JKTS CHAT: MITCHELL JARVIS AND WESLEY TAYLOR
JEFF: How did this new web series, It Could Be Worse, come about? Has it been mulling around your thoughts since your time together in Rock of Ages? Is it based on anyone and/or personal experiences?
- MITCH: It came about in an odd way... Wes had been working on developing a pilot project about the Veronica Bailey character (now played by Alison Fraser). His efforts to get funding for the project were lagging for several months, so we decided to shoot a series of sketches about awkward personal experiences. Our first effort would be the "ladies room" sequence that can be seen in the first episode. We decided that this wasn't really a sketch... we kept adding layers to this character. Once we figured out that we could marry the ideas of this new character (Jacob Gordon) and Wes' "Veronica"…”it could be worse" began to find its way.
- WES: And the answer is yes, it's personal! I think most writing, if it’s good, comes from some sort of personal experience. And then it's your responsibility to expand the world of "what happened" to something that honors your narrative and you obviously embellish for comedy.
|It Could Be Worse co-creators|
Mitchell Jarvis and Wesley Taylor
JEFF: When creating the series, did you always envision being in it as well as creating it? Logistically, what are the challenges of doing both?
- WES: Hah! It's mostly a challenge when Mitch is in the shot...because then I have to operate camera and I'm not good at the technical elements that Mitch excels at.
- MITCH: And I’ll be damned if I can’t get an acting gig in my own project. I love the idea of a communal experience when creating this kind of work. I've always said that my dream is to make movies with my friends. Part of that for me, is the experience of playing on both sides of the camera.
|"The Poop Scene" from Episode 1|
JEFF: The series (so far, anyway) has a dark comic edge to it. Does this match both of your personalities? How do you decide when you've gone too far or should push it even more?
- MITCH: We are always trying to be true to our story first and foremost. And Jacob Gordon's story is a dark one.
- WES: Our templates are shows like Louie, Girls, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Veep ...they excel at the unattractive, deprecating, humiliation-based humor that we're interested in. If you're referring to the poop scene in the pilot or Laura Benanti vomiting, trust me...there are plenty of times where I wonder if we EARN that stuff. But although this is much less of a cartoon than our last web series, Billy Green...we still get off on the absurd.
JEFF: This is not the first Broadway-centered web series - not even the first you've been involved with. What sets this one apart from the others?
- WES: Well to be fair, the show is not really about Broadway, as much as it’s an exploration of sex, relationships, success, competition, rejection, and embarrassment. We're looking at a guy who is trying to make a career in New York City as an actor which of course includes a Broadway musical but... It's not really about the making of that Broadway musical (a la Smash) and has a different tone than any other theater-centric web series we've made/seen (Billy Green/Submissions Only, etc).
- MITCH: Because of our access to this Broadway world, we are really able to flesh out the realism. We've always been of the mind that you write what you know, and this project is no exception.
3 of the stars of the show: Alison Fraser, Gideon Glick, Adam Chanler-Berat
JEFF: Your first 5 episodes feature a huge number of stage stars in everything from co-starring roles to featured parts, to background players. Everyone looks like they are having a good time doing it. How do you get these people - including several Tony Award winners and nominees - to sign on? How did you select the actors to play the main characters (Gideon Glick, Nancy Opel, Alison Fraser, etc.)??
- WES: For my money, collaboration is probably the best reward. At the end of the day, we just wanna play with our friends...We are very lucky. For some craaaazy reason, people trust us. And give us their time for free.
- MITCH: First, we are thinking about getting someone who is fun to be around, and easy to work with. We avoid egos at all costs, and look for people who enjoy doing this sort of thing. Once they are in place, we try to write around their strengths. We struck gold with this cast.
- WES: Holy shit, yes. I'm crazy about our core group. Alison is fearless. She shocks both Mitch and I on a regular basis. Adam is so honest and winning. I think I could watch him all day. And Gideon, Gideon! He's a complete original and a total star. Nancy and Richard are fucking hilarious. We scored with our cast.
- MITCH: Yeah and as far as cameos are concerned, Wes is a bulldog when it comes to procuring what he calls "fancy faces"... I let him do his thing, and try and stay out of the way. We work very quickly, and I think the people who agree to work with us appreciate that.
JEFF: Who would you LOVE to have in your cast in future episodes?
- MITCH: Alan Cumming, Tom Hanks!
- WES: Bahaha Ohhhh Mitch... I'd like to get the whole Smash cast in there at some point. You've probably already clocked Debra Messing as an "annoyed neighbor."
- JEFF: Yes! A small, but very funny appearance! And Will Chase, too!
JEFF: How do you select your locations? Is this the kind of thing where you "call in a lot of favors"?
- MITCH: I try and stay out of Wes' way on that one... He has a Midas touch...
- WES: Locations in midtown. Yeah...It's exhausting. One day we'll have someone to help location scout, and production manage...!
JEFF: Assuming that there isn't a lot of money to be made on a project like this, what does performing and producing in this genre satisfy for both of you?
- WES: We've had no Kickstarter campaign, no rich uncles...everything has come out of Mitch and I's pocket. And it's a lot of work yes, but a break from the silliness of our acting careers; a creative excuse to play with all of our friends.
- MITCH: I love that there is no one looking over our shoulder. I love that we can write as we go.
|Gideon Glick and Wesley Taylor on location|
JEFF: How many episodes will this first season have? Are you planning on a second season or is this a one-time thing?
- MITCH: I have always admired British television for telling a complete story in a single season.
- WES: Me, too. Our story goes through 15 episodes. Once that's been done, we'll talk about whether we should continue, depending on if it’s in demand or not.
JEFF: A lot of such web series depend upon the kindness of strangers. If my readers wanted to contribute to make a second season or a completely new series you have in mind possible, how can they contribute?
- WES: The best contribution is spreading the word and making the videos insanely popular.
- MITCH: Yeah, spreading the awareness of the show. Tell your friends! We are working hard to find our audience.
REMEMBER: If you haven't caught it yet, catch up at itcouldbeworse.tv or each Friday at Playbill.com.
Great interview, Jeff! And I'm enjoying the web series.ReplyDelete