“We missed doing the show,” said Dave Heinzel, producer, cameraperson, editor and co-creator of Springfield-based web series “The Studio Show,” in which he and hosts Arlin Peebles and Keil Isham take a humorous approach to covering highlights of area arts and culture. The final episode of the series’ second season ran in December of 2016. “We felt like it wasn’t finished, we had a little more work to do and that feeling had eaten at all of us for a year.”
A primary reason behind the show’s hiatus was a stressful and difficult (self-imposed) production schedule for the previous season, which saw the Studio Show team shooting and editing nine half-hour episodes in as many weeks and attempting to manage a talented but unwieldy “writers room,” all while juggling factors like families and day jobs. Still, the itch to start the show again was strong. Heinzel – who co-directed two short films with Studio Show contributor Emma Wilson in 2017 – approached Isham and Peebles at a party in October and suggested that the show reconvene. “They both agreed, as long as we could have a schedule where we don’t go crazy.”
For the third season, currently shooting, the team decided to take a looser, more improvisational approach than last time. “We’re going to try to keep the production to a smaller group and film as we can and when we want to,” said Heinzel. “It’s more fun that way. There will be one episode released at the end of every month. We are all trying to not let it become the overwhelming beast that it was last time.”
Judging from the season’s first episode, which debuted last week and is now available online, The Studio Show will continue to do what it has done best in the past, highlighting area visual artists, poets, musicians and filmmakers as well as showcasing Heinzel’s sharp pictorial eye for local landmarks and natural landscapes. The episode includes a short film by filmmaker Immanuel B. Ahiable, an interview with poet and Vachel Lindsay expert Ian Winterbauer, a musical performance by indie singer-songwriter Kate Lain and some footage of ducks frolicking around. Isham and Peebles continue to play humorously fictionalized versions of themselves, with faux-naif “Keil” butting heads with the more bottom-line focused “Arlin,” a comedic conflict which Heinzel promises will pay dividends as the season progresses.
“The reaction to the premier was good,” Heinzel said of the season’s debut party at The Studio last week. “There were a lot more laugh-out-loud moments than I anticipated.” As for what to expect in the season’s upcoming episodes, your guess is as good as Heinzel’s. “We don’t have a lot lined up, we’re just going to play by ear,” he said. “Our main goal for this season is not to stress. If we ever feel stressed by anything, we have to back away and say, it’ll be OK, and figure it out.”
Case in point is the first episode’s segment where Peebles and Isham visit a “paint night” at Arlington’s restaurant downtown, a popular event featuring cocktails and a group of people painting on canvases according to instructions from the evening’s host. “None of us knew what to expect and it turned out the host was talking the whole time and there was also music going constantly. How were we going to get this to work? We were there shooting for hours and I thought it was going to be a nightmare to edit. But I took a step back and in the end it came together quickly and you get the idea that these people are having fun.”
Scott Faingold can be reached at sfaingold @illinoistimes.com