October 02, 2015

Author: Andrew Greenman, '10

Gallaudet alumni Shoshannah Stern, '05 and Josh Feldman, '10 have teamed up to create and star in a new web series, Fridays.

Now that Stern and Feldman have done their part, they want viewers to meet them halfway. The pair launched a Kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign to raise the money needed to create more episodes of the program.

The series features best friends Kate and Michael, played by Stern and Feldman, respectively. Kate is a newlywed, while Michael has found himself newly single and testing the gay dating scene in Los Angeles.

Stern, a show business veteran, is known for her roles on the Emmy Award winning series "Weeds," the cult hit "Jericho," and "The Division." Stern also starred on the stage in both Children of a Lesser God and Open Window.

Feldman is making a name for himself as well. As a writer, he won a Young Playwrights Award from Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and has also been published in Hustler magazine and other online publications.

Kate and Michael are deaf, but that is not the show's main focus. The show is about their friendship and life's ups and downs. Both Feldman and Stern agree that the representation of deaf people in film and television is lacking.

"It's important because in our daily lives, we don't talk about our being deaf. We know we're deaf, and often in film and television, deaf characters' storylines have a lot to do with their deafness. We wanted to introduce deaf characters who have problems that have nothing to do with their deafness," said Feldman.

"I think that the mainstream public has only seen deaf characters onscreen presented from their perspective, that is, as characters that have lost something that they have," said Stern. "As a result, characters often are presented as people who exist only within that loss. While I can understand where that perspective comes from, I've never lived my life that way. I'm sure being deaf has shaped who I am and the choices I've made, but I have a life that's whole, and so we really wanted to execute that idea and present it to the mainstream rather than explain it to them."

Stern explained that the characters are "intersectional," and navigate the world with multiple identities. 

"I think humans for the most part are always intersectional. How many of us are really just one thing? If any character onscreen had to function as reduced to one descriptive or one word, they'd be really boring," said Stern.

Rounding out the Fridays team is producer Nick Fascitelli who brings a wealth of film knowledge and experience to the project. He was an Executive Producer at TBS's Sullivan and Son, launched a script with the same network, worked on TV Land's The Exes, and is currently the Script Coordinator for Netflix's reboot of Full House.

The pilot episode was produced in advance of the Kickstarter campaign, and the team relied on friends and careful budgeting to get the idea off the ground. The $6,000 campaign goal ensures the production of four episodes but each additional $1,500 will result in a bonus episode. Stern and Feldman hope to raise $10,500 which would allow them to shoot a total all eight scripts that they have written. All episodes of Fridays will continue to be free.

 "Ultimately we would love to have Fridays on a larger platform, with a video subscription service like Amazon or Netflix, or even on network television. The timing is right, as the conversation about diversity is being brought to the forefront, so we want to capitalize on that," said Feldman.

Stern added, "Right now, we're focused on making the first season as real and as good as we can make it so that we're telling the best possible story we can tell."

Visit the show's Facebook page by clicking here. The Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday, October 4. The series is expected to start at some point in early 2016.