Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Power to the People - How fans really, REALLY make a difference

The first season of “Anyone But Me” is complete. What an amazing sentence to write. Even more spectacular is that we’ve seemed to have created a series that so many people love.

We’ve all heard the words “we couldn’t do this without our fans” Although it’s easy to agree with that statement, we think we can take that one step further. We really, really mean it when we say we can’t do this without you.

Fans are in a unique position right now when it comes to web series. Although there are many web series out there vying for your attention, it’s up to you which ones stick around. Gone are the days when your show gets pulled because it’s no longer bringing in the ridiculous numbers it used to, or because the subject matter isn’t going in the direction executives would like. No need for fans, fruitless pleas blitzing the network with heartfelt letters or their character’s favorite condiment. Now, as long as you keep clicking, and clicking often, your favorite series can continue on.

In short, clicks (or views) are the lifeblood of the a web series. It’s what advertisers look at to determine a series worth and how much they are willing to spend. So now the fans have more power than they ever have. The choice is yours.

And because of that choice, a web series also has the opportunity to take an important step forward in entertainment that is more individualized. “Anyone But Me” is a series made for you. Not the mass audience, watered-down version of you, but the naturally complicated, not easily labeled version of you. And as long as everyone keeps clicking, Season 2 promises more complications, some familiar faces and, as always, dedication to the characters and stories you love.

--Tina Cesa Ward
Executive Producer/Writer/Director

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Magic From Anyone But Me's Rachael Hip-Flores

In Part 2 of our spotlight on Anyone But Me's Rachael Hip-Flores (Vivian), Rachael answers more fan questions, sharing her obsessions with Batman, the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and actor Bill Pullman.

What's the one thing that is always guaranteed to bring a smile to your face?

RACHAEL HIP-FLORES (RHF): Lord of the Rings. Seriously. Movie references, in general. Magic, always. The idea of infinite worlds and infinite possibilities. People who sort of stumble or trip and then furtively look around to see if anyone saw. I totally did, dude!And I’m laughing in my head because it’s so not as big a deal as you think it is! Everyone trips – we should bond over it, not shun it! That was more than one… Why put a limit on joy?

So Batman's your favorite superhero, but since he doesn't technically have any super powers, if you had the power to bestow them, which power would you give him? Why?

RHF: Awesome question! I'm tempted to say flight, because it’s really handy for escaping, but I don’t think Batman would want an escape power. So, I’m gonna have to go with invisibility, since most of his fight tactics are based on stealth. Betcha it’d save him a ton of cash in Bat-gadgetry, too. Not that Bruce Wayne seems to have a whole lot of money trouble, but still, times are tough everywhere these days, so we really shouldn’t assume…

What’s with the Bill Pullman thing?

RHF: Oh man, I wish I knew. I just have a thing for sweet, good-guy
types, and so I’ve had this life-long (since I was 6 and saw Spaceballs for the first time) crush on Bill Pullman. I have this magazine advertise-
ment for an HBO movie he did in, like, 1996, called
Mistrial, and it’s been on my bedroom wall at home for, seriously, 13 years. So, wait, listen to this: I met him once, in 2002, when he did The Goat: or Who is Sylvia on Broadway. And, like a dutiful borderline stalker, I saw the show (amazing) and waited outside the stage door for this man whose picture I’d had up in my sixth-grade locker. He comes out of the theater, and he’s so tall, and this is what comes tumbling out of my mouth:

I brought your Mistrial thing for you to sign but I left it in my brother’s apartment.

…It took me years to figure out that outside the context of my own head this made absolutely NO SENSE WHATSOEVER! I have a picture with him from that day, and you can see I have this HUGE, ELATED grin on my face, and he looks like he’s trying to hide how positively alarmed he is. So fast-forward six years or so, and I’m an actress now. The first major film project I was cast in (which, alas, fell through the cracks before it got made) was slated to star Bill himself. Would have made a great story, if it had made any sense to begin with.

Postscript: I have a wonderful boyfriend now. Yes, there is a resemblance.

I saw on Twitter that you wanted Lord of the Ring movie trivia [questions], so... What words does Merry use to describe Hobbits to Treebeard in Two Towers?

Merry: But we’re not orcs! We’re Hobbits! Halflings! Shirefolk!
Treebeard: Maybe you are, and maybe you aren’t. The White Wizard will know.
Pippin: White Wizard?
Merry: Saruman…

…Seriously, I’ll pretty much do the whole trilogy for a sandwich…

Where do you see yourself in five years?

RHF: I don’t believe in five-year plans; I think they’re Communist. …Hmm… In five years I see myself…well… y’know, the world is so full of creative possibilities, and it only keeps expanding. Five years ago, the idea that a Web series could be a legitimate enterprise never crossed my mind. Five years before that, if you’d said I was going to be a professional actress, I would have chuckled and gone back to poring over my books. Given my track record, it’s entirely possible that five years from now I will somehow end up in space. I hope to be working with people as smart and talented and dedicated as the company in which I find myself now. That’s the best I can give you, right now. (And, yes. That was the extra long way of saying, I have no idea, I’m generally terrified, and please God, don’t let my dad read this ‘cause he’ll have a coronary.)

Do fans ever do any weird things to you? If so, what?

RHF: Well, there was this one girl who was like, I brought your Mistrial thing for you to sign… That was pretty much the weirdest thing ever…

--Edited by Leslie Jaye Goff

Editor's Note: Episode 7 of Anyone But Me premieres on May 11! In the meantime, check out Rachael and the rest of the cast in Episodes 1-6 at our Web site.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Anyone But Me's Rachael Hip-Flores on Acting, Magic and Villains

Rachael Hip-Flores, who portrays 16-year-old Vivian McMillian in Anyone But Me, is one of those actresses who just exudes a certain magical quality. So it's fitting to learn that she once worked as a magician's assistant and is drawn to the otherworldly characters of literature, cinema and theatre.

A recent graduate of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, Rachael has appeared on the New York stage as Curio in Twelfth Night (South Street Seaport Summer Theater Festival); Nellie in Summer and Smoke (Clurman Theater) and Virgilia in Coriolanus (Judith Shakespeare Company). She performed at Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London as Don John/Antonio in Much Ado About Nothing, and has several principal and supporting credits in independent films. And as if that weren't enough for the young actress, she is also a produced playwright, assistant director and teaching artist.

Rachael recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer questions submitted by ABM Fans. Here, in Part 1 of the two-part interview, she discusses what it's like working on ABM, roles she would love to play, and her obsession with villains. Tune in again next week for more on Rachael.

How do you and the other actors prepare to shoot a scene?

RACHAEL HIP-FLORES (RHF): Well, since we shoot out of order, a decent bit of our preparation, at least together, is just about tracking the arc of our characters’ relationships. Is that pretentious enough?

It boils down to “How much have we actually talked to each other before this scene?” For instance, in the journalism class scene with Jessy [Hodges, ABM's Sophie] in Episode 6, we realized that we had actually barely spent any time at all on-screen together, and that that interchange was pretty much Vivian and Sophie’s first real conversation, and so that, of course, affected the way we played it.

We also run lines, repeating them over and over, which, weirdly enough, deepens their meanings or sometimes brings something out that we didn’t even know was there.

Finally, I make my way over to the craft services table and shamelessly stuff my face, sometimes sneaking food into my pockets so I can snack between takes. I feel this is integral to my job.

Do you rehearse at length with each other and with the director before you get to the set, or do you arrive pretty much prepared on your own and just do it?

RHF: I’m not sure if I’d say “at length,” but we definitely do rehearse. I suppose relatively speaking we rehearse a lot – for a two minute scene, we get maybe half an hour with Tina [Cesa Ward, the director] in a studio. And, of course, we all run lines with each other (over and over again) on the day of the shoot, and there’s always the option of asking questions outside of a scheduled rehearsal, but, generally, I’d say we’re expected to show up prepared and just go for it.

If you had to choose a character from your favorite movies/books to play, who would it be?

RHF: Oh man! Everyone!!! Lady Macbeth, Mrs. Coulter or Serafina Pekala from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy, Edmund from King Lear, an Elf in Middle Earth, a Vulcan in Star Trek, a young Princess Leia, Leah Clearwater from the Twilight series (fascinating character), Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, John Adams in 1776 (that’s one I probably couldn’t get away with), the Witch in Into the Woods, the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Ariel or Caliban from The Tempest, Scar or Rafiki from The Lion King, Antigone, anyone in an Aaron Sorkin show, and, clearly, Sylar and/or Liz Lemon need a little sister, and the Island needs a creepy, teen-girl jungle-spirit that turns out to be Jacob…

I’ve just always been drawn to villains, characters who were passionate to a fault, the otherworldly types. I was totally the weird little girl who spent most of her childhood (and adulthood) pretending to be a witch instead of a princess. And I’m pretty much the biggest sci-fi/fantasy nerd you can be while still being a reasonably productive member of society. Oh, and I need to be in a Steven Spielberg movie, just so I can stare up in wonder at something off-screen.

What's your favorite curse word in Spanish?

RHF: Joder (infinitive): The F-bomb. Jodón (accent on the second syllable) is the noun form, and I find it particularly useful when negotiating the New York City subways.

How is it to work on a show that can be seen all over the world?

RHF: It’s so funny because when we were first embarking on this whole thing, it sort of vaguely occurred to me that that could happen, but I quickly dismissed it after remembering my unsuccessful attempt to stream an episode of Lost when I was in Hong Kong. (That’s right. I tried to stream Lost while I was in Hong Kong. See question #3.) So, I pretty much figured we would stay domestic.

Then I started getting Facebook friend requests from, like, Malaysia, and seeing articles about us in Portuguese. Of course, it’s absurdly cool to be a part of a show that has such worldwide appeal, but I’m also sort of amazed because it’s not like we’re dubbed or subtitled, so… It’s humbling on a number of different levels, not the least of which is the linguistic one.

Is there any truth at all to the rumor that you once worked as a magician's assistant?

RHF: Tons of truth! I assisted the incomparably brilliant actor/writer/magician Eric Walton in Gravity and Glass’s (awesome theatre company!) Bell, Book, and Candy. I trained for years in Tibet, learning how to transform into a dove. Now, there’s not a huge demand for this skill, but when it’s needed, I pretty much have a monopoly on the market. Seriously cool stuff, and I had a blast.

Also, can you recommend a world-renowned, ancient, Oriental medicinal remedy that possesses the key to youth, vigor and vitality AND is fully guaranteed to cure rheumatism, autism, chauvinism, Puritanism, arthritis, laryngitis, hepatitis, gout, ichthiosis, halitosis, scoliosis and scurvy?

RHF: Listen, buddy, just ‘cause I’m part Chinese, that doesn’t make me an authority on all things "Oriental." Seriously, though, Dr. Chow’s Super-Magnificent Potion of Incredible; you can pick it up at your nearest deli. If they’re out of Nutella, it makes a suitable substitute. Ditto marshmallow fluff.

On those mornings when you just don't want to get up from under the covers, what makes you?

RHF: Ravenous hunger. Luckily, I don’t have a day job, so that makes getting up decidedly easier, as it tends to take place in the double-digit portion of the morning. To actually answer your question, though, I guess it’s just the knowledge that this is the hard part, and that if I ever want to think of myself as brave or strong (and I’m not gonna lie, I do desperately, desperately want that, cause my first instinct is usually to run away, crying) I have to pick myself up and get over whatever it is that’s bringing me down. This process is usually accompanied by a fair bit of whining. But I’m working on that.

--Edited by Leslie Jaye Goff

Editor's Note: Look for Part 2 of our interview with Rachael next Monday. In the meantime, catch up with our latest episodes on the Anyone But Me Web site!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Live From the Set of "Anyone But Me"

Anyone But Me is heading back into production on new episodes, and you can be a part of it!

This weekend, February 20th - 22nd, join us on Twitter as the cast sends out updates and shares some inside scoop from the set.

You can recognize each cast member's tweets by their initials:
  • RHF: Rachael Hip-Flores (Vivian)
  • NP: Nicole Pacent (Aster)
  • MSA: Mitchell S. Adams (Jonathan)
  • JyH: Jessy Hodges (Sophie)
  • JaH: Joshua Holland (Archibald)
  • AS: Alexis Slade (Elisabeth)
  • JY: Johnny Yoder (Breck)
  • BP: Barbara Pitts (Aunt Jodie)
  • DV: Dan Via (Gabe)
  • RJ: Russell Jordan (Principal Dennis)
So be sure to catch all the latest Anyone But Me news as it's happening. And don't forget to check out the new episodes we're shooting when they premiere in March on StrikeTV!

--Tina Cesa Ward

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Anyone But Me's Mitchell S. Adams Works "Extra" Hard

You may not notice our extras on Anyone But Me, but you would definitely notice if they weren't there. Imagine “Clarence High” (Vivian’s Westchester high school) if the only students were Vivian, Archibald, Jonathan, Sophie and Elisabeth; a “busy” train station where Vivian was the only passenger; or a New York party where Vivian, Aster and Breck were the only guests. Extras do more than just fill in the background; they are the unsung heroes who bring ambiance, energy and realism to a scene.

Mitchell S. Adams, ABM’s hunky quarterback Jonathan, knows this as well as
anyone. When he’s not playing Sophie’s boyfriend on ABM, he’s a regular extra on Gossip Girl, Guiding Light and other TV and film productions. In this interview, Mitch talks about life as an actor in New York, his work on ABM and other projects, and mingling with the Gossip Girl cast.

What are some of your favorite on-screen moments as an extra?

MITCHELL S. ADAMS (MSA): Well, here’s the thing about being an extra. The director needs you to be convincing doing whatever it is they ask of you. However, they need you to do it in total silence. My favorite tactic is to simply tell a crazy story, either real or made up, to whomever I’m standing with. I frequently go with my Bar-Mitzvah crashing story. I don’t think I will get into the details now… As for favorite moments in particular, recently one of the assistant directors on Gossip Girl placed me as Dan Humphrey’s [Penn Badgley] friend during a scene. That led to a brief feature when the episode aired a few weeks ago. That was fun, plus I got to chat with Penn between takes.

What about off-screen moments – any good stories about working on Gossip Girl or any of the other shows you’ve been on?

MSA: I would say the best thing that happened to me off-screen was during a long week of Gossip Girl filming. We were shooting about 12 hours per day for four days straight for a formal gala scene. On our last day of shooting that week, one of the principal actresses was wrapped for the day, and I stepped aside to let her exit the set before me, you know, because I’m a gentleman. She looked at me and said she kept thinking I was Chace, in reference to Chace Crawford [who portrays Nate Archibald]. First off, this was a serious compliment because he is a far better-looking man than I am. Even better was the fact that this stunningly beautiful actress was not only being friendly, but she was telling me I looked like someone who was one of Teen Magazine’s 50 Hottest Guys in Hollywood.

Some of the extras from Anyone But Me have been turning up on Gossip Girl. How did that come about?

MSA: Lots of actors in NYC do background work either as their main source of income, a part-time job, or just as a way to dabble in a new area of the industry. As we know, ABM is a show primarily about the lives of kids in high school. Gossip Girl, while being a completely different show, is also primarily about high school kids. Actors usually know which shows are casting. So, if you have been cast as a high school student on one show, there is a good chance you can be cast for the same role on a different show.

How does playing a main character on Anyone But Me compare to doing background work for larger productions?

MSA: In all honesty, I LOVE being a principal on ABM. I have so much fun
working on our show. We have such a great cast and crew, and since it is a small production I get to interact closely with everyone. It’s very cool that I get to work on the likes of Gossip Girl, Guiding Light, and various other shows located in NYC. However, I will always choose being a main character on Anyone But Me over doing background work, regardless of the show. Besides, my goal is to be a successful actor, not a successful background actor!

In addition to the new episodes of ABM to premiere in March, where else can ABM fans see you over the next few weeks?

MSA: I will be working on more Gossip Girl episodes. That is somewhat of a crap-shoot, though, as to whether or not you see me. I play a student, and there is no way to predict if I will be on camera.

I had a featured background role in the independent film Greetings From the
Shore, which allowed me to get onto I also have a commercial that aired throughout the holidays, and is apparently airing again on cable networks nationwide. It is an ad for Shaun White’s Snowboarding: Roadtrip game on the Nintendo Wii. The spot has been posted on several Web sites as well. If you were so inclined, you could visit to check it out.

Was that too much of a self promotion? I swear I’m not conceited!

--Edited by Leslie Jaye Goff

Editor's Note: What's on the playlists of the students at Clarence High? Check out the new ABM Interlude on StrikeTV to find out!