The Wakefield Variation is a web series project produced by Effetto Espanso. Loosely inspired by the short story “Wakefield” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, it was originally conceived as a stand-alone short film, and then it looked like the story itself asked for a high-quality serial environment as being developed. Though the production is set in Italy, it features native english speaking actors, and it is internationally oriented for festivals and marketing.
The Wakefield Variation – the title comes from J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations – follows the apparently simple plot of Hawthorne’s Wakefield and sets it in the present time: some day a young man decides to leave the girlfriend he lived with, and vanishes. This guy, Wakefield, has been hiding in a small apartment for years. He didn’t leave any traces behind, and keeps spying on his former girlfriend using bugs and hidden cameras, in a sort of twisted social experiment. Time goes by, in a flow of memories, thoughts, and loneliness. When the girl – who has long moved on – is about to make a step which would put her out of range for good, Wakefield starts thinking about getting back into her life.
Across time, across media
The story plays with time, and has flashbacks, flashforwards, and non-linear narration in general. The time span of Wakefield’s mysterious exile will serve as backbone for the series. To help make the audience curious, we’re setting up a trans-media campaign using a comic book album to tell people more about Wakefield’s behavior: a brief story will explore the past of Wakefield and an unseen character’s. We plan to promote this graphic novel across comic conventions in Italy and internationally, through digital publishing platforms.
An international project
The team working on the project is varied, young and inventive, from the creators and producers of Effetto Espanso to students, young professionals and veritable professional insiders from Italy and abroad. The international aspect is undoubtedly the most relevant, making the production unique: the pilot screenplay was written in English by three writers from different countries, director and founder of Effetto Espanso, Gianluca Olmastroni, English stage writer Melanie Hunter, and Canadian actor/producer/screenwriter, Jonathan Robbins. This creative synthesis of different thoughts and experiences is giving birth to an even more creative and multicultural product, in English with English speaking actors, but set in the heart of Tuscany. There will be several well-known shooting locations, among which you can find the Belvedere Puccini in Torre del Lago, background photo of the web ad, and the Royal Victoria Hotel in Pisa.
(Crowd)funding and distribution
Crowdfunding was chosen as a first funding platform also to help create a fan base that was not there yet, as the project was being built from scratch. The sponsume.com campaign gave us almost 20% of the estimated pilot budget, and made people aware of The Wakefield Variation. As we are currently arranging product placement deals, we keep going with crowdfunding and social network promotion. This very site is a blog serving as a work-in-progress diary of the production, while Facebook and Twitter help us stay connected with the audience.
TV-over-IPs and streaming platforms represent our distribution target. As a made-for-web-yet-high-end production, we think The Wakefield Variation might be appealing to both audience and investors, being a narration driven project more pleasing to watchers and more subtle (and effective) to sponsors. We believe that a completed pilot episode (alongside a slightly different cut to be presented as a standalone short to festivals) looking the way we want the series to be, is the right method to raise interest by audience, distributors and investors.