Castles in the Air
We all have that crazy friend. The friend you can't take to church, the zoo, sometimes even the bank. Imagine the most loyal, honest and interesting guy in Hollywood who wants nothing more than to be that crazy friend. Only problem is... he only has the crazy part down right now.
Inclusion StatementAs a man of African-American & Latino descent, I wanted the world in "Castles in the Air" to be diverse, too. Over 50% of the cast is women. Our project explores themes such as mental illness, LGBT rights, Autism awareness, feminist rights, etc. all in a humorous yet respectful & tactful manner.
About The Project
"Castles in the Air" is an exaggerated autobiographical yet comedic take on my real life struggles with personal relationships and mental illness. To match with the protagonist Von's imaginative and inconsistent mind, the show matches that with it's absurd yet witty comedy and sucker punching drama. Its humor being a cross between "30 Rock" and "Community". The show has also been compared to "Scrubs" and "Everybody Hates Chris". Von never sees anything at face value. Constantly being in his head and analzying everything and anything around him to show no matter odd it gets, there is always a deeper introspective meaning to it that both the audience and Von discover by the end of every episode. In this pilot for the show we will explore Von's last day in New Jersey and the events that bring him to Los Angeles.
I was four-years-old when I was first diagnosed with Aspergers. Being in and out of therapy since I could remember, I have been declared having a number of possible disorders and neuroses. This never helped my already present difficulty connecting with people especially considering I'm rarely expressive with my emotions. I use writing to convey how I feel about things and used comedy as a coping mechanism with things that negatively affected me.
Unfortunately, the only people I tend to identified with aren't real: movie and TV characters. The character I usually identify with is portrayed as the oddball side character or if they are a lead character, their mental abnormality is their identity. The lead character in "Castles" in any other sitcom would be the "oddball" character, but I decided I want that character to be the focus. Why? Because, through their POV and despite their psychosis, they are NOT just a cartoon. There is logic and heart within them that I always felt is lost when usually characterizing someone that thinks and acts differently than most people. Starting with it's protagonist: Von.
He is our creatively and intellectually sound yet socially inept protagonist with one goal in mind when he comes to Los Angeles-- no! Not succeed. That would be nice, but in "Castles", his goal is something that has evaded him since childhood: a friend. Much of the comedy comes from Von's misfortune, snarky remarks, social ineptitude and irritable demeanor. Much of the drama, however, derives from Von's loneliness, emotionally self-destructive behavior and decisions/actions made during his manic moments. The upside yet tragedy of Von's character is nothing he does hurts anyone other than himself...which is why he needs Dr. Quinn.
Dr. Quinn is Von's self-aware imaginary therapist from childhood. The older, smarter and more creative he became, the more intricate and intelligent she was constructed to be. Whereas Von is unstable and emotionally all over the place, Dr. Quinn is cold and contained, despite her vast empathy for her only patient. Her intelligence is matched by his creativity considering they are opposite sides of the brain speaking to each other. Her goal for Von is (unlike him) not happiness, but his sanity. Her theory is that they will only know he has reached that if she no longer exists, putting them in constant conflict considering she is the closest thing Von considers to a friend. Dr. Quinn's goal is for Von to no longer need her and explore friendships with real individuals, a fate she believes he has earned and for him to not hide the beautiful, but lonely soul he hides from the world and if the price of that is her existence, she is willing to take it. She knows the longer she exists and the more attached he becomes to her, the closer Von advances towards utter insanity. Despite it being a mental journey and struggle, their dynamic is truly the heart of the series.
As a person struggling with Aspergers and mental illness that has used comedy writing as their means of expression, I wanted to spread awareness that I am more than my weird psyche. One is not wrong for being different. Especially considering there is a stigma and consequently discouragement to admitting one has mental illness in both the African-American and Latino community. This show is designed to help break that stereotype. In fact, "Castles in the Air" desires to do nothing but break stereotypes and showcase to a mass audience that all genders, races, cultures, etc. should not be generalized or dismissed. Through the comedic and dramatic antics and thoughts of our main character and the world he has created in his head and how he deals with the real world outside his head, a viewer can hopefully take from it that being unusual is being unique.
My mother once asked me what is it like inside my creative head. I responded "lonely." Being an eccentric empath, I have the burden of always understanding, but never being understood. I want my characters, who are all lovably beautifully bizarre in some way, to feel what I've always wanted to feel: that despite their eccentricities and flaws...the world will accept them and love them for it.
The phrase "Castle in the Air" means basically a pipe dream. With multiple characters with various dreams, I want the audience to know that it's okay to have ambition and goals no matter what anyone says. And who best to tell them that then a guy too unstable to take the 'logical and more practical' route in life. I want to take the audience on this journey, and this pilot is the first step...into my "Castle in the Air".
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About This Team
The "Castles in the Air" team formed very much like The Avengers. We had our own separate stand alone adventures and slowly assembled to one great team...while we had inferior sequel adventures on the side alone. Not a single one of us is what you'd expect from us at mere glance. Although different from one another, our shared quirky sense of humor and passion to tell an innovative and genuine story is what keeps us on the same page.