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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Web Mockumentary Portrays College Life

Partying, drunken hookups and new relationships—that’s what college is supposedly all about, and that’s what’s portrayed in Room and Bored, the web mockumentary created by junior Tim Rhone and filmed on the campus of St. John’s.

The show, which premiered in September, follows around six college students at an unnamed university. Rhone used the popular NBC series The Office as inspiration and tried to emulate the comedy in a different setting.

“We don’t want to seem like we stole the idea from The Office,” said junior Rick Miller, who plays Carson on the show. “But we stole it from The Office. And by ‘we,’ I mean Tim.”

In its first season, Room and Bored’s plot has developed around the developing relationships between Tom and Kaitlyn, played by sophomores Danny Malone and Allie Poris, and Natalie and Baze, played by juniors Daria Coney and Mike Sardone.

Tom, who Malone describes as an “awkward romantic,” is struck by Kaitlyn, the new girl at school.  Baze and Natalie are initially platonic friends, but their feelings for each other begin to change when Baze pays Natalie to pretend to be his girlfriend to appease his mother. Things come to a head in the seventh episode, “Prank War,” when Natalie pulls Baze into her room and off camera after celebrating her 21st birthday.

The eighth episode, “Thin Walls,” which is the midseason finale, premieres on Dec. 8. Rhone said there would be a cliffhanger that builds off Natalie and Baze’s interactions in “Prank War.”

The cliffhanger, along with the rest of the show, has been long in the making. Rhone wrote the scripts for the first two episodes over Christmas break last year, but had the idea of directing a mockumentary years before that.

“I actually did something very similar in high school, for the final project of my video broadcast class,” he said. “A little bit of that was filmed—the entire script was written—but it just didn’t come together.”

But his desire to film a mockumentary remained, and he thought he’d be able to do it at St. John’s.

“I thought of something that I could feasibly do here,” he said. “I loved the mockumentary style of The Office—that’s why I used it before. I thought, ‘I couldn’t do this idea prior, why not try it again now?’ And then from there it all kind of snowballed, and before I knew it I had 14 episodes planned out for the first season.”

He wrote the next six scripts over the summer, which is when he got in touch with the people that would become his cast and showed them the script.

“I liked it a lot, actually,” Malone said. “It was entertaining. There were some parts where I laughed out loud, there were some parts where I said, ‘Okay, some of this we have to make funny.’ The actual story is very good. It’s tough to do, to fit everything into a ten minute episode, to balance the laughs with the story—[Rhone] did a great job at it.”

Originally, Rhone said that the show tried to balance the portrayal of a typical college lifestyle with St. John’s strict alcohol bans. Most scenes are filmed in the townhouses, and every scene is filmed on campus. In the first few episodes, any scenes that involved alcohol were filmed with the characters drinking out of Solo cups rather than beer cans.

But they threw caution to the wind in the fifth episode, “Case Race.” The episode is a competition to see which team can finish a case of beer first, and the characters drank out of beer cans (which were really empty). Empty beer cans are also seen in the cold open of “Prank War,” but the cast isn’t too worried about potential repercussions.

“There was alcohol in the suite [while filming “Prank War”], so I think that if someone watched that it could be a potential problem,” said Coney. “But I don’t know that the people who would catch us would be watching it.”

More people are watching it than anyone on the cast or crew thought would. Room and Bored has attracted what Rhone calls a “small but loyal” fanbase and has averaged almost 750 views per episode. The show’s relative popularity has surprised the people who work on it.

“I thought it would just be our friends and suitemates, and maybe people from the theater group I’m in and people from classes maybe,” said Coney. “But apparently, we have people watching in Saudi Arabia. There’s some people in California who were here for cabaret, and they came up to us after the show and said, ‘Oh my God, I watch Room and Bored!’ I thought that was so crazy.”

In addition to creating the show, Rhone has also written every script and directed every scene except one scene that he acted in (as the unnamed and hungover Party Guy in the fourth episode, “Discoveries”). While he takes input from his cast, Rhone is very much the creative force behind the show.

“He doesn’t even tell his producers what’s happening,” said Coney. “It’s all his. He won’t let anyone edit. He’ll take our ideas and work them into the script, but it’s all a Tim Rhone production.”

That’s fine with the cast, who say they enjoy working with Rhone. Most of the cast and crew were friends before working together on Room and Bored, and their time spent on the show has strengthened their bonds, they said.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t get on each other’s nerves. Frustrated with how long Malone would take while filming, Coney started to half-jokingly vent to the camera in between scenes,

“[In the beginning of the season] he never knew his lines while filming,” Coney said. “He couldn’t get through a take, and he wouldn’t shut up, and all he’s talking about is food. I just want to go and do what I have to do with my life, and he just keeps talking. So I started saying, ‘I hate Danny. I hate Tom. Natalie hates Tom. Daria hates Danny’ … to the camera and so everyone thinks that I actually hate Danny. I don’t.”

One of the running jokes throughout the season has been Rhone and the rest of the cast’s desire to “kill Danny.” In between filming scenes one day, they thought of different ways to kill off Malone’s character Tom. Spontaneous human combustion was the most plausible of the ideas put forth.

But they insist that it’s all in good fun, and after Malone’s character Tom was phased out as the first half of the season went on, Rhone said that he would be more heavily featured in the second semester’s episodes. There are six more episodes planned for this season, and Rhone has mapped out a second season, although he’s leaving nothing to chance.

“Just in case something happens and we don’t get to do Season Two, for whatever reason, Season One will be tied up as neat as it can be,” he said. “I think the finale in May will leave the fans of the show very satisfied.”

Rhone says his favorite part Room and Bored is seeing the finished product. But some of his cast like different aspects of being on the show.

“I think the best thing is going out to bars and being recognized,” said Miller. “People say, ‘You’re Carson!’ and I’m like ‘Yeah, I am!’”

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