Melissa Malone loved scary movies when she was growing up. But back then there weren’t many movies in the horror genre accessible to kids. Now, she’s helping to widen the offerings with “Or So the Story Goes,” a web-based series of classic children’s tales with a unique twist.
Eight years ago, Malone, an actress and voice-over artist, began working as a nanny for a Weehawken family that was also involved with acting. She started collaborating with the parents to develop filmmaking workshops for the family’s children and their friends. In order to teach them about what goes on in back of the camera as well as in front, she designed workshops to let the children take turns acting and working crew positions.
In the workshops, the kids developed commercials and one-minute movie trailers – one was even about an evil babysitter!
So far, close to three-quarters of the $2,500 Kickstarter goal has been reached
Malone wrote, directed, and acted in the role of the stepmother in the three-part story. After completing the first episode, a new idea arose – a web series based on classic children’s fairy tales, and, at the kids’ suggestion, it would be scary.
Produced by Outtake Productions, the series is geared toward teens.
According to Malone, it serves as a gateway for young adults as well as adults to “dip their toes into the murky waters of horror.” A rotating repertoire of talented actors, all volunteers, will perform in new roles each season. The majority of the cast consists of Hudson County residents. Many of the child actors are students in Weehawken and Hoboken schools and some of the adult actors come from Weehawken and Jersey City.
The audience responds
Malone was pleased with the positive response to the idea for the web series.
“Before we knew it, we were in production of Season 1 with the change in our pockets and the amazing generosity of friends and family,” she said. “We used local locations with the help of our friends, and the limited equipment we had been using for workshops. The result was more than any of us imagined it would be.”
Shortly after the first season, Malone was approached with a request to be included in “Internet Drama and Mystery Television Series: Volume 2,” an academic textbook on television by Vincent Terrace. The series began airing on various websites and was being considered for film festivals.
“The kids were thrilled,” she said, “the adults were thrilled and we knew without a doubt that we had to pursue Season 2, but on a much larger scale.”
The story for Season 2 came easily. The phrase “Think happy thoughts” spurred Malone and her stage manager fiancée, Theresa Labreglio, to write the 90-page script for an eerie, dark retelling of “Peter Pan.” Labreglio is scheduled to direct the appropriately entitled “Happy Thoughts,” and Malone will play the character Hook.
“With a bigger production, we knew we were certainly going to need more than the change in our pockets, this time around,” Malone said. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise funding for the purchase of microphones, lighting, and editing equipment as well as to help pay for wardrobe and special effects.
So far, close to three-quarters of the $2,500 goal has been reached. Malone’s active presence on Facebook and Twitter helps to spread the word.
Next stop, the silver screen
In addition to the web series, a feature film is in the plans with the intention of submitting it to film festivals. Malone continues to privately coach children in theater as well as teach for Hoboken Children’s Theater during the summer.
She and Labreglio, who have known each other since childhood, are also busy planning an October wedding. A year ago, Malone and Labreglio moved from Brooklyn to Weehawken. From an artistic advantage, the move afforded quicker accessibility to Manhattan. More importantly, for Malone, Weehawken just made sense. “It already felt like home.”
To watch Little Rosemary or for more information about Or So the Story Goes, please visit the website at: http://www.orsothestorygoes.com/ And to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign for Season 2, a campaign that ends in a few days, please go to: http://t.co/7Z5bW8vkLy.