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Interview: Matt Kenchington – Director of “Headshots”
Gabriel Neil
Jul 25, 2013

Back in March I reviewed a web series called Headshots about a couple of struggling actors in LA. Back then I said that the show needed work, but showed some serious promise, obvious talent and clear direction. Now, after an indiegogo campaign which raised $13,000, Headshots is back for a second season, due out August 1st. Excited to see where they were going with it, I caught up with series director Matt Kenchington about funding, casting and production for season 2.

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GN: First of all, looking back on the way you made season 1, what did you learn from that experience? How did making season 1 of Headshots affect the way you approached season 2?

MK: Season 1 was one big learning process for all of us.  It was something we thought would be fun and figured we might as well go ahead and do it for fun.  It was a great deal of fun, but it was also quite challenging.  Because we had NO money to do it, we had to keep each episode small in scale (production wise) while still keeping the episodes interesting and funny.  The one thing that was very important to us was making sure that each episode was a fully arced story.  Telling a complete story in such a short amount of time is no easy task.

One of the major lessons learned was how important time, planning and scheduling are.  We could only shoot on the weekends and had 8 episodes planned.  I lived in NYC at the time and Mike and Todd lived in LA.  So, we had to do them all in one big chunk.  We shot 2 episodes per weekend for a month.  That proved to be quite difficult in terms of time and scheduling.  That being the case, there was a lot sacrificed in terms of the directing and shot progression.  However, that being said, we concentrated on making sure it did what it was meant to do:  To make people laugh.  Sure some humor got lost with poor shot choices and lack of coverage, but, overall, I think we kept things funny.

In terms of how Season 1 affected our approach to Season 2, I think the main thing was making sure we had enough time to get everything done.  We also realized that keeping everything mainly in the house got a little “boring”, so we wanted to do more “showing” and less “telling” of the stories.  We wanted to see Todd and Mike in action and show the crazy situations they would get themselves into rather than hearing them talk about the situations with each other.

We also learned that in order to really get things done, you need help.  A 2-3 man crew just won’t cut it.  So, we made sure we had ample help during pre-production and while shooting.  This saved us lots of time and money (especially when it came to shooting in the many locations we shot in).

We spent a lot of time in Season 1 working on the writing of the episodes, but didn’t have much rehearsal time.  When we got to prepping for season 2, we made sure to plan rehearsal time for each episode.  Well, as much as we could…

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GN: What was it like winning at the Hollyweb awards last year?

MK: Winning the Hollyweb awards in 2012 was so amazing.  We submitted to the festival on a whim and were so surprised when they announced that we won the awards for best screenwriting and best web series.  It also gave us a great chance to see what others out there are doing in terms of web series and what it takes to really shine.

GN: Your Indiegogo campaign made just over $13,000 – what kind of a difference did that amount of money make when you were starting season 2? What did it mean to you that you didn’t meet your full goal for fundraising?

MK: The $13k from the Indiegogo campaign was a tremendous help.  There is no way we could have done what we did this time around without the gracious support of so many friends, family, and even strangers.  We set our goal fairly high, but were still able to accomplish what needed to get done.  We did, however, have to scrap an episode due to lack of funds, but with the money we did have, we were able to have a wonderful crew and better equipment to get what we needed.  A little more time for production would have been great (we shot 5 episodes in 7 days) and the extra money would have helped us with a few more days of production.  But, we are grateful that we had money this time around to really up the production value.

GN: Headshots is about struggling actors in LA, and Todd and Mike are actors in LA, how many of the stories in the show come directly from the personal experiences of the team?

MK: We have all worked in the film business in various capacities for quite a while and have witnessed lots of funny scenarios.  That being said, I think a lot of what you see is based on things that could have happened rather than things that have actually happened.  However, the acting biz can be quite degrading and we’ve been privy to many whacky things — we just took them to the next level and used more of a “what if” situation when coming up with the ideas.  Imagination is key.

GN: What can fans expect from season 2 of Headshots?

MK: Season 2 is different in many ways from season 1.  We have more locations, more in-depth character development, and bigger stories.  There are some pretty weird elements that we brought in (Todd’s wig plays a big role in this season) and the tone is a little bit darker than that of Season 1.  Fans, however, can still expect laughs, surprises, fun storylines, and lots of good jokes.  I’m sure we’ll offend a bunch of people, too.

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GN: You mentioned on your Indiegogo campaign that you were planning a lot of new characters for the show, what was the casting process like for season 2?

MK: Casting for Season 2 was fun.  We basically had one really long day in a theater where we brought in lots of people for the various roles.  We played around a lot and improvised with the wonderful actors who auditioned.  A lot of the parts, however, were written for specific actors who we already knew.  So, some of the roles didn’t really involve any “casting” aside from a phone call or text message.  We did have some trouble with finding some actors for one of our episodes, though, and ended up casting 4 roles the night before the shoot.  As horrendous as that could have turned out, though, we were really thrilled with the performances of the actors (in every episode).

GN: Obviously we don’t want to spoil the new season, but are there any moments from the upcoming episodes you are particularly looking forward to releasing?

MK: The wig is just awesome in this season.  We’re all excited to see what people think of that.  There’s also a truly breathtaking secret handshake that occurs in episode 1 which may or may not make our parents disown us.

After what they managed in their first run with no money, I’ll definitely be checking out the new, funded, 5-episode season when it comes out at the beginning of August. New episodes can be found on YouTube or Headshots’ shiny new website here.