How is the landscape of love changing now that we’re all trapped in our bedrooms? “Love In Quarantine” is a six-episode web series that follows the story of Susie and Jon, a new couple that decides to quarantine together rather than risk their nascent relationship. The result: an entertaining recount of how self-isolating proves difficult in the age of social media. We interviewed ARAD student Richard Mayer, who plays Jon, to learn more about his experience being part of this project.
Tell me more about Love in Quarantine. What is the project about?
Love in Quarantine is a web series about the challenges of finding love in the midst of the pandemic. The two main characters, Susie and Jon, just started dating before quarantine and decided to quarantine together. It doesn’t go well. My wife, Ashton Akridge, and I play the two main characters. The story is told as a series of video calls and social media video posts. The wide cast of characters each deal with the pandemic in their own way and alternatively try to help or hinder Jon and Susie’s relationship. The series was shot entirely on the actors’ phones then edited together.
- Who came up with the idea of recording a series for social media?
Nancy Cristina, a good friend of ours from New Orleans who is a professional filmmaker. She wanted to do something creative to shake off the quarantine blues. She also co-writes the series along with Emilie Staatstrong and directed it via Zoom. Her husband, Arvid Cristina, edited everything together.
- You and your wife are both leading actors in the story. How was recording from home? Did you have any technical issues? Do you have any anecdotes about the process?
Thankfully, the series was designed to be as simple to shoot as possible. We would do 6-10 takes of each scene and send the best ones off to get edited together on Nancy’s end. It was pretty simple for us, and thankfully phone technology has advanced so much that we could just shoot from our phones.
There were some challenges though. We lived in a tiny Manhattan apartment at the time; it was difficult finding new locations within our place and hiding the evidence of what our lives were really like. I mean, Susie and Jon had just met so they probably wouldn’t have pictures of each other all over the apartment! The other problem was cat-related – our two cats just loved getting in on the action. They’re little prima donnas so they always have to be the center of attention. Eventually, we gave up trying to fight them and just included them in the series.
- Were all of the actors in the same city? Did you ever see each other in person as part of the process?
Not at all, we were all over the country. I believe that my wife and I were the only ones in New York. Most of the cast and crew was down in Louisiana, and we had an actor in Los Angeles as well. That’s part of the reason why the characters mostly interact with each other over video. Well, and that whole pandemic thing. It allowed Nancy to include her friends and colleagues from all over the country, which was one of the coolest aspects of the project. We would all call in and shoot our scenes at the same time though, so we still got to act alongside one another. A lot of the dialogue is improvised between the actors; we all had a lot of fun acting alongside each other.
- Did you also face some of the issues that Susie and Jon had in the series?
Thankfully, no! We definitely had some adjusting to do at first, carving up our apartment so we each had our own space, but we’ve really gotten along wonderfully this entire time. She goes a long way towards keeping me sane and vice-versa. Susie has a strong web presence, which Jon gets in the way of and resents. I’m always trying to help my wife take pictures for Instagram and edit videos together. Step up your game, Jon!
- What advice would you have for someone thinking about launching a similar project?
Just jump in and do it! Everyone is still mostly trapped in their apartments, so tap into the talent of the people you know and make something. Even if you don’t have a professional editor or director on hand, film technology is so widely available that anyone can make something amazing.
Follow Jon and Susie’s story here and on Instagram @loveinquarantine2020
About Richard Mayer: Richard graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a degree in Theatre and History. After graduating he worked as a venue owner, producer, administrator, and actor in New Orleans. Serving as Executive Director for Old Marquer Theatre, he grew the organization into the busiest live theatre in the region and headed the theatre’s successful in-house productions. He is Co-Producer of NOLA Nerdlesque Festival, a pop-culture parody burlesque festival, and an advisor for New Orleans Infringe Theatre Fest. For his efforts supporting and growing the performance scene, he was named 2012 Times-Picayune New Orleans Theatre Person of the Year. Recently, Richard served as Festival Assistant for Music in the Mountains, a classical music festival in Durango, Colorado now in its 33rd year.