[New York, NY] – When COVID-19 hit New York and forced the city into quarantine, long-time artistic collaborators Nicole Martinez and Anna Stacy saw an opportunity to reflect the global circumstances through a new art form. Close friends and graduates of Brown University, Martinez and Stacy have written, produced, and acted together in several theatrical productions in the last six years. When COVID-19 quickly brought their ongoing projects to a standstill, Martinez and Stacy channeled their talents into an entirely online, remotely produced web series called Dead-Enders.
Dead-Enders is a comedy web series about a group of doomsday preppers seeking a sense of community during the zombie apocalypse. The story picks up one week into the apocalypse, and it’s clear that no one is more prepared than the six neurotic members of the Ready, Prep, GO forum: Mac, a life-long doomsday prepper; Leo, a bossy middle-school teacher; Maisie, a bubbly fangirl; Eleanor, her jam-making girlfriend; Jodie, a cultural anthropologist; and Harper, a mess. The season consists of six thirty-minute long episodes, with the pilot episode “Online” premiering May 22nd, 2020 on Dead-Ender’s official YouTube Channel. The show’s season one finale aired on June 26th.
The pandemic forced the entertainment industry to grind to a halt in New York, and as theaters closed and video production ceased, it signaled an uncertain future for the arts. Martinez and Stacy turned to their network of independent artists, all who faced financial instability and creative stagnancy, and pitched their idea for a new web series. Many of the cast who joined Dead-Enders had been slated to act in several theatrical productions that were now canceled. Martinez and Stacy themselves felt the ramifications of COVID keenly – Martinez through her job as a Grants and Communications Associate at an arts nonprofit, and Stacy through her service on the frontlines as a third-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Faced with irrevocably changing film and theater industries, Martinez and Stacy decided to harness Zoom as a new artistic medium. The cast filmed Dead-Enders via the platform, the now-ubiquitous Zoom rectangles echoing a real video chat room in an online forum. Martinez and Stacy chose to make a show that embraced the zeitgeist of unreliable Wi-Fi, frustrating lag time, and varying image quality on laptop cameras. The backdrop of a zombie apocalypse was born first from the desire to establish an in-world reason for the Zoom format: there had to be a reason that it was impossible for the characters to go outside. The notion of a zombie apocalypse also allowed the cast to echo the realities of quarantine through a light-hearted and comedic lens, far-removed enough to provide escapism from the realities of lockdown NYC.
Martinez and Stacy drew inspiration from other popular web series that followed the vlog format (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, The Guild) but chose to steer towards a more ensemble-driven narrative. Although Martinez and Stacy are the co-creators, the show intentionally does not have a director. They decided to embrace the ensemble-driven nature of the series by encouraging actors to play instrumental roles in developing their characters and story arcs, through the writing process and beyond. When conceptualizing each character, Martinez and Stacy created the doomsday preppers to represent a diverse array of identities, reflected by the actors themselves. Created by two women of color, Dead-Enders actively shares diverse stories with people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.
The first season has yielded immense support and enthusiastic response. Martinez, Stacy, and the cast have decided to write and produce a season two, which will tentatively air next spring.
For more details on the progress of the series, please visit: