BRICK HOUSE series by Ben Fraser – review
The “Brick House” webseries, written and directed by Ben Fraser, uses musical comedy and high production value to raise awareness about the sensitive and significant problem of Internet porn addiction. Turning the theme of the Commodores’ 1977 hit, “Brick House,” on its head, it uses humor, song, and dance to explain the causes of and solutions for this vastly underestimated psychosocial affliction. In the process, it destigmatizes those who are addicted and empowers them to take steps to free themselves. All of this is packed into just the first three episodes.
In 2008, Fraser first envisioned the concept behind the series. He first saw it as a stage production, then decided to put it on the screen instead. After writing a feature-length screenplay, he judged that it would be difficult to sell it in Hollywood or produce it himself. He turned instead to video as his medium, the webseries as his vehicle, and YouTube as his venue. Then he assembled a project team, including producer Tyler Geiss (Ryan Road Films), producer and casting director Regina Diemand (Ryan Road Films), and DP Jon Martinez. The team used crowdfunding via Indiegogo to finance the project.
BRICK HOUSE Plot Summary
As summarized on the “Brick House” website, the story-line is as follows:
Neil [Mike Hourihan], a scruffy, earnest man in his 30s, can’t seem to get his life together. His therapist [Logan Lopez] suggests that things might improve if he quits his porn addiction. Neil says, “What porn addiction?” Neil decides to try to quit anyway. But it’s harder to quit than he thought when a voice (appearing as a wolf puppet [voiced by Hourihan]) starts encouraging him to act out. Thus begins Neil’s journey to build a “brick house,” a state of mind that the wolf can’t shake down.
The website also explains, “This web series contains adult language and situations, but no nudity or porn will be shown.” While there is some “adult language” in the dialogue, which frankly discusses its subject, it is appropriate to the intent of the series, which is to raise awareness about a problem, the damage it can cause, and its solution. The lightheartedly comic nature of its songs and music (by Fraser and Charlie Shew) and choreography (by Kim Overtree) — not to mention the wolf puppet, a central part of the use of the “Three Little Pigs” story as metaphor — helps to prevent the story from becoming ponderous and preachy. Augmented by graphic design by Anna Pearlman, Martinez’ photography captures convincing performances from the cast.
The result is a webseries with the highest production value that I have seen so far in my reviewing experience. Three episodes (“The Question,” “The Voice,” and “The Support Group”) are live on YouTube so far. At least ten more episodes are in the works. The series can be found via the “Brick House” website or directly via YouTube.