Like many other Emerson students, Braden LuBell ‘03 wants to explore controversial topics in his work. In his new webseries, Quick and Dirty, released this fall on Vimeo, he explores the idea of casual sex.
Told through fictional vignettes of six Bostonians, the eleven-episode drama captures the complicated consequences of casual sex. Characters struggle with their sexualities, insecurities, and health in episodes as long as eleven minutes, or as short as three. Other Emerson alumni contributed to the music, cast, and crew of the production. Alumni Jesse Rosen, Rosemary Baker, and Anne Adams star in three of the six main roles.
LuBell, a performing arts graduate, said Quick and Dirty was first created as a play eight years ago in Chicago. LuBell wanted to create a play for this group of unemployed actors he worked with, so he wrote a script for them, based on his own life.
“I was friends with a group of single young-ish people who had a wide variety of experiences with [casual sex],” LuBell said. “Some were wonderful, some were terrible, some were a combination of the two, some were neither. I started to write small conversations about these issues the way that it manifested around me, and it started to take shape.”
Quick and Dirty ran as a play for five years and was shown in Chicago, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles before LuBell’s friend from Los Angeles suggested they turn it into a movie.
Lubell initially rejected the idea until someone else from the group suggested a webseries of the same name.
“These are small vignettes of people, and [a webseries] made sense to me as I started to try to adapt it,” LuBell said. “I experienced a lot of new things [to add] in regards to the good and bad ripple effects of casual sex since that project in Chicago, and pretty soon I had a script going.”
The majority of the project was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, while the rest was backed by LuBell.
Because Quick and Dirty is his first webseries and the production lacked household-name celebrities, LuBell decided to upload it for free streaming on Vimeo.
“I wanted to make sure that, since it was my first project in the medium, that I was giving it a chance to be seen,” LuBell said. “I didn’t want people to be deterred by [the cost]. ”
Eight members of the cast and crew are also Emerson grads.
LuBell enjoyed seeing his old peers in his work, especially Margaret Katch and Anne Adams, who he’s known since 2002. Katch played Phoebe and Adams played Gwen, two of the series’ protagonists.
“It was such a blessing to do that work with them and watch them come into themselves as artists and to be a part of that,” LuBell said.
Jesse Rosen, a class of 2004 writing, literature, and publishing major who stars in the series as Gil, said he also enjoyed working with Emersonians. Although he did not grow close to the cast until after college, he said they were all able to connect over their mutual experience.
“Emerson is such a unique experience that really brings people together,” Rosen said. “It has such an artistic bent to it: we are all trying different things, but all trying different things in a new way. It brings you up to follow your originality. I think we have that in common as Emersonians.”
LuBell said, “The reason I wanted to work with so many Emerson people was because, during my time there, the students were of exceptional talent and intelligence. Even after years of working out in the field, I continue to be impressed by my Emerson peers and the new alumni they send out into the world.”
LuBell said more roles could have been given to other Emerson actors, but those were rejected due to scheduling conflicts. However, he admits this worked out for the best. “Even though I love [Emerson] actors, it did allow me to extend the rainbow of casting, which was important to me.”
When LuBell was working on casting, he did not specify the race for any of the characters. This created opportunities for actors of color to fill the roles, creating a more diverse cast.
Christine Lin, Chris Rustin, and Christian Jacobs are all non-Emerson actors of color who also star in the production.
“As my social consciousness started to grow, I started to realize that I had an opportunity that was much more responsible and interesting in that way. That was exciting, and I was glad I was able to do that.”
The series explores bisexual relationships, infidelity, and STDs—all topics typically left out in mainstream media. Rosen believes this is the main reason people should watch the series.
“I hope people see it,” Rosen said. “There’s a lot of things in the webseries that I think aren’t spoken about enough, primarily bisexuality and fluid sexuality. I feel like those types of characters are so underrepresented. It would really be wonderful for people to see a series which portrays those types of characters honestly.”