The Los Angeles Premier of Soon By You at The Community Shul
Soon By You, an award-winning Jewish comedic web series, premiered the first episode of its second season at The Community Shul in Los Angeles. Mostly hilarious, yet at times heartbreaking, Soon By You portrays the dating struggles of young Modern Orthodox Jews living in New York. The latest episode follows the main characters’ relationships—some succeed and some don’t—and introduces new characters who add another dose of eccentricity to the mix.
After the screening, the audience participated in a Q&A session with the series creator, producer, co-writer, and actress Leah Gottfried and with the composer Aaron Symonds. The session was moderated by Melanie Ehrlich, a local actress and filmmaker.
Leah spoke about her career in the film industry as an observant Jewish woman. She began acting at age eight. When she was 14, her family moved to Los Angeles, and she attended the Kol Neshama summer camp, a performing arts camp headed by Robin Garbose. Leah considers Mrs. Garbose her mentor and role model as an observant woman pursuing her dreams as a filmmaker.
After high school, Leah wanted to continue acting, but found that most jobs in the industry conflicted with Shabbat. She turned to screenwriting as a way to remain in the film industry without religious conflict. Determined to provide filmmaking opportunities to the religious Jewish community, Leah was instrumental in creating a first ever Film and Television program at Stern College, the women’s division of Yeshiva University. Currently, Leah heads a full-service production company, Dignity Entertainment.
Soon by You grew out of the desire for Shabbat-friendly filming opportunities, but it came to encompass much more than that. When the first episode won the Best Short Film award at the Washington Jewish Film Festival, Leah felt validated in her quest to portray an authentic Orthodox Jewish experience on screen. “It is my passion project that I’m excited to share with you,” Leah said.
Aaron Symonds grew up in Jerusalem. “I didn’t see my first movie until I was fourteen,” he said. Once exposed to the film industry, he fell in love with it and wanted to make his own contribution as a religious composer. He’s experienced his own share of struggles with finding jobs that do not conflict with Shabbat and now prefers to work on his own projects where he chooses his own schedule. He finds that Shabbat observance helps him in his creative process, because there is a temptation to keep creating non-stop, which can easily lead to burn out. Shabbat forces him to stop, to take a break, and then come back to the creative process refreshed and invigorated.
Leah and Aaron connected on LinkedIn and are working on Soon by You remotely, with Leah in New York and Aaron in Los Angeles. “We clicked from the get-go,” Aaron says. “We are never in the same room, but we are on the same page. I have a special place in my heart for Soon By You.”
In addition to composing the show’s music, Aaron helped Soon By You get fiscal sponsorship from JenLA, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Jewish entertainment professionals.
The Soon By You team has other exciting projects in the works. As Leah said, “Stay tuned.”