dimanche 16 août 2009


If you know the great Comedy Central TV show “The Sarah Silverman Program”, you surely have seen Kate Freund in a couple of episodes from seasons 1 (Positively Negative) & 2 (Bored of the Rings).

But if you’re familiar to the short film festival Channel 101 and its website (created by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab – who also co-created “The Sarah Silverman Program”), you probably have seen her a lot more, since she directed and/or played in numerous hilarious short movies since 2005, including her action horror “Mega Bitch Meltdown” (Super Chicks vs. Zombies), the Swedished “Turdy Longbows” (the “Pippi Longstocking” of the new millennium) and the totally insane “The Vacationaires” (the part 2 was just put online).

Here is the first half of the two-part interview of this multitalented artist who likes to make movies in the living room (Kate's pink hair photo by Sammy Primero).

Frédéric Ambroisine: Is your name Freund German?

Kate Freund: My last name is German for “friend”. I'm German, Italian but I was raised in Los Angeles my entire life.

FA: You are an actress, director, writer, editor, music composer, banjo performer, producer, animator, make-up and digital effect artist, costume designer, casting director and illustrator. Did I forget something?

KF: I also make little stuffed animals and puppets. I sell the stuffed animals through Also, if you watch “The Sarah Silverman Program”, there is a puppet named Ookie that I made.

Rob Schrab, Ookie, Kurt Scholler, Chris Romano - "The Sarah Silverman Program"

FA: Among all those activities, what was the first one who attracted you? The one that gave you the desire to work in the entertainment business?

KF: When I was little, I hated school. I didn’t see the point in going. It felt like I was doing a bunch of work and not getting paid for it. When I was six, some kids from a higher grade came into our classroom and said, “who is trying out for the talent show?” Several kids raised their hands and got to leave class. Obviously, I wanted to get out of class and I raised my hand. Sure enough I was dismissed. I couldn’t believe it. They just let me leave because I said I had a talent. Something sorta clicked in my head, if you had talent you could get out of doing normal work.

They lead me into the auditorium and put me on stage. Then said, “what’s your talent?” Honestly, I didn’t have one so I faked it. I started singing and acting out the song, My Boyfriend’s Back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the song lyrics so I just made up my own hoping no one would notice. I thought for sure that they would be mad at me for acting like I had a talent but everyone thought it was funny. They actually thought it was all part of my routine and put me in the show. From then on, I said I wanted to be an entertainer.

Kate Freund by Matt Freund (the previous and next one too)

FA: Did you study acting or filmmaking?

KF: From around 9-15, I performed regularly at The Santa Monica Playhouse. Then for some reason, I lost all interest in theater and starting studying film acting from David Wells and Sally Piper and did workshop classes with my then manager Hines and Hunt. I almost didn’t go to college because I was cast in a pilot that was a “sure” go. Like every “sure” go, the show didn’t get picked up and it really bummed me out. I felt like I had put so much time and energy into acting that it was time for a break and enrolled in the University of California, Irvine as a Biology Major. I had always been interested in science and for some reason that seemed logical. However, for Christmas that year, my dad got me a video camera and I started making little movies with my dorm mates. I lasted one more quarter at UCI and then transferred to USC to study creative writing and screenwriting. At USC, I collaborated on over 30 student films. It was a great environment but honestly, I think the best film school out there is Channel 101 and it is free.

FA: On your “official” – but incomplete - filmography (IMDB), you started to work as an actress, and then a casting director? How did that happened?

KF: When I was 17, I was cast in “Once & Again” as an out of control party girl. It was a bit part but I really enjoyed working and getting out of school. The director was a family friend and knew I was interested in the entertainment industry. I asked if I could get an internship in editing and he said, “no but we have something in the casting department.” I had already met all the casting women because they used me on their show, so I thought great I know I’ll get this internship. I interned and then was an assistant for Amy Lippens Casting for about two years. When I was at USC, I wanted to work on as many projects as possible but unless you were in the directing/production program everyone was kinda snooty. I didn’t want to P.A and had all this casting experience so I just became the go to girl for casting at that film school. I got to meet all the budding directors and didn’t have to lug around a bunch of heavy gear.

FA: What do you have to do as a casting director?

KF: Basically what a casting director does is a lot of work that most people take for granted. You’re sent hundreds of actor submissions and from those you pick people to come in and read for the part. It was really interesting for me to see the other side of the audition process. At then end of the day, it gets really stressful because you just want to find that perfect person that the director, producers and network all like.

FA: How did you met Rob Schrab? Did you know about his work before knowing him personally?

KF: I met Rob in 2005. I was working as a producer for “Rough Cut LA”, it was an entertainment news show minus the gossip. We’d constantly pitch stories that were about talented filmmakers or film festivals and then send a camera crew and a host to interview. My friend had just shown me They were a huge fan of Justin Roiland’s “House of Cosby’s.” I looked at the site and couldn’t believe how funny the videos were and that people were making these out of their living rooms with out a big budget. It was the complete opposite of USC, you could make something for dirt cheap and still entertain people.
I suggested that we do a piece on Channel 101 and the Executive Producer signed off on it and then told me I should host it. I went down there with a camera crew and interviewed everyone. Rob was the last person we interviewed. I had seen his show Twigger’s Holiday and thought he was brilliant. After the interview we became email friends and then he asked me out. We celebrated our 4 year anniversary in April.

Kate Freund and Rob Schrab on the set of "The Sarah Silverman Program" (Season 3)

FA: Was he (Is he) a kind of mentor for you?

KF: Rob is a genius. His attention to detail and his comedic timing would inspire anyone. I’m very fortunate to be around someone who is so talented because it makes me try harder as a creative because I know he is going to see it. Rob’s my biggest fan but also my hardest critic.

FA: When did you hear about Channel 101?

KF: A friend of mine showed me the Channel 101 website in 2005.

FA: Can you explain a little bit the concept of the 101 Channel. The (failed) pilots and episodes etc.?

KF: Channel 101 is like a mini TV network. There are five shows in Primetime. These shows are the top voted shows from the screening. And each month, 4-6 new shows are screened alongside the Primetime shows. The audience can only vote for 5 shows. The shows that are the most popular become Primetime shows and they get to make another episode. The shows with the least amount of votes are “failed” pilots because they only get to make the one episode. During any screening a Primetime show can get canceled if a new show gets more votes. Does that make sense?

FA: You started as an actress in some 101 Channel shorts in 2005 and then you started to direct your own shorts. Did you have any directing experience before that?

KF: I directed some artsy student films at UCI and USC before delving into 101. The thing is, 101 is one of the best training grounds for honing your craft. It teaches you discipline. You have one month to make something and then it gets rejected or it gets screened in front of a live audience and you instantly know if you are good or not. If the room goes quiet or worse people talk over your show, you know that you have to do better next time. Usually when you submit to a festival you can’t see the initial reaction from the audience until months later. There is a certain immediacy to 101, which is great because you can be timely with your comedy. I helped Rob with “Thriller, Chiller Theater” and then I was a fairy in “Yacht Rock” but I kinda felt like a hypocrite for praising 101 so much and then never making my own show. I wanted to prove that I could make something and contribute too. I’ve made 11 shows for Channel 101 but only 5 have been screened. You never know what the panel is going to react to. Last June I finally got a show into Primetime with co-creators Kelsy Abbott and Kyle Reiter. It’s called "The Vacationaires", watch it!

Kyle Reiter, Kate Freund and Kelsy Abbot in "The Vacationaires" (2009)

FA: Where did the idea of “Mega Bitch Meltdown” come from?

KF: I wanted to do a show that had a mix of female and male talent. At the time, most of the 101 shows were all staring dudes. I had just watched “Switchblade Sisters” and “Naked Killer” and wanted to do a kick ass girls with guns show with a twist.

Kate Freund's "Mega Bitch Meltdown" (2007)

FA: How much did it cost?

KF: Around 80 bucks. I bought a few rubber masks, the glowing hand communicators and some tape stock. I had lights, and my brother Matt Freund, shot it with his camera. We borrowed guns from fellow 101er David Hartman.

FA: How long was the shooting and the editing?

KF: We shot in Topanga Canyon in January and it was around 30 degrees and it started raining so we had to go up the next weekend to get Myke dancing in his underwear. I was so worried he was going to get sick. I think it took around 3 half days of shooting. The editing took about a week and a half. Rob really helped me with the first action scene.

FA: Did you also cut the trailer for the SXSW Grindhouse Contest Video in 2007?

KF: I saw the SXSW Grindhouse trailer late in the game and was so bummed out because I really wanted to make one. I knew I didn't have time to shoot something new so I just cut up Mega Bitch and wrote a voice over track. I think I did that trailer in one night and fed exed it out in the morning. It was on aintitcool's pick for grindhouse trailers.

Kate Freund's "Mega Bitch Meltdown" (2007)

FA: Why did you choose comedy as your main genre?

KF: I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it before. I just do projects that I want to do and ultimately, they fall in the comedy genre. I think it goes back to wanting to be an entertainer and some choice words Rob shared with me, “Don’t bore your audience.”

FA: There are different levels of craziness in comedy, and it seems that you’re trying to exeed the limits of madness a little bit more one short after another?

KF: When I make something all I am consciously trying to do is finish it. That being said, I think with each project I am trying to top myself. I mean, who wants to go backward?

Kate Freund's "Pussy Talk" (2006)

FA: To know if your work will be efficient, do you have to laugh at your own jokes or make your friends laugh?

KF: I live with Rob Schrab. I like to edit in the living room. Rob will pass by and if what I’m working on catches his eye and he stops what he is doing to laugh. I know I am in good shape.

FA: In your shorts, you’re directing and acting at the same time. How do you manage to focus on your work behind and in front of the camera?

KF: Sometimes I watch stuff and it doesn't work. I go eck, why did I do that? If I was behind the monitor I would have changed that but oh well. I just try and make it work in the edit. There's a lot of great actors and there's a lot of great actors out there with baggage. I use myself because I don't want to deal with another person. It just makes things easier. The bigger the cast, the harder the shoot becomes to coordinate. I mean if I had a line producer and a budget then yeah I would work with more people. But we tend to shoot guerilla style. I have a five seater car. If you can all pile in one car it makes life so much easier. That way people are not running late or looking for parking.

Kate Freund's "The Day My Boyfriend Became" (2009)

FA: In the 101 Channels shorts that you played in and didn’t direct, which one are your favorites?

KF: Working with Sevan Narjarian on “The Pop” was a great experience. I was cast as Olive Oyl and it was so special because that's a role that my dad always wanted to see me play. As a kid he'd joke with me and tell me I looked just like Olive Oyl because I was so skinny. But back to working with Sevan. It's such a treat. He is so good with effects and direction. I know that whenever he asks me to do something, I want to do it because it is going to look kickass. I also really liked working with Danny Jelinek on “Arrow”.

Kyle Kinane and Kate Freund in Abed Gheith & Sevan Najarian's "The Pop" (2008)

FA: Concerning “Turdy Longbows”, which (kind of) movies inspired you? Did you use some footage from old movie(s) or is it 100% your creation?

KF: I was totally inspired by “Pippi Longstocking”. My brother, Matt was the DP on this shoot and he made it look very cinematic. I don't think we used any footage from other movies. I just had to re watch it to make sure. Rob helped color correct the footage to give it a washed out, old VHS tape look. Rob also made the opening logo for 1000 milleniums.

Kate Freund in "Turdy Longbows" (2009)

FA: How was the post-production of “Turdy Longbows”? The color work and (voluntarily) bad post-synchro are weirdly awesome...

KF: I had a script for the show but I wanted it to have that "Pippi Longstocking" bad dubbed feel. I wanted to push that to an extreme. I really wanted to make it feel old and familiar. There are so many weird shows I watched as a kid, that I never thought were that bizarre but when I go to rewatch them, I'm like why is this edited like this??? Why did they have that character do that? None of this show makes any sense but as a kid I loved it. My favorite shots we did were in front of the abandoned house where I am coming down the hill. To me that totally looks like the original show.

Kate Freund and Armen Weitzman in "Turdy Longbows" (2009)

FA: Since it’s a pure nonsense comedy, how did you explain to the actors what’s it’s about?

KF: I gave them a script and sent them links to “Pippi Longstocking” clips. I've worked with Todd Bishop before. He was in Astral girl and “The Day My Boyfriend Became”. He's creative and just gets it. I'll tell him to come dressed as a cowboy and he won't show up dressed as a clown. He understands exactly what I'm going for. Deanna Rooney who plays Leena is also extremely awesome. I had worked with her briefly on a channy video and she just brought so much to the table. I had been wanting to work with her for a while. She also does cartoons. Look her up, her art is rad. I know Armen (Weitzman) , through the “Sarah Silverman Program”. He plays the fantasimart clerk and has appeared in several episodes. He was game to do anything.

FA: “The Vacationaires” contains probably the worst green screen effects that I’ve ever seen. You did it on purpose, right?

KF: Ha ha ha. I love “The Vacationaires”. That’s a show I co created with Kelsy Abbott and Kyle Reiter. Originally we were planning on doing a completely different show. We knew that we wanted to work together and that we wanted to be extremely tan to the point of looking filthy. The day of shooting we swapped out our original idea and came up with a show about a family who loves to go on vacations. It was not going to be a green screen show. I think we hung up the blue sheet so it would look like the ocean in the background but that didn’t read at all. When we shot it, the blue screen blanket was stained and wrinkled and not well lit. When I went to key it out it looked terrible. We all started laughing and the gag became about how bad it looked. That show is so ridiculous but I really had a ton of fun working on it for two months. Sad to see that it got cancelled.

Kate Freund in "The Vacationaires" (2009)

FA: Do you think about making one of your shorts into a feature film?

KF: I'd like to do a feature version of “Anna Manesia” or “Mega Bitch Meltdown”. I'd do “Anna” because of the premise and “Mega” for the characters and action. We'll see maybe one day.

End of part 1. Coming soon on part 2: Kate Freund about “The Sarah Silverman Program”, animation and special effects, editing, music videos, Sarah Silverman, Steve Agee, and her new projects.

Thanks to: Kate Freund, Rob Schrab, Steve Agee, Matt Freund and Sammy Primero.

You can watch a lot of Kate Freund short movies on Channel 101 (download) or Youtube (streaming). Check out the links below.

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