If the success of Wes Hurley’s Capitol Hill web series came as a surprise, then you probably don’t know much about the filmmaker’s work. Or you live under a rock. Probably a rock that’s not sitting anywhere on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
Wes is the auteur behind the equally lauded Fallen Jewel, another filmmaking delight, and an ode to the delightful boylesque sensation Waxie Moon, who has no small part to play in Capitol Hill as well.
Wes, ever the connoisseur of classic television, drew some of his inspiration for the series from campy 20th century TV.
“I wanted to take all the things I love and make them as gay as possible,” Wes explains. “ I was inspired primarily by 70’s & 80’s American television shows; anything from evening soaps like Dynasty and Falcon Crest to action/detective shows like Charlie’s Angels and Murder She Wrote.”
That makes sense, as it’s hard not to see the influence of Krystal Carrington and Jessica Fletcher when you watch. The series does have a very classic aesthetic about it, in look, feel, and tone.
“There are other influences too,” Wes continues, “things I love that inform the style of the show and all my other work. The glamour of old Hollywood films. The outrageousness of telenovelas. The color palettes and unpredictable weirdness of anime. And the nasty British humor of comedies like French & Saunders and The League of Gentlemen. I’m also a huge fan of horror films, weird fiction, classic Giallo films and Twin Peaks, so you’ll notice that Capitol Hill is getting darker.”
Much like Fallen Jewel, Capitol Hill seems built around the particular talents of its gender bending star.
“The biggest inspiration,” agrees Wes, “is my friend and muse, Waxie Moon hermself, and other brilliant Seattle performers and artists that make me want to create a beautiful strange world for them to live in.”
What would be most surprising to someone unfamiliar with the series is the fact that it’s really a bare bones production. It’s funny and campy, sure, but it’s slick and well crafted, belying its lack of budget.
“All of my films are DIY and would be considered ‘zero budget’ by the film and TV industry,” he admits. “I’m extremely fortunate to work with a team of extraordinary talented generous artists who commit to this vision and bring it to life. But it is tough to not have any financial support. My goal with Capitol Hill is to find actual sponsors who’ll pay for the show to be produced in the future.”
Working without a budget isn’t Hurley’s only challenge, of course. We live in the future, kids, with near constant access to just about all possible forms of entertainment. While it’s as easy as ever to create content and get it out into the world, getting that content seen by an audience is another matter.
“An even bigger challenge is to market the show once it’s finished,” Wes agrees. “We live in a world over saturated with content. It’s tough to stand out when everyone’s bombarded by videos daily. Everyone and their grandmother has a web series. Fortunately, Capitol Hill is unlike anything that’s out there.”
If that wasn’t clear with Season 1, it certainly seems so with Season 2, at least if the preview is any indication. The first season was already filled to the brim with familiar faces, campy dialogue, and over the top storytelling. For Season 2, Capitol Hill will be even bigger.
“There are many great new characters played by some well-known local and out-of-town performers,” says Wes, “the biggest of them being Jinkx Monsoon’s character, Celeste. Celeste is really something else, and Jinkx’s performance is mesmerizing. I think audiences will really respond to her. Also the one and only Sarah Rudinoff joins the cast as Roses’ new foreign friend, Anna Zhopova. Rudinoff is a force of nature, and one of the best performers of our time. I’m so blessed to get to work with her before Hollywood and Broadway discover her and she leaves Seattle forever to win thousands of Tonys and Oscars and Emmys!”
In addition to Jinkx and Rudinoff, some other new faces in the cast include the hunky Colby Keller and the equally hunky Kenny Brain.
Other things we can look forward to in Season 2 include the resolution of Dottie Pearl’s (Robbie Turner) demonic possession storyline, an exciting story arc for Alexandra Tavares’ character Tanya, and a trip back into the past to learn more about the creepy Oregon childhood of Waxie’s character Roses Smell.
Given the smashing success of Season 1, Hurley had his work cut out for him when he was crafting Season 2.
“I really want to raise the bar for myself with each new project,” he says. “Season 2 of Capitol Hill has been far more involved and technically complicated than Season 1. For some of the scenes we had to create large sets from scratch. Our production designer, Christopher Balder, and art director, Damian Puggelli, and many generous crew members built these sets inside the 12th Ave Arts Building before the theaters moved in. Our crew built a city alley, a motel room, and a large luxury apartment for Celeste. It was so much work.”
But the payoff seems like it will be there. And the fact that so many people lent their time and talent to the project is one of the keys to its success, according to Wes.
“Looking back, I can’t actually believe we were able to accomplish it,” he admits. “I’ve never worked with so many people before. It was very humbling to have so many artists that I respect and admire come on board and help this project.”
While Wes unable to share the release date for Season 2, just yet, you can watch the preview here. You can also get caught up on all the episodes of Season 1 on the series website. You’ll be grateful you did.