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Web Series CREATOR Crush-o-the-Week: Yuri Baranovsky January 25, 2011

Posted by therealgirlsguide in Blog, interviews, new media, news, social media, Uncategorized, Web Series.
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When I first encountered Yuri Baranovsky –creator of one of the first viral hit web series, Break a Leg— he was “giving away free babies” on Twitter in an effort to increase his followers. I was in the market for some babies anyway (I thought they would make me look more respectable in holiday mailers) and he was psyched to be followed by a whole passel of Real Girls (rather than “the usual fake ones”) and one thing led to another…and TADA: this interview!

Way back in 2006 (which is like a millennium in web series years…), even before Felicia Day hit the scene with The Guild, even before there really was a “scene,” Yuri and his brother Vlad Baranovsky launched their series about a writer whose sitcom has been green-lit, but who, we discover, is destined to die mysteriously by the end of the first season. Originally created as a five-minute pilot for a MySpace contest, Break a Leg evolved over the next two years into a critically acclaimed 17 episode-series. With over five million hits and fantastic press everywhere from The Wall Street Journal to the SF Chronicle, BAL was finally picked up for distribution by Fox Italia in February 2010.

Deliciously twisted and darkly hilarious, BAL is guerrilla film-making at its best. Go watch it now! I mean… go watch it right after you read this interview…

RGG: Okay, so let’s go all the way back to 2006 when the web-series genre was still in its nascent stage.  Did you feel like you were pioneering a new form of entertainment?

YB: Well, we did get a flag and a banner that said, “We Are The Future,” so we had an inkling.

We had no idea what was going to happen, honestly. I was shooting a feature film that has yet to see the light of day – it was my first feature – and my brother was working on novel-writing (which is his forte) and being a programmer (which is still his full-time job). Break a Leg wasn’t meant to be groundbreaking, if you told us we’d be getting the press and views we got, we’d politely tell you to shut your mouth. It just wasn’t something we even fathomed.

The thing is – there was no such thing as a web-series genre at the time. There was no genre at all. There were cats. There was The Burg. There was us, and there was a few other people doing sketch comedy with hopes that someone on TV would spot them. But it was about as much of a genre as standing on the street and yelling out show ideas.

RGG: You and Vlad originally conceived Break a Leg as a TV pilot, correct?  Did you try and pitch it to TV before your launch? Did you have any interest at that time?

YB: Yes, originally the idea was for a TV show, though when we shot it, it was a 5-minute teaser for an online contest (called: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia MySpace Contest). There was a community kind of built around the contest, and our little mini-Break a Leg was a big hit among them, so we decided we should roll with it, make a full Pilot, and maybe try and pitch that. The Pilot got more attention, so we thought – okay, let’s make three episodes and be able to deliver a good amount of content to a studio to really show them our worth.

Ironically, we never quite ended up pitching Break a Leg. But as it got popular, a lot of people started calling us. We had meetings with NBC TV and NBC Film, with HBO, with ABC, with CBS – you name em’, we had em’. No one knew what to do with us. It was always, “Great, what else do you have?” – “Well,” we’d say, “What are you looking for?” – “We’ll know when we see it.” They’d respond. But they never did. Nor do I think they really do now. They’re definitely figuring it out more, but it still kind of feels like the guys with the money are blind men groping for the teat of success. Nothing ever worked out with any of them, except, of course, FOX Italy, who bought the distribution rights (www.floptv.tv – no, I don’t know what it’s called FlopTV, but you can see Break a Leg with Italian subtitles on it!)

RGG: What was the first really awesome web-series you saw?  Were you inspired by it?

YB: You know, I honestly, honestly don’t watch a lot of web-series. I wish I did. But I just never had time and, as the problem with most people, I’ll sit down to watch one, kind of hate it, get disillusioned, and don’t watch anymore. There is no centralized place for people to find high quality series, so it’s hard to separate the good ones from the overwhelming amount of not-so-good ones.

That said, I think The Burg was probably the first really awesome web series I saw. I love the actors, the writing is solid, it’s just a fun show to follow. Those guys pushed us to raise our game too – they were great.

The Bannen Way really impressed me as well – here was a show that did exactly what I had been preaching for years, which is, take the web series genre seriously and create a piece of content that rivaled film and television.

RGG: You shot BAL episodically (rather than continuously). Can you tell us why you decided to go that route?

YB: I’d love to say it was a carefully orchestrated plan, but it’s because we didn’t know what we were doing. I wish we did shoot it continuously. We were that blind man I referenced earlier, and we only got managed to swipe that teat a few times (I’m really in love with this metaphor, sorry) a few times during Break a Leg’s run.

That said, there’s a part of me that’s glad we didn’t shoot it continuously. It evolved naturally, with time, we got better, with time, and we also invented the idea of mini-episodes in-between longer episodes (what we called “conversations”) which I think were really fun and helped evolve the show a lot. Also, we got to put inside jokes in for fans and that’s always a blast.

So, let’s say it was a carefully orchestrated mistake.

RGG: Was there any funding for BAL initially?

YB: Nope! We begged and borrowed and didn’t pay anyone a dime. The two other Producers, Justin Morrison and Dashiell Reinhardt, worked at a place that I still can’t name, but we managed to borrow a lot of film gear from it without them being exactly privy to it. I always joked that it was the manifestation of God, because it somehow yielded everything we needed: locations, lights, cameras, even that laugh track machine in the first episode.

We ended up getting the last episode sponsored by Holiday Inn Express – which I later heard was one of the first sponsorship deals. We also made a bit of money from YouTube’s Partner Program when that actually meant something. We got a lot of help on YouTube from their entertainment editor at the time, Felicia Williams (who is with Rev3 now I think), she was very, very kind to us and featured the show a lot. That helped it get views and a bit of money.

We also got the FOX Italy deal a year after the show was done, but we’re still waiting for our Euros. I’d say we probably ended up breaking even on actual cash spent, so, you know, it wasn’t all that bad.

One of the characters in Break a Leg says that art is borne out of restriction – and I very much believe that BAL is a good example of that.

RGG: You wrote an article published in Gawker.com in 2008 about online monetizing (or the lack thereof) called “I’m a Web Celebrity. Am I rich yet?” Have your views changed since then?

YB: Well, my views have changed because times have changed. There is money on the web now. We’ve, knock on wood, sustained and flourished with HLG Films solely from money we earned creating content for this genre. But, back then, it was this weird thing where people kept saying how TV was going extinct and how amazing and lucrative this space was.

Was it amazing? Sure. It still is. Was there potential for it to be lucrative? Definitely. Was it at the time? Absolutely not. Most of the content was very amateurish and no one was really making money. We just kept talking big like we knew a secret no one else did. It started to bother me because there was this perceived success when all these creators were struggling to make something good, not making money, working themselves to the bone and no one was helping because all the articles said that we were DAYS away from toppling network television. It was all very silly.

RGG: BAL and The Guild are kind of in the same “generation” of web shows. Can you tell me about your relationship with/awareness of The Guild while you were working on BAL?

YB: Well, Felicia and I are – and I’m announcing this for the first time – engaged to be wed. So, we’re pretty close. Once she finds out about the engagement, I feel like we’ll be even closer.

The Guild popped up around Episode 3 and spread like wildfire. It was the first mega-hit and it was really good for the genre, it showed that that can happen, that the views were there, that even the money was there. Did it bother me that Break a Leg was getting, “This is a great show, why is no one giving it money?” write-ups while The Guild was getting, “All Hail The New Queen of Internets!” sure. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. But it’s not because The Guild wasn’t good or that Felicia isn’t talented – it’s because I’m very competitive and my brain said, we came first, we deserve to be written up as the “first successful web show” ­– because dammit, we were.

But you know what? Felicia is fantastically talented and a great person. We’ve talked periodically throughout the years and she deserves the praise that she gets. The things that we’re doing now wouldn’t be possible without Felicia and The Guild blazing that path, so, I’m thankful for it and, I say, in my best, good sport voice, I’m very happy for her.

RGG: What’s your opinion of going with multiple distribution outlets as opposed to just one?

YB: Depends on the show, who is making it and how much money you’ve got to market it. If it’s a series that has solid backing, that you can really get a lot of press and advertising for – then I’d say go for one distribution outlet. Get everyone to watch it on your website, build the community – people like Zadi Diaz and Felicia have made a living by successfully creating a powerful community at their backs.

If, however, you’re going at it alone – put it everywhere. The more people see it, the more it spreads, the better. It may not be a hit on YouTube but maybe the Blip.tv version hits it big.

It all just depends on what you’ve got to work with.

RGG: Did you do a lot to publicize BAL and get your videos to go viral, or did that just happen?

YB: In the beginning, I just blindly wrote to every newspaper and blog whose email I could find. Most of them ignored us, but then we got a few bigger bloggers to write about us and then it started coming in waves. We worked with For Your Imagination starting with Episode 3, and they helped with marketing as well. They made us a nice website, art, etc. and that really, really went a long way. I’m not sure where the big articles were coming from, but they were coming, and it was overwhelming – Wall Street Journal, LA Times, SF Chronicle, The Times in England – it was incredible.

As I said before, YouTube was a huge help because they kept featuring us. It was a different time for YouTube – people on there were still fighting the good fight, still trying to make good content shine over the Nerdy Guy With Lightsaber-type stuff that filled up most of it. Sadly, those people lost that fight in the end.

RGG: What other career opportunities did BAL’s success create for you and Vlad?

YB: All of them, honestly. I was the head writer for a series called The Circuit on MOJO HD, which was like a Daily Show for tech news – that was my first network gig and I got that partly because of Break a Leg and partly because of some of the writing I did for Gizmodo at the time.

We started working with Blip.tv because they knew us from Break a Leg, which lead to the 7-11 job through Blip, which lead to pretty much every branded entertainment video we’ve made since.

We’re doing a series soon with CJP Digital with Wilson Cleveland and – how did we meet him? Through Break a Leg.

Break a Leg has been the most amazing thing that’s happened to our careers. It changed our lives completely and it helped launch our careers. My dream is to return to it some day, with a real budget, revisit the series – either start anew or continue with a second season, but… who knows? I have a lot of dreams. Still, if anyone with money is reading this – if you’ve got the cash, we’re always in for more Break a Leg. I love that universe.

RGG: How do you see the web-series world changing in the last few years? What’s different about starting a web series now?  Where do you see the genre going?

YB: Oh, it’s a completely different ballgame. For one thing, there’s money now. We’ve managed to pay people money and that, in itself, is a huge difference. The quality is completely different too – while there’s still a lot of junk out there, there’s also some real art coming out, great scripts and great shows that are telling great stories — I think that’s fantastic.

Most importantly, advertisers and networks are spending money in the space and it’s yielding dividends. That’s going to drive creators to really up their game to get the money they need, and that’s just going to make the entire genre better and better.

I’m not sure where the genre is going. I think the next big step is that we need a big hit – Felicia’s was Big Hit – Phase 1. I think now we need Big Hit – Phase 2, which is a show that regular people watch too. We need a Sex and the City, or a West Wing, or a Friends that comes from the Internet. We need a series that isn’t famous in our community, or to a niche audience, but has worldwide acclaim. I think once we have that, we’re in the next stage of web show-making – that’s when we’ll really see where this thing is headed.

That said, I don’t think it’ll replace TV. I think there’s going to be a lot of interesting interplay between the two, I think someone just has to figure out how to do it correctly.

I’m hoping that someone is going to be us.

RGG: You’ve written the first text book about Web series-es (what the hell is the plural when one is referring to multiple web series anyway?=)) Can you tell me a little about that?

YB: Web Seriesi. I actually hate the term web series. And Internet Sitcom. Something about it sounds cheap to me, for some reason.

The book we’re writing is tentatively, and very creatively, titled: Writing for New Media. It’s being published by Holcomb Hathaway and is, as far as we know, the first textbook geared for this subject.

It’s being written by me, Vlad, and a teacher at San Francisco State University named Marie Drennan. I met Marie at a NewTeeVee conference (like the first NewTeeVee conference) many years ago – Break a Leg had just started taking off, and Marie was the only teacher I ever met who was interested in the web space. Marie also happened to be one of Vlad’s teachers at SFSU. She’s a fan of the genre, and one of the only teachers teaching it. She realized that there were no books that guided her students so she asked if we’d be interested in putting together a proposal with her to get this book made.

We did, and we got a contract offer surprisingly fast. So now, we’re writing a textbook – which is the bizarre cherry on my bizarre vaguely-berry-tasting career thus far!

RGG: What advice do you have for first-time series creators?

YB: Be brave, be smart, try not to say, “We can’t do that” – just figure out how to do it, and most importantly, know you’re going to have to suffer if you want to get anywhere.

Wait, wait, I’ve got more.  Get a close knit crew that isn’t just a crew but a team, people who are as passionate about the project as you are, who will work day and night to make sure it’s made.

Study the genre, see how things work – there’s a million web shows out there now, so know your audience, know your hook, know your battle plan when the series comes out because it ain’t going to be easy getting viewers.

Write for what you have. If you’ve got a handy-cam, write a series where that kind of quality makes sense. If you’ve got a great writer, great actors, and a great script, you can turn that handy-cam into something magic.

Finally, stop sleeping. It’s wasteful.

RGG: You have a new series, Lovemakers, coming out.  What’s it about and when is it launching?

YB: Lovemakers is a dramedy series about four people running a matchmaking company. It stars Mark Gantt (of Bannen Way fame), Alexis Boozer (of Break a Leg fame), Daniela DiIorio (of Break a Leg fame), and me (of this interview fame). The style is very – and I hate to do this – Ally McBeal-ish if Ally McBeal was written by Aaron Sorkin. That said, it still very much has our style in it, so, expect a certain amount of silliness, like Opera-singing orgies.

The idea is that it’s a very honest, blunt study of love and sex. I think it’s a very relate-able show and I’m extremely excited about it, if we can get the budget to make it!

Right now, we have a promo made that we’re pitching to a variety of places. We’ve had an amazing response to the promo and I’m hoping we’ll release it online to the general public soon enough. I’m hoping that we get a deal by early next year so we can start shooting this thing, but, we’ll see. It’s a very big project – I want it to have 30-minute episodes and a variety of interactive elements that I think people will really dig, but that need real money and time to pull off correctly.

It’s the biggest thing we’ve done to date, so we’re taking our time to make sure we can do it before officially embarking on it. But so far, it’s feeling really good. I hope. Who knows? There have been so many projects that we’ve tried to get off the ground and… I think the way to survive this career is being able to accept failure, take a breath, and move on to the next scheme, tirelessly, endlessly. Otherwise, you go a little crazy.

RGG: Any other cool projects you’re working on that we should know about?

YB: We just shot a satire of the Old Spice commercial for MTV using Vinny from the Jersey Shore, which was fun. We’re also doing another series – our first scripted series since Break a Leg – that’s going into production in late February or so. I’ll have more details on it soon, but we’re very excited about having another show to work on and that’s what we’ll be getting busy with starting first thing next year!

RGG: When can we pick up the babies? And are you going to throw in a free nanny or do we have to provide our own?

YB: The babies have been outside my apartment for weeks now. I really should have told you that… I threw in those timed feeders that they make for cats, you know? My brother has one – it makes it so he has to put as little effort into taking care of his cat as possible. I got you those for the babies. Also, there are so many babies, I figure they can probably take care of one another.

By the way, I love what you girls are doing – keep it up, it’s fantastic! Thanks for the interview!

Thanks for reading!  xo- Carmen

www.therealgirlsguide.com

Hello Tello! December 22, 2010

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So it’s been a while since my last post, and I thought it was time to get ya up-to-date on all things Real Girls

The latest cool happening is that now our entire 1st season is officially downloadable! TelloFilms, “a venue for films made by for/by/or about lesbians,” just launched the “premium content” section of their site, which means that now you can download Real Girls (and other awesome shows like Brunch With Bridget and 3-Way) directly on to your hard drive! (Check us out in the Tello Store HERE)

BUT WHY (you may ask… in a cheesy announcer voice…)WOULD YOU WANT TO DOWNLOAD SOMETHING YOU CAN GET FOR FREE?

A.) Way better quality! You don’t have worry about things like “buffering” or random attacks of pixilation…which will make your next network board meeting presentation about how smart, sassy feminist web shows are all the rage (and why shows like Real Girls need to be on TV) go MUCH more smoothly.

B) Even if corporate greed destroys our digital our way of life, YOU will have your own copy of Real Girls to pass along to your grandkids as you reminisce about the glory days of the Internet! (Not that we will EVER let that happen, right?)

C) It’s super cheap ($.99 an episode)! Plus, 80% of that will go back to US and will allow us to make more Real Girls (imagine a whole shit-kicking army of fierce, fun-lovin’ feminists)! And the other 20% goes back to Tellofilms, an awesome girl-powered startup, that’s helping to make Lesbian-centric content not only visible, but also viable.

ALSO, Tellofilms has introduced a monthly subscription option for “exclusive content” you can’t see anywhere else and will be launching their original series Cow Girl Up in January.  Lots of cool stuff on there that’s free too, so be sure to check’m out at http://tellofilms.com/.

BUT BACK TO US…and the question of what the hell we’ve been up to…

VIRTUAL LESBIAN LOOKS. Back in October Real Girl Reena Dutt (“Sydney”) spoke at the University of Arizona on a panel featuring Real Girls (alongside Anyone But Me and Girl Trash) about the exciting trend of independent lesbian-centric shows online.

ALHLIVE. In November, the cast of Real Girls was featured on a LIVE video podcast. In this 40 minute interview lead by Seattle-based journalist Lawrence Haskins (which included live Q &A with viewers) we covered everything from the feminist revolution in new media…to farts…. to “junior cougars” (huh? what? Just WATCH IT ALREADY!=)).

MORE INTERVIEWS!  In the “other-web-series-we-love-department,” we have interviews coming up with web pioneer, Yuri Baranovsky (Break a Leg), “Office” writer and web-creator Anthony Farrell (Dwelling), as well as our own Nikki Brown (producer and star of Sheroes) and Kai Soremekun (creator of Chick) about why Female Superheroes are taking over the web! So stay tuned…

OFF-CHANCE PRODUCTIONS. And finally, as to what the hell have we been doing for the last month while you have been blogless?  Our mama company Off-Chance Productions has been busy, busy…

Our critically acclaimed stage play, The Limitations of Genetic Technology, just closed to sold out audiences! And we just wrapped 2 shorts….SAT I (written by and starring Real Girl, Reena Dutt) and Eat, Dream, Play, Shit, Die (written by Luis Arturo Reyes and directed by ME).

Also, we just found out that our play, Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto (written by and starring Real Girl Anna Khaja), has been nominated for TWO Ovation awards!

And you thought we were just sitting here braiding our toe hair.

So, have some kickass holidays! And thanks for all your love and support throughout the year!

We seriously could not have done any of this with out you!

WE. LOVE. YOU.

-Carmen

Carmen slutting it up with Santa...some time in the '90s.

REAL GIRLS on ALHLive November 10th! November 3, 2010

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Next Wednesday (11/10) A. Lawrence Haskins from ALHLive will be interviewing Charles Malik Whitefield (The Guardian, The Temptations), Michael Ralph (Bernie Mac, Blow), our friend Don Wallace (Blue, Resurrection Blvd) and, of course…US!

Check out the trailer for the event:

We’ll be live at 10 am PST.  Live Q&A with viewers following the interview. See ALHLive.com for details.

xo-Carmen

The Real Girls Guide to Everything Else – Season 2 is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of The Real Girls Guide to Everything Else – Season 2 are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Click HERE to contribute to Season 2!

An Update on Real Girls Season 2… November 2, 2010

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The Real Girls Guide to Everything Else – Season 2 is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of The Real Girls Guide to Everything Else – Season 2 are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Click HERE to contribute to Season 2!

You make Real Girls a reality. xo-The Real Girls


Real Girls Season 2 brought to you…BY YOU! October 20, 2010

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Give us a TEN! September 23, 2010

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So, at last we’re gearing up for Season 2! We have a kickass script, a rockin crew and our irrepressible gang of Real Girls is all booted up and ready to go…

There’s only one thing that we’re missing: THE CASH!

So if you love Real Girls and want MORE irreverent, girl-powered comedy that will take us BEYOND the familiar realm of shoe-shopping and boy-stalking, please consider making your TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donation today!

TEN BUCKS. That’s all we’re asking for (although more is always appreciated, and encouraged=)). That’s less than $1 per episode for the show hailed by critics from NPR to BITCH Magazine as the smarter, sassier more REAL alternative to the wealthy white world of the primetime fashionista.

We have until November 4th to reach our goal! And we are going to do it – but only with your help!

And to those of you who have already contributed – a HUGE thanks!

To make your TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donation on-line please go to:

or Mail a check made out to FRACTURE ATLAS (our fiscal sponsor) to Off-Chance Productions . P.O. Box 1582 . Los Angeles , CA 90078-1582

You make Real Girl’s a reality.
xo-The Real Girls

The Real Girls Guide to Everything Else – Season 2 is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of The Real Girls Guide to Everything Else – Season 2 are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Web Series Crush-o-the-Week: Twins – It’s Like Looking in a Dirty Mirror September 10, 2010

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This week I decided to interview the director of Real Girl’s herself, the fabulous Heather de Michele about her OTHER (that slut!) web series, Twins: It’s Like Looking in a Dirty Mirror.

We snatched Heather up to direct Real Girl’s, the minute she moved back to LA after 10 years in New York, and haven’t let go of her since. In the past year, Heather’s directed several of our projects including our critically acclaimed stage play Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto, written by and starring Anna Khaja (“Aliyah” from Episode 5 of Real Girl’s), and our snarky-fun video The Crimson Tide (co-directed with Real Girl Reena Dutt) which parodies the utterly inane but eminently mock-able National Organization for Marriage ad The Gathering Storm.

Twins: It’s Like Looking in a Dirty Mirror follows a couple of 13-year-old twin sisters PBS science-show style “as they journey through life’s sibling-related obstacles during those awkward teen years.” The Twins, Sigourney and Sandy Snamf, are played by Anna Fitzwater (“Sexy Barista” from Real Girl’s episode 2) Emily Burton respectively.

The thing I find so intriguing about the series (besides the fact that Heather directed, shot it, and edited it herself…on the sly, in between Real Girls takes)…is that it’s entirely improved based, was shot on a zero budget, with only one or two locations…and is still funny and creative as hell. Jealous. But then I remember…she’s MINE, all mine. Well sorta. I mean, she does own an American-Girl Doll version of herself that I have easy access to. Picture below (when you’re done reading, as a treat).

RG: Where did the idea of Twins come from?

HDM: Two of the funniest women I know like to pretend they are headstrong teenagers from time to time.  I was inspired.

RG: Can you tell us a little bit about your process?

HDM: The entire series is improv based.  Lines were never scripted, though ideas on how the story would evolve were discussed before shooting… sometimes.

RG: How long does it take to shoot, edit and post an episode?

HDM: Each episode was shot in 3-4 hours time.  The editing process would take a full day or two and then the posting would happen the following day.  Our typical flow was Monday shoot, Friday air.

RG: Why did you choose to do this as a web-series?

HDM: Because we had absolutely no budget and the freedom to be as experimental and wild was we wanted was very appealing.  Web work is a very low-stakes medium and I think that lack of pressure breeds some of the best comedy!

RG: What’s the background of your team?

HDM: We all have theatre backgrounds sprinkled with some screen work here and there.  The three of us made up half of the NYC based sketch comedy group, Lesbian Pulp-O-Rama! Emily and Anna played some of the most vibrant, ridiculous and kooky characters in that illustrious body of work and I knew they would be perfect for a character driven web-series.  Lesbian Pulp-O-Rama!  ran steadily for four years, prior to that I had directed each of them in several plays.

RG: Any wacky on-set anecdotes?

HDM: Oh, wow, there were so many.  The wackiness often came from Anna and Emily taking their comedy to a vulgar and inappropriate place – I’d have to reign them in and remind the gals that TWINS is PG… sometimes PG-13.

RG: What is the most challenging part of the process?

HDM: Editing.  There was always an abundance of material to distill down to a short web episode.  Episode one could have been a feature film.

RG: Any advice you have for other female web creators?

HDM: Get a camera.  Honestly, though mine is already a bit out dated, having the ability to pick it up and shoot is very empowering.  Teaching myself to edit also gave me a great deal of control over my projects.  Not that I don’t love collaborating with large production teams, but when money is tight and ideas are flowing, it’s great to know you can just do it yourself.  Like Rosie the Riveter.

RG: What’s next for Twins? DATING?!

HDM: Season 2: episode 1 is in post – stay tuned for more from Sandy and Sigourney Snamf!!

RG: Any other projects you’re working on that we should know about?

HDM:  Yes!  I have the great fortune of directing Season 2 of The Real Girl’s Guide to Everything Else – coming soon to a computer near you!

To find out how YOU can help the support the cause of creating more awesome girl-powered comedy, please check out our Real Girl’s Season 2 Fundraising site (All donations are tax deductible!)

Carmen (with accomplice Jen) abucts Heather American Girl Mini-Me during the shoot.

The non-doll version of Heather on-set, with Robin Daléa.

Crashing the Carpet: Real Girls at Hollyshorts August 24, 2010

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So, the HollyShorts Film Festival was a blast! In addition to Real Girl’s winning an Audience Choice Award (YAY!!), the place was practically crawling with celebrities (David Arquette, James Caan, name drop, name drop, name drop), none of whom we actually spoke to, in part because we’re THAT cool and in part because we thought it might interfere with our plans to pass ourselves off as celebrities ourselves.

Real Girls… Jen Weaver, Carmen Elena Mitchell, Nikki Brown and Reena Dutt looking suspiciously fashionable and celebraic…

Heather de Michele, Reena Dutt (again!) and Robin Daléa

Actually, we were not totally positive we were supposed to be ON the Red Carpet…(an email had gone out earlier that week that this was a privilege reserved for “celebrities only”), but as you can see rules meant to be broken and carpets… are meant to be muddied (or as Heather said… “munched”). Either that or we actually ARE celebrities but just haven’t received our official gold-plated membership cards yet (or our first paycheck for opening a theme park).

The day of the screening I ran into two friends that I’d met at OTHER festivals.

I met Robert Factor at the Vine Shorts Festival three years ago when I premiered my short, Evidence. Robert Factor is an awesome filmmaker whose award winning shorts Pleasures and Stuck will be screening at the upcoming San Gabriel International Film Festival.

Kevin Deen and I met at Screamfest last year after a screening of the short film Rations (directed by Real Girl’s intro DP Craig Ouelette and… starring me!). Kevin is an actor and a regular at HollyShorts. He’s a super cool, supportive dude and he even shared his chocolate pudding with me (no, that is not a metaphor for anything, grow up, Reena!).

And here’s some amazing ladies I met at our screening block: Cindy Baer star of the short Scream Queen (written/directed by Elisabeth Fies) and Tracey Birdsall-Smith writer/producer and star of “Tick Tock”.

Finally, here’s a random picture David Arquette (he had a 3-D short which premiered on opening night).

I did not take this picture. I grabbed it off the HollyShorts website in hopes that you would come looking for someone slightly more famous and find Real Girl’s instead.  Tricked ya!

Okay, gotta run. Have a theme park to open up.

xo-Carmen

Web Series Crush-o-the-Week: Self-Storage August 20, 2010

Posted by therealgirlsguide in Blog, Uncategorized, Web Series.
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Is it just me…or does everybody go through a period in their life where they seriously contemplate moving in to a storage unit? I mean they’re clean, sometimes even air-conditioned…and start at $50 a month! Of course there’s no amenities (like toilets or showers) but hey… it’s a step up from camping/or card-board-boxing-it, right?

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I stumbled across a new series on Strike.Tv called “Self-Storage.” Created by (and starring) Kimberly Trew and Julie Mann, the series follows the lives of roommates “Dana” and “Shoshanna” after they are evicted and move into a storage unit.

After watching all five episodes back to back (and laughing my ass off), I decided…hey why not give back some of the love that Real Girls has been getting and interview another awesome girl-powered series?

Introducing Real Girl’s “Web Series Crush o the Week”: Self-Storage (with Kimberly Trew and Julie Mann)…

RG: Where did the idea of Self-Storage come from?

KT: Julie and I met working as spokespeople for a luxury automobile company-crazy, right? Anyway, a big part of our job involved picking up the cars from a storage facility in Azusa and then driving them to golf tournaments or whatever. So we started spending a LOT of time in this random storage facility, meeting super wacky people, hoarders and whatnot and then one day we were like….”Hey-what if…?” And the rest is history. Also, I’m kind of obsessed with alternative living spaces. I live on a 43′ mini yacht in the Marina right now. Not joking!

JM: What Kim said. Also, at the same time I had another part-time job covertly helping a celebrity leave her husband. We kept carting her stuff to a storage unit. One late night in the storage facility, the household’s eccentric maintenance guy made me keep quiet and listen for the noises of “people living in there.” Naturally, “Self Storage” was on a collision course with creation.

RG: Why did you choose to do this as a web-series (as opposed to a short or a pilot)?

KT: I think we wanted to do something that people could see. A lot of times, you do a short or a pilot, and it ends up only being seen by a few people. This was something we made to entertain our families, our friends, and ourselves, and I think a webseries is the best format for that…

JM: And we had all kinds of goofy ideas that would have made great sketches so I think the web series format just translated better.

RG: What’s your writing/acting/producing background?

KT: I’ve been acting for years…started out in musicals when I was little and then got my Theatre degree from Loyola Marymount. Since then, I’ve done a lot of shall we say, varied projects…Everything from serious plays to a National Lampoon movie to a German Febreze commercial in which I played a supporting role opposite a beagle. As far as writing and producing goes, this was my first time! And it’s been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.

JM: Oh man, I never wanted to be a producer. I still don’t want to be one, so I’m thankful that Kim enjoys it! I wrote for a season on “The Dish” for the Style Network. That built joke-writing confidence, as I’d never considered myself a writer. Acting, however, is what I’ve spent most of my life doing, and luckily I’ve been able to support myself over the last few years with commercials.

RG: You two have such great rapport on camera. Have you worked together previously?

KT: No, we’ve only known each other for ten months. I’m seriously convinced that we knew each other in a past life. It’s just too weird…

JM: I think it was at some point during the shoot that Kim turned to me and said “Can you believe we only met 6 months ago, and we’ve already written a web series and now we’re actually shooting it?!” Pretty fantastic.

RG: Any wacky on-set anecdotes?

KT: There were tons of anecdotes, but I’ll stick to the legal ones for now 😉 We were on a tight schedule and our wonderful director, Scott Keiner, was trying to make sure we stayed on task. I was fussing over our canine actress, Ouzo, and Scott got annoyed with me and told me to buckle down and focus. But throughout the day, people had been noticing that there was a dog on set and thought, “Cool! I’ll bring my dog.” Then THREE other dogs randomly showed up that afternoon, it became like Dog Central-I thought Scott was going to go through the storage unit roof; it was both AWESOME and terrifying! Haha. We still talk about it, but I don’t know if we’ll ever resolve this dog incident.

JM: There was also the missing sombrero incident. We needed it for the last day of shooting, but it had already been returned to wardrobe. Scott (sorry Scott!) thought that the scene wouldn’t be funny without the sombrero. I ran off to make up and had Ashley give me a uni-brow. I got back to set and proudly pointed at my forehead, but Scott was inconsolable. And we had another “creative differences moment.” I think the scene still came out funny.

RG: What was the most challenging part of the process?

KT: This project has been such a labor of love…I’d have to say that for me producing has been such an interesting ride. I’m used to showing up on set and then being finished. But when you’re producing and writing something, you have to be there every step of the way. At the risk of sounding corny, it’s a wonderful, crazy, time-consuming, beautiful adventure…

JM: Ditto all dat. Each step has been scary, new and exciting. Every time we’ve accomplished another feat, there seems to be another order of business to tackle. Like at the moment, I’m trying to figure out how best to market the series and broaden our viewership.

RG: How did you finance it?

KT: With our money, ingenuity, and awesome friends. 😉 And money was not the most valuable resource in this equation.

JM: Street walking.

RG: Have you encountered any challenges in producing, marketing or pitching the series that you think may be unique to female creators?

KT: I think that being a female creator has inherent advantages and disadvantages. There are certain groups, companies,and festivals who are apt to take your project less seriously and turn you down because they think dudes are funnier; that’s just the way it is. But I don’t believe complaining is going to do us any good in these situations. We must create our own avenues of opportunity and truly support one another. But on the other hand, comediennes can take some liberties that men can’t take. Will I describe what those liberties are? No. 😉 But trust me on this one….

JM: Yeah, unfortunately a lot of times people are skeptical of a female comedy series, but also, there are great benefits to being funny chicks. For instance, we might never have met you guys if we weren’t a dynamic, female duo :). And as Kim touched on about “liberties”: as women, we can make potentially offensive jokes, push the envelope in ways that people may be more willing to forgive simply because we can’t be labeled as ‘misogynous white dudes.’

RG: Any advice you have for other female web creators?

KT: Yes! Know that your voice is unique and people want to hear your perspective. Don’t be afraid to ask for favors; for example, my rockstar friend Heather D’Angelo (of the band Au Revoir Simone) wrote and performed the theme song. I didn’t think she’d have time because she’s always globe-trotting, but I asked anyway, she was able to do it, and now all of my friends can’t get the jingle out their head! 😉 Also, if you find or have the opportunity to create a great project with awesome people-do not make any excuses. Just go for it!!! You will be glad you did.

JM: I’d add: keep it simple. The simpler the premise and locations, the more doable it is on a low budget. We had only two main characters and one location. Not only did that keep our costs down, but it was far easier for the crew and we were able to schedule around our actors needs as well. RG: What’s next for Self-Storage? KT: We’ve been having some interesting business chats, but we’re still focused on the art right now. We’re writing Season 2 and we can’t wait to get back on set again!

JM: We’re also planning to put up some little shorts/ confessionals in between seasons.

RG: Any other projects on the horizon?

KT: No. I’m boring-this is all I do right now. Aside from dealing with sea lions who try to get onto my boat-but I feel like that’s a whole different webseries…

JM: I’m building a time traveling robot.

***

To find out how YOU can help the support the cause of creating more awesome girl-powered comedy, please check out our Real Girl’s Season 2 Fundraising site (All donations are tax deductable!)

People We Love: Real Boy of the Week! August 10, 2010

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So, as part of the grass roots endeavor that IS funding a web series…I’m going to start doing regular shout-outs to our awesome contributors as we head towards our fundraising goal.

This week I’d like to give a special mention to Arthur Jolly.

In addition to being totally adorable (and having this darling British accent which he does NOT take advantage of nearly enough), Arthur is also an award winning screenwriter and playwright. You can check out his many accomplishments at:

http://www.arthurjolly.com/

He’s also totally modest and specifically told me that I needn’t mention any of his upcoming performances…like his play The Four Senses of Love that will be at the Edinburgh Festival August 5-29…but doesn’t that just make you like him and want to promote him MORE? So clever, those Brits.

To find out how YOU can help the support the cause of creating more awesome girl-powered comedy, please check out our Real Girl’s Season 2 Fundraising site (All donations are tax deductable!)

Also, if you are a Los Angeles area actor we have a special fundraising event coming up on  8/15 that’s just for you! Details here!

Hope you’re having a great week!

xo-Carmen