“Friends With Benefits For Life,” a new web series filmed in Bushwick, defies all stereotypes. Ben (played by Ben Kronberg) and Ana (played by Stefanie Londino) have a child together, but are strictly friends with benefits, a situation that gets more and more complicated as the show progresses. Director John Reaves describes the result as “our perspective on life and love and Bushwick (there’s your catchphrase or t-shirt slogan) in the form of some offbeat yet lovable characters.” He talked to us about why he chose to film mostly at Cobra Club and why you should check out the first season, now up on YouTube. We love it already.
How would you describe the show?
It’s a web series about real life, the untested urges you have, and the reality that keeps you “doing” whatever we are expected to. It’s about love in the most general and basic form – and its ability to take on whatever form we let it.
We shot at Cobra Club a lot, because we imagine it’s their Cheers, their focal point. And we shot a lot at apartments because it’s easier to convince your buddies to let you shoot than restaurants and places of business. Ha. When you essentially make something for free you have to take what you can get, and lucking Nikki (the co-owner) and her Cobra Club were beyond generous.
I live in Bushwick and it’s something that fascinates me. It’s lots of young kids moving out here, and then there’s still some tight-knit communities. It’s sort of balanced chaos. And it’s a hotbed for creatives and intellectuals and aspiring-what-have-you’s. It’s a lot of different kinds of people all sharing he same block.
I started out making a lot of comedy shorts back in college. We didn’t know what to do but I am a bit bossy sometimes and it sort of blossomed from there. I directed a pilot of a webseries I wrote solo (starring I Hate Being Single‘s Rob Michael Hugel – as a major favor on his part) but it wasn’t really me. It was trying to be Larry Sanders. I think it’s fun, but it’s a bit esoteric. This one, I just really fed off the energy I got from Ben Kronberg and Stefanie Londino. They’re wonderful actors who can play comedy and drama – which is where my heart is.
It’s super hard to keep it fast but grab what you want. It’s also hard to be funny and keep it succinct. We had our actors do a fair amount of improvising and it was cracking all of us up, but the tales would be like five to seven minutes long. The easiest thing is letting funny people and good actors work with our material. Most of the time I just let them run with it. They just got it, so to speak.
Watch the first episode below, and the rest here.