Nicole Feenstra creator of and stars in Broken Hearts Division is a new web series about crimes against the heart in Los Angeles. Haven't heard of this amazing new area of the LAPD. Well keep reading to find out more.
Who are you and what are you doing with Broken Hearts Division?
I’m a classic hyphenate - an actor-writer-producer. Also a proud Texan with Dutch roots. I created this show, Broken Hearts Division to make the world a safer place to love. Our lead, Officer Mack Merriweather (the character who I play), feels the same way. This is no coincidence. BHD as it is fondly dubbed is a six part web series that we will release online YouTube and Facebook for Season 1 with the desire of partnering for Season 2 with a cable or a streaming platform. It’s perfect for Comedy Central, IFC, Adult Swim, Netflix, Amazon or Hulu and I’ve started mapping out what this would look like as a half hour should we be able to expand it.
How did you come up with the idea for the web series?
I always loved Law & Order (specifically the SVU version) and I was constantly trying to understand relationships. Mine and my friends. I fancied myself a bit of a couch side therapist for many friends as I would assist them in breaking down their relationship...the ups and downs. In a different life, I might have been a lawyer. For the show I found parallels between (what I felt were) infringements on people in the affairs of the heart and actual crimes. Being schooled in the ad game, I thought of phrases as crimes that sounded catchy. Assault with a Deadly Text, Wrongful Wooing, Online Dating Fraud all had nice rings.
I noticed a contact page. Are you soliciting ideas about dating/relationships/bad breakup stories for web episode ideas? If so would those ideas be for season 2?
Much like Law & Order, the cases are endless. So yes. I hear stories everywhere I go. Each season has a theme. The theme in Season 1 is Hiding Your True Identity. As far as I can see, next season is about Power. What I find funny is the emotional epicness of love and affairs of the heart. It does feel like life and death when you are in the throes of loving someone and not getting the same level of adoration back. There is such emotion, drastic actions and endless turning of the Rubix Cube to try and figure out the puzzle both from men and women. I wanted to make sure that the “Perps” (Perpetrators) and the “Vics” (Victims) were evenly spread between men and women and both same sex and hetero couples. Everyone has likely been a “Perp” and a “Vic” at some point. Our lead, Officer ‘Mack’ Merriweather is a cop and within her world of the the law - everything is black and white. Mack looks at these Crimes through a set of glasses that only sees right and wrong. The reality, of course, is that everything is in the grey but Mack won’t be learning that any time soon.
Any fun stories while shooting on set?
Invariably I get strange looks when I show up in full riot gear so that’s always fun. Finding the Janitor’s Closet was a lucky turn of events and working in that space provided a few challenges. My DP joked that I should write more scenes with even more people in that narrow space. It really is like a circus clown car and shocking how many people we can shove in there to make the scene as awkward as possible. As written, Mack’s office and the department of Broken Hearts Division was intended to be in the basement of the LAPD, near an annoying whirring boiler room and next to the Men’s Bathroom, so much so that every time the male officers left their bathroom, the door hit Mack’s desk. Essentially, below rock bottom. I said to my production team when we were scouting, “I feel like this is a super specific location.
Kinda feeling like we may not find this place as written.” They said “Just be open” and we walked into the offices of Vanishing Angle (where we shot almost the entire pilot) and they said ‘Well...we have this Janitor’s Closet.” The doors were covered with more chains than Marley’s ghost and when they opened the door it felt like a light had been sent from heaven and angels started singing. It was perfect. Cramped. Awkward. And my set decorator didn’t have to buy cleaning products!
When we shot the pilot, I spent a bit of time in that Janitor’s Closet and I noticed a pile of water bottles which turned into a bit that became a running gag throughout Season 1. Let’s just say they bear the brunt of a lot of Mack’s aggression.
When are episodes getting released?
We’ll be releasing one episode a week starting on Valentine’s Day. Wednesday Feb 14th.
(Air Dates: 2/14/18, 2/21/18, 2/28/18, 3/7/18, 3/14/18, 3/21/18)
YOUTUBE to watch : https://www.youtube.com/brokenheartsdivision
What's been the best part of creating Broken Hearts Division?
Completion. This project has been rolling around in my brain for 8 years so seeing it come to fruition is incredibly satisfying. Also connecting with people. I feel like this story touches everyone I’ve met because no one comes out unscathed when it comes to a broken heart.
1. If you were stuck on an abandoned island what five items would you want with you? (no rules)
2) A strong, super brave, sinewy handyman.
4) My best girl friend. Definitely gonna want someone to talk to.
5) Did I mention sunscreen?
2. If you could have coffee with any film director who would it be?
Mel Brooks without a doubt. I could watch Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein and be endlessly entertained. There is a sense of vaudeville which makes me giggle, but he also tackled real subjects through social commentary. As far as epic living directors, also, Edgar Wright. He uses the camera for comic purposes so deftly. There is one shot that I asked for during our production that might have been lifted from Shaun of The Dead. If he reads this I hope he sees it as a badge of honor. I love how he uses music and there is such an energy with his films that feels like the best amusement park ride ever.
3. Do you think we are living in a story renaissance?
Sure. I’d like to see 50 percent of stories be greenlit for projects helmed by women and POC so that entertainment more accurately mirrors society. We’re still missing 50 percent of the equation and in that sense it still feels stifled. I think the barrier for entry to an audience is low and you can find an audience for almost anything. In that sense, you can market test a project by doing it yourself which is what I’ve done. If I had a magic wand, two things I’d do with this story renaissance (in addition to the aforementioned uptick in green lighting projects by women and POC) is:
1) a one-to-one ratio of greenlighting comedies and dramas
2) I’d take the top 1 percent of the industry and ask them to throw a portion of the ridiculous money that they make for movies/tv into a pool for newcomers. When you have the top 1 percent garnering ridiculous paychecks it affects the whole industry and it screws with the economy of this business - making it tougher for the suits to take risks.