The world of web series is gratifying and full of stories that often aren't found in mainstream media. One actor finally decided that enough was enough and created her own web series, Without a Hitch. netTVnow had the pleasure of speaking with the creator and one of the lead actresses on the series, Amalia May Valle.
netTVnow: Can you give me a brief overview of the series and where the idea for Without a Hitch came from?
Amalia May Valle: It came from a bunch of different places. I'm Israeli and my friend who originally was going to produce the series come from a Latino background. So the two main characters reflect my ethnicity and my co-star, Natasha Yannacañedo's, but we didn't want to fall into these tired, old stereotypes that we ourselves were sick of seeing and auditioning for. We wanted to create characters that just so happened to be of those backgrounds without putting them in a box.
I liked the idea of these two girls being best friends but at the same time, very competitive. I feel like this is a dynamic that tends to happen quite a bit, especially in big cities like New York, but I don't see it written about very often. I was excited about exploring that idea, not in a negative way but in the sense of a little healthy competition among friends. So making bets and competing against each other is a huge part of their relationship.
netTVnow: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
AMV: I'm an actress. I've been acting pretty much since I was a teenager and moved to New York for that reason. I started writing because I think like most actors, probably a lot more women, you reach a point where you're not so thrilled with the projects that you're auditioning for. Let's face it, there are a lot of bad scripts out there that you get to a point where you're auditioning and say, "Do I really even want this role if I got it?" I have other actor friends and this is something we talk about quite a bit. So one day my friend I thought about creating something that we actually want to do and see what we can do with it.
netTVow: How did the cast and crew of the series come about?
AMV: At first, my friend and I weren't really ambitious with the project, and we thought it might just be something for our reels. I started writing with the plan of my friend producing, but then she received an offer to do a play out of town and had to take it. She really liked the script and pushed me to keep going with it. I was like, "What? I don't know how to produce!"but I definitely had gotten attached to the project by then and wanted to see it through.
Luckily a friend of my husband's was starting out as a DP, had the equipment and wanted to shoot the series for his reel, so he came on board. Another friend who is a director was interested, so then we had a director. Natasha is a good friend of mine and incredibly talented so I asked her to read the script and she signed on as well. From there, the rest of our actors were found mostly through luck [laughs]. Teresa Yenque who plays abuelita is super accomplished. She's been on 30 Rock and Law & Order, she's been everywhere. So I sent her an e-mail and said, "Hey, this is a long shot but I'm sending you this script!" and she wrote back and said, "Yeah! I'd love to do it!" We got really luck with her and the rest of our group!
netTVnow: Is this the first web series you've written and what was the most challenging/surprising aspect for you in terms of writing?
AMV: It is this is my first. I've always enjoyed writing and I did take a screenwriting class about a year ago so I think that helped me a lot in preparing to write this. The funny thing is, is when I was taking my class, I wanted to write a dramatic short film and wasn't thinking of a comedy web series. However, I was really struggling to find the right short film idea and I couldn't figure out which direction to take it in. But then I started writing Without a Hitch and it just flowed. The characters really started to talk to me and I was just writing down what I was hearing. That surprised me because I was struggling so much with the dramatic short.
I think one of the biggest challenges when you write is that you have all these creative ideas of what you would like to write about but then there's the reality of, "This is my budget," and "How am I going to film these things?" I had to write with my budget in mind and with the limitations that I had. I think even considering my budget I was still pretty ambitious, but we somehow made it work!
netTVnow: How has it been playing the role of producer for the first time?
AMV: Producing is a crazy, amazing roller coaster. There's a lot of creative freedom, but a the same time it's insane as to how many hats you have to wear. My to-do list never seems to end! I never imagined it being this much work [laughs], but it is incredibly satisfying when yo get to see the choices that you made really come together for the end product.
netTVnow: You were recently featured in an article comparing your web series to Jane the Virgin and Cristela in terms of how your characters are written. How did your personal background a play a role in writing these characters?
AMV: I lived in Israel when I was younger but grew up in Miami. That had a big influence on me. My husband is from Peru, but he likes to say that I'm more Latino than he is [laughs] and I call it my second culture. I feel very close to the Latino community and feel that it is very much underrepresented in television, film and especially in terms of positive representation. You want to see positive images of people from your culture. I think ti's very important to have a role model that someone in any minority community can look up to.
netTVnow: What do you think it is about the web series community that so many people of color and women of color are seen more of and included?
AMV: I think that web series are becoming the new frontier. What's nice is that most of them are self-produced. While there are some big budget ones coming from bigger players in the industry, because they're starting to realize that this is a thing, the majority are still self-produced, which gives a lot of freedom.
A lot of people are a bit frustrated with the situation in Hollywood, that they're not seeing themselves being represented. It's something that I noticed al later time, seeing a token character being a minor character and finding myself not being able to relate to them because of how they're written. Most of my friends are people of color and I want to see them accurately reflected in television and film. I want to see myself reflected and the diversity I see in my everyday life. I think that's something that a lot of other web series creators feel.
netTVnow: What is your favorite episode of the series so far and can you reveal why?
AMV: So far I think the third episode is my favorite. Without revealing too much, my character ha to give up a habit that is very difficult for her to break (for a bet) and it's pretty funny. She certainly struggles in the beginning, but towards the end of the episode you see her get more of an edge in the competition and things get pretty interesting.
Each episode is meant to follow a chapter from the book Old Fashioned Marriageby Mary Kaye Cunningham. So every episode is meant to be a different chapter reflecting a different challenge between the characters.
netTVnow: For anyone aspiring to create their own web series, what advice do you have?
AMV: To any actor or anyone who is feeling the way I did - where they're not seeing the work out there that they want to be in or represents them - create your own work. As an actor, I've heard that piece of advice many times and it took me awhile to get there. Now that I've been doing my own work, I wonder why I didn't start sooner because it really is a great thing and extremely satisfying.
Without a Hitch is still in production after successfully meeting and surpassing their Kickstarter goal, with hopes to bringing more episodes to your screens soon! Be sure to follow the series and stay up-to-date with the amazing creator Amalia May Valle as she brings forth refreshing representation of women and people of color in the industry.