Photo by Lexie Mikula
Left to right: Neiman Outlen, Lexx Truss, and Aaron Outlen
This weekend, HC Campus Correspondent Lexie Mikula had the chance to sit down with the creators of the upcoming pilot, Schema. Roommates Neiman & Aaron Outlen (both senior acting majors) and Lexx Truss (senior cinema major) gave her the low down on what we can expect from their upcoming project, the inspiration behind it and what’s next for this dynamic crew.
HC: What is Schema?
LT: So, Schema is an 18-20 min pilot, it’s a psychological comedy drama that is about brotherhood, relationships, and the process of making decisions. It’s an extended piece based on a three minute short that I did last year by the same name, and that was also based on us.
HC: What is the story behind Schema?
LT: An event that happened to us in the cafe: I see a girl across the room, I don’t say anything, I’m just looking at her and to other people it may not be obvious that I’m looking at her and what I’m thinking, but these guys (Aaron & Neiman), they knew what I was thinking. One wanted me to make a move very quickly, the other wanted me to be cautious and observe. In that time, I had a friend, Garrett Kennell, who is the producer of this project, was in the room, and was taking a cell phone video of the conversation. It always stuck with us, and then I ended up writing it for a short scene last year.
I directed it and we cast three other people to play ourselves and then we put that short video (that Garrett took) at the end of the scene and it wen to a short film festival here at Carnegie Mellon. I wasn’t completely sold, initially, of sending it to another project or waht to do with it, but I was getting suggestions from other people about doing something else with it. They said they were hooked and they wanted more, and then these guys (Aaron & Neiman) were encouraging me to make it into a tv show.
HC: How did you get your project started?
AO: It was based off the short and we an Indiegogo campaign in January and we raised $2500 and that’s going to help us get money for equipment, locations, and what not. We have our money, so now we have to produce something.
NO: Before that, after we all kind of talked and decided to do something with this short and expand it into a pilot, we just started over the summer just talking about it now and then. We’d have little conversations about it trying to develop some things. We started writing out scenes, just banging out ideas, just trying to formulate something. We got to school in August and started having more formal meetings once or twice a week, just trying to get some ideas out. We started the Facebook page in September just to try to get some traction. Then we started solidifying the draft of the pilot and THEN we started the Indiegogo campaign. We (Outlens) went to Sundance as interns, but it was fortunate for us that our campaign was still running, so we were able to kind of promote that. Now we’re just solidifying cast, crew and shooting locations, and we plan to start shooting in a month.
HC: How interning at Sundance, Aaron & Neiman, help you with this project?
NO: The main thing was promotion. We were actually able to pitch the show live in front of the CEO of Indiegogo, Slava Rubin. He was giving a panel discussion and we had talked to him earlier, before the panel started. He was like, ‘we actually have two people who have Indiegogo out in the audience,’ and he called us up on stage, in front of the live stream. Apparently there were 16 million people watching it, so I think it was worth the trip, being able to do that there. Also, being able to network with people, pass out business cards, I don’t know what exactly the percentage is, but we a decent percentage of our funds from people that I met at Indiegogo. Had we not gone to Sundance, we maybe would have been a couple hundred dollars short.
HC: As a director, Lexx, what is the best part of this for you?
LT: Especially from doing the short, the fun I’ve had with this is how natural it can become on set. That’s my main goal: a natural atmosphere among the actors. I want everyone to feel comfortable with their characters. It’s very dialog driven and character driven, as well. My favorite part about directing is that for some people it’s the visual aspects and everything, but for me, it’s more like that human connection between the director and actors. I look at it like, when I first write a character, they first are 100% my character, but when I give it to an actor, I’m trusting them and it becomes 75% theirs and 25% mine. That collaboration to me is key, and that’s something I look forward to, is seeing what the actors put on to it. We have about eight lead characters and I’m looking forward to seeing them come to life. With Schema, there’s a thin line between reality and fiction. A lot of it does come from a lot of our personal experience, but there are a lot of fictional elements within it. I’m excited to see my short be expanded into a larger product.
HC: What’s your next step?
LT: Since it’s a pilot, there’s a bunch of television festivals that give a platform for independent pilots and tv crews. There’s a film festival we’re trying to submit to on May 11, so the goal is to have the pilot done by the end of April, and by May to submit it. Also on May 11, I am going to Cannes Festival, so my plan is to also talk about the project and to share that it has been submitted to festivals and to kind of get it more attention.
HC: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
AO: Nobody knows how to pronounce it, at all! I’ve heard people say ‘Schlo-Mo’ and ‘Sha-hee-ma’ and ‘Skem-ma,’ it’s kind of fun though because we kind of like the ambiguous nature of it. It is kind of ambiguous, so it’s fun hearing people not knowing how to pronounce the name. [Author’s Note: I got it right the first time, it’s pronounced: Skee-ma!]
Check out the guys’ Facebook page for their pilot, Schema! We wish you luck with filming and production, and your future festival submissions!