A pleasantly surprising number of our readers here at Hipster Mother are childless. Thanks for being here! From those of you who’ve shared your reasons for reading, I’ve learned that you come for the existential dread and stay for the parenting mishaps. Some of you have shared things you struggle with — from postpartum depression, to eating disorders, to chronic pain, to self-harm, to too much awesomeness. (No one’s mentioned that last struggle yet, but I assume it’s only a matter of time.)
Because of what I know of y’all, deciding to cover Angela Gulner’s new darkly comical pilot, Binge, was an easy “yes”—even though it’s nothing to do with parenting. Fortunately, she was kind enough to grant an email interview, even though this is ostensibly a mommy-blog. (Side note: Anyone else find that phrase patronizing? Or just me, and just when dudes I used to date are like, “Oh, I see you’re a mommy-blogger now?” Anyway.)
I’d recommend this show to anyone except my husband, who is a sympathetic vomiter. He also hates to vomit more than anything else maybe in the entire world. If you, however, are not Andy and you like solid comedic performances, excellent music, and shit that’s a little dark. This is for you.
My very lightly edited interview with Angela is below. She opens up about what it took to get this episode made. I’d hoped to get enough information for a few pull-quotes, but she gave me the gift of interview gold. Enjoy!
KATE: When did you start working on this project? What made you decide that this was the right time for it?
ANGELA: I started working on BINGE about two and a half years ago, shortly after I was discharged from treatment at The Bella Vita, in Pasadena, for bulimia. I was coming off of 10 long, eating disorder-filled years, and was looking for a way to simultaneous drop back into the creative world and move forward with my life post-rehab. Yuri and I had been friends for a few years, and he knew all about my experiences with and recovering from bulimia. I’d often entertainment him with the darkly hilarious stories of my time suffering from the illness, and my time in treatment. We both share a love for irreverent, uncomfortable humor, and I asked him to write the pilot with me. He agreed — and about a month later, we had a draft complete.
We spent the following two years trying to get the script into the right hands — and while we were successful in getting some great meetings and securing representation, the Hollywood machine is a super-slow moving one, and we stopped being willing to sit around and wait.
2016 has been a pretty shit year across the board for basically everyone I know, so this summer, we decided we’d give ourselves the gift of making this thing we both loved so much. We had a super short time frame to work with, between the team’s busy schedules, and basically no budget. But Justin Morrison, Dashiell Reinhardt, and the support team at HLG were incredible. They shared Yuri’s and my passion for the material and put in crazy long hours to give us the pilot we are so proud of today.
Thanksgiving — and the Holidays as a whole — are incredibly difficult for those struggling with eating disorders. We couldn’t resist the irony of releasing it now, when these communities need laughter, understanding, and connection the most. Especially after such a horrifying election, we need art more than ever. Now is the time to lift each other up, and to make room for messy, diverse, and female voices.
KATE: Do you have a “day job?” What do you do when you’re not filming fabulous pilots?
ANGELA: I wait tables! It’s as glamorous as it sounds. I also work with Much Ado About Shakespeare, a program that teaches Shakespeare to home-schooled kids. It’s freaking awesome, and I’m a huge Shakespeare nerd, so it really soothes the burn of the food service industry.
I also write basically constantly — when not with Yuri, I write with my amazing feminist writing partner Lindsay Stidham (of Sundance and Slamdance fame). We are currently developing our feminist satire feature film with a digital production company, and aim to start production on it mid-2017.
And I play the slots — I mean, audition, when I’m lucky enough to get the chance to. Maybe some amazing casting directors will see BINGE and hit me up…????? 😉 Here’s my IMDB and personal website for funsies.
KATE: What audience would you most like to reach with this?
ANGELA: We made this pilot for young women, young woke men, and those struggling with or recovering from eating disorders. I think they’ll be really jazzed on it, give us support, and want to see more. We need those likes, clicks, views, and shares in order to get the attention of the gatekeepers of the industry. Folks who like GIRLS, BROAD CITY, CALIFORNICATION, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, INSECURE, LOVE, or LADY DYNAMITE — they’re our target for BINGE.
But I think it would be a huge bummer to miss out on those audiences we didn’t specifically target. There is such little real, honest, open talk about eating disorders done in mainstream media, and I’d love to reach those demographics that may not know much about these illnesses. I think much of what we depicted will shock those groups (hell, maybe even shock everyone), and I think that’s a good thing. An important thing. This pilot really isn’t an exaggeration. I didn’t have an affair with my own therapist, but everything else you see happened, and then some. And mine is only one experience. These behaviors and patterns and cycles might be happening under their own roofs, to their daughters and sons, and they may not have any idea about it. We specifically did not want this show to be an after-school special, or feel preachy — but we do think most people will learn something by watching.
And then, of course, we hope to reach those ever-sought-after Queens of Hollywood. Hey, Netflix! Hi, FX! Well hello, Showtime! Nice to meet you, HBO! Didn’t see you there, Amazon! You’re looking fabulous, Cinemax! Yo yo, Hulu!
A girl’s gotta dream….
KATE: Who helped you make this? What was the process?
ANGELA: Yuri is part of HLG Studios, a digital production company that has had some very cool success. They own a lot of great equipment, and have access to amazing, generous friends who sometimes lend them equipment for free (THANK YOU!!). That’s a huge win.
We had no budget, so we worked strictly from favors. Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro and Vanishing Angle Studios in Atwater Village were amazing to us, and let us shoot in their spaces for free. Our production designer Marie Jach and her roommates were trusting enough to let us shoot in their living room until 5am. We shot outside my apartment until we got yelled off the street. Stuff like that. We scrapped things together.
I can’t brag enough about our DP, the FABULOUS, GENIUS Justin Morrison, who often worked alone, set up his own lights, never tired, constantly cracked jokes and stayed positive. He worked like a mad man and did a BEAUTIFUL job. One night, he and I shot all night, just the two of us. He spent hours rigging a camera to hang up and over the top his car with duct tape and C-Stands, and we just drove around my neighborhood shooting beautiful shit, hoping we wouldn’t get pulled over or hit a mailbox.
We also had the support of some amazing HLG besties — Arturo Ochoa, Matt Wozniak, Spencer Sacks, and many more I’m sure I’m forgetting right now.
We shot about six days, completely bare bones, with whatever help was available to us at the time. It was a crazy, intense, whirlwind of a process! But an absolute joy. I am so grateful for all of the time, energy, talent, and passion that this amazing group of people put into this project. It really makes my heart swell. This was the most fulfilling creative project I’ve ever worked on.
And I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t talk about the music provided to us.
Up until a few days before we locked a cut, we had no music. None. It was really important to me that the majority of the music be created by a female musician, but we didn’t have time or money (and I, personally, know nothing about music), and so we weren’t sure what we were going to do. And then, the magical place that is Facebook put me in touch with B. Squid — a stunningly talented and unique female hip-hop artist. She was so kind to donate her new album to us. As you can hear in the pilot, she absolutely makes the world of BINGE what it is. The show wouldn’t be the same without her. She has such a distinct sound and style — and it melds perfectly with the tone we sought to create. She gave us so much texture and life. I truly don’t know how we got so lucky. I can’t thank her enough. Buy her album immediately — she’s a badass genius, and really gave us such a huge gift.
Our other two musical providers are close friends of HLG, and just as talented. Emma Fitzpatrick of The Mots Nouveaux provided beautifully upbeat music to bring out the irony and humor of the piece, and Vlad Baranovsky — Yuri’s brother — gave us an indie love song to help bring forth the protagonist’s isolation.
These three musicians, man …. I’m grateful for them beyond words.
KATE: What other projects are you working on right now?
ANGELA: I’m developing the feminist satire I mentioned above, #SUPER$LUT, (you can view our teaser online!) with Lindsay Stidham and a digital production company (their name is in transition right now, or I’d tell you which one!) We hope to start shooting mid-2017. And I’m always writing. Lindsay and I have a pilot about a ghost-seeing former child star we’re hoping to get off the ground, along with a feminist bio-pic we’re stoked about.
HLG Studios, and Yuri, are always up to trouble — they’ve got a plethora of hilarious scripts at the ready (hit them up, producers!), and do all sorts of branded content when they aren’t doing narrative. You can check out their company reel here.
Most recently, they made the show DAN IS DEAD with Maker Studios — the eight fully shot episodes are currently looking for their home. The series stars Drake Bell, and me!