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New BTV series transforms College Hill into 'Mt. Olympus'

"Mt. Olympus," the new Brown Television series that follows the 12 Olympian gods as they encounter college life for the first time and try to regain their lost powers, aired its pilot episode Wednesday.

Arik Beatty '10, a director and executive producer for the series, said the idea for the show grew out of a long-running joke within the creative staff's group of friends. The show's creators, Beatty, Lyla Fujiwara '10, Jeremy Kuhn '10, Rich Ellis '10 and Alice Huang '10, lived in two Vartan Gregorian Quad suites last year.

"We decided one of the suites was Athens and the other was Sparta," Beatty said. When the group moved to a 12-person house off-campus, the inside joke grew: Each person became one of the Olympian gods. Always interested in creating a television series, the group of friends eventually realized their dream — creating a show based off the Olympian gods — was "actually a really cool idea," Kuhn said.

Over winter break, the creative team began planning what would happen in the series and writing a plot outline. Huang said the group met many times to discuss the script. "A lot of ideas and even bits of dialogue came from those meetings," she said.

This collaborative process has been both the best and the most challenging aspect of working on the show, Huang said. "For me, writing has always been a very individual process," she said, adding that working with a group has helped her grow as a writer.

Figuring out how to light each scene has also been challenging, Kuhn said. Creating natural-looking light often involves many different light sources positioned at various angles and directions, he said. "It's actually really difficult to create shadows" that don't reveal the lighting equipment, he added.

Nicola Ryan '13, the actor who plays Zeus, said he has been involved with a lot of theater productions but had not worked in television before auditioning for "Mt. Olympus."

"It's weird seeing yourself and hearing your voice," he said, adding that television acting involves a lot of quick memorization that isn't necessary for a play.

The staff plans to post the pilot episode on its Web site within the next week, finish shooting the series by the end of the semester and edit all the episodes over the summer.

Kuhn said their impending graduation gives them more incentive to finish the project, even if it often means staying up until 4 or 5 a.m.         

The commitment of the production staff and cast also helps drive the process, Beatty said, adding that the group is always a lot of fun to work with.

"There are moments when we are so invested in the process and in the entire thing, and we're just laughing because we're so happy and so exhausted," he said.


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