New show eschews elaborate sets and silly plots for something much better: conversations.
“The conversation no one else is having”—that’s the tagline on top of every page of the Good Men Project. Well, Front Seat Chronicles, a web series that is now coming to television (it premieres on the CBS affiliate in Denver on April 12th), covers similar ground. However, it gives voice and picture to those meaningful conversations.
Each episode or conversation of Front Seat Chronicles runs about 5-8 minutes. The scenery is always the same—the front seat of a car. In that front seat, two characters are experiencing transitional moments and having pivotal conversations. Issues are discussed and experiences are shared.
The topics of these conversations are often difficult to broach. Past conversations have included faltering relationships, financial hardships, letting go of a loved one, gun control, underage drinking, teenage pregnancy, and veterans’ affairs.
One of the things that inspired Allen Sowelle to create the series was a conversation he had with his mother the day after his father passed. They talked about what Sowelle’s father meant to each of them. “It was the most meaningful conversation I ever had with my mother, and it took place in my pickup truck.” He adds, ““We don’t take the time to develop relationships, conversation, and emotions. Everything has become instant.”
Sowelle presented the idea of Front Seat Chronicles to his friend Josh Feinman, who ultimately became its producer. Feinman loved the idea of talking about important social issues. Setting the show in a car also struck Feinman, a Los Angeles resident, as wise. Feinman says we spend so much time in our cars. “They are an intimate space where we can talk about anything.”
Feinman was particularly excited to be part of the project, as he was in a down period after the passing of his own father. He was looking to do something meaningful and saw Front Seat Chronicles as a “way to give back to society.” The producer also saw the potential for actor interest in the project. Feinman says, “Every actor always wants to do something with meat in it and loves a close-up.” The fact that the episode occurs in a confined space with three cameras running provides for intimate shots.
Sowelle knows he created something to be proud of, especially when he runs into fans of the show. He recently had a meeting with a TV executive and began chatting with the executive’s assistant, a young man in his late twenties and a combat veteran.
The assistant and Sowelle (a veteran as well) had a 30 minute conversation about an episode from Season 2 entitled, “It Don’t Mean Nothing.” Sowelle wrote and directed the episode, which features a grandson sharing a troubling war story with his grandfather. “We had a meaningful human connection, in which we talked about the episode, as well as his life. We thanked each other for serving our country, and now we are email friends. ”
As Front Seat Chronicles nears its air date, Sowelle has high hopes for the show. “I hope the show can inspire people to start or engage in conversation,” he says. “Too often these days, people are so afraid to hurt the feelings of others. We need to remember that we often have to go through things that are difficult in order to be a source of comfort. That can’t happen if we don’t engage one another.”
When asked who they would like to cast on Front Seat Chronicles, both Sowelle and Feinman answered, “My father.” Both creator and producer wanted an opportunity to have one more conversation with their respective fathers so they could thank, learn, and appreciate them. Feinman said, “This show is not about celebrities. It’s about the conversations that everyone is having. It’s about listening in on the conversation you are not supposed to listen to, but you are supposed to hear.”
If you are in the Denver area, make sure to check out Front Seat Chronicles on CBS 4. For those of you who are outside of the Denver market, check out this site to see past episodes.