Wednesday, July 15, 2009
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
Monday, May 4, 2009
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?
…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
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
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
Then I started getting Facebook friend requests from, like,
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!)
Also, can you recommend a world-renowned, ancient, Oriental medicinal remedy that possesses the key to youth, vigor and vitality
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
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)
--Tina Cesa Ward
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
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 IMDB.com. 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 GameTrailers.com 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!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The mother-daughter duo chatted recently about how they both ended up on StrikeTV, their roles in each series, and how they inspire each other.
How did you both end up in StrikeTV Web series?
JESSY HODGES (JH): I was contacted to audition for Anyone But Me while I was finishing my senior year at NYU. I auditioned at a studio in Manhattan for Susan Miller and Tina Cesa Ward. They had me stick around after my first read and read again with a couple of other people (one of whom turned out to be Rachael Hip-Flores). I got a call the next day that I had been cast.
ELLEN SANDWEISS (ES): I knew the writer of Dangerous Women, David O’Malley, and he had always wanted to write a film featuring me and the other two actresses from The Evil Dead, Betsy [Baker] and Theresa [Tilly]. He knew about our whole “Ladies of the Evil Dead” shtick and liked the dynamic between us. So, when the writers were striking and Strike.TV was formed, he decided instead to write it as a Web series. I was so excited when I heard that Jessy’s series was also going to end up on Strike.TV!
You're each playing roles that seem to reflect your generation: In Dangerous Women, Ellen plays a suburban mom while in Anyone But Me Jessy plays a teenager coming of age in the post-9/11 age. To what extent do your roles draw on your own experience, and where do they diverge?
JH: My role on the series is absolutely reflective of my own personal experience. High school, to me, is a very specific time in a person's life where a lot of things are converging and colliding, and you're halfway between childhood and adulthood, and you're trying to maneuver unsteady ground with an approach that you're making up as you go along. I remember being faced with very adult situations as a teenager and feeling at once well-equipped and ill-equipped to handle them. How does a 16-year-old deal with a tragedy like 9/11? How does she deal with love? How does she deal with stereotypes and prejudice? Sophie, like all of the other characters on ABM, is learning how to deal. It sounds melodramatic, but I think being a teenager is melodramatic – I'm melodramatic!
ES: David used a lot from our real lives in creating our Dangerous Women characters. Although in my case, most of it is from past experience. A few years ago, I was a married mother of teenagers living in suburban Detroit, working part-time and always juggling those various roles. I ate lunch with friends who were mostly moms of my kids’ friends, just like in the series. But, cut to a few years later: I’m now divorced, my kids are grown and out of the house, and I live in a tiny guest house in LA while working as an actress. My, how things change!
Jessy, what was it like growing up the daughter of one of the favorite cult film characters ever? And Ellen, what's it like watching Jessy's career take off?
JH: Well, I'll start by saying this: I did not know that I was the daughter of one of the favorite cult film characters of all time until I was in high school!!! So, I didn't quite grow up with it... I think at some point it slipped that my mom was in a movie, and then some of my friends had heard of the movie, and then it was at Blockbuster, and then I Googled it.... And slowly, but surely, I became aware that there was a larger secret being kept from me. Turns out The Evil Dead is a cult horror classic and that one scene in particular, which I dare not name, is like one of the most famous horror scenes of all time. Who knew? She did. And she did not tell me. As to how it pertains to my life... it's a great conversation starter.
ES: Watching Jessy’s career take off is so exciting in so many ways. First of all, I always knew she had that “special something” – whatever that spark is that makes certain people glow from the inside out. So, it’s gratifying now to see that mother’s intuition confirmed by the outside world. Also, since we share this career (even though at her age I basically decided not to pursue acting, at least not on a full-time basis) it’s both painful and exhilarating at times, watching her go through the incredible ups and downs we all experience as actors. But mostly, I’m exceedingly proud – I’ve been watching her perform since she was about five years old, and it’s been quite a journey, watching her turn into the talented actress she is today. Between her and her sister, who’s also a performer, I’ve laughed and cried my way through more plays, dance recitals, talent shows and concerts than I can even remember – and it’s been a blast!
You worked together on Satan's Playground – any memorable anecdotes from being on the set together?
JH: Oh god, only that I was freezing. And that I was filling in for someone much more notable who didn't show up. It was actually really fun. I was in high school in Michigan, and my mom was in New Jersey filming, and I got a call from her saying “Hey, so and so didn't show up. You want to come be in a movie this weekend?”
ES: Basically we were on set, and the woman who was supposed to play the role went AWOL the day before she was supposed to shoot. So I said, “Hey, why don’t we call Jessy?” The director had met Jessy before, and he thought it would work. She was in high school at the time, so she missed a day of school, flew out to New Jersey, did a great job, and flew home the next day. It was fun working with her, especially since her one scene was with me. And she got a real glimpse into my life as a low-budget horror film actress – the scene we were in together was at one of the most intense moments of the film, so she saw me do the whole running/screaming/crying/collapsing-to-the-floor thing we horror actresses do a lot of.
What plans, if any, do you have to work together in the future?
ES: Nothing set in stone yet, but I’ve daydreamed about it a lot. I used to want to do the play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds with both my daughters but it never happened, and now they’re a little too old for the roles. I’m definitely planning on it though – I’d love to actually play mother and daughter in a film, so if there are any writers out there reading this…
JH: My big plan for the future is to always work with people close to me who I love and respect. Does my mom fit into that category? Absolutely.
In what ways do you inspire each other?
ES: Jessy’s commitment to quality and her integrity inspire me always. Also her conscientious lifestyle, both from a social and environmental point of view. But even more important than inspiration, Jessy gives me lots of invaluable support and advice. We’re very close and share a lot with each other, both personally and professionally, and there’s nothing more gratifying than turning that corner as a parent when you’re able to talk to your adult child as a cherished friend as well as your child. And since we’re both developing acting careers at the same time, we have a lot to talk about!
JH: My mother is an incredibly daring and graceful woman; she has consistently inspired in me a sense of fun and a sense of purpose. I have always, and continue to admire her very much. I mean, come on – you don't see me pursuing a career in accounting, do you?
--Edited by Leslie Jaye Goff
Editor's Note: Anyone But Me is currently in pre-production on new episodes that will premiere on StrikeTV in March. In the meantime, watch the ABM Interludes; Interlude One, Censorship – A Video Essay by Aster Gaston, is airing now, and new Interludes launch on February 10 and February 25. Dangerous Women premiered on StrikeTV in January; a new episode debuts this Friday, February 6.
Monday, January 19, 2009
provoking “interludes” to keep you jazzed and loyal as you wait.
A lot of you have expressed your desire for more, and longer, episodes. And there is nothing we’d like better than to give you what you want.
We are laboring on love, here. As I’m sure you realize, it takes a certain budget to shoot our series, especially with the high quality we are determined to bring you. We’re getting a lot of attention, interest and press, thanks to you. Eyes are on us, so we have a good feeling that we are just at the beginning of a long life for our series.
So, even though our next full episodes won’t air until early March, you won’t be without your ABM – watch for Anyone But Me “interludes” and more actor interviews coming very soon!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Several years ago one of my New Year’s goals – I don’t use the “R” word – was to make a career transition from journalism to film and video production. With the debut of the third episode of Anyone But Me in this first week of 2009, I’m starting the new year with a renewed confidence that setting New Year’s goals truly can make a difference.
Becoming the producer of Anyone But Me has undoubtedly been the apex of that career transition. I am overwhelmed by how quickly the show has caught on with audiences across the World Wide Web.
I knew when I joined the Anyone But Me team that I had had the good fortune of hooking up with excellent writers, a director with a vision, and a cast of committed, creative actors. I also recognized that the scale of the production and the quality for which we were striving would constitute my biggest challenge so far as a producer and could be the career-changing experience I’d been working toward.
Nonetheless, I had worried a bit that, in the infinite landscape of the Web, our little show might be the tree in the forest that no one heard falling. So, it was an exhilarating close to 2008 when, within a week of our December 8 launch on StrikeTV, not only were we heard, we were resonating with viewers around the globe.
First, Exec Producer/Writer Susan Miller was profiled in the Philadelphia Gay News by writer Larry Nichols, who said of Anyone But Me, "It's refreshingly apparent in the first episode that this series isn't cut from the same cloth as most of the teenage dramas on television, instead delivering a more realistic depiction of teenage issues compared to the oft-escapist TV shows populated with vapid and privileged youth."
Then we got huge props from AfterEllen.com blogger The Linster, who wrote, “A new web series called Anyone But Me brings awareness of the challenges of growing up in a generation that doesn’t remember life pre-9/11. ... I was glad to see the relationship between Vivian and Aster treated as a non-issue. ... And the chemistry between the two girls is undeniable.”
When AfterEllen.com subsequently selected Anyone But Me as an Editor’s Pick video, we were off and running.
Since then, Anyone But Me also has been featured on Web sites and in blogs as diverse as TubeFilter News, Tilzy.TV and CliqueClack, which review Web-based shows; the Brazillian blog lebiscoito.wordpress.com; OneMoreLesbian.com, which aggregates film, television and video content; the Broadway Bound blog, which reviews film & video, television and theatre; and numerous others.
This week a front-page Q&A with Miller and Writer/Director Tina Cesa Ward on CherryGrrl.com exclaimed that the series “has found its way into the lives of excited fans across the country,” due in part to “the stellar acting, writing, and producing.”
The response has been so gratifying, and our entire cast and crew are ever-grateful for all the positive feedback. But even had Anyone But Me been a tree falling unheard, I would feel no less blessed to have connected with Tina Cesa Ward and Susan Miller. Being a part of their team has been a personal high-point as well as a career high-point; and I can’t think of a better way to start 2009 than working with them on more new episodes for the new year.
--Leslie Jaye Goff
Editor's Note: Countdown, Episode #3 of Anyone But Me, premiered on StrikeTV on Tuesday, January 6. Tune in again on Tuesday, January 13, for the debut of Episode #4! And please join our StrikeTV Forum to let us know what you think, ask the cast questions, discuss the episodes with other fans, and more!