Web series doesn’t “Rise” to the occasion

By: Taylor DeVille, Associate Arts & Life Editor 

Towson alumni Taylor Young and Chuck Stone returned to campus Thursday for a screening and discussion of their web series “Rise,” as part of the EMF Alumni Screening Series.

The four-episode serialized crime drama/dark comedy, produced by Young and Stone’s company, Riot Scene Productions, stars friends of Young and Stone as well as actor Tray Chaney, who you might recognize as Malik “Poot” Carr from “The Wire.”

“The concept of the script was like ‘The Wire’ meets ‘Breaking Bad’ with characters from ‘Always Sunny,’” writer and director Young said.

“Rise” tells the story of two Baltimore weed dealers who take it upon themselves to investigate the sudden death of their friend, who appears to have died of a heroin overdose. The two quickly (and rather easily) discover their friend’s murderer and his motive, and they descend into the rabbit hole of Baltimore drugs and gangsters.

Despite the movie taking place in Baltimore, the film lacked the diversity seen in the shows it was modeled after. Jokes about a white gangster loving “racially-motivated murders” felt uncomfortable and, well, racist, especially given the writer’s ignorance of the social climate and racial composition of the city.

The sole female character in the series was only necessary to “seduce” one of the gangsters at the behest of the two main characters, but despite her one-dimensional role, she proved to be the most interesting character — a snarky, selfish con-artist.

Young and Stone describe the series as “grassroots” and a “passion project,” given their nonexistent funding and distribution. During the talk-back session after the screening, they gave student filmmakers advice about working with little money, saying that lack of funding and distribution should not stop the filmmakers from telling their story, “even if it looks mediocre,” according to Young.

“I thought it was really good,” junior and EMF major Bobby Miller said. “You could tell they didn’t have a lot of resources, but they did really well with what they had.”

Young and Stone are currently writing season two, and filming will begin in November. “Rise” is available to view now on YouTube.

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