Northwestern alumni create Evanston-based mockumentary


Source: Ceci Marshall

Lucia Godinez.

Kelli Nguyen, Reporter


Through their creation of a mockumentary entitled “boyband,” two Northwestern alumni are hoping to strengthen a local presence in film and television.

Colleen Griffen (Communication ’88) produced and directed the series — which is currently in the midst of its second season — with help from her husband, executive producer Joe Chappelle (Communication ’86), who also executive produces and directs “Chicago Fire.” The mockumentary was filmed over the past two summers almost exclusively in Evanston, and features an Evanston-based cast and crew.

“We want to make sure that film stays an alive art form in Chicago,” Griffen said. “It’s very important for me personally to use the people in this town because we live here and we believe in them and I work with these people, I’ve known them and I just felt like they would do a good job and they did a great job.”

“Boyband” features a new episode every Sunday on YouTube, and is centered around five boys who come together to make music. The mockumentary follows the band’s road to fame after they win a boy-band competition.

Communication sophomore Lucia Godinez worked both on and off camera as part of the series’ season two cast and crew. On screen, she plays Lulubell, a member of the rival girl band that emerges during the second season. During filming, when she was not in front of the camera, Godinez worked as a production assistant for the mockumentary.

“It was a total blast because I got paid to hang out with my best friends,” Godinez said. “That was my job, to put on makeup and put on outfits and sing with literally my three best friends in the world. I can’t even imagine anything better, it was so fun.”

The cast members of “boyband” are friends and graduates of Evanston Township High School. Griffen’s son, who also appears on the show, performed with them in ETHS Theatre’s annual YAMO show, a student-written and -directed musical-comedy revue.

After seeing this show, and coming across One Direction music videos, Griffen said she decided to recruit her son’s friends and create the series.

“I looked at them and I was like, ‘you guys look like you should be in a boy band,’” Griffen said.

“Boyband” is a hybrid of written narration and improv segments, said Griffen. She explained that the beginning and end of each episode feature improvisation, while the body of the episodes is scripted to exemplify the qualities of a comedic documentary.

“It gave them a chance to flex their improv muscles and (practice) learning lines and saying it the way a writer wrote it for them,” Griffen said. “Putting the juxtaposition of those two I think is really fun.”

The mix of improv and script could have been problematic had it not been for the show’s focus on the storyline and character identities, Chappelle said.

He said although he was initially skeptical of the mockumentary, he was pleasantly surprised when the project was completed.

“I didn’t think (the characters) would be so endearing and it turned out to be a very sweet show,” Chappelle said. “I can’t stress how impressed I was with (the actors). They were true professionals.”

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