By: K. Michelle MoranGrosse Pointe TimesPublished September 3, 2014
“Dating and Auditioning” producers Emma Berdie Donson, Alexandra Eden and Christian Schulte are seen here on the set in July as they film the 12-week series.
Photo courtesy of Christian Schulte
GROSSE POINTES — Think acting is a glamorous job? Well, it’s considerably less glamorous when you’re shooting a scene in a restaurant at 4:30 a.m. because you had to wait until it closed to begin filming.
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That was one of the challenges faced by Christian Schulte, Alexandra Eden and Emma Berdie Donson, who jointly produced, acted in and directed the upcoming Web series “Dating and Auditioning” from their home base in New York City. The series — which was funded through an Indie Go Go campaign — follows Alice, a woman in her 20s, as she experiences the rollercoaster that is dating and auditioning. Six different actresses play Alice over the course of the 12-episode series to underscore the universality of these experiences.
At press time, “Dating and Auditioning” was slated to start airing online on Sept. 9. Eden said they would release one episode per week at 2 p.m. each Tuesday for 12 weeks. Viewers would be able to see previous episodes once they’ve debuted, but they’ll have to wait for new ones each week.
Schulte, 24, a Grosse Pointe Woods native who graduated from De La Salle High School before heading to the University of Michigan, said that staggering the release of the episodes, rather than putting them all online at once, should help them to build buzz and viewership as audiences start talking about the episodes and get others to tune in.
“Definitely, we wanted it to be something people were talking about over the run,” he said.
Like Schulte and many of the cast members, Eden and Donson are U-M graduates from the theater and performance programs who moved to New York to pursue careers in film, television or theater. Eden, 25, said she and Schulte first met at U-M when they were in a show together where they played shadows on a wall who were chained together.
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“It was a great initial bonding experience,” Schulte said with a laugh.
In April, Eden said Schulte contacted her about possibly working together, and she proposed “Dating and Auditioning” — a project she started writing this February but hadn’t completed yet. Schulte said he and Donson were impressed with what they read.
“Once we got a feel for what this was about, we became passionate about this,” he said.
Schulte said the episodes tackle issues such as the insecurities faced by 20-somethings.
“It also deals with the dating game, which is so universal for our demographic,” he said.
The episodes are rooted in real-life.
Eden, who also served as the executive producer, said all of the segments are taken from “experiences (she) had or friends had.”
Schulte said they hope audiences will see themselves in the series and enjoy “kind of a shared understanding.”
Episodes only last about five minutes apiece, and in each, viewers are asked to decide whether what they saw was a date or an audition.
“While the characters are very vivid and very distinct, the stories are really what’s most important in each episode,” Schulte said. “Each one is (about a) heightened moment. What would you do? How would you handle that moment? This is really a dramatization of those stories we tell after we get back from an audition or a horrible date.”
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Creating the series on their own gave the young performers liberties they wouldn’t have had with a conventional television series.
“I felt like with a Web series, you can mold your project into whatever you want,” said Eden, noting that they had the freedom to create episodes of different lengths and cast different actresses in the role of Alice, for example. “I liked the flexibility of the Web. We (also) liked the fact that you can get it out to so many people for free.”
Besides Schulte, the cast includes another Grosse Pointe native — Carrie Royce Fisk, a 2008 Grosse Pointe South High School graduate. Besides appearing in two episodes of “Dating and Auditioning,” Schulte said she worked as a set dresser, costumer and makeup person.
“She was our jack of all trades,” he said of Fisk.
Local audiences will remember Schulte from his many childhood productions with Grosse Pointe Children’s Theatre, as well as shows at De La Salle, for which his father, John Schulte, worked on creating sets with his son. Since graduating from U-M, Christian Schulte has appeared in two music videos for singer Charlene Kaye, the Susan Lucci series “Deadly Affairs,” and the upcoming Chad Burns Revolutionary War drama, “Beyond the Mask.”
John Schulte is in a much different profession — he’s currently the public safety director for Grosse Pointe Shores — but he and his wife, Colleen, a nurse, couldn’t be prouder of their oldest child.
“I can remember him putting on plays in the basement with his two (younger) sisters, who were sometimes uncooperative,” John Schulte recalled, recounting also how he hung a sheet across about half of the basement to create a stage for his son.
John Schulte said his son started with Grosse Pointe Children’s Theatre around age 5 or 6, after the boy expressed an interest in the program. When he got there for his first day, Christian Schulte suddenly said he didn’t want to do it, but his dad said Colleen Schulte told him he did. She was right.
“From that moment on, he was absolutely addicted to the stage,” John Schulte said.
He said his son also is a singer.
“He truly is, I believe, talented,” John Schulte said. “Every step of his career, he’s improved. … He’s very passionate about this, and it’s rewarding for both Colleen and I to see him so passionate about this.”
That passion is evident as Christian Schulte reflects on “Dating and Auditioning” — a series that could be revived with future episodes, should it catch on and they decide to shoot more vignettes.
Eden and Schulte would both like to work full-time in the entertainment industry, but like so many of their peers, they’re currently juggling day jobs. Schulte works in promotional modeling and for a high-end catering firm that has handled events such as the Met Gala, while Eden is a waitress at a gourmet pizza restaurant and has an internship with the Upright Citizens Brigade, the company launched by Amy Poehler.
Eden said working on “Dating and Auditioning” has helped her to see that her ideal career might include working behind the scenes as well as in front of audiences, such as being a writer for a comedy series that she also acts in.
“Through this process, I realized I love producing and (having) control over the process,” she said.
Schulte, likewise, enjoyed working on a project where the performers had so much say in the end results. He, Eden and Donson each directed four episodes, he said.
“My dream is to do ensemble television,” Schulte said. Auto hook up near lynchburg. “I grew up in theater, and I love a great ensemble. … Television is so good right now, and the writing is so excellent.” He said he’d love to be able to explore a single character for a while.
To view “Dating and Auditioning” or for more information, visit www.dnathewebseries.com or see their Indie Go Go funding page.