One of the amazing things that YouTube can do is help creators to build an audience organically. As long as you have ideas that resonate with people, you don’t need a Hollywood studio or even a multi-channel network to get your project off the ground. The team behind web series “The New Adventures of Wendy and Peter” did just that in their first season, and now they’re counting on that audience to bring a second and third season to life.
Channeling the spirit of hits like “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” and “Welcome to Sanditon,” “The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy” brings the classic story of Peter Pan into the modern era of vloggers and long-distance Skype chats. The show situates Neverland in Ohio but still manages to tap into the themes that have helped the original to stand the test of time. We had a chance to chat with series co-creator Kyle Walters about the show, his character (he plays Peter) and the Indiegogo campaign he and his team have launched to save Neverland.
What can fans of the show look forward to in the new season?
Kyle Walters: Spoiler alert: The status quo in Neverland, Ohio has changed. In season one, Peter asks Tinker Bell, “What is Neverland without Wendy in it?” Well, in season two, we get to find out! Plus, there will be new locations and new characters. One of these new characters is going to be our version of Captain Hook. I know that Peter and Hook will be rivals, since that’s the core of their story, so expect epic rivalry! All the fans know at this point in time about Hook is what his Twitter account, JHMediaCEO, has revealed: “Entrepreneur. Humanitarian. Boxer. Champion. If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. -Milton Berle.” It would also be a disservice to the source material if we didn’t include Smee. Smee’s character in the novel, while being awesome and funny, gives us a unique point of view on Hook, and that’s very important to making Hook a more three-dimensional character.
Your character, Peter, doesn’t want to grow up. Is it a show about being immature or is it about staying young at heart?
The show is about having to grow up. For me and many of my Millennial brethren, growing up is hard. We’ve been told we can follow our dreams and passions … but we may not have been trained to properly combat bill paying and IRAs. The answer is in finding the balance between your youthful creative energies and the responsibilities that you have to face as a grown-up. We believe that the path and answer is different for everybody … and that’s what makes it so dang elusive!
Your question is right on the money, though. Peter Pan is being forced to grow up, because in this version he lives in reality and not on a magical island, but he’s hanging on to what’s fun. We want to suggest that we can have both. Be a grown up, because we HAVE to, and also stay young at heart, but let it SHINE through. It’s like a litmus test. If you’re being immature, that’s probably not the best course of action. If you’re being young at heart, that sounds just lovely! Like, in our story, when Peter Pan creates a pirate-themed scavenger hunt date for Wendy … that’s good, staying young at heart! But when Peter plays video games all day and misses his work deadlines … immature!
What would like fans to take away from the show beyond a good time?
You’re not alone! Others are having a struggle growing up, too. We see everyone’s successes all over social media, so it can make our struggles more lonely and insignificant. It’s also okay to not know the answers yet. Figuring yourself out as you grow up is part of being human. We probably get to do this until our last day, so we better enjoy the adventure along the way! Part of why I co-created this show is to confront my own balance of growing up and creative energies. I’m really interested to see if our Peter Pan is able to balance his boyish attitude with modern life by the end of season three … because if he can, maybe I can too!
As a creator, do you feel like you have more creative control doing a digital series?
Oh absolutely. I’m there in the beginning in the story room with co-creator and writer Shawn deLoache, and I’m the one clicking “publish video” on our YouTube channel. So I have tons of control. But because it’s essentially 100 percent in the hands of our team, we have so much creative control and freedom to make the show how we want to. Nothing has felt like a consolation, it’s all been collaboration — which has been so very fantastic.
For me, the best part about doing a non-studio digital series is the release schedule. We were able to go from concept to full distribution of season one, which is essentially a feature length film, in less than a year. If we were to have pitched the project to a studio … we could still be in pre-production butting heads with the suits. That being said, I can’t wait to work on a project with suits, as long as the suit comes with a wallet.
How would you pitch the show to a new viewer?
It’s “New Girl,” but with fairies. “The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy” is a modern retelling of the novel “Peter and Wendy” by JM Barrie. This version brings Peter Pan and the Darling family to Neverland, Ohio, the epitome of American suburbia. It’s a playful romantic comedy that will make you laugh one minute and make you cry the next. It’s got it all! Plus a trouble-making fairy named Tinker Bell.
How do you go about adapting a classic story to a modern medium and setting?
First, read the source material a bajillion times. When adapting a story, the source material has all of the answers. Then you take the heart and essence of the original novel and match it to the parts of your modern life that relate. We like to have at least one nod to the book in every episode.
You’re crowd funding the new season of the show. Is fan funding the future of entertainment?
Fan funding is a huge part of independent entertainment now and will definitely continue. The crowdfunding method, be it in one-time crowdsourcing platforms or subscriptions to creators, is such a wonderful renaissance. A little bit of money from thousands of people adds up to a lot for creators who just want to make awesome work. It also helps close the gap between creator and fan. Honestly, if I hadn’t met my fan base online and at conventions, “The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy” wouldn’t exist. They are such a huge part of the entertainment process.
Fan Funding has kind of always been around; buying tickets to a movie is fan funding. The thing that has changed is that fan funding can happen now before the show/product is made. This allows indie creators to afford to make awesome stuff. It’s great!
Anything else that you’d like fans or potential fans to know?
If you haven’t seen the show, I hope you enjoy it! Look me up on Twitter@theKyleWalters and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.
And to everybody, we’d really appreciate if you shared the Indiegogo campaign — donating even less than a movie ticket can help us so much. If you were to get five friends to donate five dollars each (maybe instead of having Starbucks for one day) you’d be a rockstar.