As early fans and champions of The Outs, Geeks OUT was thrilled to watch one of its favorite new web series become a veritable cultural moment and a beautiful, smart example of what the medium is capable of, earning the praise of modern tastemakers like Alan Cumming, Russell T. Davies, and possibly even someone at the White House. A triumph of execution on every level, it also introduced the creative talents of numerous young and hungry New Yorkers to the world, including creator (writer-director-actor-cardigan rocker) Adam Goldman.
Goldman gives Geeks OUT an early glimpse at his team's much-anticpated next project, Whatever this is., ahead of their Premiere Party this Tuesday, July 30 at The Knitting Factory.
Whatever this is. Trailer. from WTIshow on Vimeo.
GO: Hi, Adam! Congratulations on all the early buzz and goodwill for Whatever this is. The project's Kickstarter is up and running and already has hundreds of backers. The Kickstarter goal is much higher than for The Outs, what's the difference in scale between the projects? In your hopes?
AG: Well, for starters, we've got more of a plan for the structure of the show, practically speaking: we're doing six 25-minute episodes (roughly; really I'm measuring in the length of the scripts, which will be 23-ish pages). With The Outs we started with 12 minutes went up to 18, then to 25, back down to 18... this time we're making a normal-length season of a TV show. At least by UK standards where seasons are six episodes apiece.
Also we've got a bigger team working with us this time: Whatever this is. is a job for about 25 people for the summer. We're trying to pay rent. Nobody is getting rich off of this project - far from it.
Not to get too far down the rabbit hole here, but we're honestly trying to have a conversation with our audience that has been coming down the road for quite some time: what is the price of quality content that you can watch online basically for free? If we're producing something of cable quality - which is the goal - how do we do that without breaking the bank?
The answer is to find the people who are passionate about our work - on The Outs and otherwise - and say, 'Look: buy this show. Imagine that you're buying it on iTunes, you're just doing it early.' If you kick in $10 to Whatever this is. you get to own the show - which is a pretty great deal, to be frank. If you kick in $30 you get the new show and The Outs and a bunch of other stuff - so like seven hours of TV and bonus content. It's a pretty good deal.
It's just about overcoming that gut reaction people have where they say "$165,000? Fuck you, that's crazy," but then they look at a $2,000,000 Kickstarter for a film and think that sounds about right.
GO: Coming off of The Outs's incredible critical and popular response, how did you turn the pressure to repeat that into creative inspiration for Whatever this is.? It seems you were able to harness that momentum since you're teaming up with many of the same cast and crew. Do you feel more eyes on you now and how does that change things for you?
AG: Yes, more eyes, yes, more pressure. We debated for a long time whether to take another pass at The Outs and make a second season online, but as I'll tell anyone who will listen, good stories have endings. When the first episode of The Outs was released, I knew the show was going to end with Jack and Mitchell on Mitchell's stairs figuring out how to relate to each other. (Of course then I got to write the Chanukah Special, which was a really fun coda to the story with maybe an even better ending, but I digress.)
That said, as I allowed myself to consider a future for the show, I did start to understand where that story would go. Once you've decided you want to be able to hang out with your ex, that's just the beginning of another story. And nobody can hurt you the way your best friends can hurt you, so that's something Mitchell and Oona will have to sort out.
Plus, you know, grad school in Iowa; long distance is tricky.
Anyway. Yes, momentum. We all loved working together, which is why the creative team from The Outs is pretty much intact on Whatever this is., and hopefully that will be reflected in both the quality of the show and the tone, as well. The term "spiritual successor" sounds so bullshitty but I honestly believe that the creative impulse of The Outs is the same in the new show.
Hey you know maybe we'll do this and then I can do one more show set in Brooklyn and it can be a trilogy! Who doesn't love a trilogy?
The Outs: Age of Ultron. I'm just saying.
GO: Real talk: Since The Outs was online & for the most part free, what's that critical praise and popularity really ...worth "in the real world," as it were? In terms of paying the bills and getting new projects off the ground. Certainly it clearly has opened doors to you, but you're staying independent and crowd-funded—Why?
AG: Mostly the freedom. We had a conversation on set yesterday where we had a special guest star swearing up a storm in his scene, and we were like "Should he not swear so much?" But then I thought, "This is why we're on the internet, we can get away with it and it makes the scene stronger."
What it's worth, I guess, is that people get excited when we make things, which is really all we want as makers of things.
Plus which I suppose I could move to LA and commit myself to getting something made and then I would sell it and then I would get notes on it and then five hundred other steps would occur, or I can just make things that are good that I like making with people I love.
GO: One of the most compelling points about why you made The Outs, I think, was that it was the kind of show you wanted to see but didn't exist, specifically referring to young, realistic queer characters and relationships. Does Whatever this is. have a similar impetus? What about this story and these characters haven't we seen before?
AG: I think if you look around at some of the shows out there that look similar at first glance, shows about young people, or even specifically young people in Brooklyn, most of them have some kind of safety net.
There's a scene on one of those shows where a young person is applying for a job at a blog, and she's told she'll be paid $200 per post - to start. I was watching this with my roommate and we were like "Oh, well that's rich. That is a lie." And we talked about who does that fiction benefit? Why are we lying about this?
Whatever this is. is not a documentary, but we really do want to look at some part of what economic survival in New York - in any major metropolitan city - actually looks like.
If your rent is $900 and it's due on Monday, and you have $902 in your bank account, then you're going to eat half of a Cup Noodle on Saturday and half of a Cup Noodle on Sunday and you're not going to take the subway anywhere.
Which sounds like some kind of very dry charity drive; there are of course also interpersonal dramas and the central question of the show, for Ari and Sam and Lisa who are at the center of it, is how much of yourself do you have to compromise to get what you want? How far can you bend over backwards for your job before you fall on your ass?
GO: While The Outs was definitely about gay characters, Whatever this is. looks definitely ...less queer. Is that accurate? Was that something you really thought about, going in a different direction creatively?
AG: You'll have to tell me how it stacks up in terms of more or less queer. The in-show production crew has two gay guys on it, there's a fairly prominent lesbian storyline. I honestly don't think of the story in those terms as I'm writing it.
I think part of what people like about The Outs is that there's nothing exclusively gay about the relationship between Mitchell and Jack (except for all the gay sex, extensively catalogued in slash fiction - keep up the good work, guys!). The feelings are not exclusive to queer people, everyone has had their heart stepped on and everyone has had to figure out how to deal with that and, theoretically, maintain a little dignity. Hopefully the relationships in the new show, and the other aspects of it as well, have some universal appeal in the same way.
GO: The cast of The Outs became almost as famous as the show itself and you're teaming with many of the same faces for Whatever this is., though with an expanded cast. Can you talk about creating new relationships with the same actors and what it was like adding new performers to such a tight ensemble? What new or unexpected chemistry did you discover with the new combinations?
AG: One of my favorite things about working with the same actors, and about writing for them - and even just these particular actors, who are very close to my heart - is that I got to sit down with each of them and say "Hey, what turns you on right now? What do you want to act? What do you want to explore?" And that doesn't necessarily define the characters but I love to give people things to work with that they want to work with.
For the three central roles I knew we were going to have Hunter Canning (Jack from The Outs) and I wrote the role of Ari for Dylan Marron, who actually appears for about ten seconds on The Outs, have fun finding him! Those guys met and hit it off, and Dylan is just unbelievably lovable in every way so I knew that was going to work.
And Lisa I wrote with Maddie Wise in mind - again, she's on The Outs for a very brief but very funny moment - and it looked for a moment like we weren't going to get to cast her for scheduling reasons. But then we had a reading of the first two episodes, and I saw Hunter and Dylan and Maddie together, and it was like "Well, shit." There was just no denying that combination. So we had to do some scheduling gymnastics but it was worth it; watching the three of them together on set and on camera is worth the price of admission.
GO: It looks fucking gorgeous, from what we've seen so far: Clean, modern, lovely, with slightly washed out colors and dramatic framing not unlike The Outs but maybe less intimate? Are you playing with new toys for Whatever this is.?
AG: We are, but frankly that's above my paygrade. It comes down to the lenses on the camera (different camera this time). And I wouldn't say the show as a whole is less intimate; we just wanted to fill the trailer with some of our bigger, more colorful moments.
GO: We didn't see you in the trailer. Are you not acting in Whatever this is., "only" writing and directing in it? How does that change the experience for you?
GO: Um, is that you and Sasha Winters at the White House?
AG: Yes! I'm gonna post a video update to our Kickstarter about that very soon.
The short version is I got an e-mail from the White House - a grainy jpeg, for god's sake - inviting me to an LGBT reception. I brought Sasha with me (Oona from The Outs) and we had a blast.
I think probably Obama hasn't sat down and watched the whole thing, but to know that people are watching and enjoying and appreciating the show in the administration and that they wanted us there to celebrate Pride is hugely moving. Every time something like that happens I go "Well, that's it, that's the coolest thing that could possibly happen," but I think that actually is the coolest thing that could possibly happen. I don't know where you go from there.
Thanks, Adam! Join the Kickstarter campaign for Whatever this is. here
and get tickets
to the Premiere Party July 30 at the Knitting Factory.