Did you ever have the following experience: You hear from someone that a movie or a TV show is very good, but you don't know why. You take a chance and see it, without knowing anything about it. And after it is over, you realize you have watched something very, very special? Well, without further ado, please take 10 minutes of your life and watch this video. Then, see the interview with the director below.
If you now love the Specials as much as I do, you will want to know more about who and what is behind it. Katy Lock is the director and the driving force behind The Specials. Katy was kind enough to do an interview for our blog.
Gene Emmer: To start please give everyone a summary of the Specials. What is it all about?
Katy Lock: Well 'The Specials' is a documentary series which follows the lives of Lucy, Lewis, Sam, Megan and Hilly, five friends in their 20s who have been sharing a house in Brighton for the past 2 years. Lewis has William's Syndrome and the others have Down's Syndrome and they have been friends since they were little kids. The guys provide the voiceover to the series and so, through 'The Specials', they are inviting the viewer to share their world.
GE: Can you please say a few words of introduction about each of the Specials.
KL: Hilly's parents Carol & Dafydd decided to set up the house when she told them she wanted to live with her friends. Hilly's a real girlie girl, she loves clothes, manicures and is always dancing to pop music. Sam's a complete Ladies Man! He used to go out with Lucy but through the series you follow his search for love. Lucy is the mother of the house, she is in a long term relationship with Nick and works 5 days a week (the others are still at college). As for Lewis, he's such a funny man! At the beginning of the series his girlfriend Megan moves in to the house but things soon get a bit complicated with Sam around.
GE: You describe the Specials as a docu-soap. According to Wikipedia a Soap is a "episodic work of dramatic fiction". So how much of The Specials is documentary and how much is fiction? Do the Specials have scripts?
KL: It's good you ask me this as the word “docu-soap” has confused a lot of people! In the UK, when we refer to a docu-soap, we mean a documentary series in which, over a long period of time you follow the 'goings on' in a real life situation. The “soap” part refers to the episodic nature of a series like this - but let me assure you 'The Specials' is not fiction! The guys are not actors but are real people who allowed me to enter their home and follow them with my handheld camera. I filmed them over a 6 month period and during that time I saw them have a lot of fun but also go through some very difficult emotional situations e.g. break ups, parental divorce. Over that time we built up a lot of trust and so, hopefully, you can see they trusted me enough to be really open.
GE: I understand that you tried to get TV networks to pick up the show. Why do you think that the series was not picked up by a TV network? Are you still trying?
KL: One of the major networks in the UK came very close to commissioning the series for prime-time but sadly it didn't work out in the end. I think the mainstream media does struggle to see shows about disability appealing to a large audience. When the pilot wasn't commissioned we all decided to make the series for the web because we wanted to prove that a show like this could have mainstream appeal. I hope people find 'The Specials' entertaining simply because the 5 housemates are wonderfully engaging individuals. Many people who previously didn't know someone with a learning disability have contacted us to say how surprised they were to see 'The Specials' go through all the same ups and downs as anyone else. That's exactly the reaction we want! 'The Specials' is not a show about about disability, it's about the shared human experience.
GE: Like many non-TV people, I imagine it must be expensive to create such a show.
How was the show financed? Is there any chance it will "break even". What are your most important sources of finance for the show?
KL: This show has been a real labour of love project – in other words, we had no funding whatsoever! Me and Dan had to raid our piggy banks but we really believed it was a series that needed to be made. With the DVD of Season 1 and the shop we hope to get together enough money to make a second series, however right now we are nowhere near raising enough, so I am also looking into other funding options. I've got all my fingers crossed as I really want 'The Specials' to continue. The guys are so fantastic to film and I really want to see what their future holds – it's bound to be fascinating!
GE: Thank you Katy.
You will be pleased to know that there are currently 10 episodes of The Specials available on the website.
Do you want to support the Specials? There are several ways to do so:
1. If you are in Europe, visit The Specials Zazzle Shop
2. If you are in the USA, visit The Specials Cafe Press Shop
3. Sign up to order the Specials DVD when it is available.
4. Help to spread the word about The Specials