“Thurston” is a western web series about the residents of a remote 1880's mining town in the Kan. Ozarks and their struggle for survival. Creator Kathryn O'Sullivan's has penned strong, empowered women in this town along with multi-faceted men and complex story lines.
Award winning “Thurston” (http://www."Thurston"-series.com/) has managed to find success and a loyal fan base across two often difficult genres, westerns and web series. We asked Kathryn O'Sullivan about “Thurston.”
Flo DiBona: What inspired you to create a western series?
Kathryn O'Sullivan: In the spring of 2011, my husband, Paul Awad, and I had been thinking about doing a web series and then saw a special about the heyday of television westerns. It got us wondering why westerns have disappeared. I had been a fan of “The Big Valley” but there weren’t a lot of westerns that told stories where the women were as empowered, complicated, and interesting as the men. I was intrigued by the possible stories I could develop with a western backdrop and excited by the idea of writing strong male and female characters. Paul also recalled how westerns were often done at the beginnings of new entertainment mediums - from silent films to radio to television - and thought it made sense to do a western for the web.
FD: Most westerns are back-dropped by the Calif. gold rush and take place further west. Why the Kan. Ozarks?
KS: The setting for “Thurston” was dictated by the fact that we live outside of Washington, DC and knew we would need to film in VA and Md. That meant we weren’t going to have those iconic southwestern vistas. I did some research and realized that the farthest west we could set “Thurston” and still have our filming locations be believable was the small section of the Ozarks located on the southeastern corner of Kan. That area of the country is also ripe with historical drama and tensions which seemed perfect for a drama series.
FD: Are there any special challenges filming a western versus a more contemporary series?
KS: Many! Some are obvious like the need to find historic buildings, buggies, horses, costumes, props, etc. Some of the less obvious challenges are typically found on set. For example, we’ve had to wait while logging trucks or airplanes pass by and avoid shooting with telephone lines in the background.
FD: Are there plans for another season of the show and if so, when can fans expect to see it?
KS: Paul and I are working on season 3 now and hope to begin filming in late Aug./Sep. The entire season came to me in a dream one night and I wrote it all down. I jokingly refer to season 3 as the season of love but fans shouldn’t expect a romance novel. It is “Thurston” after all.
FD: Do you have a set process you use when you are writing episodes?
KS: I typically write in three episode arcs with two or three story lines running through those episodes. Paul and I talk about the possible locations I’m thinking of using and if anything doesn’t seem feasible then I think of another location for a particular scene. Then I write the episodes without worrying about contemporary language. After I’m satisfied with the story arcs and scenes I go back and “westernize” the dialogue to give it the “Thurston” flavor.
FD: Thank you so much for taking the time to share with our readers. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
KS: First, I’d like to thank reviewers like you, Flo, who have been lovely with your praise and getting the word out to your readers. I think there are a lot of people who might not instantly be drawn to watching a western series and reviews, interviews and articles like yours help them discover what “Thurston” is really about. Second, I’d like to thank organizations like the Indie Series Awards and the International Academy of Web Television for honoring us with nominations and awards. It’s so nice to know that our hard work is valued and appreciated. Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to thank the “Thurston” viewers and fans. We’ve been incredibly moved by their enthusiasm and dedication to the show. It’s thrilling to know that people all over the world are watching, appreciating what we are doing, and looking forward to more. Without them, we’re just making beautiful home movies.