House of Cards, one of the most popular original series on Netflix, is coming to Boston College—through the creativity and innovation of Exposure Productions. Exposure, a student-run business group that offers professional media and marketing services to clubs and various organizations in the Boston area (think last year’s Showdown promotional video), has decided to take its media talents in a more creative direction, with plans to film one of the first feature-length drama series on a college campus: Mod of Cards.
The show—a collaboration between Exposure and Hollywood Eagles, BC’s film club—will recreate the highly successful political drama in a BC setting, with plans for the first of six episodes to be released on YouTube late this fall.
The Heights sat down with the show’s three producers—Ryan Reede, A&S ’16; Max Prio, owner of Exposure and CSOM ’16; and Derek Switaj, script-writer and CSOM ’15—to discuss the inspiration for the series, the filming process, and their hopes for the future of all those involved.
The Heights: Can you start by giving us some background on how this idea came to fruition?
Switaj: Right after Season 2 of House of Cards was released, I watched it with all of my roommates, and we were joking around, thinking: what if we made a Boston College House of Cards? At first it was a joke—I think my roommate Nick threw out the name Mod of Cards. It kind of snowballed, but then we forgot about it. I was working in LA for the summer, and I was trying to meet with a lot of screenwriters and agents and people working in the industry. Most people in the industry seem to say that nowadays if you want to write anything, if you want to direct anything, if you want to work in entertainment, you should just go make it. If you want to prove you’re good, don’t send me your resume—send me what you made. From talking to those people, I thought, Let’s make something at BC. Let’s make a collaborative effort, let’s get all the theater clubs, all the film clubs, all the improv clubs—let’s get everybody behind this and make the first ever collegiate drama series. Since most things that are made on YouTube tend to be shorts or parodies, this would be a really unique, special endeavor. I started writing it, and I was working with Ryan this summer [at a BC-founded startup called Wymsee], so I gave him the first two scripts—and the rest was history.
The Heights: What has been accomplished so far, in terms of scripting and planning?
Prio: When we came to BC, [Reede and Switaj] pitched it to me as a potential collaboration. They sent me the first two scripts, and I was pretty much blown away. At Exposure, we’ve been wanting to do more creative work, aside from the ‘work work’ that we’ve been getting, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that. Derek has written the scripts for the first four episodes, and is currently working on episodes five and six.
Reede: On the technical side, I’ve been drawing out shots that I think would be artistic and doable and hopefully engage the entire crew. Right now I have half the pilot script storyboarded. After that we can start getting shoot dates ready, locations lined up, and start making a shooting schedule.
The Heights: What was the inspiration for choosing House of Cards, as opposed to other popular TV shows at the moment?
Switaj: House of Cards is my favorite show—I personally think it’s one of the best shows on television. I think it’s got great acting, directing, style, the story is addicting, and I wanted to see that same story at BC. It’s all dramatized, but it’s kind of fun to draw on real experiences and hyperbole them to come up with a neat drama story. As a side note, hopefully in the future, I hope some students want to make Maroon Is The New Gold, or want to make Game of Gasson. I hope students see Mod of Cards, and in the future think, Okay, what’s next?
The Heights: How are you planning on translating the show’s themes, style, and plot lines to fit into a BC theme?
Switaj: What I can say is that you can expect all your favorite characters to be in the show—Frank and Claire and Garrett Walker and Linda Vasquez. They’re similar but not necessarily the same characters they are in the show. We may have taken some creative license with the story arcs, but you can expect some of the best parts. For example, Frank’s asides—Frank breaks the fourth wall a lot, and you can expect to see that. You can expect to see the inner workings of Garret Walker’s presidential cabinet—you can see that through the inner workings of his UGBC cabinet.
Reede: You’ll also see a lot of BC related jokes. Newton campus, Newton bus, there will be some cameos from the athletic department. A lot of puns on BC culture. It’s supposed to be funny—it’s still a drama, but we want people to come back and want more.
The Heights: What do you think is the key to the show’s success?
Switaj: This will be very well shot—these guys are experts on the camera. I’ve seen their Exposure work—it’s incredible directing, incredible cinematography. BC has amazing actors and actresses here, so the quality in front and behind camera is going to be remarkable. We’re tackling a college drama series, which is something most people don’t do. I’m not aware of anyone that’s done it.
Prio: I think it would be a one-of-a-kind, never-before-done piece. No one’s being paid to do what we’re doing, so everyone is participating because they have a passion for whatever their creative contribution is to the project.
Reede: I think this campus is really close-knit, but there’s nothing to really show for that, and hopefully through Mod of Cards, BC will come off to potential applicants as a great place to work together and have relationships with a bunch of cool people.
Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff