"But then she got wasted and texted me later that she had gone to the grocery store and just bought a sheet cake. "
Recently, Theaterspeak Editorial Assistant Charlotte Brook sat down with the ladies of the new web series, Drunk Girls in Heels, to discuss how they created, wrote, and starred in their own original web series.
What is Drunk Girls in Heels (or DGIH for short)?
Julia Sherman: Drunk Girls in Heels is a web series, a pretty incredible web series, if I do say so myself, that is about three women in their mid-twenties just trying to navigate this crazy, unlimited-champagne-brunch world.
Nora Fullmoon: How we describe it on our website is, “A web series now, a lifestyle always.” It’s really a mind-set, a perspective!
Julia: It’s about having fun and friendship.
Nora: And about looking good! Wanting to strut yourself in New York City.
Keely Flaherty: It’s about fashionable alcoholism.
So along with the web series, what else does your group do?
Keely: It started off as a twitter that we all kind of wrote on our own (@DGIHTweets).
Julia: Our tweets are like drunk proverbs.
How did it begin? What has the developmental process been?
Julia: I was out one night at Crocodile Lounge, and I saw - across the street at Artichoke Pizza - another staple, this very drunk girl in huge heels, and she was falling. But she was trying very hard to turn this fall into a turn; she tried to melt to the ground a little bit, as if she meant to do it. And then her friends are sitting there in line telling people, “Go around, just go around”. And she’s just sitting there on the ground saying, “I’m fineeeeeeee”. And I was just thinking that’s hilarious! That’s a drunk girl in heels, which is a term Nora had come up with a few weeks before. She used to joke that that was going to be her memoir titles; sorry I stole it!
Nora: You know with your friends how you have those inside jokes and when you say them you know what you’re talking about? So, for us, we would always go out and be like “drunk girl in heels, drunk girl in heels” so it became this kind of mantra.
Keely: Our ultimate hope is that it becomes an exhibit at MOMA. Just like one girl perpetually falling yelling “just go around, just go around”. That’s when you know.
Julia: And then, from there, I would say a large part of it came out of desperation to just make our own thing.
Keely: Yeah, post-graduation, “What do I do now?” There’s not like a set structure for it.
Julia: It’s like, 'I have a theater degree and a day job that I don’t like, what do I do now? How do I deal with this?' You make web series about getting drunk with your friends.
How did you guys meet and decide to work together?
Keely: Well Nora and Julia were…born together!
Nora: We are basically Siamese twins.
Keely: One of the first interactions I had with Julia was at a party and I was like “You’re Nora right?” and she was like “Close enough”.
Nora: Yeah, we were roommates at NYU and then obviously they [Julia and Keely] met at a party…
Keely: Julia and I met because we both slept with the same person (laughs from all]. But that was way before Drunk Girls in Heels. We’re all connected through NYU.
Nora: And then we [Julia and Nora] were talking about doing Drunk Girls in Heels and we decided we needed somebody else because we realized we’re Siamese twins and we need somebody to cut us apart. So Keely has this hilarious blog and Julia had read it, and I read it, and we were like, 'this chick is so funny. Let’s be best friends.'
Julia: So we were like, 'let’s go out to brunch!'
And at brunch Keely was like, 'I’m not going to drink because I have things to do today.' But then she got wasted and texted me later that she had gone to the grocery store and just bought a sheet cake.
When did Drunk Girls in Heels start?
Julia: I know we had our first writer’s meeting on a Valentine’s Day.
Nora: Obviously a sign that we had nothing going on in our lives!
Julia: [to Keely] You had a boyfriend!
Keely: Yeah, I was even in a relationship at that point which is even sadder. I don’t even remember it being a big deal that I was out on Valentine’s Day with two women getting drunk.
Julia: Nora and I started talking about it in January of this year. We started writing it in February.
Nora: We had the whole series written by…March 30th. I just have a feeling that it was that day. For some reason I just know it was March 30th.
Julia: Then we started workshopping it from there. And we shot it in four days in July and had it up by September.
What was the workshopping process like?
Nora: We’d have people come over for brunch and then were like “Here, read this!”
Julia: The key is if you offer anyone alcohol, they’ll read anything.
Nora: I must say at writer’s meetings there should always be alcohol. Hemmingway knew it. And look where he is now!
Julia: And then we had rehearsals too, which I think is why we were able to do it in such a short amount of time. We had people reading for their characters for a couple of months, so it was a good way for us to see where the character was going and for them to get a sense of what we were trying to do.
Was it all written beforehand or was there improvising on set?
Keely: I would say it was a mixture. We definitely had a script for every episode. Some of the lines are improvised; it’s not an improv-based show, but we are really lucky to have improvisers in the cast.
Julia: That’s another reason why we had rehearsals, to give everyone the time to improvise with it.
Nora: A lot of the lines came from that.
Keely: Claudia and Angie [two characters on the show] are completely Anna Drezen and Ryann Weir just doing weird improvising.
Julia: They were so funny; they would sit on set and just improvise in character, not shooting anything. They would just be in the green room like eating or getting their make-up done. And it was so funny to have people that were that into their characters. And when they came on they just nailed it.
You have the first season up online, and I hear there’s a second one coming. Can you talk about the next season?
[Girls shake their heads.]
Keely: We can’t let our 300 twitter followers know anything! [They laugh]
Julia: I’ll say this, we pick up after Jen’s wedding. And it’s going to be a crazy season. We explore a little more with other Drunk Girl’s in Heels. So we get a little insight into other people’s nights out.
Keely: And Julia has the very good idea of breaking form a little bit from the first season, so we’re really interested in making it a little weirder.
Julia: And we’re looking to shoot next summer, so we’re going to give a year to work on it and do live shows.
How did you find the people that you worked with when filming?
Julia: I have a friend, Morgan Evans, who directed three of the episodes, who was the one who encouraged me to write something. He’s an incredible guy and very well connected, and he went to SVA [School of Visual Arts]. And so I messaged him and was like, “Do you know any female DPs? Because we want a girl” [Drunk Girls in Heels features a mostly female cast and crew], and he put up a Facebook post saying “name your favorite female DPs: Go!” That’s how he got Kali’s name [Kali Riley, Director of Photographer], so he didn’t actually know Kali. From her, and sort of between the two of them, we were able to build this team, and then we got them all in the same room, and they all knew each other!
Keely: Because they all went to SVA.
Nora: We met with Kali the most out of the crew, and we met the crew one time before filming and by the end of the four days these people were are family! We made a baby together.
Keely: A drunk baby.
Do you hope to use the same group next summer?
Julia: Definitely. They were a huge part; we never would have been able to do it without them.
Nora: And they made it so fun! This was our first time really being on a film set for this long, I mean we’ve all done little things here and there, but they were so confident in what they did that they calmed us all down.
Julia: And we were never in crisis mode, which I think was the best part about it. That really stood out to me as the difference between working in theater and working on a film set. We never had this moment of…
Keely: …this might not happen.
Julia: It became about problem-solving and not about panicking. Which was like really exciting and made challenges seem…
Nora: …fun. Like you learned a lot from dealing with things. And that’s why we’re really excited for second season because we know so much more.
Keely: I just hope we can get them all back!
Julia: We’re just going to have to pay them…If anybody has any money they would like to pay us…
Nora: We really want to work with these people forever!
Julia: And they deserve all the money in the world.
Keely: They really do.
What would you recommend to other artists thinking of creating their own web series?
Nora: I would say that it’s very similar to this, what I learned in college in this class called Writing the Essay [laughs from the others], which is write about something you love and then it won’t be hard. So I would say the number one thing when you go in to do a web series is don’t do a web series for anything else other than for what you love.
Keely: Don’t do something because it’s marketable. Do it because it’s you!
Nora: And it doesn’t matter what happens to it. And a lot of times you can sense when people put their heart and soul in something.
Julia: And bring on people from the get-go. I think the thing that really set us up for success was the fact that we reached out to the right people early on, saying here’s what we’re trying to do, we want you to be a part of it. Are you interested? When people feel investment in something, their going to work their hardest on it because what it became was a risky project for everyone. I think that made everyone excited for working on it. And it felt like everyone had a connection to it, I think…I hope!
Nora: Nobody would film in four days if they didn’t love what we were doing.
Keely: I definitely think that’s true. You just can’t be too inclusive. I think anyone who wants to be involved, should be involved!
Nora: Because you always need help. It’s about friendship!
Julia: And you know it was about, as someone coming from the theater-world trying to do something in this world, the film world, it’s totally about reaching out to people who know more than you do. The first thing I would say to people, and maybe it’s not a very professional approach, but I would say to people “I don’t know what I’m doing!” I don’t but I have this idea, if you like it, will you help us? You’d be surprised how many people there are out there who’d be like I like that idea too, let’s get down. Let’s do it!
Nora: People want to help. And they especially want to help if you ask for their help. And that was an amazing part of this: finding out how helpful people want to be. That’s why we’re all in this! We’re all in this for friends. You know, we just want to build families.
Julia: Not Keely. Keely’s in it for bitches and money!
What else is coming up for DGIH?
Julia: We have this show coming up on the 21st [of November]. It’s at the People’s Improv Theatre at 11 PM. It’s $8, and it’s a killer line-up.
Keely: It’s seriously such a good line-up. It’s amazing all of the people betwixt the three of us, like all of the talent that we know.
Nora: It’s just you two, I don’t know anyone. [they all laugh]
Keely: It’s great to get to host something because then you get to include people that are much more talented than you. And like the pressure is off! You’re no longer competing, you’re just showcasing.
Julia: This isn’t one hundred percent confirmed yet, but it’s in the works that it will be live-streamed on Daily Motion, so if you can’t make it to the show, you can watch it online. And then we’re going to have two more shows this year after that, on December 5th and 19th at 11pm, also at the People’s Improv Theatre and those shows will also be live-streamed as well.
Nora: Tell them who’s in the line-up!
Julia: We have Jermain Fowler from MTV’s Guy Code doing a stand-up set. He’s really funny. Our special guests for the night are Ashley Skidmoore and Lyle Friedman from the web series Hot Mess Moves, they’re hysterical!
Keely: They’re very funny and very weird.
Julia: And then we have two improv groups that are going to improv off of the interview that we’re going to do with the Hot Mess Moves girls, which are Gentleman Party…
Keely: …who are phenomenally funny…
Julia: …and Shadows…
Keely: …also phenomenal!
Julia: Just two groups of cute boys.
Keely: Yeah, it’s just a bunch of hot guys! We’re working on interview questions for Hot Mess Moves, but I know for a fact that their will be two stories about vomiting in purses in cabs. One from our side and one from the Hot Mess Moves side.
Salty or sweet?
Keely: Well that’s a loaded question!
Nora: I have an answer, chocolate covered…
Nora: …lays potato chips.
Julia: Both! On a pizza.
Nora: In a taco!
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Julia: We’re currently looking for a hot dog sponsor.
Keely: That’s really funny actually, a random person read the interview that we wrote and was like is your web series about hot dogs? And I was like, 'did you read the whole article?' I mean, in a way, it is.
Julia: Hot dogs…Talk about salty and sweet. I retract my previous answer and just say chocolate covered hot dogs.