20 Questions with Rory Uphold! | Tarreyn Land: 20 Questions with Rory Uphold!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

20 Questions with Rory Uphold!

It's my belief that Rory Uphold has the potential to rapidly become a household name.

Don't know who she is? - You're about to!
Rory is the wonderful creative mind behind (and face in front of) the viral video series, Only in HelLA

With hundreds of thousands of views and an Immortal status on Funny or Die, the web series - shorts about the unique challenges of living in Los Angeles, is gaining momentum and popularity. 

I was so excited when Rory agreed to do this interview with me, and I'm stoked for all of you to read what she has to say!

T: What first inspired the HelLA series?

I felt like it got suuuuper trendy to hate on LA. Not that it's ever not trendy to hate on us, but I felt like there was a surge on sites like buzzfeed and LA Weekly (see link). And simultaneously, I realized that all of the shows I was watching, both on TV and the web, (Girls, Louie, Broad City, Srsly, Curbed, The Mindy Project, etc.) were all based in NYC... I wanted to show LA from my own POV. Plus, HelLA is a pretty sick title, so I had to do something with it. 

T: How many episodes are there total, and how long did it take to write, shoot, edit and basically put them all together?

I have 12, maybe 13. I shot the first 10 episodes in 3 days and then I shot another two a couple of weeks ago... I’m toying with an idea for a 13th, but we’ll see, time is a huge factor. Filming and post are easy - I shoot and edit multiple episodes a day because I work with amazing people. The pre-production part of coordinating schedules and locations is the hardest, and it’s very time consuming. 

T: You worked with a lot of different and interesting people on this. What was the process of getting funding and putting together a team like?

Well, the team is tiny, so that made things relatively easy. I usually send out an email to Jason (our DP) and JP (our sound guy) and say, “whats next week looking like” or “what’s your availability in April” and then go from there. As soon as I know when I’m shooting, I hit up Matt, my editor and set up editing time. Generally I edit the day after I shoot, so everything is ready to go 24 hours after shooting. I hate having things unfinished, it’s all I can think about. Like I said before, the hardest part was scheduling because I had to balance location availability with cast/crew availability. 

T: Are you thinking of doing a second season? Do you have any sort of dream end-goals for the project?

Yeah, I would love to make a second season of HelLA... that’s why I launched a Kickstarter campaign, to raise money for another season. As many people know, filming is expensive, and even though I work with people who are very generous with their time, I need help covering costs. Ideally, I’d either like to make HelLA a self- sufficient web show, where it pays for itself, or I’d like to turn it into a TV show. Both lofty goals! 

T: Before creating the series, you wrote, directed and starred in (wow) the short film Safety which did the festival circuit and won a handful of awards (Congrats!!). How was the experience of making a film different from making a series? (Also is there anywhere online we can see the film?)

Safety is, believe it or not, still playing in festivals... but when I put it up, it will be at www.Youtube.com/rorymusic. I’ll probably put it online at the end of May. Safety is a 12 minute dark comedy loosely based on a break up I had, whereas HelLA is a series of short, comedic, moments based on my day-to-day life in LA. The biggest difference between the two is format- what works for a short film doesn’t necessarily work online and visa versa. Plus the scope of HelLA is a lot greater. Every episode is a new location and new cast members. Safety was two locations and two cast members plus my best friend who did voice over, and HelLA has about 12 different locations and 50 cast members, if you include background. page1image29432

T: What have you learned about comedy throughout both of these processes?

Don’t move on a joke. Be specific. Stay true to what you think is funny. A good editor can make or break your jokes... These are probably very obvious things, but they’re some of the things that stick out to me. 

T: What have you learned about being in charge of a set? 

Assemble the best team possible and try to be as organized and as prepared as possible, that way, when something inevitably goes array, it’s not the end of the world. Lead by example, if you’re angry and stressed, others will be too. 

T: The internet has allowed a lot of people to gain exposure that they wouldn't have ever been able to get say 10 years ago, but it's also so huge and fast that a lot of things can get swallowed up. How do you feel about the internet as a vehicle and the success you've gained through it? 

It’s a lot of work... that’s basically it, hah. Yes, you can reach a lot of people on the internet, but you also have to have a strategy for cutting through the other billion web series’ that are released each day. 

T: There are so many other elements that go into projects like these apart from the creative side (Promotion, Fundraising, Submissions, Websites, you've even done merchandise!), have you found that to be difficult or less exciting than the artistic end? (And where can I get a HelLA hat?!)

I would be lying if I said I loved press/promotion/fundraising... I do not. But it’s a part of the job. I want people to see the show, so I need to put in the effort. Ideally, I want to bring on people for Season 2 who are interested in learning about New Media and PR and some of the other aspects that go into making a web series. It’s not that it’s not interesting, it’s just not my area of focus. I will say this, for people interested in learning about those businesses, a web series is a great place to start.
You can get a hat via our Kickstarter

T: Being a woman in the industry is an ever-evolving course. What are some of the challenges as well as benefits you've encountered as a woman?

Truthfully, it has less to do with the industry and more to do with life. I have boobs, sometimes this works against me and sometimes this works for me. 

T: Along the lines of being a woman in the business, you wrote This Article for XO Jane about your experiences with misogyny. What has the response to the article been like, and did it further shade your experience? 

The response has been very positive. Like most things I do, I do them for me and hope that people like it, but as long as I’m okay with what I’ve created, other people’s opinions don’t really matter. I was proud of that article, so I didn’t really care about the response, and then I was pleasantly surprised when it was positive. 

T: You were originally a musician, is that correct? What made you make the leap to what you're doing now? 

A series of shitty events and the realization that I did not, in fact, want to be a pop singer. I love music, I’m just not into the music business. I still write and sing, but it’s very different from what I used to be doing. 

T: What's next on the horizon for you? Anything else you'd like to discuss?

Finishing the Kickstarter for Season 2 of HelLA. Making Season 2. And hopefully shooting another short film. 

T: And, I have to ask - as someone about to move to HelLA itself, any tips? 

Ummm, it gets better... LA is a hard beast to tame, and it just takes time. Beverly blvd turns into Silverlake Blvd, that’s a great thing to know. 

T: And now for my Five Fundamental Questions:

- What is your favorite cocktail?

A drink my friend Terence made up, the BLT: Bulleit Whiskey, Lemon juice, and Tonic. It sounds disgusting, but it's amazing. 

- What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Be yourself. 

- What 3 items, other than food and water, would you take to a deserted island?

This stresses me out... 2 Navy Seals and my mom? A plane, fuel, and a pilot? I mean, I saw Cast Away, I really don’t want to be on a deserted island! 

- What's your biggest Pet Peeve?

Apathy. I'm so over people not giving a shit. 

- If you could befriend one fictional character, who would it be?

Rainbow Brite. 

Thank you so much, Rory! 
Can't wait to see what happens with all your exciting projects! 
Be SURE to check out OnlyinHelLA at their Website, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook
And of course, hop on over to their KickStarter to send them some love!

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