Even though the last episode of One Tree Hill aired in April 2012, the teen drama series — which ran 9 seasons — still resonates with their diehard fans as they are chomping at the bit for some sort of a reunion. One Tree Hill alums James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti are doing exactly that…in their own special way.
The One Tree Hill gang still share a bond as some of their cast members are set to reunite for a Lifetime Christmas movie and Sophia Bush has done well for herself as a voice in Incredibles 2. But for Lafferty, who played OTH’s Nathan from the drama’s start in 2003, and Colletti, who came later in the series as Chase, they have taken their experience in being ’00s TV heartthrobs in a wildly popular series to create a pilot called Everyone is Doing Great.
Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with CW-grade angst, don’t expect to have any of that in this comedy. Lafferty and Colletti are full-grown actors living a post-OTH life in Los Angeles. When fans were reaching out to tell them how much they loved the show, the two of them started to get nostalgic about their experience which led to the foundation of Everyone is Doing Great.
“We started joking around about an alternate reality where we had just rested on our laurels post-OTH and kept all of our eggs in the acting basket, instead of developing as writers, directors,” said Lafferty. “That’s where we came up with these characters who are languishing for their own reasons and whose daily lives are this mixture of sadness and absurdity. The rest fell into place really quickly.”
Written by Lafferty and Colletti, the show follows Seth and Jeremy, former stars of the hit television vampire drama Eternal. Five years after the show has they lean on each other as they struggle to reclaim their previous level of success and relevance as they hilariously — and awkwardly — navigate their lives personal and professional lives actors.
Very different from OTH universe, Everyone is Doing Great is subtle with its dry humor and Hollywood-level absurdity suitable for this era of streaming landscape audiences that crave meta nostalgia.
“James and I talked about this type of comedy quite a bit and share a liking for shows similar in style,” said Colletti. “We’d always say ‘how fun would it be to do a show like this’ but I don’t see a lot of opportunities, in this arena, come down the pipeline so what better way to find yourself in something you really want then to go out and do it yourself.”
Lafferty directs and stars in the pilot as Jeremy while Colletti stars as Seth. The pilot, which recently launched an Indiegogo campaign, has been making its festival rounds, recently making an appearance at the ATX Television Festival. It made its international premiere at the Monte Carlo TV Fest and will stop by Denver SeriesFest later this month before headed to the New York Television Festival in July.
DEADLINE: How do your own experiences as an actor in LA influence the story of Jeremy and Seth?
LAFFERTY: We have drawn a bit from our own experiences to create this world for Jeremy and Seth. We’ve always found a way to laugh at some of the more humiliating auditions we’ve had, or the awkward encounters we’ve had at “industry events” or even on set. Having a sense of humor about all of it is really the only way to stay sane, so we’ve carried that notion into this show. We’ve created a couple of characters that are trying to navigate this world we’ve come to know so well, in two very different ways.
COLLETTI: We’re getting longer in the tooth and we’ve been in the industry for a long time so we’ve got an ocean of stories to play with. They act as a great jumping off point for some of the painfully awkward situations Seth and Jeremy endure in the series. We’ll start small with something and then see how far we can take it.
DEADLINE: The tone is comedically dry and borderline sad — what did you do to you achieve that balance? Did you look to any TV shows as inspiration?
LAFFERTY: We set out to create something that could live up to the standards of our favorite comedies, and our favorite comedies walk that line between comedy and tragedy really well. Shows like The Trip, Doll & Em and High Maintenance were huge influences because they combine naturalistic camera work and spontaneous, improvisational performances to create extremely authentic, sometimes even uncomfortably authentic, storytelling. It’s those uncomfortable moments we find so funny, because they’re real and true and that’s where the humor starts for us. We worked really hard to start from that place of truth, keep this world very raw and stripped down, and put mountains of time in the edit, mining the humor out of those wonderful little human moments we were able to capture.
COLLETTI: We are both fans of the style in which the film Like Crazy was shot. The show’s tone was discussed a lot. We had a very specific goal in mind when we first sat down and we were able to hit that goal and it gives us the confidence to carry on with the show.
DEADLINE: Do you have episodes filmed beyond the pilot?
LAFFERTY: We only have the pilot shot as of now. We’re currently crowdfunding the budget for our first season through Indiegogo, which, if all goes well, will allow us to produce 5 more episodes. We financed the pilot ourselves, and produced it with a small, core group of Indie filmmakers — The Nelms Brothers, Michelle Lang, Johnny Derango — and we feel really passionately that this Indiegogo campaign will give us the freedom to continue operating that way, while still leaving the door open for distribution partnerships.
COLLETTI: [Our Indiegogo campaign] is up until July 20 where we’ll wrap up a festival run at the NY TV Fest. We’ve already written the scripts for the first season as well as episodes detailed for further seasons!
DEADLINE: Where do you think Everyone is Doing Great fits in today’s TV landscape? And why do you think it would speak to this generation of actors?
LAFFERTY: We really think the world’s next favorite TV shows are going to come from independent content creators, in the same way that independent film changed the way the world watched movies decades ago. This is the next wave and we’re proud to be part of it. On the story level, we think actors will have any easy time seeing themselves in Seth and Jeremy’s journey. But more than that, we hope people can recognize that the entertainment industry is simply a backdrop for a very grounded, human story. Everyone is Doing Great really is about leaning on the people closest to you when times are tough, and helping each other find the humor in the struggle, the silver lining. If we can make one person feel like they’re not alone when they’re going through a dark time, we’ll have done what we set out to do.
COLLETTI: There’s been a real generation of independent television forming and it’s exciting if we could be a little piece of that. In this day and age, anyone who wants to be an actor should go out and produce their own stuff. And even further, when your first few projects don’t turn out how you envisioned them, what do you do next? Do you press on or do you burn out? You’ll find answers. I can’t speak for James, but I’ve had a couple projects that didn’t quite work out but if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be ready to execute Everyone is Doing Great.
DEADLINE: What do you hope people take away from in the series?
COLLETTI: Let’s just start with a laugh or two. That’d be fantastic. From there, maybe something unexpected. Whatever that may be to the individual. Life — spoiler alert — isn’t all sunshine and rainbows with an Instagram filter. The older we get, the less filters there are. And that’s ok. Let’s just not take our selves too seriously and have a laugh or two instead…did I just use Instagram filters as a metaphor? How embarrassing.