Not too long ago, we at The DigiSpot shared a new web series with the world--titled “A Whole New Irving”--which has since gotten rave reviews & more. To gain some insight on the show itself, filmmaker & series creator Terry Dawson recently took the time out to chop it up with us about said show plus more. You can give what was discussed a read below...
VannDigital: Tell us about yourself.
Terry Dawson: My name is Terry Dawson and I’m the creator/director/writer of "A Whole New Irving" web series. I’m a Washington, D.C. native, a graduate of Hofstra University Film School (Hempstead, Long Island, NY) and was in the midst of pursuing a Master Degree In Fine Arts – Film at Howard University when I visited L.A. for what was supposed to be a 1-month Summer house sitting gig, but I instead immediately started working in the business and never went back to Howard.
When did you realize that filmmaking was your calling???
I’ve been in the arts my whole life. Truly, since I was a very small kid. In fact, I never remember any time when I wasn’t on stage or in front of the camera. I acted professionally as a child. I always attended performing arts magnet schools. I attended the Howard University Children’s Theater as a kid. I went to the prestigious Duke Ellington High School for the Performing Arts (D.C.’s version of the famed LaGuardia High School in NY that is the basis for the movie "Fame"). Duke Ellington was a fine arts conservatory style public school (although admittance was by audition only) boasting such alumni as comedian Dave Chappelle and famed opera singer Denice Graves, whom I believe was the first black woman to play Carmen on Broadway. I entered Duke Ellington as a Theatre Major, but during my Junior, transferred (or maybe got kicked out) from the Theater department upon realizing I had no passion for life in front of the camera. I knew I wanted to be behind the camera to create the stories, and the Literary & Media Arts Department became my new home and major, focusing on creative writing and video & radio production. I’ll say again (and it is not hyperbole) that there has never been any point in my life where the arts and entertainment have not been a major player in my very existence.
Unlike "Irving", I didn’t graduate from college not knowing what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a writer/director, the question was always how do I get myself into a director’s chair? I moved to L.A. and started at the bottom as a P.A. on many major motion pictures and television shows, before getting into post production where I began editing and producing. I love the process of editing and it often feels like the editing room is where the real filmmaking happens, but I always knew directing was the real goal.
What was the inspiration behind your current web series, “A Whole New Irving”???
As a first time director, I think it’s natural to think about what you want to say the first time out, what you want people to know about where your head is, what kinds of stories matter to you - and a story about a young Black dude on a spiritual journey seemed like a very cool thing. "Irving" is not based on me personally, but I did discover mediation myself at a time when I was feeling a bit “adrift”–Hollywood will do that to you–and while I was crediting my mediation practice with my own personal growth and development, at the same time and by sheer happenstance, my very best friend was exploring meditation as well as a remedy to some substance abuse issues he was having and found it helped him tremendously in his journey. I felt like this was something that more young people (and particularly young Black males) could benefit from knowing about, so a story about a young man feeling frustrated with life and trying to find identity and purpose and finding that through the self-exploration and meditation just felt like something we hadn’t seen before and I knew it was a story I could tell well.
When will the world see the next episodes of the show???
We’re currently working to secure funds for our next cycle of four episodes. We know people want to see more and we’re anxious to begin filming, but the reality of independent filmmaking is the money part tends to be the hold up. We’re working hard though and would love to begin filming this year. Unfortunately with the holidays officially upon us, the business tends to grind to a halt this time of year. We’ll likely begin filming at the very top of 2018 and hope that in the meantime, the buzz continues to grow and our audience expands as more people check out the first four episodes and get to know Irving.
What are your plans after “A Whole New Irving”, if any???
The plan is to film the next four episodes pronto and then get our complete first season finished, which is 12 episodes total. But Season 1 is just the beginning of Irving’s journey and the ultimate goal is to find a home on a major digital platform or television network.