From left, Amber Sym (Layla), Andrew Sturby (Jason) and Lucas Omar (Tanner) portray an unconventional couple in “Three,” a Web series filmed throughout Tampa Bay. Omar also writes and directs the series.
PALM HARBOR – Filmmaker Lucas Omar felt like he had seen it all before. Romantic comedies are a dime a dozen, and the plots don’t change much from one film to the next, he said. Either one guy is torn between two women or a girl is forced to choose between two men.
So the Palm Harbor-based auteur author decided to come up with something completely different for his latest project. His locally filmed Web series “Three” offers an unconventional, modern-day take on the love triangle, testing viewers’ boundaries along the way.
The series focuses on three 20-somethings: two best friends – the outlandish Layla, who’s straight, and uptight Tanner, who’s gay – and Jason, the bisexual object of both of their affections.
At the opening of the series, Layla (Amber Sym) and Tanner (Omar) are both in the early stages of a budding romance with Jason (Andrew Sturby). They each started casually dating him around the same time, and only after a month into each relationship do they realize their new beau is the same guy.
“That’s when things get really complicated and it basically turns into a sexual nightmare,” Omar said.
When Layla suggests a threesome, she really intends for it to serve as a competition between her and Tanner – whomever satisfies Jason the most will “win” an exclusive relationship with him.
What happens next is the unexpected part, Omar said. Their plans for a threesome lead them into a polyamorous relationship that brings out the best in all three.
“They try to make this thing work,” Omar said. “Because, in a sense, for Tanner it’s somewhat comforting. Rather than having an open relationship where Jason is sleeping with people he doesn’t know, he’s like, ‘[Layla,] you’re dating this guy, I know you. I trust you.’”
The relationship pulls the type A Tanner outside of his comfort zone, while toning down the over-the-top, oversexed Layla.
“It’s great because it shows her that there’s more to her than just sex,” Omar said.
Jason always fell somewhere in between the two, part youthful partier, part bookish intellectual; so being with two partners who appeal to very different sides of his personality balances him out.
Omar intentionally explores the theme of sexual openness in “Three.”
“I find it so interesting that in a modern society where everything bleeds sex – TV, social media – yet we’re so conservative about it,” Omar said. “I think sex should be an open dialogue just as common as talking about the weather or your homework assignment and that will lead to healthier decisions.”
TV and film is “such a powerful medium,” he said, which makes it a great way to introduce viewers to new ideas.
In addition to sexual openness, Omar also wants to provide more visibility to the LGBT community with characters that accurately portray the queer population.
He can count on one hand the number of shows on TV that feature openly gay characters, he said – “Modern Family,” “Glee,” “Meet the Fosters.”
“But there really isn’t much else,” he said. “Three shows out of the hundreds and hundreds on TV. … and these days it isn’t just LGBT. It’s LGBTQAI. Gender is limitless and we can’t even tackle [the] first four [letters.]”
Omar, who attended Palm Harbor University High School, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh last year. He earned a bachelor’s degree in film studies and production, and spent a semester earning a production certificate from The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.
His graduate thesis project, White, won first place at the Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival and was shown at the Gasparilla International Film Festival last month. His short film Show & Tell premiered at Muvico Centro Ybor 20 in December.
So far, Omar has only filmed “Three’s” pilot episode. But now that he’s wrapped up an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the remainder of the project – and he’ll be continuing to accept donations – he hopes to start shooting additional episodes soon.
For more information about ”Three” and to view clips from the pilot, visit 3webseries.com.