Bottles is a short form comedy web series co-written and directed by Tyler Eaton and Kim Bentley. Four female friends set out to have a fun night amidst underlying tension incited by glasses of wine. The series spans five 2 to 3 minute episodes that take place over the course of one night. In an effort to reflect the style of the creative process of this project, the writer-directors have decided to discuss the development and production in a conversational style.
TYLER: When I moved to LA in 2014, Kim Bentley was pretty much my only friend out here. The bulk of our conversations had always been about comedy, television, and our goal to one day write professionally. I’d made a web series called Going Going Gone about my experience with hair loss and was eager to keep churning out projects. After meeting a group of Kim’s friends from the storytelling group Girlie Stories, many of whom are actors, it seemed like a no-brainer that we needed to finally collaborate. So we came up with the digital series Bottles, five two-to-three minute episodes about friendship, wine, and keeping it together.
KIM: Tyler approached me with the idea to do a web series that takes place over the course of one night that would star our mutual friends, me, and an exorbitant amount of wine. As he mentioned, finally writing together felt like a fun inevitability, a complete no-brainer; me acting was a different story. I had never really acted or performed before Bottles, but in the past 5+ years of our friendship, I had expressed to him a desire to flex that muscle because it had always intrigued me. It was a creative medium that I respected, but it was also completely out of my comfort zone. This was the safest possible space for me to dip my toes in the acting waters, so I said yes. And thankfully, so did our three brilliant actors, Martine Moore, Johanna Middleton (who also happens to be the creator of Girlie Stories), and Rebecca Usoro.
In terms of writing, prior to this collaboration I hadn’t brought a script to screen in over five years, and I had never co-written a project. Tyler has an excellent work ethic and enthusiasm that fueled my excitement and kept my old friends, Pressure and Anxiety, at a manageable level.
TYLER: Almost everything I’d shot or written up to this point had a male protagonist with women relegated to supporting him as friends in his quest. I’ve read articles saying that men ought to stick to writing male-driven material as they won’t be able to accurately capture a female-led story anyway, but I think it’s imperative that all writers work on projects that reflect a vast array of experiences, not just the exact one they’ve lived. This is one of the many reasons that men ought to be working with women, particularly when, as in the case of Bottles, the cast is 100% women (despite actor Alex Rogers appearing in the fictional film they watch, Franch).
KIM: It was uniquely thrilling to write with specific people in mind and know they would be saying your words. We had the same goals: 1. Make it silly; 2. Get in as many jokes as possible and pray they land; 3. Give our characters the consideration a human being deserves. I found co-writing to be an extremely rewarding and creatively fulfilling experience. So many of my favorite lines or set-ups were the product of our rapport during a writing session. My time spent standing in front of the camera, while trying to pretend like I wasn’t in a completely horrifying and panic-inducing spiral of regret, had moments of liberation and fun. I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone, but those bright lights aren’t exactly calling my name.
TYLER: Since neither of us were very far above the poverty line, keeping the budget close to zero dollars was crucial. What could we do with limited locations and a small number of actors in a short amount of time? We ended up deciding to write about four women having a night-in, away from the loud clubs and aggravating dudes. Just some wine, maybe a movie, who knows? They’re a group of friends who have been together so long it doesn’t really matter. But the dark underbelly of closely knit groups is that everyone has a lot of ammunition to hurt each other’s feelings should a conflict arise…
KIM: Yes, keeping a modest budget was the key to getting the episodes made as soon as possible and keeping my sanity; our budget would blush at the mere mention of cash. We went with Tyler’s initial one night, one space idea. The shoot took place over two nights in Tyler’s apartment, and I am very grateful to his two roommates for so kindly letting us take over their living room and kitchen for a weekend. Tyler ran the camera, we both did the best we could with lighting, and our friends Christian and Matthew captured the sound.
TYLER: We didn’t want each two-minute episode to feel like a completely random splice of life from one night of hanging out, so we decided to string everything together on Johanna’s growing frustration with Rebecca and Martine’s gloating about their recent trip to Australia, one which neither Johanna nor Kim’s character could afford to join. But rather than just portraying these women as catty or bickering, a trope we see all too often, we wanted to show them go through the actual stages of drunken friend-group infighting, from the first feelings of indignation and betrayal, to the inebriated outburst, to the physically-still-drunk-but-emotionally-sober realization that you all care about each other.
KIM: Yes, the idea of the irrational, “catty” female friends is something I brought up with Tyler very early on in the process. These women are not friends who are also secretly competing with one another. They love each other. So, the jokes are supposed to come from how they contrast one another and deal with disappointment. I don’t want to sound like I thought we were creating 2 minutes and 30 seconds of life changing episodes—it’s a very light hearted comedy series—but I also never wanted a joke to seem like a poorly disguised personal attack.
TYLER & KIM: Dear reader/potential viewer, that’s right, we are appealing to you in unison! The time has come to pour yourself a tall glass of wine, grab a couple of friends, and check out our show, BOTTLES! We heartily recommend you binge watch the show and drink at whatever pace you’d like. You can watch all 5 episodes in 20 minutes! We’re really proud of what we’ve made and think you’ll dig it.