Many people had childhood hobbies that perhaps fell to the way side as they grew older. However, filmmaking for Milwaukee natives Victoria Lee and Lili K started at age 11 when they created a horror trilogy about a serial killer who wreaked havoc on their friends at slumber parties.
The "Oops I Peed My Pants," "Oops I Did It Again," and "Oops I Peed the Pool" trilogy created by Lee and Lili K that "didn't make any sense" may be lost in the back of their professional portfolios, but their passion for creativity on camera never faltered.
Flash forward to 2017 when the web series Low Strung was created and written by Lee and co-directed by Lili K.
"Low Strung is a ridiculous web series about me and my best friend Shervin and all of the outrageous situations we get ourselves into on a day-to-day basis in Chicago, but a surreal version of Chicago," explains Lee. "Yeah, because reality bites," adds co-star and co-writer Shervin Bain.
Lili K is a Chicago-based independent musician, but she was more than happy to be a part of the project.
"When Victoria told me that she had been writing this series I got really interested in getting more involved in being behind the camera again and working on directing," she says. "So it's been really fun to make an adult version of what we've been doing since we were kids."
Lee is a copywriter in Chicago, but decided she wanted to test her writing skills in another medium - script writing. "It gave me a chance to go all the way out there and get really weird with it, so it was kind of like an outlet for my creativity and I figured comedy was the best way to do that," she explains.
While writing the series, Lee recalls a point where so much work was invested into Low Strung, she knew there was no turning back.
"When I first had the idea, I was like, 'OK - we're going to write this series on Monday, and then we're going to starting filming on Friday, and then I'm going to be famous by Sunday and it's going to be fine!' But it's definitely been a long process, but definitely a very rewarding one," says Lee.
Low Strung is not only exemplifies Lee and Bain's friendship on screen, but celebrates their connections off screen as a grassroots production. With a team of less than 10, writing and acting was shared by Lee, Bain, and Ruth Perret-Goluboff. Additional support such as directing, sound, and music was secured through Lili K's music connections. She also acts as one of the show's editors and sole music supervisor.
"I wanted to tap as many of (Milwaukee and Chicago) artists as possible to use their music in the series, but it's finding the right fit for different scenes," Lili K notes. "So that was I think that was the most fun and also the most challenging part."
Both in front of and behind the screen, the Low Strung's goal is to showcase diversity and genuine storytelling, Bain explains, and be funny.
"A lot of what we see, when it comes to black entertainment, is very focused on a very specific type of person," he notes. "And we just wanted to add our voice to the conversation of what people are doing around the world, especially what black people are doing here in America and the different types of personalities that are out there. So it's just giving our point of view, adding our narrative to an already amazing story that's unfolding."
Lee adds that even existing comedy doesn't accurately reflect a shared reality. Instead, minority characters in television and film are too often fit into stereotypes.
"You don't really even see slapstick, which is kind of what Low Strung is, in a lot of black and brown TV comedies. Even the comedies have these heavy undertones to them...and we wanted to go in a different direction and just make something that you really don't have to think too hard about - it's just silly," she says.
Low Strung premiered at the Brooklyn Web Fest, where it was the Official Selection and also awarded Best Actress to Lee. While greatly appreciated, "it was really weird because I don't know what I'm doing," she jokes.
With four episodes available (and counting), Lee, Bain, and Lili K hope that audiences have fun watching the show and get inspired to build a community around it.
"If people can just see us for who we are, it'll help expand more people's (views) and just let people see that there's other people out there doing different things and we love them all," says Bain.
Lili K adds,"I think it's an easy show to love, honestly."