Producer, director and writer Marshall Herskovitz of Bedford Falls Productions with Durango natives Josh Gummersall and Devon Gummersall. Josh is a producer of the upcoming TV series “Quarterlife.” Devon is a writer for the series.
Two members of Durango’s arts-loving Gummersall family are part of a new hybrid series “Quarterlife” that comes to NBC on Feb. 26.
“Quarterlife” debuted on MySpace in November 2007, and has broadcast 28 eight-and-a-half-minute episodes about 20-somethings finding their way in the world. A character called Dylan Krieger, an aspiring magazine editor and writer, video blogs about her friends on a Web site called quarterlife.
The resulting TV show comes from the creative minds of Bedford Falls Company, the production powerhouse started by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, producers and writers of such shows as “Thirty Something,” “My So Called Life” and “Relativity.”
It was “My So Called Life” that launched the acting career of Devon Gummersall as well as the career of his older brother, Josh, who had just graduated from high school and was looking for a summer job. Family members told their story by phone and e-mail, and Devon gave an interview in Taos in autumn 2007.
Josh found his summer job on the set with Bedford Falls and quickly became a production assistant. Since then, he has spent a significant portion of the last 13 years working for the company.
The Gummersall brothers both feel that their family bond keeps them grounded in the surreal world of Hollywood.
Their father, C. Gregory Gummersall, is a Durango painter and sculptor. Their stepmother, Jenny, is a fine-art photographer and painter, and Tyller, their younger brother, is a local musician. That art-saturated background stands them in good stead in the entertainment industry.
Josh is producing and Devon is writing “Quarterlife.” Besides the narrative, the show features a social network where the quarterlife generation explores what it means to be creative, to pursue passion and make a difference in the world. That’s something the Gummersalls understand.
“I grew up in a house where my father went to work in his studio. He didn’t put on a suit and tie. He painted. Sometimes he worked through the night,” Josh said. “There is something inherent in the structure of this life. We were encouraged to make decisions about what we were passionate about. There was no pressure on any of us to pursue any certain path.” In other words, there was no Protestant work ethic that dictated approaching work out of duty.
For the Gummersalls, work is about pursuing passion. It’s about artistic integrity and not just commerce, themes explored in “Quarterlife.”
The Gummersall boys credit their father with teaching them to be gutsy and intrepid in pursuing their art and pushing their boundaries.
“What I love about my dad,” Devon said, “is that he never told us to have a backup plan. He looked upon backup plans with disdain. He taught me to never give up.”
Greg said he knew from a young age that his older son Josh was the businessman of the family and Devon would probably be an actor. He allowed their personalities to flourish.
Greg is an indomitable coach. Nothing is impossible or improbable in his mind. He believes in his family, and he believes in his friends, cheering them to pursue their creative path. His mind is constantly churning with new ideas.
The coaching seems to have paid off. Josh admitted that in the film industry, there are intense periods of work in difficult circumstances followed by doldrums where nothing seems to happen. It isn’t an easy trail to hike, but obstacles don’t seem to be an issue for the Gummersall family.
“My dad, he’s never necessarily taken the easiest route, but he always put quality of life and family above all.” Josh said. “This is an example set for us by our father. Pursuing art was always a viable, realistic and attainable goal in his eyes.”
firstname.lastname@example.org Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the arts.