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Emersonians Have a Hand in YouTube Red Comedy Long Distance

The Latino digital media company MiTú launches the YouTube Red original comedy Long Distance on September 28, which several Emersonians helped to produce.

“It’s a very charming, character-driven, and fun story,” said Nico Raineau ’09, who directed the pilot. “One of the cool things about this project is that we had Emerson grads on the crew form the top down.”

In addition to Raineau, Aviv Russ ’10 produced Long Distance; Alan Gwizdowski ’09 served as cinematographer; Brad Simpson ‘09 and Jenna Lyng ’10 were co-production managers; Christian Svenson ’09 was the costume designer; Cody Skully ‘11 was the on-set mixer and post-production sound supervisor; Lili Kaytmaz ’11 was the makeup artist; and current Emerson LA student Gil Kaplan ’18 helped as a production assistant.

Long Distance is a romantic comedy about two young 20-something high school sweethearts (Chachi Gonzales and Cayden Boyd) who attempt to maintain—you guessed it—a long-distance relationship. The show explores how the couple uses social media and digital forms of communication to survive a new chapter of their relationship. Much of the comedy comes from the influencing forces in their lives.

“One of the things that really drew me to the project was that it’s a romantic comedy about young people in their early twenties,” said Raineau. “There are high school and college comedies, and fun romantic comedies for people who are middle-aged, but young twenties is an age group we don’t usually see in that genre.”

The production took five days, which meant a tight turnaround for the crew. Russ, who had previously worked with MiTú and is currently in charge of production at the company, introduced Raineau to Long Distance’s showrunner. Both Emersonians turned to their own contacts to fill out other spots on the show.

Director Nico Raineau ’09, right, and actor Cayden Boyd. Photo/Bing Putney

“I’m thrilled to have such a creative and talented group of peers,” said Russ. “We’ve all come up together in different ways, but keep in touch with one another and are part of a community, so when opportunities arise, we bring people up with us.”

The production offered a unique opportunity to Kaplan, who interns at Rise Management and The Montecito Picture Company while at Emerson LA during the Fall 2017 semester. Kaplan reached out to Russ during the summer of 2016 after combing through Class Notes in Expression Magazine looking for people that he could reach out to for advice. Kaplan had been planning to drive out to LA in June for an internship with Vertigo Entertainment, but when Russ offered him an opportunity to be on set for Long Distance, he jumped at the chance and arrived a few days earlier. It was his first time on a professional working set.

“I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but the best thing is to just jump right in,” said Kaplan, an aspiring producer. “I was lucky to be with Aviv and Brad and Jenna because they were all super willing to show me different things like making a purchase order or putting the walkie-talkie on the right way when it wasn’t super stressful.”

A clapboard lists the director and camera operator, both Emerson alumni, for the YouTube Red comedy Long Distance. Photo/Nika Nika Vekilova

One of Kaplan’s biggest takeaways from the experience was how important communication is on set.  He said one of his favorite activities was driving talent to and from set because “it was fun to see everyone’s different personalities, even if it was just for 2-3 minutes.”

Raineau and Russ both say they are proud of the show and hope for the opportunity to make the rest of the series.

You can watch the pilot for Long Distance on YouTube Red beginning September 28.

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