interview: amy dashwood, co-creator of ‘masked.’

Hey, kids!  I’ve dragged Amy here again to talk about her newest project, Masked, which is a webseries based on the Scarlet Pimpernel books.  Check it out!  (And then go to Amy’s blog and send her lots of love, then follow Masked‘s official YouTube page, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.  You’re welcome.)

masked logo 31) Hello, and welcome to inklings press!!!  I don’t think I can explain how excited I am to be interviewing you.  I love webseries and I love The Scarlet Pimpernel, so this is kind of a big deal.  : D  First of all, who came up with the idea to do a webseries of TSP and how did Masked eventually come about?

Thank you so much for featuring the show here! It’s so exciting to be doing an interview with you. 🙂  What a coincidence, I love web series and the Scarlet Pimpernel too… what a coincidence. 😀

I came up with the idea of making a web series based on TSP in January 2014… Emma Approved, a show I was really enjoying (and still do, though it’s ended!) was currently on hiatus and making me think about what a cool concept was utilized in literary web series.  It seemed like such a simple method *hysterical echoing laughter in the distance* of reinterpreting a classic for a modern audience, and I wanted to make one of my own.  It couldn’t be that hard, right? *more hysterical laughter*  I was casting about in my mind for a novel that hadn’t been adapted yet and wasn’t likely to be “taken” anytime soon by someone else, and I hit on The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Originally our plan was to tell the entire story in vlog format, but we quickly realized that certain elements of the plot just wouldn’t translate to that kind of medium! So we morphed into a more narrative style, and without giving too much away about the future, I think it’s safe to say that the method of storytelling is going to take some interesting twists and turns.  😉

2) I love how webseries like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Green Gables Fables update classic stories for the present day.  Without giving too much away, can you tell us how you’ve updated TSP for the modern era?

Absolutely! First of all, we’ve translated revolutionary France to 21st-century United States.  The main character, Margot, is an aspiring actress (unlike Marguerite St. Just in the book who is a professional actress) trying to save enough to put her younger sister through college.  The other main character, known at the moment as The Scarlet Pimpernel (no spoilers :P) is working to rescue victims of blackmail from drug rings, instead of spiriting French aristocrats out of prison during the Reign of Terror.  It’s been really interesting trying to balance the original source material with a realistic modern setting, while still trying to stay true to the story!

IMG_42113) I’m super interested in how you cast this thing.  Did you do open casting calls, or did you have specific people in mind when you started brainstorming Masked?

Well, when I first came up with the idea, I knew my friend Ally would be perfect for Margot’s character– and her sister Belle was a very natural addition to the case as Margot’s sister Suzanne. After that, we had open casting calls.  It was a difficult process– had one suuuuuuper fun experience with an actor signing up for a role and then dropping out without warning– but eventually we found everyone, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this cast is PHENOMENAL and working with them was truly a privilege.

However, when I say “open casting calls,” I should clarify– since the show was filmed in the Kansas City area and I was directing casting from Pennsylvania, all the auditioning and screening took place online.  Interested actors submitted resumes and headshots, Ally (co-producer) and Melody (assistant producer) and I reviewed them, then our favorites were asked to send in a video audition performing a selection from the script.  If we liked what we saw in the video audition, I then conducted an interview via Skype or phone with the actor to see if they’d be a good fit for the role.  And thennnnnn we made our final decision.  😉

4) How many viewings of TSP82 and readings of the book (and other Scarlet Pimpernel books) went into making Masked?

Good grief, I don’t even know! I mean, I reread the book before beginning to write the scripts and then paged through it again DURING writing so many times that I basically read it all over again.  I think Ally read it once while we were brainstorming, and I know several of our cast members read it while prepping for their roles– and almost every single person involved in the show watched the 1982 movie during production, either for inspiration or just to get a feel for the story.  So… yeah, it was a lot.  🙂

IMG_42315) This might be an off-limits question, but is Masked going to be a one-season deal, or might there be more seasons?  I know the stories could just go on and on because of the plotline of TSP... but will they???

Classified information. 😉  I will say, however, that a lot of the future of the show depends on audience reception, and how much interest people show in seeing more.

6) Was it hard to pick the cast?  Were any of the roles harder to cast than others?

Picking our cast really wasn’t too hard because out of all the people who auditioned, it was generally pretty clear who was best for each role.  Obviously acting talent and appearance (pretty open-ended but they had to be the right age and gender) played a big part in that, but commitment, dedication to the project, flexibility of schedule and interest in the original story were also deciding factors.

Probably the hardest roles to cast were those of the St. Cyr family, since they had to look at least somewhat alike!  Kristian Jett, who plays Angelo, was cast first, and Daniel Olson (who plays Tim) came along later, once we were on the lookout for someone who looked like he could conceivably be Kristian’s brother.  Becca Stabno, who plays Mrs. St. Cyr, also had to look sufficiently like both of them to make it plausible! (Also, we bought ourselves a little wiggle-room by making them half-siblings. Haha.)

7) Any special sponsors you’d like to recognize?  (If you don’t have any sponsors, now’s the time to beg for some.)IMG_4221

Well, we don’t have any corporate sponsors right now (although we would LOOOOOOOVE to have some– ModCloth, are you listening??) but we’d definitely like to thank some of the people and places that helped us out with filming!  The Neighborhood Cafe in Lee’s Summit, MO, the Metropolitan Community College of Longview, MO and the Songbird Cafe in Grandview, MO particularly come to mind.  We’re very grateful to Kelly, Amy (not me :P) and Ebony, especially, for securing us permission to film in those locations.

8) And, finally, any tips for someone thinking about doing a webseries?

Um.  Think long and hard before you throw your young life away so fast.  Haaaaaaaa.

…Kidding.  But seriously, it’s been a blast making this show and I definitely would like to encourage anyone who’s thinking of producing their own!  The most important advice I can give (what, why am I giving advice now) is probably just to take it slow, allow yourself wayyyy more time than you think you’re going to need, accept help when it’s offered, thank people when they do help you, and don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Seriously. People want to help young filmmakers achieve their goals, and it’s amazing sometimes just how much help they’re willing to give if you simply ask nicely.  Also, step outside of your comfort zone now and get ready to run circles around it and miles into the distance, because you won’t be seeing it again for a long time.  Heh.

Also… have fun. 😀

——–

Thanks so much, Amy!!!  (Gosh, I love that girl.)  Here’s the trailer again, in case you missed it.

Aaaaaand the first episode came out TODAY – BLAHHHHHH – so here it is below!

Support my friends and watch the show.  Plz.

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