Season two of the web series Venice just kicked off last month. To celebrate, the creative forces behind Venice came to New York City for a weekend of incredible events. On Saturday night, I had the opportunity to speak with the series co-creators, Crystal Chappell and Kim Turrisi, as well as a number of fans, at the Venice Night Out, which was held at the RF Lounge in New York City’s West Village.
Venice associate producer Kim DiTomasso organized the Night Out for fans with dancing and a bar upstairs, and interactive belly dancing downstairs. It was evident from the huge crowd that the young web series has won over an enormous, and surprisingly diverse, fan base. Some fans said that their allegiance to the project began with their love for the “Otalia” storyline on Guiding Light, but others said that they had never before followed soaps —online or off.
While many of the fans I spoke with identify as LGBTQ, I also met a large number of self-identified “straight lady” fans. Even a few men were having a wonderful time at the event; one such gentleman told me, “I’m not who you might expect to be here, but I’m a huge fan and am really excited to meet everyone!”
The event was not restricted to those 21 and over, but had the lower age requirement of 18. Series co-creator, Kim Turrisi, said that this was a way to include the many college-aged fans that have flocked to the series. In fact, the online Venice fan community, “VComm,” proves that it is a big hit with high school and college-aged viewers. Kim told me that she was especially pleased to see this trend, and has done her best to speak to those fans, as well. Kim has used methods, such as Twitter, to connect with these young adults off-camera and has even begun to act as a mentor to some.
Kim and Crystal, the series co-creators, agree that it is incredibly important to showcase the stories of LGBTQ individuals. In the trend of the soap opera medium, Venice features storylines that nighttime dramas tend to shy away from, and pushes its audience to accept and understand the experiences of complicated characters. Crystal acknowledged that, just like everyone else in the world, the Venice series regulars are not perfect. However, she does believe that these characters can be role models, not because they always make the “right” choice, but because they are honest portrayals of peoples’ lives within our society.
So what can we expect from Venice in season two? “Primarily, we want to tell a good, honest story.” Crystal revealed that Lara and Ani develop a “beautiful romance” and that Gina comes to a “half-way meeting with her father” regarding his acceptance of her as an individual and as an adult. Crystal is excited to showcase Gina’s story, because it is about something that many people, gay or straight, have experienced. In Crystal’s words: “She’s still somebody’s child, and these are issues that parents and children have in any community.”
At heart, season two will also be about growth — growth of the characters, as well as the show’s production value. The episodes themselves will increase in length from four to six minutes to 16 to 18 minutes each. Also, Crystal believes that they have assembled an incredible IT team for season two and anticipates that the technological aspects of the medium will be much less of a challenge the second time around.
When the show began, Crystal knew almost nothing about the technical aspects of a web series. Now, she admits that she still knows very little, but has surrounded herself with people who know a great deal and who are passionate about the project. They’ve even managed to bring on a female rocket scientist! (Yes, seriously.) Interestingly, almost everyone who works on the show is contributing her or his services. Crystal and Kim believe that this has created a team that is not only incredibly talented, but also uniquely passionate about the series.
As Venice continues into its second season, it is gaining more fans and more industry recognition; but Crystal and Kim will never relinquish creative control and are immensely grateful to the people who have supported and inspired them from the beginning. Crystal said, “I would never give it up. There’s no way in hell that I would ever turn my back on the very people, going all the way back to Otalia, who not only supported this, but were brave enough to share their stories and make big choices that have changed their lives. It’s just too important — and I get that.”
Subscribe to season two of Venice, catch up on old episodes, and join the community, VComm, at venicetheseries.com.