Hey Josh hey
Tell me more about your webseries
Trans Monogamist is a webseries I co created with my friend Alfredo Franco about dating as a trans person, New York job-life balance, astrology, speed dating, and talking about anime memes.
Each episode is about seven minutes or so ... What's a link where readers here can follow along?
When does the show take place?
We wrote it in early 2018 so it kind of covers our 2017 early 2018 lives in a way. It's set in the summer though for maximum effect.
It’s DIY all the way?
We pitched it to this experimental film company called Artless Media run by our old professor Russell Sheaffer who is amazing and has done so many exciting films including producing a Josephine Decker film and his own exciting and wild work like Saltwater Baptism. Suffice to say it is a collaborative piece that involves a lot of people from my own life.
That’s great, get all the friends involved. An art party. But a lot of hard work.
What are your roles in the collaboration?
I co-created, co-wrote, and act as one of the main characters in the series! So a hodge podge of roles but sort of like a showrunner.
How did the idea for the show come about?
It sort of developed out of this column I wrote but I felt I needed to work with a friend and someone funnier than me because I'm very sadness-as-humor and Alfredo is more plugged in funny.
Thats so smart and true, find someone to partner on a project that thinks different than you. You always need somebody who can bring what you can’t. What was the column?
The column was a dating column in Bushwick Daily!
Ahhhhh, yes. And those columns are all here: Bushwick Daily
I started the column but it felt like the things I were pursuing would be better suited as plot as narrative... I wanted more Sex and the City tv show than a set of actual guidelines. More varied stories and less idealism than my column could allow I felt or for that matter than that called for.
So one project pivoted into another to find its form.
The column is great. The series can branch out more though. It’s not all about you. It’s about all the friends and strangers that come along.
Yes, definitely, it's sort of the expansion pack. Besides I think it was important to say my dating style wasn't the only one.
For Trans Monogamist, Would you and Alfredo sit down, outline a script, and then write a complete scene episode, or was the filming open for improve and whatever happened during filming?
We definitely had firm scripts that were mostly followed. One time we had to rewrite a scene on the fly so Alana and Shelby were credited as writers on that scene. The other two stars! Often times we had scene ideas and we split them up and then harder scenes we would write together but everything sort of went through the other person for the most part.
Had you ever tried to make a show before? Where you a kid with a video camera, making movies with your friends?
I have tried to make a webseries before, two. One during college and one post. Only one is still online, through Glo Worm Press. Much more diy and experimental. I remember seeing Super 8 and other movies "about filmmaking" but that was not really my experience until high school when I made some videos. Pre then I was definitely into film but more in video diary, collagey, music video ways. I loved this filmmaker Karen Abad.
What'd you learn from doing the Glo Worm webseries? Anything that spilled over into Trans Monogamist?
Working through intuition. That's what I learned from the Glo Worm series. I think both are about dating but in very different ways-- one mystical and one more reality based. I think Trans Monogamist is much more direct on the issues it deals with whereas the other was influences by spirituality and portals as a way to think through queerness. This just sort of is blunt and here to say (and not say) things about monogamy, polyamory, marriage, dating and fuckboys.
You mentioned Sex and the City, besides what are some other shows you looked towards?
We love the glamour and toxicity of SATC but we love the grit and sort of lostness of Broad City, Insecure, Please Like Me, and other shows like that. Alfredo loves anime and Neon Evangelion a lot but also brought a lot of slice of life anime inspiration like Princess Jellyfish. Me and Shelby both love and brought the talkiness of Gilmore Girls. The endless NYC shows are some half-dos and some half-donts depending on sort of how they play with money, work, queerness, race, gender, and class.
Everybody works for a living on the show and you and Alfredo have jobs irl. What's it like balancing work with writing scripts and filming?
We do! We both sort of ended up meeting once or twice a week. It was definitely difficult to do so, but it felt important to write that in too! It's definitely hard to sync up work schedules when work schedules in New York can be so unpredictable too. Alfredo worked a lot of nights and I worked a lot of mornings/afternoons so it was definitely a balancing act.
What did a typical session of working on the script for the show look like?
We did a lot of spitballing and talking about how we couldn't do this or could do that. A lot of talk about what certain things would mean for viewers to see on screen- emotionally, contextually, scenically and wanting to craft something that told an arc and told it specifically- out of our own lives not out of someone else's.
Out of your own lives, yeah, that’s where the power comes from here.
We ate a lot of tacos. We love Bushwick Taco Company, so much.
Another power source.
One time I sat down and just wrote what everyone was saying during a hangout and that became an episode. (episode seven beach day) and it's one of the funniest because we all four wrote it even though Alana isn't in that one.
What about filming? How did you approach the filming each episode?
We filmed everything in one week last summer! Artless Media came in and Russell Sheaffer directed it so it was a pretty wild week. Over a year ago now which feels weirdly nostalgic... We did a lot of prep and then just shot like wild.
Dry runs of scenes first or—
Very little rehearsal. We had a script read but...
Shot like wild, and initiative, like you said earlier.
So you had an independent director/cinematographer. Did you and Alfredo get to work on the editing?
We did! We assisted and we actually did the voiceovers in post.
Oh that's great. The voice overs are gets in this.
We hadn't planned on them which is weird since they are so essential to the series vibe now! I think I was worried they would feel too directly SATC or Veronica Mars or something, but what can I say?
We are midway through the season, I think, right? There will be more episodes coming along?
We just released 5 today! [Youtube] (July 22) and there are 3 more! We go until August 12. 4 and 5 sort of set up the main thrust of the season-- River falls for someone. Sort of.
How do they find you and your co-creators on Twitter/Instagram, etc.
Bud Smith interviews artists, project to project, cellphone to cellphone