In summer 2008, four college friends pooled $6,000 to shoot a 15-minute presentation for a Web series.
A year later, the demo attracted Thomas Schlamme (Sports Night, The West Wing) as executive producer and sparked interest from a couple of TV networks as a comedy series, landing at ABC with a script commitment.
Boyfred, the single-camera comedy from Alan Schmuckler, Michael Mahler, Blake Silver and Jarrod Zimmerman, revolves around six twentysomething friends. It centers on Fred, a Web designer in Chicago whose girlfriend goes overseas, so he creates a Web site for their circle of friends to keep in touch.
The theme of the show is how you stay connected when you're a twentysomething in the 21st century, Mahler said.
Music will play a major part in Boyfred, which will feature original tunes by Schmuckler and Mahler. Many of the show's characters are involved in Chicago's music scene, and their music blogs are central to the shared Web site, Boyfred.com.
The show is not a 'musical' in the traditional sense of the word, but the music is utilized by the characters to further their stories, Schmuckler said.
Schmuckler, Mahler, Silver and Zimmerman met at Northwestern University, where they wrote and performed in the school's Waa-Mu Show. By the time they graduated in 2004 and 2005, they were all friends.
Schmuckler, Mahler and Zimmerman stayed in Chicago, where Zimmerman worked in Web design and Mahler and Schmuckler became involved in musical theater and wrote the show How Can You Run With a Shell on Your Back.
The mother of Chicago-born talent agent Elizabeth Newman, of Creative Artists Agency, saw a story about Schmuckler and Mahler in a local paper and told her about them. Newman contacted them via Facebook and soon signed them as clients.
Schmuckler, Mahler and Zimmerman concocted the idea for Boyfred and called up Silver, who had moved to Los Angeles. Silver directed the presentation, with Schmuckler, Mahler and Zimmerman starring.
The four envisioned Boyfred as a Web series, but when they showed the footage to CAA, the agency persuaded them to pitch it as a TV series.
Sony Pictures TV, where Schlamme has a first-look deal, is producing the project.