Sarah Rotella & Adrianna DiLonardo – Almost Adults
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) Do you have any other diverse content coming up?
Adrianna: Right now, our big project is “Til Lease Do Us Part.” We’re planning on releasing it before our holidays. That’s our big December project. It will be twelve episodes and they will be released one after another on week days. With “Til Lease Do Us Part” season one, we did one a week so this one we are going to allow people to binge it.
Sarah: Let’s face it, people love binging.
Q) Is it shot in a whole new setting?
Sarah: We’re using new characters and a new story, but it’s still the same idea of living with an ex. For this season, we’re also using Winny (who plays Elliot in Almost Adults) as almost a prequel to Almost Adults. You can see and learn about Elliot’s backstory.
Q) Was Winny Clarke always in mind for the prequel or was this something that came about from working with her on Almost Adults?
Adrianna: Elliot is not in a lot of Almost Adults. She is more of a secondary character. Winny was such a great actress and she was so much fun to be around. We really enjoyed her character so we were like, “Why don’t we just make season two about Elliot?”
Sarah: With releasing the Almost Adults trailer and things for subscribers, everybody is like, “I want to know more about Elliot!” We thought this would be a good story to tell. This season of “Til Lease Do Us Part” is about Elliot and her girlfriends before with no mention of the other characters of Almost Adults. It’s more learning about Elliot and hopefully you like her and are more excited about Almost Adults.
Q) How will the dynamics of the show shift this season?
Sarah: I think without giving too much away, the big dynamic in season two is that Elliot is living with her best friend, Jess. Jess is kind of opposite of Elliot in that she has had a lot girlfriends and a lot more experience with girls. This is before Almost Adults so it is more like Mackenzie (Elise Bauman) in that baby dyke phase. Until their ex throws a wrench in that relationship…
Adrianna: With sexy results!
Q) How much further can you push the romantic dynamics this season?
Adrianna: This season is a little different in the sense that it is longer, so we can really explore more and tell more of the story. Also, what we have done is that they are all in college so each episode kind of focuses on something that everyone can relate to with being in college – whether it is trying to make a romantic dinner out of Kraft because you can’t afford anything nice or binge watching a Netflix show and skipping all of your classes that week. We’ve used these college clichés that happen to everyone, but also tied in living with an ex that you kind of still have feelings for, but now she’s now your roommate and best friend’s girlfriend so how are you going to deal with that. It’s very much weaved in.
Sarah: With Almost Adults taking place with Cassie (Natasha Negovanlis) and Mackenzie being at university, we wanted to keep it in that world a little bit so it still focuses on the college life to bring us into the movie.
Q) How does the location for the show play its own role?
Sarah: The location is pretty easy because it is just an apartment with exes living together. Because they are living together, everything needed to be in an apartment. In terms of cinematography every episode was one long take and we’re kind of ditching that for season two. We don’t want to limit ourselves telling the story points in an episode through one take. We’re going to be doing multiple takes and they are going to be edited. So, that’s what we’re going to be focusing on for season two.
Q) What was the most rewarding part for you of making Almost Adults?
Sarah: A recent rewarding moment has been the response we have been getting since we released the trailer. I feel like a lot of people are surprised because they didn’t expect the movie to look like a movie. I think a lot of people thought it’d be a really long YouTube video. But how it was shot and with the writing, when we did the cast reactions to the trailer they were seeing it for the first time. Winny was like, “It looks like a real movie. Can I say that?” I think even though we made a huge amount of money on Kickstarter and went past our goal, it was still a small budget for a feature film. I think what it looks like on screen is that we made it with more than what we got.
Adrianna: I’m excited to show people the production value of it and I just want everyone to see it. For me, I think it is just the constant support from our fans, Elise and Natasha’s fans. Not only did they help support this project on Kickstarter when they knew nothing about it…It was just like, “Sure, we trust you to make an LGBT movie that people will like.” Then, they showed up to VidCon and watched the teaser trailer. Even the fans who are constantly talking about it on social media with big budget films – the support has humbled me.
Q) Do you want this to be seen as an LGBT film?
Sarah: For sure! The main theme of the movie is friendship. It’s about two best friends. I think there are more LGBT characters in the movie than straight characters. With that said, it’s about friends.
Adrianna: We wanted it to be a film that anyone could see with their friends and there just happened to be LGBT characters. So, it’s not an LGBT themed movie. It’s about this person being gay and how they are dealing with being gay, where as in a lot of gay and lesbian themed movies it is just about this person being gay and how they are dealing with being gay. This one is more about some of the characters happen to be gay, but they are dealing with other things in their life – not just primarily their sexuality.
Sarah: To every lesbian who wants to see a lesbian movie who has a straight best friend, then they can relate to Cassie. Cassie has a gay best friend.
Adrianna: I think what is making me the most happy is obviously, as much as all the LGBT fans are so excited to see it, when i see a post on Tumblr or someone tweeting at us saying, “I showed this to my straight best friend and she said we have to see this,” I’m like “YES! We’re reaching the straight girls!”
Q) When it came to the characters, once you they were cast, did the characters flesh out differently than the original vision?
Adrianna: For sure each actor brought some personal experience and some of themselves in the characters. So, when it is not just in your brain and real people are actually doing it, it is always going to turn out differently. They might read a scene and relate to it in a certain way and that makes it better. It’s really collaborating with them to get the scene to what it is in the movie.
Sarah: Pretty much all of the actors after reading the script were really able to understand the characters. I don’t think there was any actor that played the role so differently. They all pretty much got what we were going for. Then, they also added in a little bit of themselves to the point where some of the scenes we were re-writing on set. Like with Elise and Natasha, we’d be like, “This scene doesn’t really work so we should switch it to be more like this.” There would be scenes where Elise and Natasha would send me separate emails and say, “I’d really like to talk about this scene. I’m not quite getting it.” Then, we’d go to the table read and Adrianna would be like, “Oh my gosh! They are not quite getting it because it doesn’t make sense!”
Adrianna: So, I would just re-write it. Then, I’d have moments where I would be at Walmart getting snacks for the crew and Sarah would text me. I would be texting her back what to say!
Sarah: The cast were great though at meeting to make sure they understood the characters. Because once they understood the characters, if they read a scene and were confused by it we realized it was a great indication to see if the scene was working.
Adrianna: Some of the changes ended up in the movie because they were some of the funniest lines! I should just write a whole script at Walmart. [laughs]
Q) What were the challenges you faced with filming for only eleven days?
Sarah: The first thing was that we were lucky enough to have amazing actors. I think Elise and Natasha obviously had a lot of experience from “Carmilla” filming fifty-two pages a day. Where as we were like, “We’re doing eight to nine pages,” and they were like, “What a treat!”
Adrianna: The actors were all extremely professional and knew all of their lines. They brought everything they had for every single take.
Sarah: I think we had one thing working for us shooting in eleven days and working against us. The working for us was that we had a film about two best friends who live together so a lot of the scenes were filmed in an apartment so it was really easy to move everything into the location and shoot in different areas of the apartment. So, it made time efficiency great. The thing we had working against us was that Adrianna likes to write really, really long scenes. So, the scene would be like eight pages.
Adrianna: There were no scenes that were eight pages! [laughs]
Sarah: I think we creatively figured out ways to shoot them.
Adrianna: The thing about having long scenes though is that you only have one lighting set up.
Sarah: In hindsight, we probably couldn’t have done it if they weren’t long.
Adrianna: The most challenging day was that we had two locations in one day. It was a clothing store scene and a dinner scene. We were at the clothing store at like 6am and had to be out by noon. Then, we had to be out of the restaurant by four. It was a five or six page scene too and that was a lot.
Sarah: We were actually in the apartment for like five days and people were getting cabin fever.
Adrianna: Everyone was great, but after six days people were like, “We have to get out of here!”
Q) Was there anyone more prone to mess ups while filming?
Adrianna: Probably me! I would be behind the camera laughing and everyone would literally be like, “Shut up!”
Sarah: Adrianna would be like, “This is so much fun! I’m going to talk to everyone on set!” We were like, “Quiet on the set!”
Adrianna: I got yelled at a lot.
Sarah: Adrianna would distract everyone on set.
Adrianna: We do have a lot of bloopers and they are really funny, but there wasn’t one person who wouldn’t get it and were screwing up all the time. Everyone had their share of goof ups and moments.
Sarah: I think everyone was really comfortable so if anyone flubbed a line and we’d film this blooper moment. Mess-ups are good for moral though I think. Everyone really brought their A-game and I think it shows.
Q) How important is post production to the overall process of the film?
Adrianna: We had a test screening while we were editing. After the film, we had a questionnaire. There were a few things that everyone had questions about so we had a pickup day. We really took people’s feedback and scheduled our pick up day and decided to flesh things out a little more. I think watching the movie now that extra day really helped.
Sarah: You could completely make a different movie through editing alone then from what you originally shot. A lot of people say, “We’ll fix it in post,” and that’s what they do. Whatever mistakes happened in production we got them corrected in post.
Adrianna: It really helps to get some input because you are so close to the project.
Q) What do you hope are the underlying messages of the film and what do you want fans to take away from seeing the movie?
Adrianna: I was watching Cassie’s character & relating to her and thinking about when I first came out. My best friend was weirded out by me coming out. I hoped that if straight people watching this and have their best friends come out they can kind of take away, “I didn’t know that’s how they were feeling,” or “I didn’t know that was what they were actually going through.” I hope it shines some light on non-LGBT people and opens up this world that you may not know a lot about. People can be really afraid or ignorant because they don’t really understand. I think Elise does a really good job of making Mackenzie seem like your best friend and I think you really don’t care if she is gay or not.
Sarah: What happens in the movie to Cassie and McKenzie, even though they are very opposite, they kind of go through the exact same thing but in different ways. I want people to understand that gay people and straight people, although our sexuality may be different we can still go through these same things and relate to one another. Just because someone might be gay or straight, it doesn’t mean you can’t sympathize with what the other person is going through. I think if you are straight you can still relate to Mackenzie. It’s very fluid.
Adrianna: It’s like how some straight people might not want to watch an LGBT movie because they don’t understand how they can relate to them.
Sarah: Well, we’ve been watching movies about straight people all our lives and we can still relate to them.