Madison native actress and producer Dot McDonald and Milwaukee native director Brandon “Champ” Robinson wish to bring the Hollywood magic to Wisconsin after shooting the pilot episode for their crime drama series “Noodles.”
“Brandon and I shared mutual friends in Milwaukee and Madison who always told us we should collaborate, but we never actually met until we both ended up in LA,” McDonald said in a recent interview..
“Noodles” chronicles the struggle of a young naive college student in Milwaukee caught in a drug war while attempting to raise money for her boyfriend’s bail — a “classic good girl gone bad story,” McDonald said. McDonald began writing the script for the show in 2010 while attending Howard University. She did not meet Robinson until a mutual friend introduced the pair in 2016.
“There are definitely comedic moments, especially in the beginning because she doesn’t know what she’s doing,” McDonald said.
Robinson owns his own independent film company, Imagination Upgraded, so McDonald approached him with the script for the drama. He loved it and wanted to get more involved with the project.
“We came together to extend the short film into a television show. Champ directs, shoots and edits,” McDonald said. “And I produce and act. We are a solid team that gets things done by any means necessary.”
The two set up an IndieGoGo campaign for the series, raising $2,255. Robinson and McDonald planned to use this money to pay for equipment, transportation, wardrobe, music, insurance, marketing, cast and crew members and other production costs. The pair shot the actual television pilot in 2017.
McDonald said she and Robinson both knew they wanted to bring aspects of Milwaukee into the show so they recruited a team of researchers. The team asked people back home about everything Milwaukee, ranging from popular phrases to clothing.
“We brought in the language from Milwaukee, the style from Milwaukee. We brought in the names of the streets from Milwaukee,” she said.
Robinson and McDonald wanted to make “Noodles” as authentic as possible, providing an accurate representation of Milwaukee culture. McDonald said places like Milwaukee and Madison are not well-represented in television and in film.
She wanted to give a nod to where she came from. Overall, the two just hope to create a quality piece of entertainment people will enjoy, especially those back home.
After completing the pilot, McDonald and Ronbinson hosted a successful screening in Los Angeles back in October. In fact, McDonald said the screening was so successful that a few networks reached out to them for a meeting. Robinson and McDonald hope a network will greenlight the show to air.
“We just want to encourage everyone from home to go after their true passion,” McDonald said. “It will not be easy, but neither is going to a job that you hate everyday. Brandon and I are turning a dream into a reality. And if we don’t do anything more, we just want to make the city proud.”
If picked up, the pair would like to film the rest of the season in the city of Milwaukee. McDonald and Robinson plan to host a screening of “Noodles” in Milwaukee on Aug. 26th. Details about the location and tickets will be listed on the show’s social media accounts.