Why Can’t We Be ‘Friends’?

Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:01am

Local filmmakers view the little strip of pavement known as H Street Northeast as fertile ground for a prospective sitcom-within-a-sitcom.

“It’s one of our favorite areas to go,” Joel N. Clark said of the rapidly evolving neighborhood he and his buddies have chosen to highlight in their “H Street” pilot.

Clark tells HOH the show will, at least in part, mimic the documentary-style format embraced by several successful network shows, such as “The Office” and “Modern Family.”

“Basically, you’re watching one show. Then we cut out and you’re watching the creators of that show argue,” he said of the multilayered concept.

The pilot was shot last September, with the crew essentially taking over the Argonaut — filming took place from midnight to 8 a.m. — for most of a week. “They left us a chef, handed us the keys and let us do our thing,” Clark said of the incredibly accommodating locale.

Rather than inserting the viewer into a ready-made clique, the pilot thrusts together the destined-to-be-central characters via a series of jarring circumstances, including a disastrous “Date Lab” outing (bleeding heart gets matched up with a black Republican Hill staffer) and a plotline-driving robbery. Other main players include a Democratic Hill staffer, an aspiring musician and the kooky Argonaut “Bartender.”

Although Clark estimated that most of the pilot takes place within just a few blocks, he said he really hopes people — including the online bomb-throwers who derided the original casting call — don’t get totally hung up on geography. “The show’s not about H street. It’s not about D.C. Those are the backdrops,” he said.

The show has been submitted to various television festivals. Clark said he’s already spoken with the Argonaut about hosting a viewing party at the watering hole on a Friday evening later this month. “Our hope is to get a lot of local buy-in,” he said of the community-building effort.