There are many words tossed around to describe college, words like “mind-expanding,” “life-changing,” and, recently, “devastatingly expensive.” In addition, as the majority of college students are in their early twenties, placing them in close proximity to one another practically guarantees that some of them are going to party, forget key details about said parties, and, with great hesitation, string together those fateful words: “What did exactly did I do last night?”
Enter Ryan Turner.
Turner, a UCSB student filmmaker, created, wrote, and directed Blackout Detectives, a webisode series set in Isla Vista that—starting May 20—will be released each Friday at noon for the next four weeks on the show’s website and its YouTube page. Each five-minute episode follows two detectives whose job is to illuminate the details of their customers’ blacked-out nights. Their motto: “You tell us what you remember, we tell you what you don’t.”
Turner already has a few accolades to his name. Among other honors, his film The Naked Guy won the 10-10-10 competition at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and he was the 2010 Corwin Award winner for best director.
Filmmaker Joe Raffanti is a co-creator of the series, Alek Rost is editing it, and Ramin Rezvani will be producing the next season. Rezvani is also involved with another project of Turner’s, the film Silent Heart. They have big plans for the Isla Vista show. “Our goal is to blow it up around the school,” Rezvani said. “We want to prove that it can have an audience here.”
Blackout Detectives first came out about two years ago. However, after the show’s first season, Turner gave the series a rest. After over a year of working on other projects, Turner re-watched the series and was inspired to take it up once more. He felt that the show has the potential to resonate with the world outside of I.V. The team has been editing the episodes ever since with that in mind. They aim for the travails of Isla Vistans to be secondary to the development of recurring characters, Turner said, with plots showing how the detectives “might not have the story right.”
Still, there’s something distinctively I.V. about Blackout Detectives. “It captures the proximity [of I.V.], how we can walk from place to place,” said Turner. “I wrote the episodes for people that I know, and also for locations I know of. We mention Freebirds and street names.” Even the crimes committed by the show’s “criminals” savor of I.V. life. For example, a character named Kyle’s supposed crime is stealing 10 bikes.
Interestingly, the series has a strong American East-Asian fan base; members of IV’s American-Thai and American-Cambodian communities have small viewing parties each time a new episode comes out.
The aim of the show may not be to glorify binge drinking and drug use, but its central topics are, to the filmmaker, interesting fodder for television. “College as a rule is known for overindulgence,” Turner said. Rezvani himself could recall a few of his own bizarre I.V. drinking stories. “I can remember waking up in a kiddie pool, cuddling a brick,” he said.
“I want to target every college town,” Turner said.