Thursday, March 30, 2023

Inside ‘Vaughan’: What does it take to make a TV show from the ground up?

WILMINGTON — For many folks, the insides of the film industry is shrouded in mist. Perceptions of Hollywood are varied, and mixed messages are sent from the plethora of individuals involved in the industry. So, what actually goes into the making of a TV show?

Port City Daily took a behind the scenes look at Wilmington’s homegrown sitcom “Vaughan,” as the team shot a club scene at Luck’s Tavern in Castle Hayne. According to the cast and crew, the key to a successful shoot is teamwork.

“Today, we’re shooting a scene where Vaughan is trying to pick up a girl in the club, but he gets kind of derailed by Stephan, his co-star,” Director Mike Roberts said. “We got out here at 8 this morning, and are scheduled to shoot ‘til 4. We may end up getting out of here before then, but it just really depends on how the day goes.”

The Crew

The crew is small. “Vaughan” is being produced on a minimal budget, having spent just over $60 dollars on their pilot episode. These people are passionate about the work they’re doing, and really believe in the project as a whole. Although some are industry veterans, others are fresh from film school.

After recent college graduations, Roberts was able to recruit many young up and comers. Vince Troutner and Alex Ayres are two of those graduates, now running the sit-com’s sound straight out of college.

They say that it’s promising to see projects like this going on locally, despite the fact that state film incentives have been gone the past few years.

Director Mike Roberts messes with sound man Vince Troutner between shoots. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
Director Mike Roberts messes with sound man Vince Troutner between shoots. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)

“There’s still a really big film community around here,” Ayres said. “We’re not dead yet, we’re still fighting.”

“Even the actor who plays Stephan, he’s been in a couple of things from UNCW, student stuff, we’ve seen his face and worked on some projects with him before. It’s really nice to see that there’s this good local talent,” Troutner said. “We’re actually good friends with the current DP (director of photography), and we had no idea he was going to be here. We got in this morning and were just like, ‘Awesome, Bobby’s here!’ As a former student, it’s nice to know we’re working on something that’s actually going to be seen.”

One of the first people on the scene is make-up artist William Stine, an industry veteran who has worked on short films as well as big time productions. He says that one of the best thing about working with a crew this size, is the camaraderie.

“I will say, there was one set I worked on where the main cast was women. They were wonderful girls, separately. But together, egos clashed like you wouldn’t believe,” Stine said. “The smaller crew and everybody on this set makes it a different feeling here. Everyone here either knows each other, or there’s just one separation between who knows who. Everyone’s learned what each of our individual style is, and we’ve just meshed really well.”

Something out of nothing

According to the show’s stars, this is a testament to the North Carolina film culture, and the professionalism and respect to the industry that this town still holds.

Ryan Williams, who plays alongside the shows lead Vaughan Wilson, says that everything about this production has been incredibly efficient.

The A-Team. Stars Vaughan Wilson and Ryan Williams with Director Mike Roberts. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
The A-Team. Stars Vaughan Wilson and Ryan Williams with Director Mike Roberts. Williams says one of the best things about the show, is how relaxed they’re able to be on set. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)

“It’s really professional the way we do it man,” Williams said. “And, it’s one thing that’s great about Wilmington, all the experience that we have here. It shows, you know, in the quality of the production, and the speed of it.”

“I think the most surprising thing to me about this production is the speed, and how fast it went from being piloted, to the first episode being put together and already shown to the public,” he added. “It’s almost unheard of for something like this to go that fast. A lot of times it can take a good year to put a show like this together.”

Actress Anna Elizabeth, fresh off the set of the latest “Avengers” movie, said that although it was her first day on the set, she couldn’t be more excited about the way things were going.

“This is a lot less hectic than something like the ‘Avengers,’” she said. “I love being on set, especially in a smaller setting where there’s not a million-people running around all over the place.”

Wilson is not only the star of the show, but one of the driving forces that got the production off the ground. For him, this show goes deeper than just making a TV program. It’s a love affair, and couldn’t be done without the sweat and blood put in by everyone involved.

“Working on a big set like ‘One Tree Hill’ you feel like a team member, and you have that feeling here too,” Wilson said. “But when you’re working on a project like this from the ground up, and you have a team that’s devoting their personal time, their money and their sweat for it, it really brings everything together.”

At the end of the day, every member of this team wants this program to be something they can hang their hat on. The energy is palpable, and it shows.

“For me, this goes beyond a monetary reward, it goes beyond fame. We’re building from the bottom, we’re making something out of nothing. It’s so rewarding, you feel invested, this is dedication,” Wilson said. “That feel is something that I’ve felt on every project I’ve worked on in North Carolina. All these film sets have felt like a close-knit family, from a set where there’s 150 people plus, to something like this, we’re a family. This is how work should be.”

“Vaughan” is set to air this fall on most major streaming networks. For more information on the sitcom, to find out how you can get involved and to keep up with the team’s progress, follow the show on Facebook.

Send comments and tips to Cory Mannion at, @corymannion on Twitter, and @corythamann on Facebook.

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