In a world of Netflix original series winning Emmys, episode lengths becoming longer and seasons becoming shorter to accommodate actors’ schedules, and the rise of the webseries, it’s safe to say that traditional TV is changing. You can go online now and find a series that is just as interesting, well-written, and well-made as many of the shows on primetime. And if you love geeky references and a cast who interacts with their fandom, well, that’s just gravy!
The New Adventures of Peter + Wendy is a modern transmedia digital series that takes J.M. Barrie’s classic novel Peter and Wendy and brings it into the modern era. Peter is a comic book artist who has zero interest in growing up and leaving his hometown of Neverland, Ohio, and Wendy is the girl next door. Wendy’s aspirations to grow up and see the world threaten their blossoming relationship in the first season, and now fans are clambering for more Peter + Wendy, especially after the cliffhanger ending of season one.
The cast and crew are busy with other projects and their Indiegogo campaign to fund the future of Peter + Wendy. But they still had time to answer a few questions. The interviewees consist of:
Jenni Powell: Producer. Jenni is also known for her work on the series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Kyle Walters: Creator and plays Peter Pan. Kyle is also known for his work on the TV mini-series Welcome to Sanditon.
Paula Rhodes: Plays Wendy Darling. Paula recently appeared in Love in the Time of Monsters and the TV series Pairings.
Shawn Deloache: Writer and creator of Peter + Wendy.
JT: So tell me about how the project got started? What was the initial spark?
KW: Well, I had been recently introduced to the joy of fandom web series when I worked on Welcome to Sanditon. During that time, I met a ton of fans. One even posted an image of my face on Peter Pan’s body. Fast forward a few months… I needed to give something back to the fans. I saw that the novel of Peter and Wendy was in the public domain, ran over to Shawn’s house and said, “Want to do a Peter Pan web series?”
SD: To which I answered, “Yes… Here’s eighty million ideas for it.”
JT: Eighty million ideas sounds like a good starting point. Did your original vision for the story change a lot before the final product was unveiled?
SD: I would say no. At least, not the overall message and tone of the story. The more we explored the literature, the more detailed and specific the story became from our (Kyle and my) initial rambling. But the heart and core of it stayed true from day one till…well…now…right now…like this second…it’s happening…now.
JT: Indeed! So how long did it take to write, film, and edit the first season?
KW: From spark to full distribution (via youtube): Less than a year. From starting to write to the premiere of the first episode: five and a half months!
SD: As far as just the writing goes, it took me a little over a month to get the first draft done, then we had a reading and took notes from some trusted friends and other actors, writers, and Pan fans. I then went in and made corrections and some additions. Behind-the-Scenes Fact: There was no Prologue or Fudgeopolsis in the original script! All in all it took about two months to get the script done that would become season one.
JT: So let’s talk about the filming of Peter + Wendy itself. Was there a good atmosphere while filming the first season?
PR: The best! We had such a blast. On the one day I didn’t have to be on set during the shoot, I had withdrawals. It definitely became a family. Of course given the schedule, it was a family on a tightly run, fast moving ship.
KW: We missed Paula that day too! Y’know, it’s not easy to film 25 pages a day of content and have that run smoothly and fully enjoy every minute of the process. I don’t say this lightly, I really do think we’ve bonded more than a typical project. We will be a family for a very long time, even after Peter + Wendy is over.
JP: Totally agree with Paula and Kyle. From a production standpoint, it was really, really challenging what we were trying to get done in such a short timetable. But even with the fires the producers had to put out, everyone was so wonderful that it made it all worth it.
SD: This was my first time on a set, and from what I’ve been told, it was not how they typically run, specifically because we all got along so well. I looked forward to getting up early (which I hate doing) and going to set. It solidified in my heart and mind that I was on the right path, that this is what I was meant to do. Everyday was hanging out with your best friends creating magic. It doesn’t get better than that!
JT: It sounds like a great experience, and it definitely shows in the episodes. What was your overall favorite moment of working on season one?
KW: This is such a hard question to answer! Luckily there were many good moments. Probably the most fun I had was brainstorming and plotting out the story with Shawn. Those were some fun, long nights!
SD: Brainstorming with Kyle was definitely super fun as we’d get an idea and then jump around the room all super excited. But for me this was the first time I had ever seen any of my writing actually acted out (most of my work thus far has been in comic books) so seeing the words I wrote come to life through these amazing actors was my favorite part of season one! It was a complete honor to have the amazingly talented Kyle, Paula, Brennan, Lovlee, and Graham perform my words
JP: The entire season was extremely fantastic but I have to say that the casting was probably my favorite part. I just adore the process of finding the right people to bring a creative vision to life and it was such a joy to cast something that was so important to my childhood. I was a HUGE Peter Pan fan as a kid; I used to draw maps of Neverland in my spare time.
JT: The whole first season (including the prologue, all twenty-four episodes, and the epilogue) are up on YouTube and on your site, thenewpeterandwendy.com. When did you first know that the show had taken off?
PR: Well, we felt the magic right from the table read, but when we got #newpeterwendy to trend nationally at our premiere party, we knew we had something pretty fantastic!
KW: There are always milestones. I was excited when we finalized our script. When we cast the show. When we filmed episode 24. When we hit 10,000 subscribers. I think I will sleep when Ellen and I dance to the P+W theme song on her show. (You ready yet, @TheEllenShow?)
JP: I knew the show was going to be special the second Kyle said to me, “So, I’m thinking of adapting Peter Pan…”
SD: When my mom said, “I like this. I’d watch this. Other TV is stupid.”
JT: What’s some of best feedback you’ve received about The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy?
PR: I’d say getting thousands of comments over the 24 episodes on YouTube, not one of them mean-spirited or bad, is quite a feat! It blew me away (having prepped myself for the usual YouTube commenters). That, and we’ve had puppets made of us so… bucketlist!
KW: Whenever a fan says that I’ve truly captured Peter Pan. That’s always been my goal, since my heart is in the source material.
JP: I get excited when people rave about the Tink Cam. It was such a risk to attempt to pull away from a standard vlog format and to hear that people think it’s great just makes my day.
SD: I got threatened (playfully) by a fan that said they’d hunt me down if Peter didn’t end up with Wendy. I knew once I started getting death threats, that I, as a writer and as a human being, had made it.
JT: There are a lot of geeky references on the show, both in the story and on the walls. Who’s the biggest geek in the bunch?
SD: That’s hard because we are all super geeky. I actually think we are all pretty even. We’re each geekier in different ways, but with lots of cross over. We basically combine to make a Geeky-Voltron-of-Awesomness.
PR: Can I form the right leg like Princess Allura on Voltron?
JP: That’s pretty spot-on and why I think this is such a strong project: everyone on the team brings a little piece to the overall whole.
KW: Shawn is so so so very wrong. We are not Voltron. We are Captain Planet! And with our geeky powers combined… The New Adventures of Peter + Wendy!
JT: You definitely work together to create one wonderful and geeky show! So, level with me. What is in Pan Punch?
SD: A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and A LOT of something else.
PR: Well, I shared this on twitter, MY Pan Punch (from the cast party) was pineapple juice, Sprite, lime sorbet and any adultifying you may happen to desire. I think on Instagram we labeled the vodka “Lost Boys Tears” or something. We’re a hoot.
JP: There is actually this really amazing vlogger, Mitch Hutts, who vlogs for Geek & Sundry with a show called Critical Hits Cocktails. I asked him if he could design us HIS version of Pan Punch and show us how to make it, and I know that’s still in the works. So that could be fun to see (I hope Mitch is reading this and feels a fire under his butt…haha).
KW: Season two’s Pan Punch? Four Fingers and a Thumb. Aimed right at Jas “Hook”. That cad! No good, dirty rotten rival!
JT: Let’s talk about season two. Season one ended with Peter and Wendy breaking up and Wendy leaving Neverland: a cliffhanger for sure! Can you tell me what’s next for Peter and Wendy and for the show itself in season two?
KW: Well… Hook. He’s the big addition to Season Two, along with a couple of other characters and locations. In my mind, this whole show is a story about growing up and love: how those mix together and if it’s possible to actually have a Darling Pan. Peter has got a lot to learn about himself, being an adult, and what love really is. The question (and I don’t know the answer yet!) is will he learn?
SD: In season two, you learn that the Island is really purgatory. But it’s not. But it is. (I’m not giving away any, as River Song would say, “SPOILERS!”)
JT: I respect your desire to keep the story a secret. But you’re hoping to be able to film not one but two more seasons ideally, correct?
PR: Indeed! With this style of filming, it’s the most economical to film in one big chunk then take your time to edit and dole out. But Shawn and Kyle formatted the story in three acts according to the source material, so to tell the whoooole tale, we’d love three.
JP: When you see what we have in mind, I think everyone will agree that the optimal length we could do was three complete seasons. I will not rest until we’ve brought the fans the entire story!
SD: Basically just to echo what the two lovely ladies above said: to tell the story the way we want, to be as true to the characters, book, fans, and ourselves as we want to be, we need three seasons. And I will say, if we get enough financing…we have some really awesome bonus content and characters planned!
JT: Peter + Wendy has an Indiegogo campaign in the works to help with financing for the second (and third) seasons. Where are you on your campaign?
PR: As I type this we’re just under 25% funded in our first week! We have some big casting announcements to come and some awesome videos to release during the campaign that should help us a bit. We believe and we sure hope you all do too. We’ll make as much of a season two as we can with where we land, and if we meet our push goal we’ll shoot season three jointly. There are even some awesome extras we have planned if we get beyond those. We dream big.
JP: As I type this, we’re over 26%! Woohoo, keep it up! We’d love to hit 30% soon as we unlock some awesome marketing opportunities when we hit that point.
SD: As I type we are at 27%. Hold on, let me refresh the page. Okay, still at 27%! I hope to find us, before the campaign ends, at 100-200%. We have so many great stories planned and bonus content that it’d break my heart to not get to finish our tale the right way.
[As of publication, the campaign is at 32%. Go Peter + Wendy!]
JT: What kind of perks can fans expect if they donate?
KW: There are tons of cool perks! The under300 club gets the early sneak peeks at all episodes. There’s the Season One DVD. There’s an exclusive Peter Pan + Wendy Darling + Neverland Lootcrate box; it’s bigger than a normal Lootcrate and holds tons of cool exclusive goodies. There’s a perk where your image or name can appear in the show (“All the Feels” package) or even for getting a speaking role in an episode! I guess that read as a list, but I was really excited, shouting each one…
JP: We’ll continue to add perks as we continue so we hope people will keep checking back. I have to say, the perks were really fun to design and we’re so very excited to give back to our fans that are supporting us.
SD: I’m going to plug myself as I was apparently added as a perk yesterday! Buy a tea (cyber or in person) with me and discuss writing for TV, web, film and comic books!
JT: The show has truly achieved a lot of success, and viewers are incredibly excited to see more! What would you like to say to the fans of The New Adventures of Peter + Wendy?
PR: I’d like to embed this video from 3:49-4:24 to answer that:
But I’d also like to highlight that that was just the last Neverland broadcast of Dear Darling. With their help, we can bring them more (and we so want to)! (Cyber hugs!)
JP: To do seasons two and three would be an awfully big adventure!
SD: Thank you. Without you, we are nothing. You are the fairy dust that lets us fly.
KW: (thick John Wayne voice) Howdy, pilgrim.