Monday, May 5, 2008
Interviewing Felicia


Over the last year, I've given a lot of interviews. I haven't counted, but I'm guessing there have been somewhere between thirty and forty.

Generally speaking, I enjoy them. I have a strong oracular element in my personality, which means that when people ask me questions, I feel moved, compelled even, to answer them.

But that's only half the story. I'm also a big asker of questions. I have a vast curiosity about all manner of things.

Combine this with my profound geekery, and you can understand why, when I got the opportunity to interview the fabulous and talented Felicia Day, I jumped at the chance.

Behold the result....

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So tell us a little bit about yourself....

I'm a professional actor (meaning I pay the bills solely with acting work, cross fingers) and I've lived in Los Angeles for almost 8 years now. I moved here after going to the University of Texas at Austin and getting Mathematics and Violin degrees. Natural progression to acting, don't you think?

I consider myself a "Jennifer of all trades" meaning I do a LOT of things PRETTY well. It's not a good long-term plan, but it's my personality.


Okay, I'll take the bait. If you started as a mathematician and violinist, what prompted you to make the transition into acting?

I got a bad tendentious in my left pinky during college which caused me a lot of pain when I played. I had to get cortisone shots in the joint to keep playing. (It actually hurts when I play too much Guitar Hero now, LOL). That, combined with the narrow reality of a professional classical musician's career choices, made me decide to focus on the other thing that brought me joy after college: Acting!

I also feel obliged to mention for all my fellow geeks out there, that one of your acting gigs was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Felicia here played Vi in season seven.

So what have you been up to lately?

Recently my focus has been on creating web content. I'm the creator of the web series called "The Guild," which is about a group of online gamers.


It's awesome on toast, and I'm not the only one who thinks so, as it recently won a bunch of fabulous awards, too. How did you get involved in working on that?


I created the show as a half-hour television pilot after I shook a two year addiction to World of Warcraft. People read the script, thought it was funny, but thought it was too "niche" for TV because it's about a group of online gamers. My friend and producing partner Kim Evey had just had fabulous success with her own YouTube videos, so after reading my script, she suggested we do it for the internet. We shot the first two episodes with our producer, Jane Selle Morgan, on our own dime, and after that we've been wholly supported by viewer donations through Paypal! It's pretty cool. Like PBS for online web series.


Hold on. You actually quit WOW? You don't play at all anymore?


Well, up until a month or so I did. I actually re-upped my account to see if I could play a normal amount of time (and to do some "research" for the show, haha). I had to quit cold turkey in the beginning though, it was consuming my life. I would move any WOW related tasks to the front of the queue, over career and family even. It got bad. Thankfully, my experience playing now is much more casual. I've only logged on a few times in a the whole month and it was easy to log off again after a few hours, keeping it short and sweet and playing with friends. Cross fingers I can sustain that!


In addition to playing the female lead in The Guild (Codex) you also write the script. Is this your first experience with screenwriting? Is it something that you're interested in pursuing more of in the future?

I have 4 or 5 scripts written... halfway. The Guild was the first one I actually finished and rewrote and polished. It took an amazing amount of sheer will to get it on the page because I haven't been writing since I was a kid like most accomplished writers. I absolutely admire writers more because of the whole process. I can't believe YOU got through so many HUNDRED pages with your book! Phenomenal!!


Well... I didn't write the whole book straight through, you know. I stopped around page 450 to get a sandwich and use the bathroom.

How do you go about your own writing?

The key for me was letting myself write badly at first in order to have something to rewrite and make better later on. I constantly have to beat down a perfectionist voice in my head. It holds me back in a lot of areas. Thankfully, the success (and fun) of writing the Guild has encouraged me to start writing other things and pursuing writing more seriously. I have several projects in the works now for TV and film. Getting them done is my main goal this summer!


Ooooh. I'm all tantalized. Can you tell us anything about your other projects?


They're still in the development stages, but one is a half-hour comedy, and the other is my ATTEMPT to add more fantasy into the hour-long genre. We'll see if it works!


One of the hardest parts of being a writer is actually trying to sell the book. A lot of authors spend years racking up rejections. Is the auditioning process similar to that?

Ooooh yes. It's even worse (well, from my perspective!) After you send in your book and get rejected, at least you get your book back and can take it other places. As an actor, you go in and do your interpretation of a role, and when you're rejected, they give it to someone else. It's not a judgment that you're necessarily bad, you just aren't what they're looking for, but it's hard not to take it personally. The mechanics of the actor's audition process is grueling, and I never ever will get to the point where I'm not anxious and nervous when I go in to read for a part.


Though it fills me with shame, I constantly check my Amazon Sales rank to see how well my book is selling. Most authors admit to doing the same thing. Is there anything similar that actors do?

Of course! Ratings are a #1 topic of conversation with anyone in the industry! Personally, I check my hits on YouTube a lot, especially the first few days after we post a video. The immediate feedback of the internet is pretty gratifying (and horrific depending on the comments : ) ) I have Google Alerts set up on my name and the show name and other phrases to constantly update me on what the web is saying about me/the show. After a while you get a much thicker skin, haha.


What sorts of things have people said over the years? Can you give us an example of something that's really gotten under your skin?

I really hate the racist comments against my cast members, I remove all those comments immediately. It's surprising how many they actually are, especially after we get featured on the front page of YouTube.

I also am irritated when people make fun of us for only putting out an episode a month, implying we're lazy or something. It touches on the part of me that is frustrated we don't have the budget or means to do them any quicker, but also shows that a lot of people don't understand what it takes to make a 5 minute short that looks much better than the average video. We don't just have one guy holding the camera, we have a real crew, who are all professionals, and who are working for free or near free. Hopefully for the next season that will not be an issue, as we're talking with several people who are interested in financing the show.


What's the weirdest fan moment you've ever had?

Well, I actually interact with fans on an everyday basis because I'm so wedded to the internet, so fan communication is actually a two way street with me and I generally ask fans for more stuff than they do of me! But the best experience I've had recently is when I visited Austin, and my brother and Dad and I went to Bed Bath and Beyond together to get a bath mat of all things, and a guy who worked there came up and asked me if I was Codex. Right in front of my Dad, which was so cool because not only did I create that character myself from scratch, my Dad got to see the reality that what I'm doing is "known". It was a great feeling.


You recently got to work with Joss Whedon on "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." What can you tell us about that?


I can tell you that it's going to be make a lot of people want to sing after hearing the music. Joss and his brothers Zack and Jed and Jed's fiance Maurissa wrote the show together to go on the internet in three parts. Joss had seen The Guild and had been percolating the idea of an internet musical for a while, and he said that watching the Guild was a part of the inspiration to get it done; that and the strike.


Hold on. You inspired Joss Whedon?


He said it was a PART of what spurred the work on Dr. Horrible. Don't make it seem like I'm claiming too much credit for it!! I worked with him on Buffy a few years ago and was crazy lucky enough for him to hire me for the part of Penny. I can't tell you what a fabulous experience it was working on it, the script and songs are fantastic! For someone in Joss' position to do something this experimental is great because not only is it going to be a huge success, it's going to make people look at internet content in a new way. I can't wait for it to be released!


Do you have a date for that?


I believe he said it will be released on the internet before Comicon.


Okay. I have to ask. Is Joss Whedon as cool as I think he is?


Yes, he's worthy of every kind of crush you could develop, I hate to say it. He's one of the most creative people I've ever met and he has a good and true heart. A real gentleman and a pleasure to be around.


Oh good. I have such a crush. I'm one tiny step away from setting up a little shrine in my house. It's only through a supreme effort of will that I've kept myself from doing something extreme to get him a copy of my book. I don't want to be that guy....


Let's say the impossible happens and The Name of the Wind gets made into a movie. We both agree it would be dreamy if Joss Whedon wrote or directed it, but what would your ideal cast be if you got your pick?

OMG that's hard, I'd have to read it again to refresh (the paperback is by my bed just for that purpose actually, haha!!)

Kvothe = Damien Lewis or a young version of him. (Life cop show, Band of Brothers) Jesse Tyler Ferguson also came to mind? (The Class)

Bast = the guy from American Beauty, Wes Bentley (What happened to him?)

Denna = Kiera Knightly or Natalie Portman definitely. Or the girl from Serenity: Morena Baccarin?


Oooh. Good picks. I hadn't ever thought of Morena Baccarin as Denna....

Would you have any interest in playing a part yourself?


My dream role would be Auri. I like playing damaged goods, haha.


So you live in LA, where everyone is beautiful. What happens when you take a trip to somewhere like Wisconsin. Is it traumatic looking at us regular folks?

That's funny! It is true that LA is filled with freakily beautiful people. I feel a lot prettier when I go out of town because the bar is set SOO high here! In LA I'm considered for the "plain" or "homely" characters mostly, I get called in for every one of those roles. They end up being more fun to play in the end, so I definitely don't mind. But going back to Austin and dressing up and getting head turns, that's pretty fun too, haha!


What's the worst part of the whole actor gig?

Auditioning. It's the most important part of the career, but you don't know that going into it. You have to consider auditioning the sole (unpaid) function of an acting career. When you actually get hired, that's the exception. And it's the thing that keeps you going, of course: Those moments when you're on set and working. There's nothing like it!


Any advice for aspiring actors and actresses out there?


Don't expect someone to pick you up off the street and make you a star: That's like winning the lottery. Make your own work. It will fill your hours with fulfillment and also lead to things you'd never expect.


Like with The Guild?


Yes! Like me with "The Guild"!


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In a gesture of inspiring largess, Felicia has said that she's willing to give away 10 autographed photos to folks out there that would like one. Well, eleven pictures, if you're counting mine....

If you'd like to be part of the random drawing for one of those pictures, why don't you send me an e-mail at paperback.contest {swirly at symbol} gmail.com with your mailing address. We'll leave the drawing open until... say... May 12th.

Lastly, today marks the end of the paperback photo contest. I have to say that the response has been beyond anything I could have reasonably expected. There have been so many submissions that it's going to take me at least a week just to sort them out, judge the best of them, and award some prizes.

That means if you spaced out and forgot to send your entry in, you can probably sneak it in tomorrow and I'll pretend to be too busy sorting to notice....

Later all,

pat

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posted by Pat at

16 Comments:

Blogger Pat said...

Supid blogger doesn't understand smart quotes or appostrophies. I'll fix it in just a second.....

May 5, 2008 9:06 PM  
Anonymous noblehobo said...

better hurry, the satellites finally came up at Pole, and some of us will be damn angry if you don't!

Actually, here's to the connections you'll be making with all manner of interesting folk (starting with Felicia Day). Not to say that us other folk are non-interesting, but it'll be a joy to vicariously watch connections from the creative world meander in your direction and you in theirs.

Maybe you'll meet Joss yet.

May 5, 2008 9:55 PM  
Blogger Captain Joe said...

The Guild is a lot of laughs, that's for sure.

Ah, man, the contest was so badass(Do people still say badass?). Heh,second guessing myself more and more these days... I'm bringing back 'badass'.

Seriously though, photo contest was awesome. Dare I hope for a repeat with The Wise Man's Fear, Pat? Oh, I dare.

~Joe

May 5, 2008 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Kendall said...

Felicia Day rocks (I like retro phrases too, Captain Joe), as does "The Guild"...as do you and your interviewing & writing self, Pat. ;-)

May 5, 2008 10:24 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Hey Pat,

Do you play WoW at all?

Tim

May 6, 2008 6:52 AM  
Blogger worldofhiglet said...

Hi Pat,

I read Felicia's interview with you which was really interesting and candid, especially about the writing process, cliches and what 'Fantasy' means. It's been a while since I read a fantasy book (if you discount re-reading LoTR), so I'll be heading along to pick up 'Name of the Wind' later this week.

Your interview with Felicia is really great, with lots of questions people really want to know like - how great is Joss, really?! And how much auditions can hurt.

Thanks for a great read!

May 6, 2008 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Pat, Thanks for the links to Felicia's "The Flog" blog. I would never have known about The Guild or that she is the one in the Cheetos commercial screwing up the rude ladies laundry with tasty orange-finger inducing snack treats!

Oh yeah, and I 'won' one of the 10 signed Name of the Wind books, which is cool because I had checked it out from the library and had to take it back before I was finished because someone else reserved it. Libraries rock, but free signed books from Felicia rock even harder! Cheers!

May 6, 2008 8:38 AM  
OpenID suziko said...

Good interview! I laughed out loud at the "is it traumatic looking at us regular folks out here in Wisconsin" question.

I'm sure it won't be long before Joss is reading your book, if he hasn't already.

May 6, 2008 11:45 AM  
Blogger Andy from Ohio said...

Now, this is just kind of funny. In your interview with Felicia Day, you mentioned "The Storyteller" and in hers with you, she mentioned Wes Bentley.

Guess what? These two concepts have merged in reality. Go look:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1117393/

May 6, 2008 8:20 PM  
Blogger Summer said...

I've tried to avoid sounding too much like a rabid fan, but Pat?

YOU ARE FRIGATIN' AWESOME!!!11!!

Glad that's out of my system. *phew* At any rate ... I am amused by these interviews, very much so. Though the cliche comment hit rather close to home. If only because I can't hope to match your sheer AWESOMENESS ... Right. Sorry. *sidles away*

May 7, 2008 12:15 AM  
Blogger madisondork said...

I finally some episodes of the Guild at a friend's house in Platteville last weekend and yes, it is awesome.
Re: pretty people
I work downtown Madison and I can't imagine a place with hotter women than on campus. Screw L.A.!

Paul
co-chair Odyssey Con 9 www.oddcon.com
Madisondorks yahoogroup owner

May 7, 2008 6:01 AM  
Blogger Dylan said...

ANY PHOTOS LEFT!? If so, I'd love to have one!

(great interview, by the way)

May 7, 2008 10:14 AM  
Blogger conDion said...

Well, i loved the interview and the one she did with you.

You made me additect to the Guild serie....

May 9, 2008 1:07 AM  
Blogger Church said...

We'll leave the drawing open until... say... May 12th.

Doh!

That'll teach me to read your blog more often...

May 13, 2008 5:07 PM  
Anonymous buffyverse Forever said...

I thought people might be interested in this chat. If posting this post here is inappropriate,feel free to delete it.

WhedonAge.com, a fan community for the works of writer-director Joss Whedon, hosts a live chat with Felicia Day, actress and creator of the award-winning online series The Guild, on Sunday, July 20, 2008.

Ms. Day appears as the love interest in Whedon's three-part musical superhero satire, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (www.DrHorrible.com) which ends the free webcast of its episodes that day.

The chat will begin at 10AM PDT (12PM CDT/1PM EDT/5PM UTC) for registered users, in a Q&A format with Felicia for one hour, after which fans can discuss the Dr. Horrible series with each other. It can be reached at www.WhedonAge.com

The site's members will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance, in case they are unable to join the live chat event. Instructions for accessing the chat service will be available on the site.

ABOUT FELICIA DAY
Felicia Day has appeared in numerous television and film productions, including roles in Bring It On Again, USA network's Monk, ION network's Praire Fever, and notably, "Vi" the slayer during Season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is the creator and writer of The Guild (www.WatchTheGuild.com), a web comedy series about online gamers, which won the 2007 Best Web Series Award from Yahoo, and the 2008 Greenlight Award for Digital TV Series Production from ON Networks/SXSW.

ABOUT WHEDONAGE.COM
WhedonAge was re-launched in January 2008 as an evolution from the fan campaign SaveAngel.org, originally founded four years ago. The site provides news, discussion forums and online activities for fans of Joss Whedon and his works, along with those associated with him and related genre entertainment.


###

July 13, 2008 11:18 PM  
Anonymous buffyverse forever said...

Here's a little more info about the chat I mentioned in my last post. Again,if posting this post is inappropriate,feel free to delete it.

An email account has been set up to take questions in advance of the chat, for those who can not be in attendance, or would like to queue up ahead of time to ask their question during the chat:

Email to "questions" AT "whedonage.com"

Please include the following (along with your question, natch!)

* Your name (or moniker you prefer to be known as)
* location
* and (if not clear from your name) your gender, please.

Also let us know whether you'll be at the chat -- so the moderators will know to look for you.

Questions from non-attendees during the chat will be allocated time, at regular intervals.

July 13, 2008 11:21 PM  

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