“He’s With Me” has a seasoned pro behind the camera. Sebastian La Cause is not only HWM’s director, he’s co-producer, cinematographer and editor. An Indie Series Award-winner for his successful series, “Hustling”, in this interview, Mr. La Cause, a Broadway actor and television/film veteran, shares how he was inspired to create series and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.
Can you share what made you want to be involved in web series?
I wanted to get involved with web series when I was looking to “do more” in developing my career. It was almost six years ago when I returned to New York after spending some time in Los Angeles, auditioning. I was so inspired that when I got back to the East coast I couldn’t ignore this deep rooted desire to take action. The web space was still relatively unexplored but there were a lot of series out there already. I sat down at my computer, started researching and came across a now defunct media platform called Blip.TV, that was dedicated to original scripted content. I was blown away at what I found. So many shows. Some good – a lot not so good – but the point was that people were doing it. I realized in that moment that there was no reason why I shouldn’t be working in the web space.
What compelled you to write “Hustling”?
After my research of the web series world and my discovery of Blip, I then had to figure out what the hell I wanted to write about. All I knew was that I was going to star and direct. Back then, there was a trend of out-of-work actors writing shows about well, being out-of-work actors. Some of them were doing it well but I didn’t want to do that. During my time in LA, I had met a couple of porn stars – as one does when one is in LA because they are everywhere. The big thing that stuck out for me…get your mind out of the gutter that’s not what I’m talking about…was that they desperately wanted out of the porn business they just didn’t quite know how to do that — and if they did, what the eff were they going to do? So I took that idea and ran with it. When a gay-for-pay sex worker hits forty and questions the choices he’s made, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery and uncovers a passion for food and cooking, hoping it leads him to a new life. It’s a sexy, edgy dramedy about starting over. The interesting thing was that once I started on this path there was a crazy parallel with my own life. Suddenly I was going through exactly what my main character Ryan was…minus the sex worker part. I was embarking on a journey of self-discovery and uncovering a passion for filmmaking. My life would be forever changed.
How did you get involved in “He’s With Me”?
I got involved with “He’s With Me” back when Jason Cicci reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in directing a series he had written called “The Men’s Room”. I liked it when I read it but I didn’t think it was quite ready to start rolling the cameras. The focus of the “The Men’s Room” was very different but one relationship stuck out to me and that was the friendship between two of the characters, Martin and Ted – one gay, one straight. I thought that seemed interesting and was worth exploring. Jason agreed and started rewriting the scripts and he created “He’s With Me”. I loved the new scripts and soon we were casting and then shooting season one.
Do you have a favorite episode?
Honestly, every episode is my favorite episode hello! But if you put a gun to my head and I’m forced to pick I’d definitely say ‘Sexy Things’ in season one is definitely one of my favs. It all takes place in an art gallery with all the principals. We basically had no budget so we didn’t have many extras so we just worked the exhibits low attendance into the storyline. I also think the actors give really great performances in this episode. The scenes in front of the ‘giant vagina’ painting are just so so good! And my second favorite episode is the 2-parter ‘Lost Boys’ episode in season 2. I just love the idea of all the leading men struggling to find answers in their lives.
You’ve created three successful web series. Is there a particular formula that contributes to making a great show?
I’m sure network execs have a formula for a successful show but I’m not an exec nor do I work at a network but I honestly believe a successful series boils down to a good story that resonates with people. I also believe passion is a key ingredient. You have to love it. You have to believe it. Being passionate about the story you’re telling infuses it with an energy that’s not about pleasing an audience. Audiences will respond to authenticity. If you simply try to chase this idea of creating something successful you’ll always be chasing that idea. If you are invested in your idea at that level, it’s already a success. (Drops mic).
Your show “Hustling” has garnered all kinds of awards. Has your success in web series parlayed itself into more opportunities in the entertainment business?
Well, I’m still a struggling actor in LA, wondering if I’ll ever work again so on some level nothing’s changed. However, it has definitely opened some doors. It has given me a certain level of confidence as an actor and it pushed my career in a new direction that showed me I was capable of so much more. Opportunities are still presenting themselves and there are more on the way. It also taught me how important it is to take action. You can’t just sit around thinking about what you want to do. You have to actually take action.
What do you hope to achieve?
Global domination and my own show.