Q&A with Elisabeth Ness!

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Image via the Redheads Anonymous website.

Image via the Redheads Anonymous website.

I have some alarming news that I need to share with you all. News that may shake you to your core. News that might cause you to question the world around you and everyone in it. If you are reading this while standing up- I highly recommend you sit down as to not become lightheaded from the sudden shock to your system.

Are you ready? Okay, here it goes:

I’m not a natural redhead.

Once you recover, and realize that news probably isn’t that shocking at all (one look at my eyebrows or a glimpse of my roots in-between scheduled visits to my stylist is a dead giveaway that I am, in fact, a born brunette)– let me also tell you that I have been a faux-redhead for roughly six or several years now. As such, I identify as a redhead. The crimson color of my curls has- in it’s own weird way- helped define one of the facets of who I am.  Paired with my fair skin- red hair has felt more natural to me than my actual (real) hair color ever did.

But red hair doesn’t just help me to feel more comfortable in my own skin- it also makes me an official card carrying member of the “Ginger Club” (AKA- other redheads) where I’ve met and networked with a lot of other fun, fiery-haired folks over the years- usually at night, because you know- the sun is our enemy and everything.

One of those aforementioned fun folks is Elisabeth Ness, creator and star of the web comedy series, ‘Redheads Anonymous’.

Redheads Anonymous chronicles the misadventures of Molly and her posse of Ginger friends (Jessica, Amy, and Sam) as she attempts to win a Redhead Scholarship to help fund her way through college- all while discovering what it means, and takes- to be a true redhead to the core (and one of those things it takes is a LOT of sunscreen.)

Each of the five episodes of the first season last only a few minutes- but the series thus far is sharp and genuinely funny- and left me hoping for more in the future.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Elisabeth about the creation of ‘Redheads Anonymous’ and get her take on the magic and the mystery that comes with being a redhead in general.

LR: Where did the concept for ‘Redheads Anonymous’ come from, and can you walk me through the process of coming up with the outline for the episodes, writing them, and filming them? How long does it typically take to shoot and edit one episode?

Elisabeth Ness, courtesy of her official website.

Elisabeth Ness, courtesy of her official website.

EN: There is a growing movement of actresses who write their own web series, and I felt inspired to take charge and join their ranks, rather than sit and wait for the lead role of a comedic, tenacious female character to come along. I also wanted to create a show in which I got to work with other redheaded actors, so I researched potential topics that could ostensibly involve a gaggle of gingers. The Redhead Scholarship (a real thing!), plus the anecdotes of real-life redhead experiences, seemed like the perfect fodder for a comedy.

From 2012-2014, I wrote the outlines and first drafts of episodes in classes with terrific teachers, but knew that I needed a writing team in order to take it to the next level. Harnessing the writing prowess of Juliet Brett, Kevin Sebastian, and Justin Liebergen, we managed to write all five episodes in 2014.

Bringing on director Daniel Seth, director of photography Ed Nescot, and an amazing production team with Winston Hoy and Natalie Neckyfarow at the helm, we filmed the entire season over the course of approximately 14 days, spread out over various weekends. We crossboarded the show, which means we’d shoot out one location’s scenes before moving on to another. We had to remain diligent about continuity since we were shooting out-of-order!

LR: What was the casting process like? Were there any challenges in filling the roles?

EN: The casting process was surprisingly emotional; the biggest challenge was that I wanted to cast all the fantastic actors who walked through the door! Kim Graham (Homeland) and her assistant Alexis Atkinson scoured New York City for every redheaded actor who matched the character descriptions, and we were very fortunate to be introduced to Kathleen Littlefield (Jessica) and Ethan Slater (Sam). We also cast their younger selves, the Bully, Doug, and other fun cameos from those sessions.

LR: I love how sharp the comedy is! Is any of the dialogue improvised at all?

EN: Thank you! There are a handful of places where someone threw in an improvised line that we ended up keeping, but most of what you see is scripted. One of my favorite ad-libs is something the Bully (Daniel Bielinski) says as he walks away in Episode 3; Doug (Jimmy Callahan), the improv comic in Episode 4, also added some delicious zingers.

LR: The episodes run a few minutes at a time- do you have any plans to extend them to 30 minutes or longer?

EN: For our first outing on YouTube, we felt it was important to keep the story as succinct and bite-sized as possible, so that people could binge-watch the entire season easily. If a distributor becomes interested in the show, then I could certainly expect the format to change accordingly! But you have to write for your medium.

LR: Is there going to be a second season? If so, what kinds of ideas are you planning (you don’t have to give me full spoilers!)

EN: I’ve got some Season 2 ideas I’m quite excited about, if the funding for it materializes. To make the show bigger and better, we’re looking to partner with a haircare/sunscreen brand or a distributor. Fingers crossed!

LR: What has been the overall response from redheads who have seen the series?

EN: I spent much of August and September going around to redhead conventions in Europe, and I was really moved by the reception! The most common response I hear is the acknowledgement “that’s my life!” or “it’s so funny, because it’s true!”. People like seeing their experiences reflected onscreen, and it creates an instant camaraderie and understanding. And for those who’ve had a love/hate relationship with a physical attribute, I’m especially grateful whenever I hear that the show has empowered them to embrace their unique traits.

LR: What is your favorite thing about being a redhead?

EN: I personally love the stereotype of redheads as being bold, brazen, and empowered. Stereotypes of any kind can always be a mixed bag, but I find comfort in the idea that people already expect me to speak my mind even before I open my mouth. And if someone gets offended… my hair made me do it.

LR: And finally, a more “beauty blog” geared question- what are your favorite redhead-friendly hair care products?

EN: I don’t have any personal favorite products yet, but I’m completely open to learning more about what’s out there! Guess I’ll have to learn from your blog. 🙂

_____________________

I want to thank Elisabeth for taking the time to answer my questions- and I wish her continued success with her work! You can view more of her impressive resume and portfolio at her official website, which is linked above.

I highly recommend checking out ‘Redheads Anonymous’, even if you’re not a redhead yourself. It’s a funny and pretty accurate glimpse into the life- and the struggles- that come with having what I consider to be the most fun and unpredictable hair color of them all. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of the show and it’s incredible cast (and crew!)

xx

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