Some kids grew up watching Super Friends, Batman and other animated adventures. But for filmmaker and actor Pietro D’Alessio, in place of the adventures of Superman, he religiously followed the story lines of Dr. Steve Hardy and Nurse Jessie Brewer on General Hospital.
“I was obsessed with soap operas. Absolutely obsessed. I would skip school to stay home and watch what happened,” D’Alessio said. “I followed all the soap operas and from a young age, although I was mainly interested in General Hospital. I was also so intrigued by Dallas, I never missed an episode.”
His love of beautiful people in dramatic situations led him to write his own soap opera, loosely based on his own life and those around him. The project that started in junior high school was always on the back of his mind until he had a chance to fully flesh out the characters. Creating genealogies and full characters, he researched backgrounds and histories for months, D’Alessio, the co-creator of the show, finally brought the project to fruition in 2009.
“The characters were just screaming for attention and I knew I had to do this. I knew it had to be now,” he said. “I finally had the time to create the series and that’s how Proper Manors was born.”
A complete web series will be filmed in Utah and broadcast online at propermanors.tv. The plot follows Joey Sorrento (Hunter Gomez) and Jef Knights (Beau Stine), whose characters are loosely based on D’Alessio and producer and co-creator Jef Phillips, and their lives growing up in Plant City, Fla. The boys get into all sorts of trouble as they uncover the secrets of the town.
Using all-Utah based talent, filming begins in March and the first episode will be aired May 31, then every Thursday following. The plot lines include many queer characters and actors. Tackling subjects such as HIV, male-on-male rape, the bareback movement in gay porn and transgender issues, Proper Manors will be fraught with drama, sexy people and excitement. While some of the characters may come out as gay, sexuality is very fluid and any character could be sleeping with either sex.
“We want to reflect real-world America. And it was a conscience decision to film this in Utah and show how things are changing here. To show that we’re just like everyone else,” D’Alessio said. “And while there will be plenty of beautiful people, there will be a lot of regular people who reflect real life.”
While it’s not picked up by any major television network yet, the web series is the way of the future, D’Alessio said. The production levels are professional quality and with the advent of Netflix, Hulu and other online streaming sources, people are turning more and more to the Internet for entertainment, he said.
“You can expect the same quality of acting and production on the web series that you can on television. Even better in some cases,” he said.
Despite its saucy content, the Utah Film Commission and other members of the film community have fully backed the project and are providing talent and locations. And while many of the actors are of the Mormon faith, most are well aware of the possibility of their characters becoming embroiled in a torrid affair with a member of the same sex.
“I would consider myself an equality activist and so would many of the actors,” D’Alessio said. “We are all supporting the same cause and want to work together. Any gay, bisexual or transgender person is going to find themselves reflected in Proper Manors.”
Viewing the series is free, and production will continue indefinitely, providing viewers with new episodes each week.
“We are also looking to showcase local talent and local restaurants, bars and hangouts,” he said. “We would love for this to become a community project and would encourage everyone to get involved.”
For more information, go to propermanors.tv.