Thursday, February 27, 2014

Interview: Katie Boland's Long Story, Short

Katie Boland’s new Web series — the coming-of-age comedy/drama called “Long Story, Short,” which is now playing in its entirety on hulu.com — has opened up the actress and author to new levels of fun and creativity. As she told me recently, “It was a challenging part of my life, but it was probably also the most fun I’ve ever had.”

“LSS” consists of 11 five- to seven-minute episodes centering on 20-something Kristen Harvey as she tries to navigate through the summer after dropping out of art school in NYC. I spoke with Katie recently about the series, which she also wrote and stars in. Read on for more about “LSS,” as well as Katie’s work on the CW’s “Reign” and other projects she has in the pipeline.

Celebrity Extra: I see you’ve been acting professionally since you were 9 — was this pretty much something you’ve always wanted to do?

Katie Boland: Yes, it was something I’ve always wanted to do. I remember being 3 and telling my mom (Gail Harvey) that I wanted to be an actress. I was always around the film industry because my mom is in it. She was resistant at first in letting me try acting, and so was my dad, because they both knew the realities of the industry. They finally let me try when I was 9. And I haven’t stopped since.

CE: And your parents, both being creative types themselves — your mom a director and your dad and award-winning author and journalist — were they supportive of your decision?

KB: I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that I was so lucky for how supportive they always were in any creative endeavor I wanted to try. I think when you grow up in a home where creativity is just a part of life, you don’t realize how lucky you are to be supported. So, it was a very supportive environment. And we were pretty normal. It wasn’t like a crazy, artistic household; it was just one where feelings were allowed, and we were encouraged to try anything we wanted to artistically.

CE: How did the idea for “Long Story, Short” come about?

KB: My mom and I were interested in Web content, and she asked me if I had any ideas for a Web series. I had written some personal essays on what I call “The Summer I Lost My Mind.” That was the material I used for “Long Story, Short.”

CE: Since the series is somewhat autobiographical, you really put yourself out there for the world to see. Were you nervous about opening yourself up like that?

KB: I was nervous about it, definitely, but I felt like I didn’t really have another option. This was the story that I wanted to tell. And I was excited to be able to make something positive about a period in my life that was confusing.

CE: I like the format of 11 episodes, each about five to seven minutes long. How’d you come up with that format?

KB: Originally we had 10 episodes, but one was too long, so we cut one episode into two. It’s the same as any other kind of writing, it’s just a shorter arc. So, you need to start and then get to the middle faster, and then get to the end. With a lot of Web stuff and things that are shorter, you do want to end on a cliffhanger. I do feel I had some parameters that helped me. We’re thinking about season two now and writing season two, and I think I learned a lot through writing season one. There are definitely things I’m going to take from the experience of the first season and put into the second one.

CE: Since “LSS” is based on experiences in your own life, are Kristen’s friends, Lucy and Carson, based on people you know in real life?

KB: They are sort of an imagination of a lot of my friends and a lot of my friends’ experiences. There was just so much happening emotionally at that time in our lives, so I felt like I really wanted to take it all and talk about it all, but I was limited with the amount of characters I could have. So that’s why there are only two friends.

CE: Tell me about the shooting process.

KB: We shot in my childhood home, where my mom still lives. It was really a skeleton crew, and all the crew members were around my age, so it was a very young and excited crew. We would just shoot all day and take a break for lunch. We never shot more than 12 hours. But it was the most fun I’ve ever had being creative. It was an amazing experience, and I’m really excited to do it again. (Authors note: Katie good-naturedly wanted me to make it clear that she directed her characters love scenes, so as not to put her mother through that.)

CE: What’s great is because you’re using an alternative form of media to get your show out there, you have the freedom to be as creative as you want.

KB: Yeah, it has allowed me to have a lot of creative freedom that I would not have with a broadcaster, and also I would not be able to do this with a broadcaster because I don’t have enough experience. It’s allowed me to get my foot in the door as a writer and a creator, where otherwise I wouldn’t be able to hold those positions at all. It’s been cool.

CE: You spoke about season two ... can you give me any scoop as to what to expect?

KB: Well, all the girls are going to return. And I would say most of the boys would make a reappearance because, as in life, no one ever truly leaves. Everyone comes back. I like asking, Why are we attracted to the people we are attracted to? Why do certain lovers come into our life? And what does that teach us about ourselves? I find that very interesting as I get older. Maybe it would be good to keep exploring that in a fictional framework.

CE: And you get to go from a creative, smaller project like “LSS” to a big-budget CW show like “Reign.” What is it like playing Clarissa on that historical-fiction series?

KB: I feel very grateful that in my career I get to work on projects in both worlds — the very independent and then a huge show. It’s been a wonderful experience. The show has a really great fan base, and I think the show’s excellent. It’s pretty fun; the show’s pretty scandalous.

CE: It reminds me of Showtime’s “The Tudors.”

KB: Yeah, it’s definitely similar to “The Tudors.” I’m really lucky to be a part of it.

CE: What else do you have in the works?

KB: I have two films that are coming out. One is called “Gerontophilia,” and the other is called “Sex After Kids.” I’m developing a number of other shows for TV. My mom and I have started a production company called Straight Shooters, so we’re excited about that. And then I’m just working on another novel and season two of “Long Story, Short.”

CE: So, you’re not that busy, then?

KB: (Laughs) Yeah, I guess pretty I’m busy when you look at it that way.

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