Ever felt like you needed a cleanse from whatever negativity invading your life? Well so did co-creators of Detox, Betsy Lippitt and Annie Howard. After launching an impressive Indiegogo campaign, the writing duo have raised over $15,000 with just two days left to meet their goal. Learn more about the LA web series, tips on crowdfunding and more.
netTVnow: I love the series’ playful attitude and it isn’t afraid to poke fun at trends like juicing. Where did the idea for the series come for?
Betsy Lippitt: I was driving home late one night and heard an interview with the author of the book Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? It made me laugh at first, but then I got this sinking feeling I’ve been totally wrong about what my happiness looks like. I’ve always had this GOOPY vision of being happy riding a bicycle down a country lane with a basket full of flowers and freshly picked fruit. It’s this very visceral fantasy of a clean, simple, happy life. I’d been thinking that I had to strip all the complicated parts of my life down to find happiness. Purge my closets. Eat clean. Wear minimal make-up. Like this desperate search for happiness through minimalism. But life is actually pretty messy sometimes. Why can’t my messy side be fun and funny and bring me happiness? All this to say, I started thinking about this as a larger theme of what women today are dealing with. And we do some really funny shit thinking it’ll be “the thing” that’ll finally bring us peace. The series is really playful and fun and silly, but also digs into what women are up against in their lives. When I shared my thoughts with Annie, she was like yes! And we dove into writing.
Annie Howard: Betsy is always coming up with great ideas and together as a writing team we develop projects into places I can’t go on my own as a writer. Our joined philosophy from all our projects come from highly character driven narratives, which as actors we find the most compelling type of story-telling, where the characters, however flawed are always trying to do the best they can, which routinely falls short of being good enough for those they are closest to.
NTN: Tell us more about each of your industry backgrounds. Have either of you worked in web series before? What did you like most about it?
BL: I’m a trained actor, having studying at NYU and the Moscow Art Theater. Mostly, I’ve done theater and new plays. A few years ago I moved to LA to pursue film and TV. I’ve made some great short films and projects in my time here, in addition to an episode of The Middle on ABC. I only recently started getting into web series. I love how anything goes in a web series - the genre, the format, the circumstances. Literally, anything can happen when telling stories on the internet and I find that so exciting
AH: I’ve never written a web series before, it’s a format I’ve snobbily shy-ed away from through my years as a writer. I’ve written countless pilots for television, many screenplays, and a few plays, one acts and features. The majority of these are dark, character-driven dramas, that follow highly flawed but ultimately lovable characters. All of my stories focus on a female protagonist because I think the things that make women tick are nuanced, diverse yet ultimately universal. I continue to hear advice from artists I respect who have “made it,” and they continuously encourage aspiring filmmakers to create their own content, so after enough rejection and reaching new levels desperation and tenacity, this snob caved.
NTN: What are you most looking forward to with bring Detox to life?
BL: Annie and I made a pact to be the kind of artists who don’t wait around, who make their dreams a reality. I can’t wait for the day when we get to sit back, watch the finished product, and be like wow. We kept our promise.
NTN: What are both of your roles in the series?
BL * AH: We are both the co-creators, writers, producers, and stars of the series. We’re wearing every hat in our closet. It’s very GOOPY of us. It’s almost like we’re celebs creating a lifestyle brand and writing a book and designing a line of shoes. But for web series.
NTN: Can you describe your characters?
BL: I play Becca, a perfectionist who’s always gotten everything on her perfect timeline - entrance to a top law school, great career, loving husband, beautiful home. Now she wants a baby, but her uterus is not on board. Becca is fascinating because she’s very private. She doesn’t want people to know what’s going on with her so she has all these scenes where only she and the audience really know what’s going on with her. It’s a very intimate, realistic role that also has some really fun moments of breaking the tension with outrageous characters and situations
AH: I play Delia, a woman very near and dear to my heart, who has a relatively stable life, but is really lonely. She thinks her loneliness will be remedied by having a committed romantic partner so she puts all her energy into trying to manipulate and control that aspect of her life, while also trying to find ways to maintain a healthy sex life as a single, but adult and consenting woman. Of course, she suffers from deep intimacy issues and her real problem is that she doesn’t fully know, love or appreciate herself, which is the ultimate root of her seeking a solution outside herself. All of our answers come from within, but unfortunately Delia is completely blind to this.
NTN: In your campaign you mention that Becca’s character is going to go through issues conceiving, do you plan on exploring other sensitive topics of discussion in the series?
BL: Yes. The characters are real people dealing with normal human problems! Even though the series has a fun attitude and concept, we really don’t shy away from making it authentic.
NTN: Your funding campaign is impressive! What has that process been like for you?
BL: Whoosh. Lots of ups and downs. We started out with a bang. We were getting funding left and right and had so much momentum. Around the middle we started sweating because the contributions stopped rolling in. We hired this awesome dude, The Kickstarter Guy, who gave us really amazing tips, tricks, and coaching on how to maximize the last week of our campaign. And it’s working! We are really hopeful that we’ll reach our final goal.
AH: It’s been really not a great experience for me. I have a hard time being vulnerable with people I am tangentially close to. My close family and friends, no problem, and strangers are also really fun to be creatively vulnerable with, but it’s the Facebook level of intimacy people that I am terrified to expose my deepest desires to, which is of course to be a filmmaker with a relevant platform.
NTN: What are some tips you can give to other web series creators looking to fund their own series? What perks work best, what perks don’t?
BL & AH: Get a coach or a team member who has done this before. It’ll make all the difference. Also, do your research and plan out exactly what you’ll do & when for the entirety of the campaign. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it’s way less than having to scramble during the campaign when you’re trying to do a million other things too. Perk-wise, don’t bother with a lot of physical swag like t-shirts or posters or whatever. Most normal people don’t actually care about that - they want an experience or access!
NTN: What do you like most about the web series community? What’s something you wish more people would know about web series?
AH & BL: Anything goes! It’s a scrappy, pull yourself up by the bootstraps kind of endeavor. We really admire people like Lucy Gillespie of Unicornland and Ben Sinclair & Katja Blichfeld of High Maintenance. They had amazing concepts and made something beautiful and real. Kate Berlant’s 555 on Vimeo is high quality, hilarious and quietly tragic. It’s inspiring to see people be the captains of their own destiny.
NTN: Any upcoming projects to share/anything else to add?
AH & BL :We have three more projects in development. We are currently reworking a series we’ve previously written, developing a new series, and re-writing a feature. We’re on a roll!