All the 90s kids are now in the yard, as a tandem of independent Canadian filmmakers is bringing their favorite cartoon to life with the live-action remake of Recess. But they have a massive problem facing ahead: funding.
Produced by Director Jerome Yoo and Co-written by Kent Donguinez and Zlatina Pacheva, the new live-action show, promises that they will prioritize authenticity of the storyline and character’s accuracy above all.
“Expect for it to be character-accurate especially that our ensemble is composed by very familiar faces in the Vancouver film scene,” Kent Donguines, who co-produces and the show, told Z6Mag.
Recess is a 90s cartoon that used to be everyone’s ideal Saturday morning show back then. It revolves around the story of six fourth-graders at the Third Street School who made it their life mission to protect other kids in the playground against bullies — of course, during the recess period.
While everyone is much familiar about the story of popular and confident Theodore Jasper “T.J.” Detweiler, athletic Vince LaSalle, tough girl Ashley Spinelli, gentle giant Mikey Blumberg, genius Gretchen Grundler (Ashley Johnson), and shy new kid Gus Griswald, no one really knows what happens to them after fourth grade.
“One question continued to haunt us — what happened to the gang after 4th grade?” they shared in their pitch on IndieGogo. “Well, we’re here to answer that question for you! As filmmakers, we want to explore a more grown-up version of the show — same characters, different issues. A live-action, re-imagining of the gang in a high school setting tackling current issues like love, peer pressure, social media, identity, etc.”
The producers and writers of the live-action remake of Recess explore their curiosity on what’s next to the kids when they started high school. When asked what to expect of the show regarding its storyline, Donguines teased about how the “the Recess friends are finally reunited on screen.”
“At this point, I won’t sugar coat anything about what we’ve shot anymore. I just want the public to watch out for it,” Donguines added.
What they lack for money, they compensate with love
However, independent productions are always riddled with technical and financial constraints; and the producers of Live-Action Recess are no exemptions. Donguines shared to Z6Mag different challenges that they faced and are still facing for the project, and first on his list was “money.”
Donguines pointed out that one of their primary concerns for the show is for it to get enough funding. He highlights the fact that most of those who lead the project are immigrants, and that itself present some hurdles.
The project has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help finance their costs. However, as of writing, the team had raised only about $1000 of their $6836 goal, with only four days left before the campaign expires.
That is why Donguines and his team compensate for their lack of funding with talent and passion. He said that their team is mostly composed of volunteers, who like him and his co-producers, are fans of the original animated show.
“A huge challenge for us, as well, was putting together a team who are willing to give us their weekend voluntarily and making sure that they know what Recess is all about,” he said.
“[Their] way to show our love for Recess, and as fans, we just want to put something together that’s made out of love. Every member of the cast and crew of this project really love Recess; that’s why we brought it back to life,” the producer discussed.
He prides that the members of the new show’s cast are big names in Vancouver, with hopes that their fame would help the production regarding marketing and the general idea of “making it big.”
The roles, as Donguines said, would be played by Deadly Class‘ Benjamin Wadsworth as TJ, Sean Depner as Mikey, The Order‘s Louriza Tronco as Spinelli, Lillian Doucet-Roche as Gretchen, Fritzy-Klevans Destine as Vince and Clive Holloway as Gus.
“The Ashleys” clique will be played by Sydney Scotia, Brenna Llewellyn, as well as, Kelcey Mawema and Emilija Baranac, who’s best known for her role as Genevieve in the Netflix hit, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Of course, the gang won’t be complete without the playground snitch Randall, who’ll be portrayed by Netflix’s The Order, Adam DiMarco.
Nonetheless, Donginues remains optimistic amidst the challenges that are coming their way. He shared his hopes that their small project will be picked up by Disney and fund them for a bigger production.
“We hope that we will be able to reach Disney and have it picked up to produce a full live-action show officially. If not, we just want people to enjoy the show and experience nostalgia,” Donguines said.