There’s no way around it: TV shows and movies these days can’t ignore the presence of smartphones and social media in our lives. But the new web series “Keep Me Posted,” which premiered on Sept. 15, goes beyond just including text messages and Instagram in the background. Instead, it really hones in on our phones’ ever-present influence on our lives, through the eyes of three twenty-something friends in the city.
One of the producers of the three-episode series, Caitlin Morris, has been an Astoria resident for more than three years. She and her two producing partners make up the nonprofit Pitch Her Productions, which aims to promote women in film.
Morris was initially drawn to the web series because she had previously worked with director, writer and executive producer Hillary Nussbaum, and the subject matter of the series sealed the deal.
“To me, there’s something about ‘Keep Me Posted’ that’s undeniably relevant, and the comedy is in the truth of what the characters do and how the characters use technology,” Morris said.
For example, in the first episode, one character, a writer, goes to a coffee shop and takes photo after photo of her coffee and notebook on a table, trying to get the perfect shot for Instagram. “The Writing Life, Day 1. #livingthedream #amwriting,” she posts, before even sitting down to do any work.
Another character has just moved in with her fiancé, and it’s not going so smoothly. But when her friend texts her to ask how it’s been, she responds with a bunch of heart emojis.
At the packed premiere screening of the web series in Manhattan on Sept. 12, the audience really responded to these relatable moments.
“I found that during the screening, it was really interesting that most of the biggest laughs were from these circumstantial things that would happen, like a character would either respond in a certain way or post something that totally belied how they were emotionally dealing with something, and people really respond to that because we all do that,” Morris said. “That is part of our culture now.”
The fact that women played key roles in front of and behind the camera aligned perfectly with the mission of Pitch Her Productions.
“There are three female leads, which was an immediate draw, but then there are three female leads who are dealing with life — not sitcom life in the sense that it’s all happy and shiny, but real kind of like gritty, unfortunate realities of growing older and living in New York and trying to pursue your dreams, with the added obstacle of, ‘How do I engage with this smartphone in my hand as a way to prove to my friends that I’m fine?’” Morris said. “Walking that fine line to me was the juicy part and the thing that was like, ‘Yes — I can get behind this.’”
To tell this story, the “Keep Me Posted” team had to create a certain look and feel on screen, partly through the text, email and social media notifications and other graphics that pop up throughout each episode, and partly through the sets where they filmed.
Production designer Kristen Robinson, who has been a Sunnyside resident since 2013, was in charge of designing and implementing the visuals for the series, meaning that she dealt with “something as small as what a salad looks like on a plate to arranging furniture or taking a location that’s a bar and turning it into a restaurant,” she explained.
Robinson primarily works as a theater set designer, and she said that her work on this web series was more hands-on than her theater work.
“It was a lot more visual research and then finding the right objects and dressing that would fit in our world in our budget,” Robinson said.
She works in a studio in Long Island City, and she loves how many artists are in her building and in the community as a whole.
“What’s so great about having my studio and my apartment this close to each other is that it really makes me feel connected to the community here,” she said. “I get up and walk to my studio space every day and it’s just nice to get a sense of who’s out there.”
You can watch all three 20-minute episodes of “Keep Me Posted” on its website, keepmepostedseries.com.