mardi 1 septembre 2009


In the second and last part of her interview, D.I.Y. writer-director-actress Kate Freund talks about some of her great Channel 101 (unhopefully) rejected shows, the TV series “The Sarah Silverman Program”, Steve Agee, animation, music, and her new projects. Enjoy...

Frédéric Ambroisine: Five of the eleven shows that you did for Channel 101 have been successfully screened (“Pussy Talk”, “Mega Bitch Meltdown”, “The Day My Boyfriend Became”, “Turdy Longbows” and “The Vacationaires”). What are the titles of the unselected six others shows, and where can they be seen?

Kate Freund: Oh the list of rejected shows. I made “Astral Girl”, “Cast or Kill”, “Anna Manesia”, “Enders of Love”, “Death's Best Friend” and “Sushi Rocka”. Some of them I put up on my youtube channel, some of them lives on tape never to see the light of day.

FA: “Anna Manesia” aired on VH1 in a TV program called Acceptable TV. Can you tell me more about it ?

KF: Acceptable TV was a sketch series that ran on VH1 for one season. Each week an internet audience would pick a user generated short that they wanted to see on TV. “Anna Manesia” was selected to play in the first episode. The plot for “Anna Manesia” revolves around a girl (played by Amy Roiland) who gets hit by a car and looses her memory. Instead of taking her to the hospital my character tells her she is a robot and forces her into slavery.

Amy Roiland as Anna in "Anna Manesia" (2007)

FA: How many “Anna Manesia” episodes did you make?

KF: I only made two episodes of “Anna”. The second Episode I think I shot in a day on a whim.

FA: Episode 2 can be seen on Rob Schrab's Youtube channel, but what happened to episode 1?

KF: For some reason, the first episode ofAnna Manesia was yanked down from Youtube. I need to re upload that, thanks for reminding me.

FA: In “Death’s Best Friend”, you play... Death! Where did the idea come from?

I was at the gym and I was thinking about what if you were like the angel of death and didn't know it and slowly all of your friends started dying off. The I thought, maybe it would be more interesting if it was this kinda nerdy, sweet girl who's best friend was actually death. I just loved the concept of someone saying they're death's best friend and then having it be literal. It is unfortunate that this show got rejected because I really liked Kelsy Abbott and JD Ryznar in it.

Death’s Best Friend artwork by Hedzo (2007)

FA: All the work you've directed are obviously personnal, but what is your most personnal work so far among all your shorts so far?

KF: I think, “The Day My Boyfriend Became”. I was the most nervous about that project because I was the only girl on set. I was working with so many talented comedians and I was worried that they wouldn't think it was funny. I really tried to be as over prepared as possible and make the shoot go by quick. It's difficult when you are working with so many people, trying to direct and then act in scenes. I just wanted everyone to have a good time. I think that is the trick with actors. If they have fun the first time they work with you they will come back again.

FA: How did you get involved in the The Sarah Silverman Program?

KF: I have the lovely, Sarah Silverman to thank for casting me in her show. I just was in the right place at the right time and she thought of me.

FA: Did you know her previous work like the movie “Jesus is Magic”?

KF: I saw Jesus is Magic in the theater and thought it was hysterical. I also remember her from “There's Something About Mary” and thought wow, this woman is funny. I’m really fortunate to get to be around her when she performs. Sarah is so fearless on stage. She’s really an inspiration because she’s a writer, a singer and can play the guitar. She’s a true entertainer in addition to being a pretty face.

(Season 1 , Episode 3: Positively Negative)

FA: Do you think “nasty humour” (“Borat”, “Sarah Silverman”...) is better accepted nowadays?

KF: I think people just want to laugh. “The Sarah Silverman Program” can be nasty or raunchy but it usually is juxtaposed with something sweet or tragic. I don’t know, the second you start analyzing why something is funny, it sorta looses its humor. For me, comedy is like a reflex test. When something is so funny, your body just reacts to it.

FA: You played one character in Season 1 of The Sarah Silverman Program and another one in Season 2. How did that happen?

KF: Second season, I did the Margaret character at the table read. I was just subbing in, because they hadn't cast that character yet. When they cast Carrie Aizley, they thought it would be funny if I was her minion because we had a similar haircut and coloring. I just got really lucky.

(Season 2, Episode 1: "Bored of the Rings") - Photo by Steve Agee

FA:Can you describe both of the characters that you played? (Photo below from Season 1 , Episode 3)

KF: First season, I played Whitney. She works for Sarah as an AIDS awareness volunteer. During a meeting, I say something that makes Sarah feel like I am challenging her authority and she fires me. I get her back in the end when I throw a tomato at her during a rally for AIDS.
Second season, I was cast as Margaret. She’s an uptight, Christian conservative with an extremist agenda. Sarah mistakes my character as an angry lesbian and doesn’t realize that I am helping Carrie’s character plan to blow up an abortion clinic. It was fun, I got to wear an ugly pair of ridiculously high-waisted pants and have a gun.

FA: Did you follow the script 100%? Or did you add some personnal elements or improvise?

KF: The scripts are so funny that you don’t want to go off page. However it is a pretty loose set and they give you the opportunity to make the character your own.

FA: Did you also work on the third season of The Sarah Silverman Program? (Photo below by Kate Freund - 2009)

Yes, I cameo as a waitress who gives Sarah a dirty look when she finds out Sarah is a bed wetter. I also did the voice of Stu the crab. They are still shooting the third season. But so far, I have been a drug induced partier and a few weeks ago, I helped choreograph a dance piece between Steve Agee and Brian Posehn. Those two guys are so, so funny. I also contributed some T-shirt designs for Sarah to wear this season.

FA: Steve Agee is best known now for his work on The Sarah Silverman Program, but you also collaborated with him before that on one of his 101 Channel shorts, “Just The Three Of Us”. Can you tell me more about him?

KF: Steve Agee is an American comedian. He's hilarious and just an all around great guy. I've worked with a lot. He is the voice of Treenie from “Enders of Love”, he was in the VH1 version of “Anna Manesia”, and he did me a huge favor and actually is the tall monster in “Mega Bitch Meltdown”. He's a great guy to have on set because he's funny and takes awesome pictures. This last year, I animated a teaser for his project he is doing with Matt Berry. Berry is an English comedian and the two of them write insulting songs about each other. It's pretty funny and the songs are really good.

Steve Agee and Kate Freund - Photo by Kate Freund

FA: You edit your own movies. Do you do this because you have no choice or because you like it?

KF: When it comes to editing, it’s too easy to pass it off to someone else. I have worked with director’s who have absolutely no vision or concept of what they are doing and the shoot is terrible but then they hand it off to an editor and they make it into something incredible. It’s really unfair, I feel like so many times, directors get the credit when the editor is responsible for making the film watchable. That being said, I never want to be at the mercy of an editor. When I was 22, I was producing an entertainment tonight like show called “Rough Cut LA”...

Kate Freund in “Rough Cut LA” (2005)

...I was working with my editor and I wanted a series of fast, quick cuts that would flip back and forth between the inside of the club and the outside signage. The editor looked at me like I was an idiot. He said, “Um do you know how long and how many cuts you would need for it to flicker back and forth like that? I don’t have time to do that and besides it looks good already. I mean, I guess I could do it if you want but it will be a waste of time.” I felt stupid, so I said it was fine and we called it a night. I went home and was all bummed out. I told Rob what happened and he said, “It’s called a blink filter. You just slap it on the clip.” I was stunned. The editor just wanted to go home early. I never want to be in that position where I have to compromise what I am doing because I don’t know the software. From that day forward, I learned how to edit.

Kate Freund in a Channy Special for the 2008 Channel 101 Awards

FA: You direct both animation and live-action films. Which one is more difficult to do?

KF: With animation, you have full control. If you forget to get a shot, you can just draw it up real quickly. I get more frustrated when I shoot live action. I work with a very small crew but even still the idea of a re-shoot because we forgot something always makes my stomach drop. Also with animation, you don't have to worry about locations, getting all your actors there at the same time, losing your daylight or weather conditions.

FA: Doing Animation requires time and patience. So you must actually be a very calm person, not at all like the characters that you’re usually playing?

KF: I drink a lot of caffeine when I'm animating. That helps me focus. My favorite tea is Yerba Matte when I'm animating. It's super strong but it doesn't make me feel like I'm having a heart attack. It's hard to be tethered to a computer for more then a few hours without getting distracted and start looking up crap online. Doing animation by yourself can be very lonely.

FA: Are you working on Mac or PC? (Photo below by Matt Freund)

KF: I'm a Mac girl. I use the MacBook Pro for editing and animation. The software I prefer is final cut and after effects. I'd love to learn Maya but I don't know when I would find the time. I have a habit of picking up too many hobbies.

FA: When did you start to get involved in animation and special effects?

KF: Sevan Najarian mentored me with animation. I always enjoyed drawing little cartoons. My first cartoon was a music video for Rob’s birthday. It featured all of my friends dancing on a green screen to the song Pretty in Pink. I animated the singer. It’s so wonky but I still like that video. I followed that up with another animated music video for The Magnetic Fields. I just did it for fun, because I loved the song so much and was bummed there was no music video. I thought if I animate one, it would be a great opportunity for me to practice using after effects. Little did I realize, it's more difficult to sync up the mouths when there is music embedded in the vocal track. I couldn't scrub through the audio so I had to listen to the song over and over and over again just to get the mouth movements correct. It's really a testament to how great The Magnetic Fields are. I listened to that song probably close to a thousand times and still love it. It’s been pretty well received on youtube and has over 80,000 hits. The band even contacted me and thanked me for the video so that was beyond cool.

Kate Freund's music video for I Don't Want To Get Over You (The Magnetic Fields)

FA: By the way, why did you choose to learn the banjo?

KF: I always wanted to play an instrument. I played drums very briefly in a band in college but then got kicked out. I was over at my friend Kevin's house and he had so many instruments on his walls. I saw the banjo hanging there and he let me borrow it. I think this was around 2004. My brother is super cool and for my birthday got me my banjo. Actually we just wrote a new song together titled, “Damn You Woman”. It's up on Rob Schrab's youtube page.

FA: Who are your favorite music artists /bands?

KF: The Magnetic Fields obviously. I like The Mountain Goats, Tegan and Sarah, Bright Eyes, ELO, John Lennon, Elliot Smith, Buddy Holly, Coconut Records and I just started to listen to Chad VanGaalen. He is an animator and musician. I'm obsessed with his song "Molten Light".

FA: How do you split your time between your personal projects and your paid jobs? (Photo below by Sammy Primero - 2009)

KF: I don't have weekends. My creative projects are how I socialize. I usually hang out with the people who I like working with and we spend our time being creative instead of going to the beach or shopping.

FA: Because you’re creating puppets and doing animation, do you ever think about making a puppet animation movie?

KF: I'd love to do that some day.

FA: You just did a short horror? Can you tell me more about it?

KF: “Debbie” is an experimental Horror Film. It's about a creature being held against her will and forced to listen to this agonizing voice that represents the disconnected upper class. It's a surreal torture film. What was interesting for me as a participant in the project was I was the body of the creature and also the voice of the tormentor. To be honest, I love playing monsters or creatures. I spent 6 hours completely blind for the “Debbie” shoot but loved every minute of it. “Debbie” is directed by Jonathon Sims. I met him about 5 years ago when I cast a horror project. He just called me out of the blue and said:"Do you want to dress up in a Quinceniera dress and play a tortured blind creature? ". The short should be up online in September 2009.

Kate Freund on the set of “Debbie” (2009) - Photos by Robin Von Swank

FA: What are your new projects? Your next projects?

KF: Right now I'm working on a new cartoon, a pilot and a baby blanket for my sister.

Interview done in July/August 2009. Thanks to Kate Freund, Matt Freund, Sammy Primero, Robin Von Swank, Hedzo, Channel 101 & Comedy Central. Check out the first part by clicking on the picture below.

Some Kate Freund's streaming videos:

"Anna Manesia": Episode 1 - Episode 2 - "Mega Bitch Meltdown": Trailer - Episode 1 - "The Day My Boyfriend Became": Episode 1 - "Turdy Longbows": Episode 1 - "The Vacationaires": Episode 1 - Episode 2 - "Pussy Talk": Episode 1 - "Water and Power: Miami": Episode 1 - Episode 2 - "Just the Three of Us": Episode 1 - "The Pop": Episode 1 - Episode 2 - Episode 3 - Kate Freund's Converse Ad - Magnetic Fields: I Don't Want To Get Over You - "Sushi Rocka" (Short) - "The Lonely Sink" (Short) - Holiday Song (Animation / Music Video)

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