Jessica Hill talks Beacon Hill and much more. Check it out here--->>>
Beacon Hill had been on my "to watch" list ever since I became digitally enlightened. When I binge a new show, I treat Googling any information on the show like the plague. LOL. I stay far away. #SpoilerFree. So, yes I knew the show had some of our favorite soap stars. But I didn't know it is a soapers dream cast. We have soap legendary characters such as; Kendall, Carly, Craig, Olivia/Carly, Gus/Jake, Jennifer, Lillian, Rex/Phillip, Augusta/Vivian, and Alan Spaulding. If you call yourself a soaper and you haven't ever watched Beacon Hill the cast alone is more than enough reason to watch. And it was just recently announced they have added Margo/Nora, Hillary B. Smith for season two!
But there is much more to love about the show than just the fantastic cast. We love the drama including the political backdrop, estranged angsty lovers plus the enticing and colorful characters. And there was a classic soap season one cliffhanger. The show is accompanied by the quaint and picturesque setting and landscape of Boston, MA. We don't want to give too much away. But we will say that there were four separate scenes; Sarah talking with her estranged lover, Katherine, her mother, Claire, her brother, Eric and her grandfather, William, that were our favorite moments of season one. And the theme song is so good! Lots to love.
The good news is we were able to binge the entire first season in less than two hours. The "bad" news was that it went by and we wanted more. We are ready for season two! The location enriches the appeal of Beacon Hill. Season one did a fantastic job of laying and developing the groundwork for an engaging and compelling season two and beyond.
We spoke to Jessica Hill, co-creator of Beacon Hill, days before she was leaving for Boston to begin pre-production for season two. We talked about the inspiration behind Beacon Hill, the show itself and the lessons learned from season one and more.
Jessica is originally from Canada. She comes from a television and film post background in sound. She worked for the Canadian equivalent of HBO. An opportunity to work with the publishing company, Bella Books, an LGBTQ publishing house, brought Jessica to America. She is now the COO of Bella Books which also has a book distribution company that is the largest independent book distributor in the United States right now. It's a distribution arm that distributes LGBT.
You might be thinking what I was thinking. How does one go from a sound background, to book publishing, to a hit web series? We wondered and we asked. "One of the things that I've always had an affinity for was writing and storytelling. When I was at school at the university, I realized I also liked telling people what to do. Laughter. I took behind the camera training in school but I still kept my love for the creative side. I did that more for fun. So, when I had an opportunity to make a change and get a little closer to the real creative part that mattered to me, I took it."
Regardless of her history with the book publishing business, Jessica's love for writing is and always has been in screenwriting. We asked her about the projects she worked on prior to Beacon Hill. Guess how many there were? Zero. Jessica knocked it out the park, her first time at bat! "Believe it or not, Beacon Hill was the first one. I'm a big soap fan. I've been one since I was little. I began watching soaps with my grandmother and fell in love with all of them. Fast Forward. It was a hot summer day in Boston and we (Jessica and her partner in business and in life, Linda Hill) were in the pool. It was around the time we lost All My Children, One Life to Live, Guiding Light and As The World Turns. We thought pretty soon there won't be any left if this continues. I wanted a show that reflects a bit more of who I am. I also really missed the big family dramas. The soapy, you slept with my mother kind. So, we decided to write our own." Yep, just like that. Now that's what Nike meant by, "Just Do It!"
Jessica and Linda began to write their own show that incorporated their love for messy relationships, messy family dynamics, and politics. They "had no clue as to what they were doing." This was four years ago when web series first started out. Crystal Chappell's, Venice: The Series, was a hit web series. For this reason, Jessica and Linda decided to reach out to Crystal. "We reached out to Crystal Chappell for advice and that is all we were really looking for. She told me to 'send the script.' We sent her the script. She was very kind. She took the time to read it. She loved it. She goes, 'You know what. I'd love to do this with you and we were off and running." Side note; Are you listening? Whatever that thing is for you; just do it. Jessica knew Crystal like we all did from Guiding Light and Days of our Lives only. They stepped out. They just did it.
They worked on the script for about a year. Remember this was their first script so of course, it was a learning process. But even more so because they had to completely shift their thinking about writing. In books, you describe everything. But in writing a script you scale all that back because it's the actors and directors who bring the words to life.
Our #DontSleepOnDigital Series goal as we have said is to introduce these shows to new audiences. Here's Jessica's synopsis of Beacon Hill to entice you further to check it out (if you haven't). "It's a political drama with messy dysfunctional families, star crossed lovers and bad relationships. You have two women who had a relationship years ago who haven't seen each other in six years and end up back in the same town tied together by their political families. One family is Republican and the other family is Democrats. One half of the star crossed lovers pair is a politician who may or may not run for an open Senate seat and the other half is a reporter. So, we have a politician and a reporter and all the intricacies that come with that."
They consolidated all twelve short episodes from season one into one big episode similar to a pilot episode. "It can be easily viewed in one seating and gives the viewer a better viewing experience." This is how we watched Beacon Hill and we wholeheartedly agree.
A big change for Jessica and Linda from season one to season two was that for season one they wrote the show with a writer's hat only. But in season two a more experienced Jessica and Linda put on both their writers' and producer hats. "We thought about what can we do to centralize what we are doing. We made the scenes longer so you don't constantly have to move. We can then film something that's more compact, more cost-effective and easier on the actors."
Season two is set to start filming the last week in September. You can watch season one on Vimeo which can also be accessed through their website. Beacon Hill is an entertaining soapy drama with a splash of politics. To our soap family specifically we have about eleven other reasons to watch; Melissa Archer, Sarah Brown, Scott Bryce, Crystal Chappell, Ricky Paull Goldin, John-Paul Lavoisier, Alicia Minshew, Jessica Morris, Ron Raines, Tina Sloan and Louise Sorel. Case closed. Watch the show.
Watch season one's recap below;
Jessica also penned season six of Venice: The Series. "I'm pretty excited about the season. Crystal brought in a lot of Guiding Light cast members. It's a really fun script. I had a lot of fun writing it so I can't wait to see what they did with it." We can't either.
Check out Beacon Hill Season One!
Look out for Season Two!
Thank you so much for chatting with us, Jessica!
**Who is behind that door?!**
I AM KP Smith