UTG INTERVIEW: Anne Flournoy (Creator of ‘The Louise Log’)

Anne Flournoy

We recently brought you news that the web series The Louise Log had been nominated for “Best Web Show” at the 2013 Shorty Awards and although Bravest Warriors took home the glass this past Monday at the ceremony, The Louise Log creator, Anne Flournoy, feels that she and her show had already won in their own way before the Shorty Awards even took place.

To expand on this, we had talked with Flournoy prior to the event this past week about the origins of her growing web series, being nominated for her work, and some possible future plans for the show as well. So read through and get the scoop about The Louise Log from Sundance alum, Anne Flournoy.

For those unaware of your work for the most part, can you explain a little about what you do?
For the past five years, I’ve been making a comedy web series called The Louise Log which is available free online if you Google the name. It’s the story of a NYC woman who has a high-maintenance husband and an over-active inner voice. Some people have compared it to short form television — the episodes average four minutes long. So far we have 34 episodes of two seasons online and we’re planning on shooting season 3 this Fall.

How did you originally get involved with and started in directing and writing?
I went to art school for sculpture and was trying to figure out conceptual and performance art when our professor, Geoff Hendricks, invited the artist Arakawa to show one of his wonderful b/w 16mm films. He’d made the film pretty much by himself with one actor who had very little, if any, dialogue. He’d shot it with a Bolex and edited with a pair of scissors and a projector. I suddenly understood that film didn’t have to be a Hollywood production, that it was possible to make films the way you work as a writer or as a visual artist.

How did you come up with the idea for The Louise Log? What inspirations have played a prominent role in the scripts?
The Louise character is a slightly older version of the main character in my feature film, How To Be Louise. What’s now season one of The Louise Log came from gutting the juiciest moments of a script that I’d hoped would be my second feature. Most of the actual “events” in The Louise Log come straight out of life but are more or less embellished. As influences, I’d count Almodovar’s What Have I Done To Deserve This?, Polanski’s Knife In the Water, Bunuel’s Archibaldo de la Cruz and L’Age d’Or. Of course Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie had a huge influence on me and his 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her was the inspiration for the whispering.

How does it feel to put so much of yourself into your work and be recognized by the likes of Roger Ebert, Eve Ensler, and now to be nominated for a Shorty Award?
I can’t even begin to describe the feeling. I was on the phone when a filmmaker friend, Barbara RIck, beeped in and I picked up the call just to say that I’d call her back. Barbara interrupted, shouting, to say that I’d just gotten “the Ebert nod on Twitter.” “Whaaat?” — I had no idea what she was talking about. He was so generous to have singled out The Louise Log, it was huge for us. And then when Eve Ensler gave us that rave, my hands were shaking, my whole body was screaming “YESSSS!” To have her endorsement opened a lot of doors. I’m in awe of the work she’s done and continues to do, both as an artist and in materially improving the human condition. With The Shorty Awards, making it into the finalists was another hands-shaking-uncontrollably situation but for a different reason.

I take it you’ll be attending the ceremony? Have you ever been before? What are you looking forward to the most about the experience?
Christine Cook who plays Louise, Jennifer Sklias-Gahan who plays what Jennifer calls “an egomaniac with an inferiority complex” and I are all going for the first time and one of our most frequent collaborators, singer-songwriter Victoria Trestrail might fly in from Trinidad to join us. Most looking forward to? Hmm. Well, besides winning…there’s a hilarious multi-hyphenate, Laura Zigman, who’s a finalist in humor whom I “met” online during the campaign and am very excited to be in the same room with. Of course to meet the smartest woman in web TV, Felicia Day, would be lovely.

So there was campaigning involved with getting nominated? I’m unfamiliar with the process personally.
Funny you should ask about campaigning. Becoming a Shorty finalist is based on popularity/campaigning. Having done a similar PBS campaign in 2009, I figured I’d never ever do another one cause it’s madness. But author/actor Suzy Soro (Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm) nominated The Louise Log for a Shorty Award and even though the competition had started a month earlier and there were only eight days to go, we decided to make a run for it. Fortunately, genius “buzz builder” Louise Edington, my friends in the blogosphere including Scary Mommy, Anna Lefler, Robin W. O’Bryant, Alexandra Rosas and a group of bloggers called GenFab© boosted us to be a finalist.

As you said, you have plans to shoot a third season of The Louise Log this year as well. What can you tell me about that?
To raise the budget to shoot season 3, we’re launching a crowdfunding campaign next week on a very cool new funding-plus-distribution platform called Seed&Spark. Almost everyone in the cast and crew wants to come back for season 3 including the musicians Emily Spray, Greta Keating and Matt Keating. And if everything works out with the finances and the schedule, Ahmad Razvi (Man Push Cart), Everett Quinton (Ridiculous Theatrical Company), Ann Imig (Battleground), Shari Simpson (Maybe Baby, It’s You) and others will be joining the cast. The script isn’t written but I’ve been bothering my husband by laughing about it when we’re supposed to be falling asleep. I can’t wait to get to work on it.

Do you foresee the budget or production becoming larger at some point?
Oh it would be great to be working with a larger budget but I’d like to do that while returning to the small scale of season 1 when we had usually two and at most four actors in an episode. And with more than a quarter of our viewers watching on mobile devices, this inclination to go for intimate, with close-ups on just a few actors, seems like a good idea.

How long do you plan on or expect the show to go on?
I don’t have a plan, but then, I’ve never worked strategically. I love the constraints of a series and hope to continue with it until we’ve exhausted the possibilities of the situations we’ve set up.

The show does feel reminiscent of Louie and Curb Your Enthusiasm but with your own style obviously. Have you ever had the opportunity to meet either Louis CK or Larry David by chance?
Thank you for the very kind words. I’ve never met either Larry David or Louis CK.

So you mentioned your feature film, How To Be Louise, which is going to be released by Sundance next month on Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes. That’s pretty exciting. Can you elaborate a bit more on the film?
Yes, How To Be Louise, is what you could call a “prequel” to The Louise Log. It’s Louise before she’s married with children. Thanks to Keri Putnam’s #ArtistServices at the Sundance Institute, this offbeat comedy is getting a second chance! It was shot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn back in the 80s when Williamsburg meant one thing to the average New Yorker; Virginia. With amazing performances from the cast, Lea Floden, Bruce McCarty and Maggie Burke star, and Stephen Payne, Lisa Emery, Josh Pais and Michael Patrick King play supporting roles. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young actress who, because of extreme social anxiety, is scouring her world for someone to imitate. Phillip Johnston composed the score you can’t not love and D.P. Vladimir Tukan made it gorgeous. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to organize a screening or even a little theatrical run in Williamsburg this spring.

So whether you win or lose at the Shorty Awards, what is your next step in your career?
Regardless of whether we win or lose at the Shorty Awards, we’ve already won. That campaign forced us to make more noise and to get our series in front of more people than we ever have. It also showed me that my artist-in-a-garrett phase is officially over, that it’s denial to think that I can succeed if I just focus on making good work. Without a budget, it’s not easy to build a team to help with the social media and marketing but that’s the only way there’ll be the time for me to cut and write new episodes. What we need is an internet-savvy marketer to be our Producer of Marketing and Distribution.
 
Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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  • Thanks for sharing this with us, Anne and Brian. I am very much looking forward to Season 3! I love, love, love “Louise”!

  • Thank you for reading, Jacqueline! Glad you enjoyed it.