Few undergraduates can say they have been part of a large-scale production in their careers. However, for Michael Busza and the cast of his show, putting together a full-length Web series is exactly what they’ve done.
What started off as a pitch for a media production class quickly grew to be so much more for Busza, as he has been diligently working on his show, “One of the Guys,” since last semester.
“One of the Guys” is a roommate comedy centered around three homosexual men – Madison, Alex and Jonathan – who come to realize that the fourth roommate they acquired, Ethan, is straight.
The relationships gay men have with straight men and the dynamic of the four sharing a house is something not distant from Busza’s own life and the people he interacts with on a daily basis.
“The show examines the relationship between gay men and straight men that hasn’t really been done before,” Busza said. “It is one that I have definitely experienced in my life and am really looking forward to sharing.”
Busza added that producing a comedy with subject matter so close to his heart has had a profound impact on him. He hopes that the show will have a similar effect on those who watch it and will be a factor in continuing to make this university a more accepting and nurturing place for all students.
“We’re working for LGBT advocacy in a subtle way, but a way that resonates with the 18- to 25 year-old audience that we are looking at,” Busza said. “We aren’t out there picketing and demanding rights, but this is definitely an aspect of my life that I have wanted to share.”
In addition to representing the relationships between gay men and straight men, the cast is also focused on promoting the idea of “acceptance through comedy.” They acknowledge that the dynamic between the characters is often very comical, but along with being funny, the cast and crew’s major goal is to encourage the equality that everyone deserves – gay or straight.
Aaron Palmer, a junior theater major, plays the role of Jonathan. Palmer said he feels blessed to be a part of a show with such a positive message of acceptance.
“Being a part of this show has definitely been one of my favorite projects in college,” Palmer said. “I am very proud to be able to represent the gay community in such a good light, especially when the LGBTQ community is so underrepresented in television.”
This underrepresentation is something that Busza and the cast are addressing. Busza said that while society as a whole is moving in the right direction, he hopes that by creating a show like this, people will continue to be open-minded.
Promoting a message of open-mindedness for the audience has also led some of the cast members to find a part of their world that they did not know was there.
“It is definitely really interesting being the only straight guy on the show,” said Jeff Familetti, a junior musical theater major, who plays Ethan. “It lets me look at a whole different world that I’m not used to. I have a lot of friends that are gay but actually living with them is really interesting and fun.”
Though the progress that the cast and crew have made is unfounded, the journey to get there was not an easy one to make. Busza said he believes the project would not have gotten anywhere if it were not for the incredible dedication and support of the cast and crew.
“The first two episodes were funded entirely out of my pocket,” Busza said. “It was very guerilla filmmaking and there is no shame in that. We all chipped in and pulled it together because it was a story that needed to be told.”
Having to overcome these hurdles, Busza admits that while it is one of the most tiring things he has ever done, it is also the most exciting and has opened many other doors for him.
Last month Busza received the MarcDavid LGBT Scholarship Award, which has helped the show immensely. Still, the cast is unable to air episodes two and three and has planned a Kickstarter campaign.
“The Kickstarter is going to go for two weeks, beginning on Feb. 19 and ending on March 5,” Busza said. “We’re hoping to raise $1,000 during that period.”
For Busza and the cast, being part of “One of the Guys” has meant more than producing a show. Awareness for LGBT rights is a big factor, but this project has also affected them all on a truly personal level.
“Being a part of this production has made me much more comfortable in my own skin,” said Matt McWilliams, a sophomore theater major who plays the role of Alex on the show. “It is really a joy to work on a project that speaks so openly about sexuality and the relationships between gay people and straight people. It’s such a huge part of our everyday lives.”
Busza said he understands now that this is what he wants to do for the rest of his life and feels so thankful to be part of a school that is so supportive of his project.
“The fact that Temple awarded me the scholarship makes me feel like Temple does care about what I have to say and does support me,” Busza said. “The fact that Temple’s first full-length Web series is an LGBT project says a lot about Temple, and the fact that they would stand by us is a move in the right direction.”
The first episode of the show is set to premiere on Feb. 19 at 9 p.m. on OneoftheGuysTV.com.
Alexa Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.