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Web Series Crush-o-the-Week: THE POWER OBJECT July 17, 2011

Posted by therealgirlsguide in Blog, interviews, new media, news, social media, Uncategorized, Web Series.
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Long before Bridesmaids hit the scene there were funny, raunchy chicks doing it DIY-style on the web. Although Claire-Dee Lim’s The Power Object a new web series about three ladies who discover a magical vibrator — launched just last month, the idea began buzzing years ago.

Originally conceived of as a live-action feature back in 2003, the script peaked the interest of some major studios and led to Lim’s first big feature gig, Firehouse Dog (co-written with Mike Werb and Michael Colleary). Still, at the time, The Power Object was was a “no go” — seen as a bit too “risqué” and “out there.”  (Whatever THAT means… what does that mean? And why doesn’t it seem to apply to male writers like Judd Apatow or Trey Parker and Matt Stone?)

But a lot has changed in the last eight years, as evidenced by films like Bridesmaids and female-created TV shows like 30 Rock and The Sarah Silverman Program. And the web is packed with serials that go far beyond the usual dating and retail commiseration comedies. Some of my favorite examples are gritty, girl-centric comedies like Girl Trash, Self Storage, Ylse, that give the viewer a more expansive version of girl culture.  Even in the year since Real Girls launched, we’ve gone from being told that we’re too “niche” (aka: not marketable to the coveted 13-34 white male demo) to making the studio circuit as a viable commercial entity.

Still, the fight ain’t over yet. According to a 2010 report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State, women account for only 27% of all creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography in broadcast television. This is still better than film where women hold down only 16% of these jobs (at least among the 250 top grossing films).

But it does mean that the tide is turning, and that women (and men) are responding favorably to smart, female-centric material (so far Bridesmaids is number 7 in the top grossing films of 2011). My arts-school economic theory is this: first we have to buy it, and then they’ll start to make it. So get out there and support some awesome girl-powered entertainment today! Let’s show’m what sells….

And now for my interview with the awesomely talented Claire-dee Lim… (Oh and did I mention that all the actors are DOLLS? I did not? Eat your heart out Barbie!!!)


RGG: Where did the initial inspiration for the series come from?

CDL: The series came out of my desire to tell a story that blended all my favorite things: the friendship aspect of SEX AND THE CITY, the fun, supernatural bits of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and my love for wish fulfillment stories.  Having one’s dreams come true is sweet and wonderful but when it all goes pear shaped, that can be so much more interesting.  I first wrote the screenplay then later adapted it into the series.

RGG: I love the fact that you not only created custom dolls, but that they interact with regular size objects like cell phones and hamburgers. How did this come about?

 CDL: It didn’t start out with dolls.  The initial conception was to make a Flash cartoon.  Ten years ago, I had made a goofy and barely animated 4-part Flash cartoon called GAMEGIRL—about a hotshit girl gamer who enters a tournament—so I thought I would do something similar in style and longer in length.  After I had recorded and edited the voice tracks, I attempted to draw the backgrounds but quickly realized I was in over my head because of my limited drawing skills, so I decided to bring in some real illustrators.  That’s when I met the incredibly talented artist Jean Kang.  She informed me that drawing and animating 45 minutes of material between the two of us would take forever.  We kicked around more simplified ideas like using sock puppets, inspired by the MTV show SIFL & OLLY, which was hilarious by the way, and the doll idea evolved from there.

RGG: Why did you decide to go the web-route with this?

CDL: When the show was conceived a few years ago, the web was exploding again with content and I knew self-distributing on it was an opportunity not to let slip.  Plus the series is suited for the web—5-minute episodes which will hopefully appeal to that vast global audience that likes kooky content.

RGG: Can you tell me a little bit about the progression from screenplay to web series?

CDL: Adapting the screenplay into the series involved simplifying the story as much as possible.  So after whacking out a few subplots, forty-five minutes of material was left.  That was broken up into nine episodes of approximately five minutes with all of them ending on a cliffhanger.  Narration was added to help bridge the scenes and add that omniscient character, who also plays off the scene.  Even after all the story trimming, I was still left with so many scenes, characters and locations—production seemed daunting at times.

RGG: Do you think movies like Bridesmaids are making room for a new type of “girl comedy?”

CDL: I hope so!  BRIDESMAIDS proved that audiences will respond to female-driven stories that are funny, honest, emotional and raunchy—in other words, comedies about real women and the shit they have to deal with.  And it paves the way for more.

 RGG: Where does something like The Power Object fit into that conversation?

If I had a magic vibrator, I’d wish for THE POWER OBJECT to be perceived in the same vein.  The goal was to tell a story which is also about some of the issues–like career, marriage, family, romance–which women go through.  I attempted to do that in a funny, heartfelt and wacky way but with dolls.

RGG: What was the most challenging part of this process?

CDL: Learning all the editing and music composing software and overcoming technical hurdles like bit rate compression, and don’t get me started on all the lighting and green tests I had to do!  That stuff is hard and as you can see from the show I still haven’t mastered it.  Fortunately, there are plenty of 14-year-old geeks who are happy to share their knowledge and tutorials on YouTube.  I salute them.

RGG: How is working with dolls different from working with people?

CDL: The best part about working with dolls is that they were so amenable to the most egregious working conditions.  I never had to provide call sheets, bathroom breaks or food!  I could shoot whenever and however I wanted.  They never bitched when I turned them into projectiles.  I love that about them.

RGG: Did you have any puppeteering experience before you started?

CDL: None at all.  I did however watch lots of puppet shows as a kid and was mad for marionettes.  And let’s not forget THE MUPPETS.  I did play with dolls and like most girls staged elaborate dramas so I’m sure some of that experience was incorporated into the series.

RGG: Do you feel like you’ve personally experienced any unique challenges that come from being a woman, or a “woman of color” in this industry?

CDL: So far the most unique challenge I had was co-writing FIREHOUSE DOG with Mike Werb and Michael Colleary.  For the record, they are dear friends and gifted writers.  They’ve also been writing partners for forever so they have their own rhythm and process, which I was enfolded into.  Let’s just say that my creative process was a tad different than theirs, which is to gross each other out during every working moment!  Now, I like to think I can keep up in the raunchy department but clearly I was outnumbered.  It was relentless—we were writing a family movie for god’s sake!  Then when I’m all focused, writing an emotional scene where the lead kid character is concerned that his firefighter dad’s been killed in a blaze, unbeknownst to me, they’re putting alligator clips in my hair!  I know it was all in good fun and they were just excited to have someone else to torment instead of each other.  But sometimes, it was a bit juvenile.

RGG: …if so, how did you handle them?

CDL: I resorted to juvenile girl behavior.  I screamed and hit them with my water bottle–the only effective method for teasing boys.  Seriously, working with them was a lot of fun and taught me so much about story structure and how to write action mean, lean and clean.

RGG: Was this your first time producing?

CDL: When living in San Francisco, I had worked for an industrial production company so I had production managed and produced many projects.  I had also produced my own indie videos and films.  It’s highly rewarding putting a project together and getting it done.  Getting back into it with the series, reminded me how much I missed doing it.  That’s why I’m keeping the producing momentum going with a live-action female revenge thriller called STEALING FACES.  My producing partner Jackie Cruz and I are in the talent packaging and funding stage.

RGG: Can you tell us a little bit about your background as a writer?

CDL: My father Paulino Lim, Jr. is a novelist and English professor, and a huge inspiration.  When I was young, he always encouraged me to tell my own stories and write them down.  So I did.  He’d read what I wrote, and besides correcting my grammar, his critical eye taught me how to use the precision of words to convey ideas.  He also advocated exploring my own voice and not self-censoring, which can be a mistake for any writer.  That early influence is probably why I’ve written some of the things I have.

I really didn’t focus on screenwriting until after film school.  And it took a long time and a lot of poorly written scripts till I learned how to write a screenplay that was entertaining and well crafted.

 RGG: Do you have any advice for first time web series creators?

 CDL: If one can, complete the entire series before releasing it.  Everyone says “content is king” on the web, well, in my observation so is consistency.  If it takes weeks before another episode is up, viewers can forget you just because there’s so much other stuff to see.

I’d also advise creators to maximize what they’ve got.  Make something unique and entertaining out of limited resources rather than attempting something that’s beyond their time and money.  Offer a different experience, maybe one you don’t get watching TV.  And that’s why I think creating online content is so exciting—one gets the opportunity to innovate.

RGG: What are your future plans for the series?

CDL: Right now I’m focused on how the series is received.  Will the cyberuniverse watch it and be entertained? And if they are, then I’ve got a few ideas ready to go.  And the dolls, well, they’re always ready for their close-up.

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.

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.

Bitchin’ review in BITCH! September 3, 2010

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So today was a BIG day for the Girls! We found out that not only is our NPR interview “Move Over Sex and the City, Hello Real Girls” going to be re-broadcast on Labor Day, but that one of our favorite print magazines, BITCH, had published an awesome review of Real Girl’s in their latest issue.

If you don’t know BITCH, get thee to an independent magazine stand now (yes, they still have them…)! Launched in 1996 by a couple of former Sassy Magazine interns, who “decided that if they wanted to see some smart analysis of feminist pop culture, they could start by writing it themselves,” BITCH has, twelve years later, become something of a phenomenon, with a substantial subscriber base and regular interviews with some of the leading feminist scholars (it’s also EXTREMELY well written, fun, irreverent, delightfully obnoxious and awesome…and I love them and want to be them when I grow up, sigh.)

Here’s Sara Kantner’s review of Real Girl’s (click 2x to make BIG=))

xo-Carmen

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!)

Robin’s Video Interview with Gay Magazine July 23, 2010

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So, a couple weeks ago (in between the Real Girl’s screening at the NY’s Out of the Box LGBTQ Fest and her Pride-Parade paddling) Robin Daléa (Rasha) sat down with Natasia Langfelder from Gay Magazine and chatted about everything from Rasha’s celebrity “to do” list to aspirations of having her very own “bra-mailing” fans. As an extra bonus she managed to offend a random New Yorker who was passing by…

Wanna mail Robin your bra? Before you do…consider this…your TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donation can help keep the Robin and the Real Girl’s in bras for seasons to come! Or maybe not in bras… who knows? Maybe in tanks? Or nipple rings?

See our fundraising page for details on how YOU can get involved in Real Girl’s Season II (and find out how YOU can get a character named after YOU!!)

And if you STILL really want Robin to have your bra..let her know on her fan page at:

Robin Daléa’s Facebook Page

or

The Real Girl’s Guide to Everything Else Facebook Page

You make Real Girl’s…a reality!

Big, sloppy, wet ones

– Carmen