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Exclusive: Raphael Sbarge Talks About ‘On Begley Street,’ Distributing Online, Challenges and More

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You might recognize Raphael Sbarge from his role on ABC’s Once Upon a Time as Archie Hopper aka Jiminy Cricket, but Sbarge is currently also dabbling in bringing a new web series to life called On Begley Street along with his friend Ed Begley Jr., who is the star of the series along with his family.

Raphael Sbarge took some time to answer a few questions from Web Series Channel about this new series. He talked about getting involved with the show, the decision to distribute the series online, the challenges they have faced and more.

How would you describe “On Begley Street”?

Raphael Sbarge: “On Begley Street” chronicles the adventures of my friend, actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr., and his wife, Rachelle Carson-Begley, as they work to build the “greenest home in North America,” that is, Platinum LEED certified. Along for the ride is their 13-year-old daughter, Hayden. The three of them journey through the details of the process, and we get a window into the “How-To” of building a sustainable, net-zero home. We get to meet their celebrity friends and, most importantly, we have fun doing it. The Begley’s, known for their silly and irreverent banter, keep us entertained as we go.

Can you talk about how you got involved in the web series?

Raphael Sbarge: Yes, this was an out growth of my relationship with the Begley’s from Green Wish. We began discussing the possibility of a sustainable interview-type show for the internet, and it evolved, with the help of a wonderful production company, Make it Happen Productions. We took the premise of the house being built and then brought all the elements together— that is the family, sustainable living, how-to, celebrity, and funny. Together they seemed like a wonderful combination. You can sign up for updates, or further info at www.onbegleystreet.com.

Why did you decide to distribute the series on the web?

Raphael Sbarge: This is a much larger conversation, perhaps, but simply put, the web provides a distribution opportunity that is pretty exciting. What is still being worked out in this grand experiment— like a lot of the internet, is how to make any money doing it (because it does cost money to produce). What began as a web series now looks like it will also become a TV series and a lot more! PBS has expressed a desire to have a longer form show, and we are in the midst of putting that all together. With the interest from PBS, we feel that we now have a multi-platform approach to meeting our audience via the web and the dial. There is little out there on the dial that speaks credibly to the Sustainable conversation at this time, and we are particularly interested in the Science, Technology, and innovation, happening at a very rapid pace in the sustainable building arena.

We initially embraced the freedom and creativity that the web format offers. What’s been so fascinating about this journey, however, is watching how people have responded to the Begleys’ story. Our plan is to then use the internet series— now nine episodes about how the Begley’s came to this adventure, and how they also de-constructed a new old home to make way for this new home (diverting 96% away from landfills) to help launch the PBS show in 2013.

Can you talk about what some of the biggest challenges were in creating the series?

Raphael Sbarge: The very things that make the web seem so appealing – freedom and creativity, the chance to tell your story in your own way and time – also make for the biggest challenges! Watching an industry redefine itself and break new ground is exhilarating and exciting, but there’s no rulebook. You’re making it up as you go along — but that’s what makes it exciting.

What advice would you give to somebody who wanted to do a web series?

Raphael Sbarge: Dive in and reach for your dreams, but reach out to those who have been there. Each project is different and you’re never going to find someone who has walked the exact same path that you’re exploring. But take what you can from their experiences to create your own tapestry. This industry is changing every day, and one has to remain very agile as it keeps moving, growing and changing. Pretty exciting, to be sure. By next month, it will already be different.

Where and when will we be able to watch the series?

Raphael Sbarge: We’re so incredibly grateful to those who backed us on Kickstarter, who’ve asked Ed on Twitter for updates, and who follow us on Facebook. We’re wrapping up production on the final episodes, and are in discussions regarding the accompanying television series – which has received interest from PBS, I’m so proud to say! I hope to have a status update really very soon for everyone – for the latest, be sure to keep an eye on www.begleystreet.com!

Please also follow me on Twitter @raphaelSbarge for updates, as well!

Can you talk a bit about the organization you support “Green Wish” and what its goals are?

Raphael Sbarge: I’ve never really considered myself an environmentalist with a capital E. But when my daughter, Gracie, was born I looked around and asked myself: What kind of planet are we getting ready to pass on to our kids? The birth of my son, Django, just helped to solidify that feeling, and from it all came Green Wish, a nonprofit, green organization that works to help other local nonprofit environmental groups achieve their goals and projects.

The group began in Los Angeles, where we’ve focused on working with up to 10 local groups, including Friends of the Los Angeles River, Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Coalition for Clean Air and others. We strive to pass along ninety cents of every dollar collected via small donations at local retailers and events as well as through online donations. I’m so thrilled to share that this year we’re launching Green Wish chapters in the Midwest and Northwest, as well. Each chapter selects local nonprofits that are focused on environmental concerns that benefit the area and its citizens.

It’s been an honor and a joy to watch what started out as an idea to help the planet on a local level spread to other communities throughout the country. We’re always looking for new cities to bring into the Green Wish family, as well — if anyone’s interested in starting a chapter in their community, we’d love to hear from them at greenwish@greenwish.com!

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