Indie Source Magazine April 2016 Special Interview Edition

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ism. Executive Editor Christopher Parker Managing Editor Denise Smith Copy Editor Andrea Pedersen Art Director Tasha Myke Photography Earl Kincade Art & LayOut Thomas Walker Copy Writer Jerome Crowell S.I. Hall VP of Business Development Autumn Bailey-Ford Office 8306 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1904 Beverly Hills, CA 90211 United States Phone 323-400-6622 Fax 323-400-6655 @indiesourcemag




HEY YOU, IT’S ME Suzanne Schmidt Christie Maturo Frankie Ingrassia


“Let the camera roll,

keep it going, then the good stuff comes out. “


few months ago I was introduced to a great group of ladies that are taking new media comedy to a whole new level. Christie Maturo, Frankie Ingrassia and Suzanne Schmidt are creating a comedy series that is placing a comedic spin on what it is like for a female dating in the entertainment industry. Our staff was blown away with the rawness of their writing, directing and performances that we decided to sit down with them and find out why and how they make us laugh. Christie and Suzanne, at what pointed in your life did you decide you wanted to be an actress? 4 INTERVIEW EDITION


Suzanne: I’ve known from an early age. I competed in monologue competitions starting at age seven, and by age 11 when I was cast as Annie in the high school’s musical production, I was hooked. Our high school had a fantastic music department led by Elizabeth Polly, and she thereafter took me under her wing and taught me to respect my craft. That respect is what has kept me intrigued by and engaged in the arts ever since. Christie: I think I was 16. I was a junior in high school and I played Ado Annie in our school’s production of OKLAHOMA! I found out I had the ability to make people laugh, and it was like I didn’t have a choice, I just knew I had to be an actress.


Frankie, after performing for many years, why, and when, did you decide to make the transition to director? Frankie: I love the art of storytelling, and whether it be in front or behind the camera, it’s the art of telling stories that I have a passion for. I don’t see why I can’t do both. I always wanted to direct. When I was working on “Election” I had a lot of down time. I spent every second I could, sitting behind Alexander Payne watching his every move. I have since shadowed several directors and producers. I have been very lucky to have the opportunities to train on-set; there is no better way to learn. The great thing about being an actor is how many doors it can open in other areas of production, as well as chances to be on set and learn. How does the acting scene in Chicago differ from L.A.? Christie: Most of what I know about the acting scene in L.A. is through the voicemails Suzanne leaves me, but I can sort of compare those to my experiences in Chicago. For one, I think in Chicago there is a bigger focus on theatre. There are a number of wonderful, reputable theatres here that draw big name talent and large audiences. In L.A. you mostly hear about the 99 seat theatres that do great work, but I don’t think actors can make a living on it. Chicago is also known for its comedy scene with Second City, IO, and Annoyance. You are hard pressed to meet an actor in this town that hasn’t taken classes and made connections through one of those schools. The talent pool here is brimming with funny people. We, the people of Chicago that is, are also generally cold for like 7 months, so I think we don’t mind carrying a little extra insola-

tion and we are generally pastier than those in L.A. Finally, (and again, this is just my impression based off of Suzanne who is an awesome social butterfly) I feel like L.A. has all sorts of “industry” events – casting workshops, premiers, dinner parties, bumping into celebrities, or at least meeting someone who worked with someone who knows someone who might consider passing your name on to someone for some role in some new thing. In Chicago it’s more like, “Hey, wanna come see my sketch comedy group perform in this store front space?” Both are cool, just super different. Who came up with the idea for “Hey You, It’s Me”? Christie: I’m like 99.9% sure it was Suzanne, but we talk so much and so often that I sometimes forget who has said what. I think how it came about was we had been talking about what kind of project we could work on together being so far apart, and she brought up the fact that we really already had a unique and interesting form of communication happening through our 4-minute-long voicemails. She was right and she ran with the idea. Here we are. Good work, Suz! Suzanne: Christie and I went to grad school together. As I’m sure is true with many MFA programs, we rarely left the theatre building during those three years. The two of us shared an office the size of a coat closet, and we thus became very close. When I moved back to L.A., and Christie stayed in Chicago, we had trouble connecting due to our schedules and kept in touch via voicemails--long, tangent-filled, vulnerable, and ridiculous voicemails. In 2014, Women In Film sponsored my attendance to a conference called Digital Hollywood. I am so grateful for that experience because it was there that I was encouraged to create my own content, and I made the commitment to myself to do that. I had some different treatINDIE SOURCE MAGAZINE APRIL 2016



ments written, but I really wanted to find a way to work with Christie, and our real life circumstance was the seed for the idea that has become Hey You, It’s Me. A dear friend of mine (and a very talented actor) Scott Freeburg, helped me flesh out the idea, and it was decided I would go with the web-series format. I sent Christie my first few episodes, and within days she sent back a hilarious episode she’d written. We were in business.

Tell us about your character “Charlie” and what is her motivation?

At what point did your involvement start with this project?

Suzanne: Sam is motivated by love and fear, as I think is true for many of us.

Frankie: Suzanne called me and asked if it would be something I would be interested in a few months before production. I adore her, and thought it would be fun to work together, so I said yes immediately. What is your writing process for the show while living in two separate cities? Suzanne: I am usually inspired by one of our voicemails to each other, so the distance actually works to our advantage in some ways. The retelling of a scenario via voicemail often highlights what was funny about the “scene.” I mostly write in script format from the beginning, whereas Christie will sometimes send me a few paragraphs when she is inspired and I will turn them into a scene. It varies. For instance, the pilot scene in the Chicago Casting office is 85% Christie. When she sent it to me, I laughed so hard! It’s classic. What is your process for bringing out the best performances of Suzanne and Christie? Frankie: To answer the question the way it’s written gives me credit for their innate talent. These girls are strong actresses. I was able to play along with them, but they wrote this, and they were ready on the day. Christie, with her strong physical comedy, and Suzanne with her wide emotional range made things easy. I feel like direction with them was more about creating a palette of options to play with in editing. Then it became collaborative between the team to find the right pieces of the puzzle to complete the project. 6 INTERVIEW EDITION

Christie: Charlie is motivated by her internal clock. Everyday in this business, at 35 years old, that you don’t get a job feels like you age out of booking one more thing. So, as time ticks on, the possibility of making “it” (whatever that even means) feels less and less likely. Despite the odds, and the weird part-time jobs, and strange auditions, Charlie doesn’t want to let the dream go. She is driven, and I admire that in her. Knowing her best friend Sam is going through what are the same issues, at heart, motivates her too. Really, they motivate each other. If Sam isn’t giving up, neither is Charlie. They both get down, but they pick each other back up. Tell us about your character “Sam”, and what is her motivation?

Do you have any similarities to your character “Sam”? Suzanne: I think I connect with Sam’s desire to see the positive. Her expectation of others and of life is high, so she takes disappointment pretty hard. She feels a lot. I’m similar in that way. Do you have any similarities to your character “Charlie”? Christie: Oh, for sure. We share the same fear am I too old to make this happen? But, thankfully, Charlie has Sam and Christie has Suzanne. Among the four of us, we have a lot of determination. Charlie and I also share wine and snacks as coping mechanisms. Within the series, your character is seen boxing. Is this therapeutic for your character? Is this an exercise you do off camera? Suzanne: Yes, there is therapy in exercise for Sam. I don’t actually box much, but I do find great release in exercise. I’m a prolific hiker. I like to find reasons to get outside and move. Do you believe starting out as an actor makes you a better director? Frankie: I think acting and directing are two different languages. It’s important that directors study acting, and actors study directing, so we can all be on the same page. Acting is so very myopic by nature, intrinsically self-involved, whereas directing is the antithesis of this. One helps the other and vice


versa. Why not expand your knowledge? The raw nature of the series draws me in. Was this the goal from the start? Suzanne: Yes, though I’m not sure I defined it as such. It was important to me that these characters have the ability to laugh through pain, and I think there is something quite raw in that. There is always pain in life, but there is also joy, love, and laughter. I look for the comedy in difficult situations. I guess you could call that my means of survival. The show talks about female age openly. How do you plan to further this industry storyline? Christie: As I said, being this age in this industry is what motivates Charlie, and what motives me. I guess I don’t even think about it as a storyline so much as it defines these characters’ experiences. I think just facing the reality of the situation and the current nature of the industry, it simply is the storyline. Any of the situations within the series from personal experience? Christie: Nearly all of them to some degree. For example, in the pilot episode, Charlie auditioned in the world’s smallest kitchen. That came directly from a voicemail I left Suzanne about auditioning in a storage closet. Charlie’s part-time jobs as a server and a sexual health advisor are based on real part-

time jobs I had. Of course the most personal experience is the friendship between Sam and Charlie. Everyone should get to be so lucky to have a friend like Sam, which is why I am so grateful that I get to have a friend like Suzanne. Why do you believe Hollywood will not give female directors a shot at larger films? Frankie: That’s a great question. Do you know the answer? There is a revolution happening right now. The tides are starting to turn, and it’s about time. The ACLU and several other organizations are speaking up, so hopefully that question won’t be asked in the future. When we turn on specials about the “greatest directors of all times”, and we see a list of 20, maybe our daughters can see at the very least two women on that list. Not to take away from the boys and their success, but let’s see something other than white men on all these lists. You recently finished “Humane Treatment”. Can you tell us about this project, and your directing style? Frankie: “Humane Treatment” is an 8-episode, super short series about a dog therapist who needs more therapy than her clients. Again, we are incorporating a ton of improv, and the best stuff happens after the scene ends. I love what happens when everyone else cuts. Let the camera roll, keep it going, then the good stuff comes out.






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