By Josee Smith
The Stanford Sitcom Project released the first episode of “The Slump,” its first full-length series, last Thursday. Magellan Pfluke ’16, the president and executive producer of the project, founded the group last fall as an opportunity for him to experiment with acting and filmmaking and to spend more time with his freshman-year friends. (The first people he approached about getting involved with the group were from his freshman dorm, Otero.)
Creating a project with friends
For Elizabeth Knarr ’16, the casting director, the best part of being a part of the group is the opportunity to spend time with her friends.
“It’s so cool to hang out with my best friends and do art,” she said. “Magellan got approval for the group right at the beginning of sophomore year and we were all living in different places on campus, so it forced us to get together and have meetings and hang out.”
“90 percent of my best friends at Stanford are in the project, so meetings are so much fun,” added Shalmali Bane ’16, the executive story editor. “It’s so satisfying for me to have my social life and my extracurricular life come together, as a two-for-one kind of deal.”
The many parts of production
As the president and executive producer, Pfluke acts as the organizer of the entire project, overseeing each area of production, although he added that a lot of his final say doesn’t differ much from what the executive editors have made as their final cut.
Rahul Prabala ’16, the executive producer and vice president, said that he had more experience with filming and editing and that Pfluke had more experience with writing, so that determined what areas they each focused on from the start.
“We tried to combine our various talents,” he said. “We try to bring in as many people in as many different areas, so some people are pretty good at one specific part of production.”
For Bane, just being in charge of the script has been difficult for her because, even though she loves having the script as her responsibility and working with the writers to figure out the best script, she doesn’t know as much about the other sides of the production and has to trust those departments, such as post-production or filming, to be effective.
“I don’t know much about editing, so I have to trust them to do a good job,” Bane added. “It’s so multifaceted, not having any control or knowledge about the other aspects [outside of my own.]”
“The Slump” will comprise 10 episodes, each released over the course of the school year. However, the team has already started planning for the next series, with plans to write in the fall, film in the winter and edit in the spring, according to Pfluke.
“We want a clear prescription for running over a year, that’s reproducible by other groups,” he said. “This past year, we were thinking we were going to get something done by a certain time or more done but we had to compromise…I want to see the group stabilize in terms of structure and production time.”
Prabala added that they have already started the writing process for the next series, with the goal of making it more production-intensive.
“We want to add in more advanced effects, more props, just more involved,” he said.
Bane added that the series this year will be a bigger project for them, since “The Slump” was loosely based on their friend group and they were able to add in things based on their own personalities or things they said during meetings.
“It was like having an assignment that’s 25 percent done and then you just do 75 percent,” she said. “Now we have to do it all.”
“I think the biggest goal for this project from the beginning was to be something for the Stanford community that is accessible to them,” Knarr said. “It’s an opportunity for comedy writers to write comedy and actors to come and act and editors to edit and directors to direct.”
“It’s been a learning process for everyone,” she added. “We’re always looking to be better and to make better seasons.”
“If someone comes along and says, hey, I’m interested in this part of production, then we can put them,” Prabala said. “We need more people so people watching is only good for us.”
In a previous version of this article, Magellan Pfluke, Elizabeth Knarr and Shalmali Bane were attributed as members of the Class of 2017. All three are from the Class of 2016. The Daily regrets this error.
Contact Josee Smith at jsmith11 ‘at’ stanford.edu.