Producer Jonathan Hirsh has always loved storytelling. As the son of media mogul Michael Hirsh, who has produced children’s shows such as Babar, The Care Bears and Arthur, he has grown up surrounded by the film industry and exposed to various forms of storytelling, all of which he has grown to love.
Jonathan Hirsh has released a comedic web series called Fare Trade, which is inspired by the online trading platform, Bunz. Fare Trade has five episodes so far, and revolves around the misadventures of three quirky characters who find themselves in strange situations and communities as they attempt to trade their way through life. The show stars Erin Carter, Darrell Faria and Ana Golja, and was produced by Hirsh with Shawn Ahmed and Scott Leaver.
Bunz is an online community in Canada and the United States that has over 500,000 users across an application, Facebook group and a website, and is described as “Craigslist without money.” The website allows users to trade their things with other people, and it is a community that really believes in creating a “cash-less economy.”
“It’s a very altruistic group of like-minded people who really want to change the world and make it a better place,” said Hirsh. “So, when we saw this community, we thought that there’s definitely a show that needs to be written for these people, and that’s how Fare Trade was born.”
The team worked together with Bunz in order to create this show, and even used the Bunz application throughout the production process. They traded for many of their props, costumes, locations and anything else that they needed. Fare Trade is also the first trade-based web series that was created using real trades, and because of this, the series cost only 25 per cent of what the production should have cost. This also allowed for the Bunz community to play a role in the creation of the web series.
“We were inspired so much by this community of people who wanted to reduce waste and we wanted to utilize that in the making of that show. Web series today cost quite a bit to make and sometimes you have to offset that cost, so we did that through bartering,” said Hirsh. Aside from trading things for their production, Hirsh and his team were able to give back to the Bunz community, and donated their leftover lunches, that would have otherwise gone to waste, to those in need.
“Working with Bunz has been fantastic because normally, when you’re producing a show, you’re always trying to find your audience and get them to engage with your production,” explained Hirsh. “With Bunz, our audience is there, and they’re all super excited to see content that reflects their needs, because there isn’t a lot of it.”
Creating a web series is a new form of storytelling for Hirsh, as his professional background is in the performing arts. He studied design and production at the California Institute of the Arts, and then completed a degree majoring in directing at the Columbia College Chicago theatre program. Growing up surrounded by his father’s television and movie ventures, he felt inclined to stay away from the film production business, and directed some plays in Chicago before starting his own theatre company, Remain in Light.
Today, Hirsh works as a producer and director, and owns a production company called Floating Island Entertainment with his father.
Despite his passion for the performing arts, he believes that branded content is something that people will be seeing a lot more of in the future, as more brands become interested in producing good content for their communities. Hirsh says that creating branded web series is a great and quick way of producing quality content that would be seen by a large number t of people, and this is what excited him about creating Fare Trade.
“Storytelling is such a passion, it’s one of those things where, if you have a passion for storytelling, the medium doesn’t matter,” said Hirsh. “You could be playing great music in a concert hall, you can be making television shows, web shows, feature films – as long as you’re getting a great story out there to people, that’s what you strive to do.”
Fare Trade is now available on Bell Fibe TV, Channel 1, and the Bunz platforms such as https://www.bunzlife.com/ .