paul Thomas Anderson, with stuff like "Boogie Nights," where you're watching the characters grow over decades. I like big stories. It's easier to tell, even with a relatively small story about a relationship, it gets bigger because you get to watch it over time.
It's also a chance for people to find out about you over the release schedule.
Yeah, it allows it to spread and slowly gather steam. There's another web series that I also really like. I saw that they had 200 or 300 Facebook fans. I said when we made the first one, "If we can make it to 300 Facebook fans, I'll be happy." And now we have over 5,000!
How has it been producing something of an episodic nature on a DIY scale? As it's picking up steam, you're getting more attention.
I think every episode that we've done has been better than the one before. I have a special spot in my heart for the fourth episode, because it's quiet and short. I love that, and I couldn't tell if I like that or the fifth one better. As a crew, we're growing together. Everyone basically works for free, so we guaranteed people that worked for us that they would be proud of it and that they'd want to put it on their reel or resume. We started at a strong place. But I learned things like "I can't wear that cardigan because it makes my ass look big, and you can't rely on a straight guy behind the camera to tell you." Every episode, we shoot better and more cleanly.
I don't think we know the magic formula for gaining traction online. One day people just cared! You can try and try and try. When people come to me and say "I want to do what you're doing," all i can say is, and maybe this makes me an asshole, but I say, "Just make something good!"
What do you think of the current state of television?
I keep harping on this point, but it's not changing. I wish there was a show about gay people that I felt like I could relate to. There are shows with gay characters on them. There's "Modern Family." Those people aren't me. One of them is literally a clown. I like that. I laugh at that. But is that the best we can do? I don't think it is. It's shocking that in Hollywood, you can't get on a show like that on the air. I watched some of the pilot of "The New Normal." I desperately wanted to watch that show and make it through ten minutes without making a Madonna joke, and they made i through six minutes. This is what I'm talking about.
Have you had any significant responses from the industry from the show?
Producers have reached out to me saying, "Hey, I'm watching, and I just wanted to let you know." I've gotten representation from the show, which is amazing. The fact that anyone is watching is just really cool. There's so much stuff out there!
What would you like to do after this?
I'd love to write for television. Part of the success for the show is that I write and direct it. If you read the script and then watch the episode, it's fairly one-to-one. I'd love to continue doing that and get paid for it.
All episodes of "The Outs" are now available to view on http://theouts.tv/.