By Alison James
The local coffee shop’s newest endeavor is “a dream coming into fruition.”
That’s in the words of co-owner Laura Pritchard who said the idea for a web series, announced recently, resonated with them immediately.
“We always knew the Overall Company was so much more than coffee and this artisan ice cream we call a popsicle,” Pritchard said. “We had always believed there would be an opportunity for us to be in some kind of entertainment realm because we know how much that changes culture, and we knew this place is multidimensional … So when Doc came in, it really shocked us because it so much resonated with our heart of what we want to do.”
Doc Waller, who is serving as executive producer, pitched the idea for a web series to Pritchard and her husband Jay during a visit to Overall Company. Waller, a 1999 Opelika High School graduate, said the thought just came to him.
“Literally, it hit me right there,” Waller said. “I said, ‘You guys should do a series here’ … I just gave them the idea, and I think it kind of struck a chord.”
The web series, aptly titled “Overall,” is neither a documentary nor a reality show but, according to information provided by Overall Company, “a scripted web series depicting the lives of characters from the East Alabama and surrounding areas – centered around experiences at The Overall Company.”
“The characters and stories in this series will be developed fictionally,” the announcement explains, “while, occasionally, inspired by actual occurrences … This series will be a professional, cinematic, creative project. While some scenes will take place here at The Overall Company, others will take place throughout the East Alabama area.”
Auditions are scheduled for Jan. 30 from 5-10 p.m. and Jan. 31 from noon to 9 p.m. on a first come basis, and Waller said they encourage anyone who is interested to audition – anyone.
“I had someone email and say, ‘I was actually thinking about auditioning, but I know I don’t fit the Hollywood type,’” Waller said. “That just really hit me … It really showed the value in the fact that the opportunity in itself is already shaking things up.”
He told her to forget Hollywood. “If you want to audition for this, you need to audition for this,” Waller said.
John Henderson of LaFayette will serve as director of the series, drawing from his years of experience in the industry.
“I’ve always felt a lack of authentic Southern stories,” said Henderson, pointing to Hollywood’s (often inaccurate) portrayal of the South. “I feel like there’s a great need for that; so, it’s exciting to take a place in the South, use people from the South and tell that story – to show it’s just a place. We’re not a stigma or a box you can put the South in. We’re just people.”
Waller said the concept, which he pitched just a couple of months ago, came together quickly. Although not all the details are ironed out, that fits into the plan to “let the beauty of the community tell us where we need to go.”
Highlighting the Overall Company, of course, is part of the goal of the creative opportunity.
“When people watch it … we want to make them feel like they want to be in the Overall Company,” Waller said. “When they finish watching it, I want them to put on their coat and say, ‘I can’t wait until we get another cup of coffee there,’ because of how it made them feel.”
Jay said he and Laura had always dreamed of doing a reality series as part of their unique service to the community, which is why the web series fits so neatly into their vision.
“We love to dream big, and we love out-of-the-box ideas,” Jay said.
“It’s an avenue to connect with people’s hearts –” Laura added, “to inspire and lift the spirits of someone who comes in contact with the Overall Company.”
Waller said this branching off from the typical description of a coffee shop – from a place that just serves coffee to a place that is multi-dimensional – will give other businesses a greater freedom to do things that are different than what’s characteristic and open new avenues to articulate culture.
“I think it’s really exciting to see a business that will put itself out there and, instead of being the thing people have to suffer through in order to watch the show they actually want to watch, try to create the thing they actually want to watch,” Henderson said. “That’s really exciting as a filmmaker … I think the potential is through the roof.”
The web series is set to consist of four, 5-minute episodes, although Waller said they plan to do multiple “seasons.”
Everyone 8 years and older is invited to audition; those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information regarding auditions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone planning to audition should send an email to this address to sign up and receive an Audition Tips and Rules sheet.
Waller said rehearsal and filming schedules will be worked out with those who are cast for the series. Everyone will hear back as to whether or not they have been selected.
“We’re just sincerely excited to create an opportunity that is rare for our community,” explains the series announcement. “We’re in the position to influence and inspire a great deal of people, and we believe this kind of idea has the chance to make that happen.”