Lane Allison & Christopher Carver – After Pluto
By: Krista Ann Freego
Q) Lane, you are not only the main character (Truman Welles) you are also the director, co-creator, co-casting director and co-production designer. What was it like wearing all of those different hats and what hat if any did you find the most challenging?
Lane: Well, it is overwhelming wearing all of those hats, for sure. I definitely had a bit of a learning curve to figure out the balance of all that. But having a team that was so passionate, so supportive and so willing to do all the pre-prep work, it really made everything much easier to wear all those hats on the days. In terms of the most challenging, ironically enough I would say that it was the production design element because I am not…that is not usually how I swing. I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. So, it was nice because we had Sara Lafferty, my co-creator/co-producer. We were actually in her duplex so it was kind of taking her style and infusing Truman and Ian into it. And because we were wearing all these hats, and it was a residential home that people normally live in, it was a little tricky to get in there and figure out exactly what we wanted. I think we ended up pulling it off, but there were times where I was like, “Ah is wish I had a little more time for that.”
Chris: Well, you always wish you had more time.
Q) Chris, what lead you to be involved in this project?
Chris: My friendship with Lane was a huge impetus. I would say the script was the main reason. Lane was part of a play that I wrote a couple of years ago for the Hollywood fringe festival and we had known each other prior to that from working with a theatre company here in Los Angeles. So, we had known each other for a couple of years. It was just one of those things that we enjoy each other’s acting style and I think she had a written a part where she had me in mind and she gave me a call and wanted me to read the script. After I read the script I couldn’t say no.
Q) The chemistry between you two in the pilot was so great. It was really a great dynamic.
Chris: Thank you. The credit has to go to Lane. It is always in the writing. Anything that you are going to see is there on the page before it gets pulled out.
Lane: Aww. He’s being very modest and very sweet of you to say. He is probably one of the humblest people that I have ever met in my entire life, which living in Los Angeles is very much saying something. Part of the reason I had Christopher Carver in mind is because I know the skill of actor that he is and homework that he is always willing to put into his work. And that was something that I knew was going to be really important to building the dynamic. We tell the story technically linearly, but not psychologically linear. So, you had to really get in there and figure that out. Also, to find an actor that can…It’s interesting in the beginning of the story because you don’t know who is at fault and in the end there is no real villain, which is something that I feel is the best way to sort of portray life in general. The audience gets a very quick feeling about Ian’s character, very quickly and then you flip it on them and sort of kind make them fall in love with him, whether they want to or not. That was the goal and with Chris Carver that is not difficult to do.
Chris: Yeah. It’s amazing what six weeks of reflection will do to a relationship.
Lane: Yeah. I guess you’re reflecting. I’m know how much Truman is reflecting. [laughs]
Q) What was the inspiration for After Pluto?
Lane: It was interesting, Sara and I, we had worked a few different times together and when we decided we wanted to tackle a web series of our own. We actually had a few different ideas that we were floating around, one that we had fleshed out pretty well. But then circumstances changed with our location and I was dealing with my grandmother who was towards the end of her life at the time. She’s no longer with us now. She was dealing with dementia, which kind of had me waxing philosophical on the fragility of memory. I had also written a piece, that was a little one act, several years ago that kind of touched on the theme, but in a very different way with a completely different characters. It was a whole different thing, but I really loved that I had created a dramedy with that and there was something about the humor mixed with the poignancy of not having the memory that I kind of wanted to explore more yet in a different way. So, when I brought it to Sara she and I kind of started brainstorming about that. When we decided where we wanted to take her back to when we decided it was a decade. It really came down to finding that little hook that allows the audience to figure out how they would relate to where Truman really is in her life, which was 2006 when Pluto was downgraded. So many people remember where they were when Kennedy was shot or where they were when 9/11. We wanted to find something that was kind of a universal, easy touch stone for the audience, and yet not something that was so dramatic. In my life, for some reason, every time Pluto gets brought up and its tragic state of downgraded-ness so many people feel have a real emotional connection to it and they really seem to know kind of where they were when that happened. So, it seemed like a really good jumping off point for us.
Q) When you were creating After Pluto, did you always plan on portraying Truman Welles?
Lane: I knew that I wanted to be in it. I knew that obviously Sara was going to be in it as well. As I started to really flesh out the story and look at it, I tried to not marry myself to any one specific character. I didn’t want that to inform the story too much. As I started writing her more, it just felt so right. When I brought to idea to Sara, she was like, “That’s who I kinda thought you were gonna play, makes sense to me.” We also appreciated the fact that I am not necessarily the typical type of actress that would play this kind of role. In an ensemble, to have your protagonist being a plus sized actress, I wanted it to reflect real life a little bit more and really keep the relationship about the love between these two people.
Q) What lead you to choose the medium of web series for After Pluto?
Lane: I think being in Los Angeles so many times we go to casting calls and workshops and auditions, they are constantly saying “we love to see when actors do their own content”, you know, “go for it.” So, I had done a little mock trailer that Sara had been a part of. She had done a web series I had been a part of. she really wanted to do another web series. She really appreciated the freedom that was afforded her and also the fact that you don’t have to wait for somebody else to give you permission. We appreciated that and we loved being on YouTube. so that was kind of the thought process there. Also, when you are on medium like YouTube or Vimeo, you are a little more in charge of it. It allowed us to figure out how we wanted to do this. There are so many ways people say to… I hate this saying, “to skin a cat.” I am a huge cat lover. some people will do a whole season on a web series, then they will try to get funding for the next season. Some people will do just a little bit of a trailer and try and go from there. We thought let’s try to get a whole pilot involved because we wanted to tell a half hour story, which is a little bit longer than the average web series on YouTube. We wanted to kind of push and say, “Here is who we are.” Web series afforded us the best way to do that.
Q) Are you doing the pilot to try and get funding? Are you going to do the rest on your own? What is the plan for the rest of the season?
Lane: We are in the process of building the buzz, talking to awesome people like you and then talking to different distributers and kind of just seeing if there is a way we could get someone to sign on to provide funding for the rest of the season. If that doesn’t seem to be heading in that direction, then we will definitely switch over to a public funding campaign like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc.
Q) For those of our readers who haven’t seen After Pluto yet, please describe it.
Lane: I would love to hear Chris’ response on this. [laughs]
Chris: It’s the walk through the trials and tribulations of life and love. I would probably sum it up to anyone who wants to see what’s going on… because of the memory loss, because of the ten-year loss. There is such reflection and there is a universal theme that comes up in everybody’s life where you always wonder about your own existence, your own time here – about how precious it all is. I think that is what this series is going to bring to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.
Lane: Yeah, and in terms of readers who haven’t seen it and wanting to know the basics, the basic log line is a woman who is in the precipice of a lot of changes in her life. She is a best selling author. She is about to release her third book. So, the world is kind of waiting with baited breath, as a fanbase, and then you have an impending divorce. So, all of a sudden she has an accident, she loses ten years of her memory and she wakes up. It’s not just about her, it’s an ensemble show about the people that surround her and how (even if you’re not the one who lost your memory) it greatly affects everyone around. I think what Chris was talking to, it causes you to ask those universal questions of how would you handle someone in your life, when you have to take care of them and paint what the last ten years of their life looks like. Then, also for Truman herself, what do you do? Do you get back up? How do you proceed? I think there is a lot to explore that we are really looking forward to unpacking throughout the rest of the season.
Q) My favorite part of the pilot is when Truman is laying down in the same spot that she fell and when she is asked why, she says for “perspective.” I really think that says a lot about her character and how she is approaching this situation.
Lane: Thank you. That was something that when I started thinking about the idea and writing it. That was one of the first scene that popped into my head. Truman, I think at her core, she is a survivor and works through a lot of things that happened in her life that have sort of brought her to a point of needing to make some changes for herself and some things that Ian and Truman have had happen as a couple. Some of her own existential journey. But I think Truman, whether she is in 2006 or before, I think she is someone who always pulled herself up and was the support system for other people. and I think that is a through line for her. So, I think even though she has this incredible thing that almost seems insurmountable. She is going to take it one step at a time and look to those around her for answers. She also knows that she has to bring it from herself.
Q) In the pilot, Truman falls from a second story deck, bounces off the hood of a car and eventually lands on her own driveway. How did you film that scene? Did you use a stunt double? How many takes did it take?
Lane: [laughs] About a half dozen the day of! The night before we had a rehearsal for myself, the Director of Photography, the AP and our gaffer trying to figure out how we were going to shoot it. There were a couple different ways that I had written it and we basically had to ask what is going to look best on a shoot during budget and make sure our audience goes with this somewhat implausible kind of feeling. So, we mapped it out. We had two different ways of shooting it. The first one that I tried hurt a lot. [laughs] And I was like, “Okay, that is not the method we are going to do because I can’t do that more than once.” So, then we came up with the way that we ended up doing it. I did a few times the night before and then it was the last thing that we shot on the day. So, I basically knew that I could roll down, but it was basically a matter of being on top of the car and directing everyone from the car saying, “Okay, you are going to do this and this here and then I’m going to roll.” It was kind of fun because the other actors that were in the scene, because they hadn’t been at the rehearsal the night before, it was really fresh for them. And so I think there was a little bit more danger that maybe some of the other actors were feeling, whereas everyone else who kind of needed to know what was going on the director’s side of the camera was a little bit more comfortable. Chris came down the stairs and he was like, “Where’s Lane? Did she make it?” [laughs]
Chris: You are talking about pillows and cushions that are basically stacked on top of each other at the front of this car. We have a production manager standing there with like a railing on one side of the car to make sure she didn’t roll off one side of the car. [laughing from Lane] It was hysterical. It was a lot of fun to look at every time I’d come down.
Lane: We didn’t use a stunt double. I felt that if anyone was going to have the bravery to do it: A) It had to be me. I was playing Truman. B) It is really expensive to hire stunt people. I figured even if I hurt myself greatly, it would probably be less expensive. [both laugh]
Q) In the pilot it is teased that Truman has feelings for someone else, will the viewers meet this someone else?
Lane: Absolutely, that is a great question. You are spot on. That has been one of the biggest questions and the kind of one little tease that I allow out. That is definitely coming down the pike and it will certainly shake things up for the whole family, and obviously, particularly Ian.
Chris: My world gets shaken a little. Yeah.
Q) Also in the pilot Ian has a disastrous (in certain ways) one night stand with another woman. Will the viewers meet this other woman? Is it anyone that Truman already knows?
Chris: No, this was just a complete stranger to everyone. As far as the public is concerned, this is just a complete stranger. This is just a random woman that Ian had met that night when he just drank too much. Ian has never seen or heard from the woman since.
Q) What has been both of your favorite parts about being involved in After Pluto, so far?
Chris: Getting cast. [both laugh] For me the best part about working on projects like this are the new people you get to meet. The new friends you make. It’s not so much the work, it’s everything else that comes along with the work. The work is kind of the bonus for me. It’s networking. There are so many other creative minds and people out here. It’s just fun to get to meet the rest of them.
Lane: Yeah. Absolutely. And also just discovering too…because we were doing a smaller budget and having a lot of little tricks that you learn that other people, our DP and our gaffer. They come from very unique backgrounds of working on large scale to smaller scale projects so they come in with the most amazing ideas. Me going “I’m not exactly sure how to do this” and them going, “Well, there are three different ways.” So, that was really incredible to kind of get a crash course in some of the things that certainly helped me to wear those multiple hats because they were so skilled. And then I think also for me, the favorite part of filming the pilot (and I’m not just saying it because he is sitting next to me) I absolutely enjoyed…our first day of filming was kind of such a whirlwind. We’re here. We’re doing it. This is incredible. But the second day of shooting, it was all Ian and Truuman scenes. So, we filmed the bathroom scene, into looking at pictures in the dining room and going into the kitchen and going into the living room and looking at the pillows; through the phone call and going into the tracking shot where she heads outside. So, that was all one complete day of shooting with just Chris and I. Of course, we had to run through it with the crew. But as an actor, that was the main reason for getting involved in this was as an actor being told that it’s time to create your own content and get yourself out there. To be able to work with someone who has been a director of mine, who I greatly look up to and have admired as an actor for many, many years. To kind of get to sit down and work on the specificity between these two characters and just really find their heartbeat together. It was a really intimate day, which was really funny because the intimacy you see between these people and you haven’t even seen them be physical with each other yet. I think it, you know, kind of gives me goosebumps on the back of my neck when I think about it. That was in large part to Chris who allowed me as his director to put him through his paces. We had a full day of sitting in my apartment, going over their backstory and going over the script and finding the little clues. And him (Chris) asking just wonderful questions of me as a writer and director and as a co-actor. I think we sat for like ten hours that day.
Chris: We went through it. we went through it with a fine-tooth comb. Deservedly so because I think that is what shines through in the final product. I think that is what we are talking about, seeing the kindness and the real Ian. Like you said, you’ve got to fall in love with Ian here. If you don’t fall in love with Ian here, then you’re not going to root for them and I think that it is the rooting for them is what pulls you into the story.
Lane: Yeah. It makes people say, “Now I want to see what happens next. I think that, knowing that it was just going to be Chris and I for the full day two of filming, he and I needed to be able to tap into that so quickly without any hesitation. And because of that prep work, we were able to and so it was really fun because as much as we were filming in a very tight little circumstances with tons of crew around us. It still kind of felt like we were in our own little bubble, which was pretty magical.
Chris: Yeah. it was a great day.
Q) Lane, in looking at your twitter page I saw you had a few Harry Potter posts so I thought I would ask you both if you have ever taken the sorting hat quiz and if so, what house were you sorted into?
Lane: I have taken the sorting hat quiz. I am a little behind on my Pottermore because of After Pluto so I haven’t gone through as much as I wanted to. I was sorted into Hufflepuff. I love Hufflepuff. I feel like Hufflepuff are kind of like the Hobbits of Hogwarts. They are in the kind of the cellar area. I think it’s great to be a Hufflepuff. They get a little less pressure, but they are still there. Cedric Diggory was a Hufflepuff and he was amazing.
Chris: I have not, unfortunately. I am a Harry Potter fan, but I’m not that kind of Harry Potter fan. [both laugh] I don’t know if I got sorted, but I feel like I always related to Harry. I feel like I would be stuck between Gryffindor and Slytherin.
Q) Is there anything else you want to be sure we share with our readers?
Lane: We would like to give a shout out to Sara Lafferty our co-producer/co-creator. Her husband was also our crafty guy on set as well. They just had their first child, Evelynn. She is so precious and so we want to give them a shout out.