Fit out to fit in: Elon University students present a new web series called Awkwood

Multimedia Reporting By Erin Valentine

Imagine a world where being awkward is the norm. Tripping up the stairs, walking into someone and having food stuck in your teeth are all everyday occurrences.

Courtesy of Awkwood

Courtesy of Awkwood

Emma Kwiatkowski, a junior media arts and entertainment and computer science double major, envisioned this world in a new web series called Awkwood.

“I wanted to practice my screenwriting skills,” Kwiatkowski explained. “I love being creative and I wanted to create a new reality.”

Kwiatkowski came up with the show’s concept during Elon in LA’s 2013 summer program.

Awkwood creator Emma Kwiatkowski prepares to film scenes for Episode 1.3,  Photo by Erin Valentine

Awkwood creator Emma Kwiatkowski prepares to film scenes for Episode 1.3,
Photo by Erin Valentine

Riding in an elevator in the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, Kwiatkowski heard a friend of hers say, “Awkwood.” The name reminding her of a boarding school, Kwiatkowski’s imagination ran rampant and a new web series was born.

Kathleen Harper, a junior print and online journalism major and actress in the web series, was with Kwiatkowski when she was first inspired.

“I was there the moment she thought of the idea,” Harper said. “We were in the elevator and I was standing next to Emma. Emma’s eyes just lit up, and she goes, ‘I have the perfect idea.’”

A woman of many tiny hats, Kwiatkowski is the co-writer, co-director, creator and producer of Awkwood.

Her right-hand man, Tyler Alverson, is the co-writer, co-director and producer of Awkwood.

Kwiatkowski and Alverson discuss the setup and organization of an Awkwood scene Photo by Erin Valentine

Kwiatkowski and Alverson discuss the setup and organization of an Awkwood scene
Photo by Erin Valentine

Alverson, a senior BFA acting major, has been involved with Awkwood since the beginning.

Alverson and Kwiatkowski have been planning and writing Awkwood since the first week of this semester.

“I really want to have a career in the television business,” Alverson said. “I also have really been interested in writing for a while and I thought this would be a good way to get a foot in door.”

Creating a web series amidst classes is no easy task.

With a cast of 11, matching up free time to film can be a difficult prospect.

“There’s very few scenes where all 11 cast members have to be together at the same time,” Kwiatkowski explained. “But every person is in a clique on the show so there is always a group that has to get together to film at the same time.”

Actors get into their “awkward zones” as they shoot another scene for the web series, Photo by Erin Valentine

Actors get into their “awkward zones” as they shoot another scene for the web series,
Photo by Erin Valentine

Both Alverson and Kwiatkowski are both actors in the show, and have to balance writing and planning with preparing to be on camera.

“Luckily, being one of the writers and actors, I have a really good understanding of the overall vision and story arc and depth of my character,” Alverson said. “I get to prep while writing it.”

Kwiatkowski has found it to be challenging to make sure that the show’s message and humor comes across clearly.

“We want to make sure it’s awkward,” Kwiatkowski said. “Sometimes we’ll start writing and a lot ends up seeming normal when the point of Awkwood is that everything is awkward. We have to go over-the-top awkward to make sure that it’s noticed.”

Actors Caroline Klidonas, Emily Guernsey and Winston Koone joke around between takes, Photo by Erin Valentine

Actors Caroline Klidonas, Emily Guernsey and Winston Koone joke around between takes
Photo by Erin Valentine

Caroline Klidonas, a senior BFA acting major and part of the Awkwood cast, finds the project to have a lot of potential.

“It’s an excuse to get together with your friends and act,” Klidonas said. “We get to improv a lot of parts too.”

The improvisational nature of the show also attracted another cast member, senior BFA acting major Emily Guernsey.

“I think the part of it that is really fun for me is not having to act that much. I am my character in real life a lot. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing,” Guernsey joked. “It’s so awkward that you can play around with it and improv.”

Another cast member and senior BFA acting major, Winston Koone, found out about auditions for the show when Alverson announced the web series at a departmental meeting.

“I think it surprises you,” Koone said about the show’s uniqueness. “It is one of those that you think will be one thing then it turns out to be something totally different.”

Cast photo Courtesy of Awkwood

Cast photo
Courtesy of Awkwood

The show is currently working to raise funds on its Indiegogo site and promote itself on Facebook and Twitter.

Awkwood is also hoping to broadcast on popular web series Internet sites so that the hard work of the 11 Elon students can be enjoyed by anyone who can embrace the awkwardness in life.

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