Faux Society caught up with television writer Benjamin Cory Jones & creator of “Bros Before Hos”, the new half hour comedy about three brothers striving to find love in the city of LA. At the beginning of the journey of getting the series to air, the pilot script written by Benjamin Jones received great feedback, but ultimately ran into a wall for having a predominantly black cast, and a gay lead character. The always pivoting Benjamin took a page from fellow filmmaker and colleague Justin Simien (Writer/Director of the highly anticipated ‘Dear White People’ – coming to theaters this October.)
Simien’s created a self-funded short trailer, for the film’s Kickstarter by shooting pivotal moments in the film to showcase the look, feel and tone of what the script would convey. The trailer went viral, and the Kickstarter went on to met their fundraising goals, and some. It ultimately proved that there was a market, audience, and money to be made with the story.
Producer Lena Waithe, director Anthony Hemingway & creator and writer Benjamin Cory Jones created the ‘pilot presentation’ which has since gone viral as well.
Please watch it below and enjoy our interview with Ben on how it all came together, and where it’s ultimately headed.
FS: What was the original inspiration for the series?
My own life. I’m a black gay man and I have brothers. We’re all really close and I thought it’d be funny and topical to have a series starring three African-American men. The lead character that is gay, it’s not a big deal that he’s gay, because the point of the show is to that no matter whether you’re black or white, gay or straight; every single person is out here looking for love, and we have relationship challenges and issues. I thought it’d be interesting to see three different love dynamics amongst three brothers who love each other as well.
FS: When you attempt to start writing characters like Kendall, Aiden, & Marshall. How does it come to you? Do you know these people personally? Are you inspired by friends?
They’re not based on my brothers, but my family gives me a frame of reference to write this material. Literally, Kendall, Marshall, & Aiden are various parts of ME, and who I am. There’s a part of me that’s a hopeless romantic, there’s a part of me that wants to be with someone that’s African American but finds myself dating outside of my race. I think I just drew from a lot parts of myself to make it real, and grounded. I think these are things lots of people go through, as well as anecdotal stories I’ll hear from friends of mine.
There was a version of the script where the premise of the story was Kendall ‘coming out.’ Then I took a step back me and my friend Lena (producer) as we were developing the idea, just figured let’s tell something more modern, not something from five years ago where they were dealing with that issue. So we can just immediately get to the point of telling their relationship stories.
FS: Lena told me that “bros before hos’ is your baby, how long has it been gestating in your mind?
I’ve been working on the script for a really long time, about three or four years. I’ve always had an idea to do a show with a gay character as the lead, but the show wasn’t necessarily a gay show. As most LGBT people know, our lives are not monolithically gay, we don’t just hang around gay people. I wanted to show that, and thought a family setting would be great. Lena knows this is my passion project, and I will not give up until it can be seen by as many people as possible.
I’m very protective of these characters and their stories.
FS: When you create a scene how do you keep it moving? I noticed that the pacing of each scene was so meaty as it moved. Haven’t seen pacing like that since Entourage. How do you keep that up?
As a television writer, you always want to model yourself after something. I definitely revisited episodes of “Entourage,” and “Sex & the City.” ‘Bros before Hos’ is not a laugh out loud kind of show. There are moments that are laugh out loud, but it’s a character show. These characters are just talking the way they talk–not trying to be funny.
To get the pacing down I did many table reads, so I could hear it. We knew we were putting this out online, and we know people’s attention spans are short online. We worked to bring movement, and scenery and depth to it. Really, you just gotta hear it out loud. Personally, I can’t write in a coffee shop, because I act it out. I write the way I talk, and the way my friends talk, that’s the only way I know how to do it. I try to make it conversational– so that the scenes can move.
FS: When the series does get picked up, what kind of themes will the series explore?
The show will definitely explore, Kendall having a new relationship. Kendall hangs out with Mark in the pilot, and I feel like that storyline has a lot of legs. You’ll get to watch two men fall in love, I think that’s pretty cool.
With Aiden, his ex-wife plays a very big part in his life, so riding that story out can really be cool with the idea of them being divorced and dating. Is that a thing he can deal with?
Along with Marshall, his story line begs the question ‘Is he going to be with a white girl? Is he going to give it a shot?’
In addition, what’s going to shift the three brothers dynamic, because when we meet they’re really close, and I hope it comes across that they’re very protective of each other. What happens when somethings throws a wrench in their relationship? In the full script you learn that both of their parents have passed away, so they’re pretty much all each other have.
In the midst of them all trying to find love in their own lives, they have to contend with what’s going to happen to their brother dynamic, when things change and new people come in. It’ll really explore that family aspect of it.
FS: Since the pilot presentation came out, what’s the response been like?
We are fielding lots of interest from two cable channels right now. So we’re really playing the Hollywood game, but what I will say is the people have really spoken up and said how much they liked this. I’m excited to share this journey with how to get a series to air. If you believe in something you really have to see it through, and don’t let anybody tell you no.
We have to empower audiences to be very vocal about what they want and don’t want.