Web Series Creator Spotlight: Katie Shannon and Audrey Claire Johnson

Let’s face it, Hollywood and their blockbusters have been dominated by men for decades now. Television has given a slight rise to powerful female centric programming with shows like Weeds, Sex and the City, GIRLS, and The Big C, all of which is on premium, pay-for television.

Independent filmmakers have turned to the web to generate programming and stories that they believe is missing from the likes of Hollywood. Programming that can be made accessible to a much broader and larger audience. But with the likes of Machinima and Rooster Teeth it is safe to say that the “Hollyweb” is also favors a slight edge towards content that is generally considered male-centric.

Alas, we over here at ZoomTilt have stumbled upon the dynamic duo of Katie Shannon, writer/director and Audrey Claire Johnson actress/producer; both funny-gal extraordinaires. that are embarking on their first collaboration together: K&A, which stands for Karley and Alex.

Written and Directed by Katie Shannon of Thompson Films. Starring Audrey Claire Johnson and Ashley Elmi. Produced by Katie Shannon, Audrey Claire Johnson and Michael Madden.

Written and Directed by Katie Shannon of Thompson Films. Starring Audrey Claire Johnson and Ashley Elmi. Produced by Katie Shannon, Audrey Claire Johnson and Michael Madden.

Katie and Audrey worked together previously on 617, The Series, which also included producer/actress, Amy DePaola (sound familiar?) You can view the second season of 617 on ZoomTilt’s YouTube page.

@ZoomTilt: Ok, first off, this question is for Katie. Tell us about the concept of K&A? How did you come up with it? 

@KDuffShannon: K&A is a comedy about the friendship between Karly (played by Johnson) and Alex (played by Ashley Elmi) as they navigate their complicated lives in the city of Boston. One of my favorite shows is “Sex and the City” because it is honest and truthful about women today and their relationships with one another. It reminds me of my relationship with my best friend [from college], who currently lives around the corner from me. However, their is one huge difference between us and the ladies of SATC; I’m gay and she is straight. A lot of the ideas for the series come from our relationship (not all but some!). For storytelling, it’s a character dynamic that hasn’t been explored all that much. When I hear or see something I think would be great for the show, I write it in my phone. If someone ever read the list, they would probably think I’m crazy!

@ZoomTilt: What makes Karly and Alex’s story different from some of the more popular female duos that are currently out there? (ex: “2 Broke Girls”) 

@10ThousandHangs (Audrey’s Twitter): The combination of one straight and one lesbian lead protagonists is blatantly underexplored in sitcom format. Television comedies with a broad audience have found success with straight/gay leads, normally shown as leading/supporting man/man or man/woman. Because of the female straight/gay premise, I’m already interested in their history, their friendship, and their chemistry with other characters on the show.

@KDuffShannon: Both these characters don’t hold back. Their lack of caring what people think has allowed me to explore so many story lines. I’m partial to comedy shows like Family Guy and It’s Always Sunny Philadelphia for never apologizing for what they put out there and talking about topics that many of us think about, but are too afraid to bring up.

@ZoomTilt: What are the benefits of distributing the series online? What are also the challenges?

@KDuffShannon: Online distribution gives us the benefit of being able to reach anyone in the world and have a much broader audience for that. The challenging part, however, is to get people to discover it in the first place. Anyone who has a camera can make a web ddfseries these days. You need to think to yourself: what makes your [concept] different? Why should someone take time out of their day to watch? It’s also even more challenging with bigger and bigger names getting into the web series scene, so you really need to take the time and steps to make your concept stand out.

@10ThousandHangs: If you’re a creative artist in any medium, you will have challenges deciding on the best way for your work to be seen. Not just any way, the best way – and one that is financially doable. With K&A we’ve studied other projects that have been crowd funded, how they interacted with their audiences and where their content was eventually hosted. Its been a huge help.

@ZoomTilt: Interacting with audiences is important online, how are you both hoping that audiences will interact with K&A? 

@KDuffShannon: I hope people find the show as funny as I think it is (obviously I’m partial). I hope people can see that females can be just as funny as men. And trust me…these two ladies are.

@10ThousandHangs: Goals would be to have a hefty number of subscribers on our YouTube channel and dialogue on social media about each episode as they are released. We’d also like our fans to share their stories about their exterminators with us, and, of course, get 1,000,000 signatures on to petition HBO to pick it up……..obviously.

@ZoomTilt: So, what are some points of the series you are looking forward to shooting? Can you give us some secrets about what to expect? 

@KDuffShannon: I’m looking forward in shooting the episode “Doing Nice Shit For People” because in that episode Audrey’s character gets tasered. We read that episode during our auditions for the character of Alex, and her [Audrey] performing the act of being tasered made me laugh every single time.

Karley takes a much needed rest on Alex's lap. (From L to R: Johson and Elmi)

Karley takes a much needed rest on Alex’s lap. (From L to R: Johson and Elmi)

@10ThousandHangs: There’s an episode about a rat in the apartment. I am paralyzed by rats, phobic to a traumatic degree. K&A stand and huddle on the couch while some weird stuff goes down off camera. It’s classic suspense, not seeing the “violence” on screen while we react in horror. I can’t wait to play that scene.

@ZoomTilt: What are some female-centric web-series out there that you enjoy?

@KDuffShannon: I was an intern on set once for the filming of The Guild, so I really enjoy that one. There was also a lesbian web series called 3Way, which was one of the funniest web series I have ever seen. It’s sad but the lack of female leads in web series is a reflection of what you see on television. Obviously as a female filmmaker you want to try to change that as much as you can. I’ve never made a project where female characters weren’t the focus and I plan to stick to that.

@10ThousandHangs: I worshiped Broad City, would die to have been on Delusional Downtown Divas by Lena Dunham. Other web sketch groups that do incredible work are Good Neighbor, Olde Payphone and Paulilu.

The admitted lack of female genres within the web series community is a reflection of the industry as a whole. I spend my energy focusing on women crushing the scene online, on television and back to feature length blockbusters. They are my inspiration when choosing projects, writing scripts, and aspiring to be a great comedic actress.
Touche. Thanks for your time ladies! We are happy to support you. Please let us know when we can expect the first episode!
Support K&A by taking a visit over to their Kickstarter page and learn about their team on Facebook and stay up to date with them on Twitter.
If this photo is any indication of the realistic bond between these two ladies, we are extra hyped to watch!  (From L to R: Elmi and Johnson)

If this photo is any indication of the realistic bond between these two ladies, we are extra hyped to watch!
(From L to R: Elmi and Johnson)

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