Exclusive: Interview with Kim Evey, Producer of The Guild

Kim Evey is the producer of the award-winning web series, The Guild. In addition to this, Kim has many other strings to her bow. She has had acting roles in TV series such as Boston Legal, Shark and ER and taught comedy sketch writing at the famous ACME Comedy Theatre. She writes, produces and stars in her own highly successful webseries, Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show. Kim also co-created the webseries Retarded Policeman and Two Hot Girls in the Shower, and often works with her husband’s production company Mediocre Films.

Kim was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions.

WhedonAge: You are an actor, producer and writer. Is there one of these roles you prefer or do you enjoy switching from one to the other?

Kim Evey: I really enjoy switching back and forth, although as time goes by, I find that I tend to enjoy producing more and more. I guess because it gives shape to my day. Things always need to get done when you’re a producer. I’m not a disciplined actor or writer, I just do them whenever I get the opportunity. With producing you have to be disciplined or else your shows fall apart and a lot of people yell at you.

WA: You already had a successful acting career on TV and film so what prompted you switch over to the web?

KE: I’ve been lucky enough that acting has paid my bills for the last few years. But I don’t often get the opportunity to show my comedic side on television and I had a lot of down time waiting for auditions. For most of my 20’s I was part of an improv theater company that rehearsed four nights a week and performed on the weekends so I was really used to having a constant creative outlet. I didn’t have that in LA until I found sketch comedy. The web was really a happy accident. My husband started posting his comedy shorts right when YouTube first became popular (actually, I had to make him do it–he didn’t want to have anything to do with it–he was very Grandpa Benson about it). And I had a hunch that Gorgeous Tiny would be something people would click on–weird title, bright colors, fun premise–and it went viral. Eventually I made a deal with Sony and my success with that led me to encourage Felicia to make The Guild. So I wouldn’t say we’ve switched over, per se, since we both still work as television actors, but the web has given us the opportunity to really carve out our own niche and take control of our careers.

WA: What does a producer actually do, and is it different on a webseries than, say, a TV series?

KE: Um, I actually have no idea what a film or TV producer does, LOL… Felicia and I do everything from approving budgets to helping move boxes. We’re basically trying to shoot a TV show on a web budget. And in addition to the actual show, there’s web stuff and conventions and merchandise. It’s a lot of little details every day.

WA: Tim Street recently referred to you and your husband Greg Benson as the “First Couple of Online Video”. How is it working with your husband? 

KE: Oh my God, I watched that video and I have to tell you I was so embarrassed because I nod my head when he says that, as though I think that’s a fitting title or something. Embarrassing. I was nervous. But working with your husband, I mean my husband, not YOUR husband–I don’t even know your husband–is both fun and challenging. We’re dorks and we make each other laugh–we wrote Mating Season wearing the panda suits–and we really help each other out with ideas. Season One of GTCMS taught us how to work together. We try really hard to help each other out but without taking over each other’s jobs. It’s challenging for me, as a writer/producer/actor to just let him do his job as director. But in the end GTCMS really is a perfect combination of both of our sensibilities.

WA: What are the good and bad points of writing/producing for the web?

KE: Good = you get to do everything. Bad = you have to do everything.

WA: How did you first meet Felicia Day?

KE: Under a freeway overpass. Those were dark times for both of us.  We don’t really speak of it anymore.

WA: When you heard about The Guild what about it made you want to be producer?

KE: Literally when I read Codex’s first webcam that kicks off episode one, I was like, this is made of win. The writing was great, the characters were extremely funny and yet believable. It was obvious that it was written by a real gamer yet, not being a gamer myself, I still completely understood it. It seemed like it was impossible for it NOT to succeed.

WA: Before filming for Season 2 of The Guild Felicia posted a notice asking for help with pre-production and filming. The response you had was massive. How did you choose from so many candidates?

KE: We actually had interviews for some positions and found our current line producer, Elizabeth Hughes, who is amazing. And then we just sort of went through and found people one by one who were qualified to do various things. But for every person we found, there were many others who I’m sure were equally qualified. It was really really overwhelming. We’ve got everyone on file for future reference.

WA: There is a new website and community for The Guild which has proved extremely popular. There is so much content produced by fans and the chat feature has proved to be a real draw. Has it lived up to your expectations?

KE: I absolutely love the community and I want it to just get bigger and bigger. Someday I’d love to have Guild personals. I want marriages and babies spawned by The Guild. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch.

WA: You and cast members go onto The Guild chat and talk to fans and we all really appreciate this contact. What is this like from your point of view?

KE: It’s such an imperative part of The Guild’s success – being in contact with our fans because, truly, you are our people. And going into Guild chat is hilarious. It’s like a giant party all the time. I actually feel like I’m in a room with everybody and you’re all running around and screaming and beating each other with foam bats and spraying silly string on each other. It’s quite fun.

WA: How is Season 2 different to Season 1 in terms of getting the episodes queued up so they can be posted more regularly?

KE: Season Two is actually going to post much more regularly. I’m not sure I’m at liberty to say how much more but suffice it to say that we’ve already shot 2/3 of the season where last year when we posted episode one we only had two more ready to go.

WA: After Felicia has written the scripts what happens next in the process? Are pastries and coffee involved?

KE: Pastries and coffee are always involved. Felicia enjoys a nonfat vanilla latte and I love a soy latte. I read and give her notes and suggestions and then she gives the scripts to the actors who sometimes give notes. And there are always adjustments made on shoot days by the actors and the director.

WA: Your series, GTCMS, and the other shows you produce with Greg under the “C-spot”; and “Mediocre Films” have sponsorship by Sony. How does this work out?

KE: Actually the only show that Sony owns is Gorgeous Tiny. They fund each season and then distribute the episodes on YouTube/Cspot, Crackle and Hulu. My executive contact at Sony is Jeremy Colfer who I cannot praise highly enough. Having never worked in a studio situation before, I was nervous about having to give them script approval. You always hear about executives who come in and give notes just because they can but Jeremy is just an extension of the creative team. He totally gets the show and loves it. His notes are always bang on and there are relatively few of them. Creatively it has been an extremely fulfilling experience.

WA: Felicia has decided to keep ownership of The Guild which gives freedoms but does make funding difficult. Does she have an ideal solution to funding?

KE: Well, the ideal solution is to have a sponsor come in and give you money in exchange for a “brought to you by” preroll. I think that’s everybody’s ideal solution and one we’re also pursuing but it’s a little more complicated than it seems.

WA: Do you think that web content will break through and become more mainstream? Do you have any feelings about how issues regarding funding and delivery will work out in the future?

KE: Oh boy, your guess is as good as mine really. I’m very lucky that I am involved in so many shows that have succeeded in various ways but I don’t think I have a better handle on the space than anyone else because of it. It’s fairly naive of me but I really just enjoy the process of making things and I just trust that I’ll get paid enough to keep doing it.

WA: Do you have any advice to anyone who wants to develop a career creating web content?

KE: Don’t try to develop a career developing web content. Just make something and see what happens.

WA: GTCMS has a string of famous faces as guests including Alan Tudyk and Wil Wheaton. How did GTCMS come into being in the first place?

KE: Felicia gave me the Alan hookup and I met Wil through ACME Comedy Theater, where I created GTCMS for a class that I later taught and met Felicia in when she was my student. And so the circle is complete.

Now, in addition to answering all these questions, Kim was kind (or brave!) enough to answer some that came directly from Evil WorldofHiglet. How that came about is a funny story. I may tell you about it someday. But these are straight from Kim – no editing!

Evil WorldofHiglet: How long have you been a fan of Higlet as seen in the Evil WorldofHiglet videos?

KE: I have been a fan of Higlet since 1877 when he invented the phonograph.

EWoH: Which episode of ‘Evil League of Evil Application Processing’ is your favourite?
KE: I enjoy the one that features Sour Grapes and Bitter Pill. They make a great team. I think they’ll take over the city of Cleveland any day now.

EWoH: Are you looking forward to the musical episodes?
KE: Yes. Of what? Yes.

EWoH: Do you think The Guild will ever reach the heights that Higlet has in terms of online success?
KE: The Guild will not make any comments that refer, either directly or indirectly to the success of Higlet, as we fear for our safety and the safety of our children and pets.

EWoH: When is Higlet due to star in GTCMS?
KE: Higlet will make a starring appearance in GTCMS The Movie!!!, as the third exclamation point in the stage show within the film.

EWoH: How drunk did you get Felicia before you took the DDR video?
KE: A thimble-full of booze gets her dancing. A shot gets her dancing on the table. Two and she’s running around the neighborhood in her skivvies screaming “release the hounds!”

EWoH: Is Felicia as mean as people say she is? 
KE: No, she is much meaner. You people have no idea. One time she ate a baby.

EWoH: Has she ever assaulted you personally?
KE: She threw a thimble full of booze in my face.

EWoH: Did you ever read Felicia’s blog when she wrote as Codex?
KE: Um…yessssss?

EWoH: Does she really hate men’s high fashion and old people as much as she appeared to do?
KE: Yes. And a fashionable old man, well, that’s just not something you want to be around for her to see.

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