Web Series ‘Better with You’ Brings Audiences a Halloween Romance

Amanda+Taylor+and+Colin+Hinckley+in+%22Better+With+You%22+%28Courtesy+of+Apple+Juice+Productions%29

Apple Juice Productions

Amanda Taylor and Colin Hinckley in "Better With You" (Courtesy of Apple Juice Productions)

By Oakley Burt, Arts Editor

Romantic comedies are not uncommon — but romantic comedies set during Halloween are.  Apple Juice Productions has created a new original web series titled “Better With You,” set during the heart of spooky season. “Better With You” is an opposites-attract love story centered around attention-loving Iris and introverted Warner as they navigate their blossoming relationship.

“Better With You” was created, produced and starred in by Amanda Taylor, who also stars as the extroverted Iris. It was also executive produced, shot and edited by Kailee Brown and directed by Bri Castellini. The cast includes reserved Warner (Colin Hinckley), Elodie (Tayler Swensen),  Suzanne (Cheryl Holdaway), Lucy (Cindy Manwill) and Mark (Tito Livas).

The inspiration for “Better With You” came from Taylor and Brown’s friendship. Taylor, like her character Iris, is very extroverted and social, while Brown is more comfortable not being a social butterfly. “I thought, this would be actually a really interesting love story. So I sort of like shifted it into that,” Taylor said. “It was inspired by us, but then I turned it into a rom-com because that’s what I enjoy watching.” Deciding to set the series during Halloween was a no-brainer. “Halloween is my favorite holiday,” Taylor said. “There are a lot of Hallmark Christmas romance movies and I just thought, ‘Where’s my Halloween romance?’ So I made it myself.”

Taylor wrote the script for “Better With You” with the intention to cast herself as Iris.“It’s kind of fun because I knew I could play like a pretty heightened version of how I respond to social situations.” Taylor then turned to Facebook groups and local acting webpages to fulfill her casting vision. “We had submissions, auditions, callbacks and ran through the whole process, but we also brought on a director who was someone that we have loved for a really long time.”

Enter Director Bri Castellini from New York City. Taylor and Castellini became connected online through different web series communities. “We became long-distance friends and fans of one another’s work. When the opportunity arose for us to finally collaborate, it felt like fate,” Castellini said via email. From the very beginning,  she wanted to be involved in the project. “I have been a huge fan of romantic comedies since I was little. I also have a very strong connection to the introvert slash extrovert love story, as my own best friend is a huge extrovert and I am … not.”

Taylor bringing on Castellini as the director helped create a unique set environment. Taylor said, “The combination everybody and having Bri as the director, she was just — her energy and everything was really professional, calm and safe. When you’re acting, safe is the best word you can hear.” Taylor also credits her talented cast and crew for contributing to the environment.

Taylor hopes that the audience will see the energy and chemistry between the actors: “I just want people to fall in love with the characters and go along on the journey and just feel the emotions as they’re happening.”

Castellini hopes the production will leave an impact on viewers:“I hope the audience feels a little better about the state of the world, but I also hope they treat those that are different from them with more thoughtfulness,”

“Better With You” is Apple Juice Production’s first original web series, following the success of “The Lily Evans” series, “Stoneybrook Revisited” and “The Cate Morland Chronicles.” With this new web series, Taylor is excited to break into a new audience, “We’re trying to get an older audience, people who are more college-age is ideal. We’re trying to show off more of our skills.”

Taylor also has hopes for the potential future of “Better With You.” “This is shot very traditionally, it looks like a TV show,” she said. “We want to show that to people in the industry and say, ‘This is what we’re capable of.’ We would love to make this show for real and make it longer and give the characters more depth and longer stories.”

Currently, Apple Juice Productions has over 600,000 viewers on YouTube, six and a half hours of content posted and an 80% female crew. Apple Juice Productions was founded three years ago and shows no signs of slowing down.

“Better With You” premiered on Sept. 19 at Brewvies Cinema Pub in Salt Lake City. The first episode is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime and YouTube. New episodes will be available each Thursday, with the finale airing on Halloween.

 

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This article originally misspelled the names of Gavin Swensen and  Tito Livas.