Beyond the Horizon (Original Soap Opera Fiction)Edit
Against the backdrop of the diverse cultural and sexual melting pot that is New York City, everything is possible and nothing is taboo when it's Beyond the Horizon. Delve into this elaborate fictional soap opera world, where Aviva Reynoso is suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, and is pregnant. Aviva isn't aware of the pregnancy, but alter Ava wants to terminate. What caused Aviva's mental illness in the first place and what will come of her pregnancy? Rod Applewhite's girlfriend Crystal Halperin learned she was expecting, just as Rod accepted he had feelings for his late father's much younger male lover, Christian Avery Field. Betrayed, will Crystal ever let Rod be a father to their baby? Can Christian move past his guilt and fear that loving Rod is a betrayal of loving Rod's father Terrence? Ambitious self-centered Jenna Baldwin has stepped on family and made no friends in her journey to the top of the business world, but her newfound daughter Dana has it out for her, and Jenna's lover, corporate dynamo Shawn Marks, is carrying on a secret down-low affair with Jenna's half-brother Eddie Dawson, a.k.a. drag performer Aurora Borealis. Will karma cut Jenna back down to size? Wife and mother Eleanor Halperin felt like she lost everything when her husband died mysteriously, but found hope and new love with his former boss, Henry Von Stadt. What will happen when she learns Henry had a part in her husband's death and that he's trying to cover up that his international conglomerate is heavily involved in the illegal drug trade?
Creation and DevelopmentEdit
Beyond the Horizon is an original soap opera written exclusively for the internet by David Evan Smith, a lifetime fan of daytime serials, particularly such long-running soap operas like General Hospital, One Life to Live, All My Children, Port Charles, and The City. At various points in time, Smith had written "fan fiction" versions of each of the soap operas he grew up watching, but in January 2007, Smith decided to take on the task of creating his own fictional serial, completely from scratch.One ongoing frustration Smith had with daytime serials was a lack of commitment to gay characters and their storylines, which was the inciting reason for deciding to launch his own series. Conversely, Smith enjoyed series that chronicled the experiences of the gay community (i.e. Queer as Folk), but criticized its inability or unwillingness to document the interaction between the gay and straight communities in a consistent and realistic light. The interaction between the LGBTQ community and the heterosexual community would become the basis for Beyond the Horizon.
The title of the series originated from a previous attempt at an original series, a collaboration between Smith and friend Lee Meyer, but the project never quite got off the ground. Years later, Smith felt that the title (and the series logo he created) could be salvaged from the defunct project and work well for his new idea. Smith felt the title embodied the mystery of the unknown and was very intimidating, alluring, and hopeful, all at the same time. Smith has stated that "a phrase like 'Beyond the Horizon' inspires the idea about exploring uncharted territories, both within and without. Life is about self-discovery, and the title really calls that to mind."
After coming up with solid ideas for the original characters and initial storylines, assigning careers to the characters, grouping them into families, and deciding on the cast, Smith launched the series with a debut date of November 5th, 2007. Being that the series is a fiction written for the internet, there are no actual actors, but Smith has chosen real notable soap opera actors (mostly from established ABC daytime soaps) to "represent" the characters, a typical method for fictional online series, in order for the reader to envision a face when reading a name, and identify a particular actor's abilities and persona while reading their dialogue.
Character Name & Location SignificanceEdit
Many of the names and locations used in Beyond the Horizon hold personal significance to creator David Evan Smith.
|Eddie (Dawson)||Creator David Evan Smith has a cousin, Eddie|
|Eleanor (Halperin)||Creator Smith has an aunt Eleanor|
|Evan (Royale)||Creator's middle name|
|Aviva (Reynoso)||Aviva was the name of a college classmate of Smith|
|James (Baldwin)||James is the name of Smith's father and grandfather|
|Christian Avery Field||Three-name take-off on creator David Evan Smith, who was raised Irish Catholic (Christianity)|
|Charles (Halperin)||Smith's real-life best friend's name is Charles|
|Rolo (Valdez)||Smith's best friend Charles dated a man named Rolo for a time, short for Rodolfo|
|Lynn (West)||Smith proposed marriage to a girl named Lynn in his kindergarten class. She declined his proposal because her parents would only accept her marrying a Chinese boy, as they were Chinese|
|Valentina Gembressi||The name of a childhood acquaintance of Smith's|
|Catherine Driver||The name of Christian's biological mother is a hybrid of two significant names: Driver is a family name on his father's side, Catherine is Smith's mother's middle name|
|The Dorilton||The actual Dorilton building was walking distance from Smith's Manhattan high school|
|Hunter College||Smith attended CUNY Hunter College for two years|
|The Reynoso Apartment||The exterior of the apartment building is located across the street from a Children's Place store location where Smith worked for a time, and was a block from Hunter College, where Smith attended and the fictional Aviva Reynoso works as a professor|
|Baldwin Enterprises||The exterior of the Baldwin Enterprises building is in downtown Manhattan near a Starbucks where Smith frequently patronizes|
|Full Circle Lounge||The interior is in a midtown Manhattan hotel where Smith frequents|
|Large Bar||The exterior is a real Chelsea area gay bar Smith frequents, and the name is based on another that Smith used to frequent before it closed, the original "XL" lounge|
|The Redeye||The actual Redeye restaurant is in midtown Manhattan near to the building where Smith's father worked|
|Von Stadt International||The exterior of the building is where Smith's father worked as a graphic designer for a medical advertisement agency|
|Fordham University||The campus used as the exterior is a block away from Smith's high school, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music, Art, and the Performing Arts|
|St. Vincent's Hospital||The real hospital is in downtown Manhattan in an area where Smith frequents|
Other Naming SignificanceEdit
|Applewhite||Utilized to draw a parallel to the "apple", signifying several things: the family being as "All-American" as apple pie, the apple of temptation in the garden of Eden|
|Fiona & Rodney||"Fiona" was conceptualized as a name that a theatre producer like Terrence would pull from classic plays that inspired him, while "Rodney" (or the crude "Rod") was more of a manifestation of Terrence's repressed homosexual leanings with the double-meaning of the name|
|Terrence||Named for accomplished actors Terrence Stamp and Terrence Mann|
|Rebecca & Crystal (Halperin)||The Halperin girls' names were inspired by Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and what that implies, and Crystal was named based on something beautiful and classic but distinctly fragile and delicate|
|Hattie & Esther Wilson / Julia & Tiffany Lawless||Esther, as the matriarch of the family was given what Smith considered an "awkward and outdated" name not heard much anymore. Wilson was established as the family name for its ordinary quality, and lack of flashiness. Hattie (shortened from Hatteras) was given a name that would allow for comparisons to the Mad Hatter of "Alice in Wonderland" lore, but also a name that is outdated and in poor circulation in recent generations, making Esther's choice of name for her daughter a burden on Hattie and saddling Hattie with something that keeps her disconnected from the world and misunderstood by the world. It illustrates how out of touch Esther would be to give her daughter a name that would likely not advance her in the world. In contrast, Hattie was drawn to marry Larry Lawless, because of the freedom that his last name implies, but also giving that last name to her daughters burdens them in their own way, haunted by the crimes of their mother's past (and present). But Hattie named her daughters Julia and Tiffany, both lyrical names with a lightness and optimism that illustrates the hopes and dreams she had for her daughters' successes.|
|Von Stadt||Smith wanted to give a name to the leading villains that was intimidating, so Von Stadt was drawn from Lestat, the famed vampire from the Anne Rice novels|
|Sapphyre||Smith derived this from Sappho, as an implication about "sapphic" women having lesbian leanings|
|Baldwin||Smith took this family name from the influential Baldwin family of actors, known for their good looks and media attention|
|Royale & Klein||This legal partnership have contrasting names in that Royale implies a luxury and elegance, while Klein is a short, to-the-point name that makes no fuss and almost becomes an afterthought to the "dazzle" of the name Royale|
|Nathan (Weber)||Smith took the name from "Good ol' reliable Nathan Detroit" from the Musical "Guys and Dolls", since Nathan was designed to be the reliable nice guy from Julia's past. Ironically, Nathan Detroit was a lawbreaker, while Nathan Weber is an honorable police Detective|
|(Wendell) Huckabee||Smith pulled the name from the quirky existential comedy film "I <3 Huckabees" from 2004, starring Jason Schwartzman and Lily Tomlin|
|(Dominic) Soletti||Soletti was constructed as a last name for Christian's party-boy sidekick Dominic as a way to alter it into a nickname "slutty", but as of yet this nickname hasn't been written into the series|
|Theodore, Eddie, Edina, Didi, Thomas||The family's names were all constructed as versions of each other. Theodore was established as the patriarch, and Edina had nicknamed him Teddy. Eddie was created as a hybrid/abbreviated version of both Theodore and Edina's names. Didi was an iteration of Edina's name, shortened. Thomas bore the weakest connection to the arc, but established his name as the most independent, solidifying his characterization as mature and independent, and contrasting the fact that he was the child that was emotionally closest to father Theodore.|
Guerrilla MarketingEditDuring the 2007 launch of Beyond the Horizon, creator Smith employed "guerrilla" marketing tactics, having printed business cards and stickers featuring the BTH logo and the original website URL where the series could be found. Smith would leave the cards and/or stickers in various parts of New York City (where the series is also set), such as on Subway trains and in gay bars, affixing the stickers on mirrors in the bathrooms of gay bars or on lampposts in the gay-friendly Chelsea area of lower Manhattan.
Ad Campaigns & SlogansEdit
As one would expect from a new soap opera seeking to build an audience, Smith focused on an initial ad campaign online featuring ads that were character-specific, offering the character's photo, a clever blurb capturing the essence of the character, and the series logo. Ads were constructed for every character on the series.
Storyline ads were created as well, in JPG (still) and GIF (motion graphic) formats, offering multiple lines of text describing the ultimate obstacle in the storyline of the characters featured. The series logo was again featured, with a tagline reading "The Most Colorful Gray Area in Daytime." This slogan has been connected to Beyond the Horizon through the present day.
Social NetworkingEditAs Beyond the Horizon gained an audience, Smith expanded his advertising scope to social networking website Facebook, establishing a Facebook page where fans of BTH could "like" the series and follow updates via Facebook. As of September 2012, the BTH Facebook page has 41 likes, considerable for an online series that is purely written and doesn't feature live scenes.
Smith began posting Beyond the Horizon on DRtv, an online fiction community that featured multiple fan fictions from various writers and numerous original series as well. BTH saw great support from an audience of its peers and won several awards from DRtv's DRammy and Elite Awards. Smith was recruited into the management of DRtv and was involved with the rebranding of the site to ONtv, an effort to both streamline and expand the site, making it more interactive along with fellow Admins Scott Williams, Steve Ungrey and Erik Bard.
Erik Bard is spearheading his own rebranding of the previous DRtv Elite Awards into the new ONtv Elite Awards for 2012, of which many categories have received submissions from Beyond the Horizon.
A pilot episode was written, and from then on was posted in monthly installments, in recap format, explaining the goings-on to the reader. In the May 2008 installment, the format was altered to weekly installments, which were posted for May and June, but the monthly format was resumed from July 2008 through September 2008. October 2008 marked a return to weekly installments, which have continued to the present day. Smith has stated that he intends to return to monthly formats, in order to be able to post more frequently, but is concerned with how much nuance, detail, and character development would be sacrificed in more generalized overviews of a monthly format. It remains to be seen how the series will continue posting installments. Presently, individual stand-alone episodes have only been written for the pilot (November 5, 2007) and the first anniversary (November 5, 2008).
Title SequenceEditBeyond the Horizon's original opening title sequence was created in a format similar to other soap operas from the time, in order to seamlessly blend with the style of those soap opera opening sequences. Against a black screen, the title of the series fades in amongst rotating spheres, symbolic of revolving planets, possibly representing the two "worlds" of the gay and straight communities. The two worlds pop into place of the two "o" letters in the word "Horizon", and the black and white title suddenly fills in with the spectrum of rainbow color. The title dissolves to black and begins with shots of the actors cast in the series, beginning with leading lady Catherine Hickland (Eleanor Halperin), and ending with Baldwin family patriarch, and the series' eldest cast member, John Ingle (Theodore Baldwin). Panels of color (each color of the rainbow) flip around repeating faces of higher-profile cast members, and then the rainbow title shot repeats at the end of the sequence.
The first original cast member to be removed from the sequence was Walt Willey (Terrence Applewhite), after his character died from complications due to AIDS. Terrence was removed from the sequence in an update that debuted for the one-year anniversary of the series, on November 5, 2008. Aside from Willey's removal, every update has added cast members to the sequence, particularly Ian Buchanan (Evan Royale), Ilene Kristen (Edina Dawson), Lynn Herring (Lauren Sapphyre), Kelli Giddish (Didi Dawson), Tuc Watkins (Trevor Allen), Brittany Underwood (Dana Worthy), and William Shew (Dominic Soletti).
The series theme song is an edit of "Desperate Guys" by The Faint.
The sequence won a DRtv Drammy award for Outstanding Video Opening in 2009.
|Awards / Category||Winning Submission||Year|
|SOFF Award - Outstanding Couple||Terrence Applewhite & Christian Avery Field||2008|
|SOFF Award - Outstanding Rivalry||Hattie Wilson vs. Eleanor Halperin||2008|
|SOFF Award - Outstanding New Character||Edina Dawson||2008|
|SOFF Award - Outstanding Female Villain||Hattie Wilson||2008|
|SOFF Award - Outstanding Original Series||Beyond the Horizon||2008|
|DRammy Award - Outstanding Romance||Terrence Applewhite & Christian Avery Field||2009|
|DRammy Award - Outstanding Newcomer||Edina Dawson||2009|
|DRammy Award - Outstanding Limited Run Character||Esther Wilson||2009|
|DRammy Award - Outstanding Supporting Female Character||Jenna Baldwin||2009|
|DRammy Award - Outstanding Individual Episode||November 5, 2008 (1st Anniversary Episode)||2009|
|DRammy Award - Outstanding Storyline||
"Father Doesn't Know Best" (Terrence/Christian/Rod/Crystal/Fiona)
|DRammy Award - Outstanding Casting||Brittany Underwood as Dana Worthy||2009|
|DRammy Award - Outstanding Video Opening||Beyond the Horizon||2009|
|DRammy Award - Outstanding Promotional Artwork||Beyond the Horizon||2009|
|DRtv Elite Award - Outstanding Achievements in Casting||Ian Buchanan, Christina Chambers, Catherine Hickland, David Evan Smith, Bobby Steggert, Brittany Underwood, Kari Wuhrer||2011|
|DRtv Elite Award - Outstanding Supporting Actress||Connie Fletcher-Staton as Fiona Applewhite||2011|
|DRtv Elite Award - Outstanding Supporting Actor||David Evan Smith as Christian Avery Field||2011|
|DRtv Elite Award - Outstanding Drama Series||Beyond the Horizon||2011|
Due to problems with the website that hosted Beyond the Horizon, and a lot of personal changes in creator David Evan Smith's life, new installments of Beyond The Horizon ceased production. Smith had outlines for future storylines planned well into the future, and still maintained a passion for the characters and the world he created in Beyond The Horizon. But would there be time to resurrect the series that was so close to his heart?
Potential Spin-off Series and Retroactive ContinuityEdit
Another soap opera project of Smith's, titled Brownstone, followed a different, smaller set of characters who all had apartments within an old New York City brownstone building. While all characters conceived of for the series were entirely unconnected to Beyond the Horizon, and originated before concept work for Beyond The Horizon began, Smith devised a backstory that connected the Brownstone matriarch Eliza Hansen (Kim Zimmer) to Beyond The Horizon matriarch Eleanor Halperin (Catherine Hickland) by marriage. Eleanor's deceased husband Charles would have been explained as Eliza's deceased brother, making the women in-laws and their respective children related to each other as cousins. Beyond the Horizon advanced well beyond the planning and execution of Brownstone, so the Brownstone series was reserved as a potential spin-off concept for Beyond the Horizon, but when production halted on new installments of Horizon, plans for Brownstone were shelved indefinitely.
Possible BTH RebootEdit
With many strong ideas about future storyline and new characters, Smith is currently considering a reboot for Beyond The Horizon, which would afford him the opportunity to fine-tune and streamline storylines and reconsider some previous casting choices. If Smith chooses to proceed with the reboot, he is considering a relaunch date of November 2, 2015, the Monday of the week that BTH debuted eight years prior.