Interview with the Creators of Grosse Misconduct – Colby Ryan & Anne Schroeder – Part II

by Kathryn Graham

(Continued from Part IColby Ryan & Anne Schroeder, the actors-writers-producers for workplace comedy Grosse Misconduct, tell us all about how they put together their cast and crew and what you can do to get started!)

 

 

 

 

 

Kate: How did you go about getting financing and the directors and the post production crew?

Colby: We needed was someone on board to guide us because this is the first time we’ve done something like this. It was one thing to work on the script as new writers, but we needed someone to guide us through the process of developing a webseries in terms of crew.

We don’t have a contact list of people that we could look through to populate the crew, so I placed an ad looking for a director/producer, and Mitchell Lazar responded. He’s a fresh new voice. He’s an NYU grad. He has great ideas and a great energy.

Then from there it developed pretty quickly because he’s a writer/director/producer, and he does have a network of contacts so he could reach out. That’s how we got Daniel Sorochkin, who is our producer. He let us know what we needed to do and when we needed to do it.

Mitchell was also in charge of casting. We talked about the lead characters before, that part was easy, but we had to put out a casting call to find the best actors we could to fill out the rest of the project.

They all did an amazing job. Everyone was so professional throughout the whole shoot. It was such a great experience. We were blessed to have them. We needed that guidance.

Kate:  Was this a project where people were paid or was it because they loved and believed in the project?

Anne: Our crew was paid, but they were pretty much across the board fresh out of college. For a lot of them, it was one of their first times being in the position that they are working towards doing full-time. That was exciting.

It was a very diverse crew. We had people from all over the world. From Israel, Turkey, Canada, and Poland. France.

Not that Colby and I are old, but these kids are 21/22, and they were such hard workers and so positive. Sometimes I think the younger generations get a bad rap. They were so professional.

Colby: Anne and I are the executive producers of the project. So in terms of financing, Anne was gracious enough to allow us to use funds from her production company, Not So Artful Productions, in order to finance the vast majority of the project. We literally could not have done it without her.

We had such a tight shooting schedule. We shot four days in an office space in Manhattan called Stratosphere, then we had two other days where we did external stuff.

But it was four twelve-hour days in this office shooting eight+ pages a day. For a new crew to be thrown into this situation, it was shocking we didn’t have any meltdowns. We would happily work with them all again if given the opportunity.

Kate: Do you have any advice for anyone else who’d want to make their own series?

Anne: Just do it.

Colby: We were both thinking the same thing. Just do it.

Anne: You have to do it because no one else is going to do it for you. What works for me might not work for you, but figure out what does and just do it. I have so many actor friends that have these great ideas, but they never take the time to put it down on paper. It’s up to you.

Colby: It’s something that we’ve been hearing so much of in the industry in general. Actors creating their own content. I almost feel like I hear it too much. You can get kind of numb to it after a while. But it’s true.

You really just have to dive in. We didn’t know what was in store when we were doing it. We didn’t know each other. We didn’t know what it was like to work together. It’s like improv: Someone begins, then you just say: ‘Yes, and’ – and continue. Keep on going and see where it leads.

If you feel passionately about completing a project that’s all it takes. You keep moving forward every day. Believe me, we had setbacks. From the beginning to the end of this process was two years.

In the beginning we didn’t know that was going to be the case, but things pop up. Some little things pop up, and some super dramatic things pop up, and you just deal with them, and you move through, and you say: We’re going to get this done no matter what.

We both felt such a great sense of accomplishment once we saw the final product. We looked at it, and we were like: “Wow! We did this!”

I would wish that feeling on any actor because we have so little control over what happens in our careers. We’re always sitting back waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for casting to say “You’re the one.” And usually the answer is “No, you’re not the one.” So take control of that, of your own narrative, and score a win for yourself…

No matter what happens with Grosse Misconduct. Of course, we want the world to see it. We want people to enjoy it and for it to go some major places, but even if it doesn’t, it’s a huge accomplishment for all of us. For Anne and I specifically as the originators of it. We’re very proud of having accomplished it, and I would want everyone to have that feeling.

Check out all six episodes here: Grosse Misconduct

Get in touch with Colby & Anne and tell them what you think here:

Colby’s Website: Colby Ryan. Social: Colbyryanactor@twitter and Instagram.
Anne’s Website: Anne Schroeder. Social: aeschroeder@twitter and Instagram.

Interview with The Creators of Grosse Misconduct – Colby Ryan & Anne Schroeder – Part I

by Kathryn Graham

These two talented hyphenates (actor-writer-producers), Colby Ryan (who plays Mitch) and Anne Schroeder (who plays Sarah), told me all about their new web series: Grosse Misconduct. It’s a dramatic and absurd workplace comedy that focuses on the HR department and features two leading LGBTQ characters! We discussed their writing process and how actors are getting into the writing/producing game (so you non-acting writers have no excuses!)


Kate: Are you both actors first and foremost? Or do you consider yourselves actors and writers in equal measure?

Anne: I’m evolving. I’m learning. I’d like to be more confident in feeling like I’m an actor and writer in equal measure. I would say I’m still an actor, first and foremost, but I’m working on it.

Colby: I will always want to be an actor, but I loved writing Grosse Misconduct, and I’m definitely interested in writing more things in the future. I’m happy to consider myself a hyphenate going forward.

Anne: A hyphenate? (laughs)

Colby: A hyphenate! (laughs)

Kate: How did you come up with the witty title?

Colby: Thank you! We went through a couple of choices, and ultimately, we wanted a title that would reflect HR – Human Resources. I have an alternate career in Human Resources, which is why we ended up with that setting.

‘Gross misconduct’ is a term often used in HR. It’s the most extreme type of situation where someone’s doing something so egregious that they probably have to be fired immediately.

We thought it’d be interesting to make that the name of the department head – Mitch Grosse – using the double meaning of that word to suggest that it’s not just gross misconduct in the office, but specifically, misconduct of the boss.

Kate: What was your process writing this together?

Anne: We would brainstorm ideas first, then go off and work on our own. I need both. I need silence to focus, but in order to get the ball rolling and to get something finished, I need a partner or a group of people to hold me accountable.

Kate: When you were coming up with the characters, especially the ones you played, how did you craft them?

Colby: Obviously, we wanted to have a great time playing these characters and really be able to relate to them. I have played a lot of misunderstood jerks. Characters that are probably not as nice as I am. That seems to work for me, and I love bringing that out in myself. So I knew that was the type of character I wanted Mitch to be.

Sometimes in comedy, especially in sitcoms, you’ll see characters that are two dimensional or stereotypical. So, we tried to make all of the characters as full and complex as possible.

Anne: It’s my first time writing something for myself. I got more invested in some of the other characters than my own character. (laugh)

Once we got to the later drafts, I realized that Sarah was kind of a doormat. I feel like I was making the evolution as an actor from being the ‘nerdy best friend’ to a woman with a little more of a backbone, so in following drafts, she’s still quirky and bubbly, but we wanted to give her a backbone.

Kate: What was the inspiration for the main characters of Brian and Alicia?

Colby: For Brian, Steve Barkman was with us at the casting workshop. He is not like Brian, but he has this kind of twinkle in his eye that can be perceived as a naiveté. We were attracted to that aspect of him since that’s so different from Mitch. The idea of having him be Amish and from the farm background, that was something that Anne developed. I focused more on the Alicia character.

For Alicia, it’s important to me as a gay actor to not just have one LGBT character. I’ve certainly played characters who are not gay, but I wanted Mitch to be gay. I thought that was important.

We tend to have gay characters who are somebody’s best friend or they come on for a quick, comedic moment in a rom-com, but are usually not the central focus. And/or we’ll see a gay character who is focused on a ‘coming out’ story. That’s their reason for existing.

I knew I wanted Mitch to be a gay character who was not going through those things. He’s a lead. The boss of all of these people.

But I also thought there should be a balance in terms of LGBT representation, so we wanted Alicia to be a transgender woman played by a transgender actress.

We found Pooya Mohseni. When we looked up her website and the examples she had online of her work, we completely fell in love. We were like: “This is Alicia”. Then: “Oh, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to agree to do it.” (laughs)

We gave her the whole script, and said: “Just let us know if you’d be interested in doing this. We’d love to have you.”

She was very pleased to see a trans character whose story line was not just about her being trans. That’s not something we hid. It’s mentioned throughout the series when it comes up, but it wasn’t the main focus. She has such a strength and a presence in the series otherwise.

Kate: Is there a season two in the works?

Anne: Yeah! We’re strategizing about season 2. We’re still interested in getting feedback on season one and what people liked and where we could do better. The feedback we have been getting has been very encouraging and people are excited to see what happens after that last episode. It’s encouraging. We’ll see.

Stay tuned for Part II next week!

Check out all six episodes here: Grosse Misconduct

Get in touch with Colby & Anne and tell them what you think here:

Colby’s Website: Colby Ryan. Social: Colbyryanactor@twitter and Instagram.
Anne’s Website: Anne Schroeder. Social: aeschroeder@twitter and Instagram.