Most people have aspirations. Some people may dream of travelling to an exotic island. Others may long to retire on a farm. Others harbor a strong desire to complete a marathon or climb Mount Everest.
Like us, animals have their own aspirations. And while those aspirations might be limited to, say, sleeping on a windowsill or sniffing the rear end of another mutt, let’s agree that they have them.
Working with this very basic premise, Jersey City resident and professional actor-writer Brooke Hoover is currently filming “Pageant Pom Mom,” a web-based series that follows the tail – pun intended – of Precious, a Pomeranian who longs to compete in beauty pageants. And in the web series when Hoover says “beauty pageants,” she means it literally.
“Yes, Precious wants to compete in actually beauty pageants with little girls,” Hoover explained.
Naturally, this dream is also shared by Precious’ showbiz mom/owner, played by Hoover, who actually believes her pet has what it takes to be a pageant winner.
The improvisational “mockumentary” script is sort of a Westminster Kennel Club dog show meets “Toddlers & Tiaras,” and picks up where the 2000 Christopher Guest movie “Best in Show” left off.
‘You have to fight and work for your own projects.’ – Brooke Hoover
Going her own way
The zany concept came to Hoover about two years ago when her mother moved to Jersey City with her Pomeranian, whose name is, yes, Precious.
“We’re from the South. And I was putting on a fake Southern accent, joking with Precious, and this character just came out. And that’s usually how my creative process happens,” explained Hoover, a native of Louisiana.
Soon, she began expanding the character and started sketching out other characters for her actor friends to play. Before long, the “Pageant Pom Mom” concept was born.
She is now filming the 12-episode web series throughout Jersey City and plans to be finished by early September.
Like many theater professionals, Hoover has shifted into developing her own projects so she can do the acting projects she wants. She was an improv actor on the show “What Would You Do Now?” and she had a couple of guest starring roles on “Law & Order.” She said she has also done some one-woman shows.
“I’m mainly an actor-turned-writer,” said Hoover. “I basically write to give myself and my friends work. You have to fight and work for your own projects. No one’s going to hand it to you, like back in the day. And the [theatrical] unions have made it easier for people to do that.”
For many actors, web series have become the new frontier to get their work out to the general public. While a typical series will be about 12 or 13 episodes, each webisode is much shorter than the typical 22-minute television sitcom. Most webisodes are only about five minutes long. The shorter running times help make web series more affordable for independent filmmakers and directors to shoot.
Posting a series online is also easier than filming a feature-length independent movie and trying to get it picked up by a national distributor.
Last year, Jersey City filmmaker RJ Harper created the web series “Hood Lords,” which focused on the Colombian drug cartel. Like Hoover’s “Pom Mom” project, “Hood Lords” was filmed at various locations throughout Jersey City.
Hoover said doing “Pageant Pom Mom” has also allowed her to break free from typecasting.
“I’m usually cast in these really homely kind of roles. I’ll be cast as the really homely mom. But in this, it’s the total opposite. My boyfriend jokes I look like a trannie because I’m wearing this wig and all this make-up! So, in this I get to play a character I wouldn’t necessarily get cast as. Plus, there’s very little opportunity to do comedy in New York. All the sitcoms are filmed in L.A.”
Biggest undertaking to date
“Pageant Pom Mom” is Hoover’s biggest undertaking as an independent filmmaker to date. She and her cast began filming in early July and she plans to be in post-production in September.
She also has a crowd funding campaign going on through IndieGogo.com to help her raise money for filming. She is trying to raise a modest $5,000 and at press time last week $790 had been pledged. The campaign ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, July 26.
“Right now, most of my expenses are coming from my pocket, which gets hard,” Hoover said.
Once completed, she’ll have to make a decision about where to place “Pageant Pom Mom.”
“Initially I was thinking I would do it on YouTube and become a Google partner,” she said. “Now my assistant director and I are thinking about different platforms and about maybe going with a platform that just specialize in web series.”
The growing power of web-based entertainment was evident last week when the political thriller “House of Cards,” which can be streamed on Netflix, made history by receiving a nomination for best drama series. The show received nine nominations total, including acting nominations for the shows two leads, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
We won’t disclose how “Pageant Pom Mom” concludes or what happens to Precious during her quest for a crown and sash. But let’s just say the ending has something to do with learning that winning isn’t what’s really important. What’s really important is finding your inner beauty.
To keep up with Hoover and the “Pageant Pom Mom” project, visit Facebook.com/PageantPomMom. To make a donation to her crowd funding campaign, visit indiegogo.com/projects/pageant-pom-mom.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.