Exclusive Interview: Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Corri English and Laura Ortiz Discuss Upcoming FEARnet Sitcom Holliston
On April 3rd FEARnet is set to unleash its brand new horror sitcom "Holliston" (review here) at 10:30 pm EST/9:30 pm CST in the hopes of breaking new ground with the unusual project.
Bucking usual industry trends, "Holliston" will feature a longer-than-average running time, and the show's two stars aren't your usual suspects; they're horror filmmakers Adam Green and Joe Lynch, who promise to bring the funny and more with their groundbreaking show.
Recently Dread Central met up with Green and Lynch as well as their two lovely co-stars - Laura Ortiz (The Hills Have Eyes) and Corri English (Killer Pad) - in anticipation of "Holliston"'s premiere to hear more about their experiences working on the brand new sitcom as well as how Green's script brought in the cast's own personalities to their characters and how the stakes have never been higher for anyone involved with "Holliston" than they are right now.
Dread Central: Since you both are used to the world of film, how hard was it to adjust to the laugh track mentality of the sitcom format?
Joe Lynch: No one has ever seen Adam and I together like this; usually things are more linear and more cinematic like our Road to FrightFest projects to the shorts. We've never had to deal with a more theatrical aesthetic applied to our kind of humor before. Just discipline-wise, the fact that the four of us were here rehearsing for months ahead of time just to get those beats down and get that rhythm down was great, but then Adam reminded us that once we got on set, we had to prepare ourselves to be able to space out everything to make room for the laughter. I mean, I had done theater years ago but it had been a long time since I had to do anything like this.
So this was a whole new experience for us but it was also kind of cool because we were getting an instant response while filming, and doing it all live was interesting because some things that worked great between the four of us in this room worked even better in front of an audience and a few times things didn't work so that allowed us to take a moment and refine things better; and in a lot of those cases, it was just a matter of us slowing things down. But it was a great challenge to have because it forced us to hone in on things like our delivery and how we interacted with each other, too.
Adam Green: The thing about the laugh track, though, is that if you tried to watch Holliston without it, it wouldn't work at all. Holliston is a classic sitcom; we're not trying to make fun of sitcoms with this or spoof them in any way. It's just a sitcom that's centered around horror in a big way; it could be something on a major network but then we'd have to take things out like stabbing each other in the face or exploding heads or the monster that lives in the closet.
Thankfully, FEARnet embraced all of that and just let us go with all of the craziness built into this world; even the episodes are weird lengths but because we're now a flagship show on an up-and-coming network, they just let us do what was best for the show at all times and it's really worked out great. We wouldn't have that kind of freedom anywhere else.
Dread Central: So how long did you guys rehearse for "Holliston" then?
Corri English: It was five months, but there was a lot of this (holds up wine) involved so that could have been part of it (laughs around). But we all knew each other really well before we started working on Holliston and we just really bonded even more over sweat and wine when we were practicing.
Adam Green: We would read through everything and just drink and discuss everything about our characters, and we really didn't even move into blocking until a few months into rehearsals.
Joe Lynch: I'm so glad we had all that time because it allowed us to take the 350-plus pages of script for the first season and really hash it out between the four of us, and I think it was through the rehearsal process that the scripts got infinitely better as we would go along because we could go through it so much and make it feel as 'real' as possible. You can tell what works and what doesn't and take the things that don't and play around until they do work, and I think that's what will make this show stand out a bit.
Dread Central: So how long has the process of bringing "Holliston" to life been for you, Adam?
Adam Green: Well, we came up with the current story ideas for Holliston over the course of two years, and it's been something in my mind ever since making Coffee and Donuts. I had originally developed a sitcom for UPN a few years back so I've had a few years to really think about everything and refine it all in my head.
But the idea - two guys who want to be horror film directors - has always been at the heart of it so making Holliston now, where Joe and I are at in our careers presently, is kind of like looking back at where we both were 10 years ago, struggling to make it, which is an interesting perspective to have on that part of your life now.
Dread Central: Because everything in "Holliston" seems to play so naturally among you four, how much of that is the rehearsal time and how much is because your characters are similar to your own personalities?
Corri English: I think because Adam already knew us so well, he had already worked in a lot of touches on our own personalities into the Holliston characters from the very beginning so everything about the show and our characters was really a natural fit for me. It's just like us but in exaggerated situations.
Laura Ortiz: I think for me, because I have a lot of quirks, that Adam just took all of those and wrote them into my role and it makes for some really funny moments in the show. Plus, he just likes to make fun of me on a daily basis anyway (laughs). I'm from Colombia originally and Adam knows one of my biggest pet peeves is when people say to me, 'Oh, Colombia; that's like Mexico, right?' so he worked that into the show.
But really, it was awesome to get to go and play with your friends on this and the fact that we rehearsed so much before, there was never any of that awkwardness once we got on set. Sometimes when you get on set and you don't have that kind of practice, it can feel like the first day of school in some respects because you don't really have a feel for everyone else, but with Holliston we never had that problem at all.
Dread Central: Do you feel like there is any added pressure on you guys for "Holliston" because it is so out of the box and there is a lot at stake with it?
Adam Green: In some ways there was, and is, this added pressure and in other ways there wasn't. I think we were all so confident in each other and the material that I know I believed from the very beginning that this was going to work, which is why I've been at it for 13 years now. It was one of those things that I always knew it would work if I was just given the chance to do it and do it the right way.
I mean, we were nervous about some stuff- like the amount of weight Joe and I took off before making this. No one ever likes the way they look on camera or even hearing the sound of their own voice and I knew this was something we would be spending a lot of time looking at ourselves for (and naked, too) so I went through four months of boot camps just to get ready.
But beyond that, there is a lot at stake here because FEARnet is so brand new and this isn't something that's been done before- a horror sitcom. In a lot of ways FEARnet reminds me of MTV in the 80's because it's an up-and-coming company filled with a lot of young people figuring out how to make something great from the ground up. And I think that’s why it's so cool that "Holliston" is on this channel. If we succeed, if FEARnet succeeds, then it makes it possible for these kinds of shows - out of the box shows - to get made and to gain an audience.
Joe Lynch: I think even the first time I met you, you were talking about this idea. So for all of us to be here and see it through to the finish line, that has been such a gratifying experience to be part of for all these years.
Corri English: To me, when Adam first brought me into this, like three years ago now, I remember reading the first version of what has now become Holliston and to me there was never any doubt in my mind that this would be good. The script was so good even then, and in fact I said yes before I even read it. I read a lot of comedies, especially during pilot season, that don't make me laugh; but this script, I was laughing out loud the entire time. That is so rare; I know I'd definitely be a fan of this show if I wasn't even on it. But I think for me the more nerve-wracking part of all of this has been the screening process and just trying to anticipate how the audiences will react.
Laura Ortiz: Yeah, I don't think I was ever nervous about whether or not Holliston would work; when I'd get my scripts, I'd read them in like 20 minutes, and normally the comedy scripts I get are funny in certain spots but these always had me laughing the entire time. The only thing I was really nervous for was the Twitter episode because it's basically an entire storyline and joke about my vagina and I guess I'm a little nervous that once the episode airs, everyone's going to be making jokes about it online (laughs). I joked that I would have to leak a video online just so everyone would know just how awesome it really is in real life.
Adam Green: I know you think that but the thing I've been saying from the start is that her character is my favorite character I've ever written because she's this cute, bubbly little thing who's an artist and when she paints, she makes these incredibly horrific and disgusting and depraved things. She just sees the world differently than everyone else, which is why a lot of the time some of the best humor moments come from Laura's reactions during different scenes. Her body language, her eyes, everything really sells these moments.
But in terms of the whole 'living up to the material' aspect, sure I could write these scripts and everything, but I just didn't want to suck. There was a lot of pressure on Joe and I because people have seen us doing shorts and whatever, but we just knew when we did this, we just couldn't suck especially because there will be people gunning for us and saying, 'How dare two horror directors put themselves in a sitcom like this?' So that aspect was nerve-wracking.
Dread Central: It seems to me that "Holliston" is probably your most personal project to date then even if it is a traditional sitcom- is it concerning at all to put yourself out there like that in ways you haven't really done before?
Adam Green: To me, every character in this show feels a lot like the kind of characters in "Taxi" - even Dee Snider's character - in the respect that it's all these people stuck in this Purgatory of them having their day job, but for all of them it's a temporary stopping point on the way to something greater that they want to achieve. That's what this show is- Corri's character wants to be a country singer; Laura's character wants to be an artist; Joe's and my characters want to be horror directors; Dee Snider just wants to be a famous rock star even though he's 54 and the lead singer for a Van Halen cover band and Oderus (Urungus, Gwar frontman Dave Brockie)... well, he just wants Skittles.
And I hope that's what ends up resonating with everyone who watches this show. These people on Holliston are struggling to make it out of this town are just like 99 percent of everyone out there who wants to try and do something bigger with their lives and in a different place than where they're at. But honestly, it's a terrifying thing to do that - to just go balls out and give everything up so you can go for your dreams - so we kind of explore the idea that anyone can make it, you just have to have the drive. And we've all been through it and I think that's a theme that will hopefully connect with our audiences, too.
But for just as much as it is about seeing your dreams fulfilled and working towards that, it's also a sitcom so for us things just never work out and it happens in an often hilarious way. Usually sitcoms have very stock endings so the hook here is that our endings aren't stock; things don't really work out for Joe and I during Holliston so it feels a little more like real-life because that's how reality is. We all struggle in real-life, things don't get wrapped up neatly in 22 minutes and that's what you see in the world of Holliston; there are no big triumphs for us- just laughs for now.
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