Ray Pile sings “The Good Old Song” as he drives. He gives you a verbal tour of his college glory days as you cruise past the Corner. He lectures you on Cavaliers’ basketball history while you’re stuck at a stoplight.
He sounds like your everyday UVA-obsessed Charlottesville Uber driver. But in this case, he’s actress Adelind Horan in a wig and a baseball cap, shouting at an iPhone camera.
Ray, along with Chase, a festival-lover and stoned disc golfer; Brett, a gruffly passionate stage manager; Kitty the moneyed equestrian with a kinky side; and Vritti, a former sorority girl turned yoga influencer, are characters played by Horan in “The Charlottesvillian,” an Instagram series created with writer and director Ted Day. The account (@thecharlottesvillian) serves as proof of concept for a pilot script Horan and Day are developing.
Horan and Day have been inseparable since they met in a Live Arts production as kids and ended up as classmates at Tandem Friends School. Both were working as freelance film agents in New York when the pandemic shut the city down and sent them back to their hometown. It’s a difficult time to work in film, but Horan saw it as a great time to work on the Charlottesville-based pilot script she and Day have been kicking around.
“It was kind of serendipitous that we were suddenly back in Charlottesville for the first time since high school,” Horan says. “We honestly did feel like, wow, we haven’t lived in Charlottesville for over a decade, and maybe it’s changed and these characters just aren’t there anymore…but being back felt really good, and we were re-introduced to the community in a way that you only experience when you’re actually living there. And it hasn’t changed too much since 2006.”
Each character that Horan plays in “The Charlottesvillian” is a parody of someone the two know in Charlottesville. In many cases, it’s a combination of personalities. “Chase is essentially an amalgam of many people we went to high school with,” Day laughs.
Since starring as the titular character in Live Arts’ Romeo and Juliet at age 13, Horan has gone on to roles in everything from Netflix’s “The Punisher” to a character in season two of HBO’s “The Deuce.” Day went from writing plays at Live Arts workshops to writing credits on a range of short films, including Bad Dream (2019) and Double Bind (2015).
Now, they are putting their efforts toward a show centered around characters from “The Charlottesvillian” Instagram. The first episode will feature Horan’s five characters all vying for control over what happens to a particular piece of property.
“It’s newly available, almost like a Landmark Hotel kind of situation,” Horan says. “Something that’s just been sitting there for a long time, and suddenly it gets up for grabs and everybody wants something to do with it.”
It’s not the first time Day and Horan have collaborated to create a project; they both worked on “The Pioneers,” a 2016 web series. And if there’s anything their careers have taught them, it’s that pilots are difficult, especially when you have a host of distinctly different characters to introduce.
“We certainly want to stay very true to the idea that it’s mostly character-driven,” Horan says. “We feel like if we can really hone in on introducing the characters and prioritize that over the trajectory of the story in the pilot, I think that’s probably a good place to start.”
Horan will play each of the five main characters, connected through the piece of property they’re squabbling over, and a web of minor characters, preferably cast with local actors. The two expect to have a full script ready by this winter, when they will begin pitching it to streaming networks.
“It would probably be something like a Hulu or a Netflix or something like that,” Day says. “We see it being kind of living in the same world or being comparable with ‘Summer Heights High,’ or ‘Pen15.’”
“Or a sillier ‘Succession’,” Horan adds.
During script development, the two plan to expand their Instagram by interacting directly with users while in character. It will help build their brand while fleshing out character backgrounds for the pilot script. These Instagram shorts have become a unique method of developing characters on the fly. For example, real estate agent Kitty wasn’t originally into kink; that aspect of her character evolved naturally through the short videos.
Each video is chock full of local references, from the Corner to Beta Bridge. But Day and Horan believe the script’s reach goes beyond city limits—and that viewers across the country can relate to the people of Charlottesville.
“Our goal right now is to get Charlottesville watching first, but we really don’t think you need to be from Charlottesville,” Day says. “The only thing if you’re not from Charlottesville that you might not get is if someone says ‘the Foxfield races’ or something like that. But without all those little references and those landmarks, I think those kinds of characters live in all sorts of towns in America.”