The creators of the viral “Do You Wanna Go To Starbucks?” Frozen parody came out with a sequel this morning. But that’s not at all.
“The first Starbucks video was something completely unexpected,” said Olivia Mowry, the director of both videos and a student at PLNU. “The goals for that one are completely different from the goals for this film. The first one was made out of love for the craft…This one is also out of love for what we do because obviously we love what we do or we wouldn’t be doing it. With ‘Love is an Open Store,’ we are actually promoting a web series that we are starting.”
This project, “Love is an Open Store,” has been a long time coming for Jené Johnson, a 2014 PLNU alumna, and Mowry, a senior media communications major with a concentration in film studies. Mowry is currently studying at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center as a requirement of her major. She is interning at Night & Day Pictures.
Johnson lives in Los Angeles where she has booked shows as an extra and works at her church. The sequel was filmed last summer but because of tight schedules and Mowry leaving to travel abroad in Austria, they put the project on hold.
This video departed from their viral Starbucks video in that it wasn’t filmed on campus, but in Balboa Park. Unlike the other video, this one is more intentional for their audience.
“I hope that people can enjoy it and that it can be another theme song for them because I know that lots of people have taken on the song whether they’re a barista or coffee addict,” Mowry said in a phone interview with The Point. “I hope ‘Love is an Open Door’ is another avenue for that.”
Johnson said that the demand of the first video carried her into the second.
“It helped get the creative juices flowing because it had to,” Johnson said in a phone interview with The Point. “Partially out of necessity but that sounds harsh because it was also a lot of fun.”
This video also features Weston Bennett, a 2013 PLNU alumnus, as a love interest opposite Johnson who bonds with her over coffee in this spin-off of the Frozen song, “Love is an Open Door.” He’s known Johnson for 13 years, since their first elementary school performance of Pinocchio in Twin Falls, Idaho. He helped write the parody lyrics.
“It’s great to see that over 7,000 people have enjoyed the video,” Bennett said via text. “More than anything, it was an incredibly fun opportunity for us to join our creative talents to do something we love to do. Seeing that other people enjoyed the video as well makes it even better!”
The six extras in the film were PLNU students: Annalise Eastman, Rebecca Wong, Emily Malotte, Aaron Burgett, Alex Cosio-Santillan and Luciano Gallegos III.
Mowry has almost 6,000 YouTube subscribers. The “Do You Wanna Go To Starbucks?” video has over 4.3 million views on YouTube.
“With YouTube and social media, we have the ability as creators for people to watch our stuff, and with the Starbucks video, we have an audience,” Mowry said. “How many people can say that? So it’s great for me and Jené and all the people we are going to get involved in this, as unknowns, to get people to see our work.”
Alan Hueth, a professor of communication at PLNU, taught Mowry’s film classes while at PLNU and said he really enjoyed this new video.
“Olivia is a gifted young lady and it has been a privilege and pleasure to have her in class, see her learn, grow and mature in her insight and skills, and to work with her on some projects a couple of summers ago,” Hueth said.
Rick Moncauskas, media operations manager and lecturer in PLNU’s TV studio where Mowry once worked, said that while this video may not have the same surprise for him as the last one, he hopes it will succeed.
“The first one was just such a knockout; it will be very hard to match what they’ve already done,” Moncauskas said. “She was always such a creative and positive person. That they have done something really good (‘Do you want to go to Starbucks?’) is not surprising to me. Being able to ‘keep it up’ may be more difficult than they think, but they have just GOT to try. This kind of opportunity doesn’t come along many times in life.”
Bill Clemmons, a professor of music and department co-chair, said he is thrilled that Johnson’s work is getting noticed. She was a student of his during her time at PLNU.
“Jene is a multi-talented and multi-faceted artist that can write, sing, play, compose, arrange, dance, act, and on and on,” he said. “This is a level of depth that is not seen often in today’s marketplace where artists–I shall not name names here!–are little more than mouthpieces that deliver products cobbled together by an unseen committee behind the scenes. I can’t wait to see how her career fleshes out.”
The pair will release the new web series after raising $41,500 for filming on location in LA and hiring professional actors via Kickstarter. They leveled the fundraising to allow even those who give $1 to receive updates and newsletters. If giving exceeds $50, people can receive gifts for their support, including a “Do You Wanna Go To Starbucks?” mug and handwritten thank-you card.
The series, “Cut!: A Hollywood Musical,” follows the story of Penelope (Penny) Gatherswald who is pursuing her dreams to be an actress in LA and finds that it’s not as easy as she expected. Johnson, the composer, will star as Penny.
“A lot of people in the world who haven’t experienced LA or the industry believe that it’s this beautiful place where dreams come true and all you have to do is walk up and say ‘I want to be in movies,’ and they say, ‘You’re hired.'” Johnson said. “But the reality is, that’s not how it goes at all. The competition is crazy out here and there are so many politics in the industry. So part of this musical is to actually show that because Penny is so naive, and then she realizes really quickly what it’s actually like in Hollywood and how hard it is. There’s nothing that really shows that, so I think it’s important and in a really comedic way.”
Mowry and Johnson came up with the series idea this past summer.
“You know the saying, ‘You write about what you know’?” Mowry said. “Jené and I both have a dream to be here in LA and I think that has a big influence on our storytelling of this, but we also wanted to make it fun and musical. But what’s more musical status than someone pursing their dreams in LA? That’s ‘Singing in the Rain’ status right there. The web series just comes out of our desire to keep making stuff together because we work really well together.”
This mini-musical web series will have one original song an episode and will run about five minutes long. Mowry and Johnson outlined three episodes before Nicholas F. Hernandez wrote them into a script. Hernandez is an LA native working for Nickelodeon. In the past, he’s worked with several shows in crew and as a production assistant for networks like Disney, CBS and NBC. He is also Johnson’s boyfriend.
“I’m so excited to do something big and get a bunch of people involved. Olivia’s a brilliant director and our writer, Nick, is amazing and hasn’t had the avenue to show how good he is. I think it’s going to be a really cool project that everyone is chomping at the bit to get started, so we have been waiting to use our talents in a big way.”
A musical is a first for Johnson, who dubs herself a musical theatre junkie, but she said she’s ready to take Penny on as a character, in part because of her PLNU days as the musical theatre club president.
“I have never done a musical before so this is entirely new for me as a composer,” Johnson said. “But with the basic outline that we had come up with about how we wanted the series to go, I was able to come up with some music.”
Six episodes make up a full season and if given the opportunity, they will do a second season. Filming will begin in late April if the funds are raised within 30 days. Preproduction will follow for two months thereafter.
“Yesterday I was getting excited putting all the pieces together and realized this is going on the internet for everyone in the world to see which means it’s not just an idea anymore, it’s reality,” Johnson said. “It’s so exciting and weird but good weird.”
Donations for the web series can be made here.