When we covered the all-singing, all-bitching web series, Destroy The Alpha Gammas in our preview, we said it “brings some much welcomed variety to the web series scene. Condensing the glitz, drama and light-hearted comedy of Glee into a single 7 minute bite, and fuelled by some catchy top 40 tracks, it’s obvious that a lot of thought, care and hard work went into this series.Last week, we named series creator, writer and star, Leah McKendrick, as one of our coveted ‘women to watch in web series’, due, in no small part, to how astonishingly lush and varied Destroy The Alpha Gammas is.
Blending a Glee-style musical feel with a Mean Girls level of caustic behaviour, and successfully making it shine within perfectly balanced 7 – 9 minute episodes of web series is no mean feat. I caught up with Leah to ask her about how on Earth she managed to make such a fully-realised show.
Mike: Where did the concept for Destroy The Alpha Gammas (DAG) originate from? What made you want to write it?
Leah: Truthfully, the concept arose from the limitations I faced. I wanted to be able to shoot in spaces I could secure (i.e. apartments/houses). I also knew if I was going to do a musical, which was always the goal, it would have to be predominantly female since I knew way more female triple threats than male. No offense, boys! From there, sororities at war was fairly obvious!
I never wanted to write it per se, but I saw no other alternative! What’s easier than finding an amazing screenwriter who gets it- then convincing them to dedicate their time and talents to writing it for you with no guarantees whatsoever? Answer is: write it your damn self.
Mike: The sorority / popularity contest concept has had many iterations over the years. What was it about musicals that inspired you to use that angle and take a new spin on the genre?
Leah: I love Mean Girls. I love Pitch Perfect. So many films are this classic tale of the underdogs reinventing themselves and prevailing. Ever read, “Save the Cat?? It’s essentially “The Fool Triumphant? concept. David and Goliath, set in Greek life. I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. I wanted to do something fun and sexy that people could easily swallow. I didn’t want it to be a hard sale. That’s a big reason why I chose NOT to do original songs. I wanted to do something people (outside of my group of friends) could watch and enjoy and get into. As in, I love Kelly Clarkson, what’s going on here?
Mike: Did it seem risky to write a full-blown musical as a web series, given the inherent issues of time and budget constraints?
Leah: It would have seemed risky if I had actually THOUGHT that hard about it! And if I had actually thought that hard about it, I might never have attempted it. I was delusional and naive. Luckily!
Mike: How long did it take from scripting to a finished product on DAG? The set-ups look so complicated!
Leah: It’s been about a year since I started writing it. I think it took me a couple months or so to write. The biggest chunk was post-production. Some of the set-ups were complex for sure but shooting was the most fun and pretty smooth actually!
Mike: What made you approach Scott Brown to direct? His previous work has been rather dark of tone compared to DAG’s bright and sickening bitchiness.
Leah: I approached a friend of mine, DJ Lubel. I was in his video, ?. He’s big on web and I told him about the project and asked him if he could recommend a director that would be right, especially considering I wanted to do a web series with very little knowledge of how web series work! He told me I needed to get Scott. I watched Blue Movies and thought, this is our guy.