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Felicia Day: Appearances

22 January 2012 Leave a comment

Felica Day – APPEARANCES

2012:

17-20 May: Fedcon 

Felicia Day Gives io9 an Exclusive Preview of the Next Guild Comic

16 December 2011 Leave a comment


Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh give us an exclusive preview of the next Guild comic!

io9 recently had the opportunity to catch up with Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh, the stars of the long-running fantasy gaming web series The Guild. This duo also co-wroteThe Guild: Zaboo, the next Guild tie-in comic book to hit the stands.

Check out an exclusive sneak peek of the comic’s first six pages and learn what’s up with The Guild‘s sixth season.

First off, here’s a preview and plot synopsis of The Guild: Zaboo one-shot comic, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics. This issue’s in stores Wednesday, December 28:

Writer: Felicia Day, Sandeep Parikh
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Evan Dorkin

Zaboo has loved Cyd’s game avatar Codex from afar since the two first met playing The Game. Just what he’ll do for love comes to the fore as he senses Cyd is in trouble and embarks on a real-life quest to escape his mother and become Cyd’s knight in shining armor.







And here’s our conversation with Sandeep and Felicia about all things Guild-related…


Sandeep, how did you get involved co-writing the Zaboo comic?

Sandeep Parikh: I think Felicia wanted a different perspective. We’ve been collaborating for years, long before The Guild and Legend of Neil. We did improv together, and we cowrote the Bollywood Guild song. In writing, I took everything from my experience as a director and tried to be as visual as possible. We have a page per plot point, and it was great to have Felicia help me through the process.

Season Five of The Guild recently wrapped up this October. What’s coming up next for the show?

Felicia Day: We’re still actually waiting on the pick-up for next season. The show is owned by me, so it’s determined by the best opportunity for it, but I fully intend on doing future seasons, particularly with the cliffhanger for Season Five. It’s really exciting where we can go with the characters and that story. In the next couple months, we’ll see where the series goes.

And what can we expect from future Guild comics?

FD: I have a couple more things on the horizon coming for next year. I can’t talk about them right at this second, but I’m definitely doing comics. The Guild really lends itself to the format, so depending on what happens with future seasons, I really want to integrate comics into the future of The Guild.

SP: The Zaboo comic leads up to first frame of The Guild web series. All of the comic one-shots have been before the webseries takes place.

FD: We added a lot of game aspects to this comic, and this issue brings us up to the timeline of Season 1, Episode 1. The origin story of Codex and the arc of all five seasons of The Guild are filled in with this comic.

SP: If you’re a gamer and you look real close, you’ll see a few shout outs to your favorite games. Zaboo’s perspective on the world is through video games, so page by page sends you to a new world. I like that you can actually play the comic. If you read the margins on the pages, you can learn how to gain XP while reading it.

In Season Five, we saw a flip-flopping of Codex and Zaboo’s romantic dynamic. How did that come about?

SP: I really love what Felicia did with the characters. The best part of playing Zaboo is that he has some of most interesting arcs of the entire show. He really grows and evolves more every season. Our relationship is the same thing. How she handled our relationship this season felt really believable and honest.

Any sort of crazy behind-the-scenes stuff happen while filming Season Five?

FD: In the DVD that’s coming out later this month through Amazon, there’s a behind-the-scenes there that you will not believe. There are two characters who were supposed to be identical twins. So we hired identical twins, but they never made it to set. We have a very awesome, behind-the-scenes piece on how we were waiting for these twins, and we ended up choosing an extra, a Guild volunteer from the Twitter account to become two different roles this season. She had never been an actor before!

SP: She had to level up pretty fast!

FD: It’s an awesome story because she was a fan, and now she’s canon!

What other projects do the two of you have coming up?

FD: I’m launching a new YouTube channel right now called Geek and Sundry. We’re producing a slate of three or four shows right now. Not a very restful holiday, but an interesting next year to come out with some more projects!

SP: I’m actually in a writers’ session right now for a brand new web series that I’m going to create with My Damn Channel. I can’t really say too much, but it’s going to be awesome. It’s right up the alley of fans of The Guild and The Legend of Neil.

Original Interview at io9

Felicia Day Talks About The Guild FCBD Comic & Dragon Age: Redemption with TFAW

14 December 2011 Leave a comment

Felicia Day Talks About The Guild DCBD Comic & Dragon Age: Redemption

Written by Elisabeth&TFAW

Dec 5 2011

Dark Horse Month was too big and exciting to contain in just one month, so we’re closing it down with a “visit” from the one and only Felicia Day, creator/writer/producer/star of The Guild, her wildly popular web series focusing on a misfit group of gamers. We chatted with her about the upcoming The Guild: Zaboo one-shot, her Free Comic Book Day comic (a flip-book paired with Buffy the Vampire Slayer!), her latest web series, Dragon Age: Redemption, and more.

We’ve also got an exclusive six-page preview of The Guild: Zaboo–enjoy!

TFAW.com: Now that you’ve completed both The Guild miniseries and several one-shots, how are you enjoying the process of making comics?

Felicia Day: I feel like I’ve really hit a personal stride, that I actually look forward to working with the format and thinking more visually. The process is a lot more fun now that I’ve gotten my own methodology down.

TFAW.com: Can you give us any hints about what we’ll discover about Zaboo in The Guild: Zabooone-shot?

FD: Sandeep [Parikh, her co-star and co-writer of the one-shot] is a director, so I think this issue is much more visual, similar to the Bladezz issue (which I did with Guild director Sean Becker). The cool thing is that Sandeep is a big gamer as well, so we tried to infuse a lot of gamer ideas into the script and the visuals. There are homages to everything from FPSs to Mario Kart. I’m excited for people to read it.

TFAW.com: Does this take place before or after Season 5?

FD: As are all the one shots of the core characters I’ve done this year, this one is pre-season 1, with the timeline catching up to the web series by the end of the issue.

TFAW.com: Dark Horse just announced there will be a Guild comic for Free Comic Book Day–as a flip book with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How do you feel about that pairing?

FD: SUPER PSYCHED. Ahem, sorry about the caps. I didn’t know they were going to do that, and to be paired with such a great title is an honor for sure. I was excited to be able to get word about the series out and support such a great event.

TFAW.com: What can you tell us about the storyline for the FCBD comic? Will it tie into Season 6 of the web series at all?

FD: It’s a stand-alone for people who might not be familiar with the show and it’s sort of out of time with the series, but canon.

TFAW.com: Have you considered expanding your comics work–writing a Buffy story, or a superhero book?

FD: I would love to fit in other comic projects, but I am really stretched thin right now. Next year is going to bring some big changes though, and I hope to fit in more writing alongside with all the web series I’ll be doing. The idea of creating something new is really appealing to me though.

TFAW.com: Cyd and Zaboo’s relationship has been through several twists and turns: she took a second look at him romantically in Season 5, but that fizzled after a brief experiment. Where will they be in Season 6?

FD: I can’t tell, and if I could I wouldn’t anyway :) . The show is still not picked up, so we have a lot of options with what we can do with the show, actually. I might be interested in doing something different with the format. We’ll see what the new year brings!

TFAW.com: A lot of characters made a quantum leap in Season 5: Tinkerballa (ahem, April Lou) opened up to Cyd, Vork fell in love, kind of, and most importantly, it looks like Cyd has an actual job–with The Game! Are we going to see a more “functional” Guild in Season 6?

FD: Of course not, functional is boring! I am having fun bringing the characters out of their shells a bit, though. Their friendship is making them better people, which is the central story of The Guild, really.

TFAW.com: I just rewatched Dragon Age: Redemption and really enjoyed it. How did you prepare for such a physical role?

FD: It was monumental will power that got me out of bed at 6 am every day for three months, doing two hours of working out, then going to work for eight hours and working on the script and The Guildand everything else I have to do, then training again before I went to bed. I think I almost broke myself, but it was 100% worth it. It definitely made me respect big action heroes more, who literally make that process their life. I don’t think I’ll ever be in that good shape again, to be honest. :)

TFAW.com: The end of the web series left a lot of room for a sequel–is anything currently in the works?

FD: Nothing planned now, but Tallis is, awesomely, a part of the Dragon Age universe. I could only hope she appears again!

TFAW.com: What were the biggest differences (besides budget) between producing The Guild andDragon Age: Redemption?

FD: I think scale was the biggest, we had so many more crew on Dragon Age, it was hard to even look at it like a web series; it was TV-sized. Also Dragon Age had a huge post-production process with special effects and color timing and transcoding, etc. etc. That was a huge learning lesson, how complicated post-production can be when you do a lot of special effects and involve so many people on that end of production.

I think the biggest lesson I took was that I kind of enjoy shooting things with three people more, haha.

TFAW.com: You’ve acted in projects by others, and those you produce yourself. When you’re creating your own material, do you think you make fewer compromises, or just different ones?

FD: Filmmaking is, by definition, a compromise art form, I think, whatever the scale. You never quite realize exactly what is in your head–sometimes you fall short, sometimes other people’s input and talent help you exceed it. That’s the beauty and the frustration of making films.

I certainly have a bit more control over what I produce personally, but wearing so many hats tends to round out the perfectionist corners because it’s simply a lot to take on, especially when we have such low budgets. So really, the challenges always vary from project to project, which is why I love what I do. Variety I what I live for.

TFAW.com: What do you think is the key to creating realistic female characters, both in comics or for web or TV series?

FD: I think creating a character, not a type. We all read characters that jump out as, “MOM,” “GIRLFRIEND,” “GEEK GIRL”–they start from cliches and never overcome them. Moms aren’t always kind, teen daughters aren’t always rebellious. Start creating a character with a unique perspective, interesting past experiences, and then make her female. Then something awesome will hopefully happen.

Our thanks to Felicia for taking the time to answer all of our questions. Make sure to order The Guildcomics and graphic novels here at TFAW.com.

Original Interview at TFAW

 

Felicia Day Q & A from The L.A. Times

11 November 2011 Leave a comment

Q&A: Felicia Day, from ‘The Guild’ to ‘Dragon Age’

October 13, 2011

This week in Felicia Day news: Tuesday saw the premiere of “Dragon Age: Redemption,” a Web series the actress-writer created as an extension of the video game Dragon Age II, and Wednesday that of the downloadable Dragon Age II adventure Mark of the Assassin; both feature Day in the role of Tallis, an elf with killer skills — a skilled killer elf. On Thursday, the fifth-season finale of Day’s “The Guild,” the online comedy about online gaming that made her name, goes wide on the Web. (It has been an ambitious year for the series, with myriad celebrity cameos, a fully staged fan convention and a flying “dirigible boatmobile.”) I spoke to Day, who is also known for her work on “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” Joss Whedon’s Web musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” and the Syfy TV series “Eureka,” for a Times profile last month. Here is a Q&A cut of some of the rest of our conversation.

We began by talking about women and the Web.

Felicia Day: There was a really good blog the other day about the huge decrease in the number of women on staff and women show runners in TV. When I go to a Web video meeting and look around, at least half the show runners are women. And a lot are actors-cum-writers, who are frustrated with the situation of being a woman actor in Hollywood and have decided to create their own show. There’s definitely a higher proportion of women in Web series because, I guess the money’s not there. [Laughs.] I think it’s an outlet for people looking to create without waiting for someone to give them a permission slip.

You first wrote “The Guild” as a TV pilot.

FD: I did. I showed it around and got some compliments on my dialogue and my characters. People said, “You should write a spec script for whatever sitcom — you could get on staff.” I know a lot of writers and I knew that being a staff writer wasn’t really what I wanted to do. But [future “Guild” co-producer] Kim Evey, who was actually my first writing teacher — my only writing teacher, I did a sketch-writing class with her — had done a lot of Web video. She had a show called “Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show” that took off a little bit that she sold to Sony for distribution. And after she read “The Guild,” she said, “We should make this for the Web, because that’s where the people who you’re talking to are, not TV.”

You never felt that it was the lesser path?

FD: No, because it was so experimental at the time it was just like a challenge, like, “Let’s mount a play! Let’s make something!” We had all just been sitting around Hollywood waiting for someone to give us what we thought we wanted. I think that’s kind of inherent in this town; no matter where you are you always have this other higher goal you want to get to. It’s sort of an underlying dissatisfaction with life, and it creates a lot of bitter people. The idea of just taking the reins and doing something on our own was terrifying, but the decision to do it, with just what we had in our houses, was so exciting that it became a great creative focus. We were going to make it happen no matter what.

No matter what we needed we had to do it ourselves because we had no money to hire anyone. So I was the one who drove out to Sylmar because somebody on Freecycle wrote they had working electronics on their curb and I was, like, “Well, that would look cool in the background of this character.” And for the background of another character I was, like, “Well, I need a painting that’s iconic for her,” so I took a piece of wrapping paper and I used a Sharpie and I painted this vaguely graphic shape and hung it on the wall. Every single scene that first season was all found objects.

Were you worried about not making it too “insidery”? Of making it for a wider audience than just gamers?

FD: I made it for myself, basically. I never wondered “Is this too insidery?” Season One is probably the highest bar to entry as far as the gaming terminology. I think it started with hard-core people, and then people who knew the hard-core people told their other geeky friends, and then it broadened out to all Internet users. We released one episode a month, which is counterintuitive, but in fact was a huge advantage for the show because we built an audience between episodes. We started so far inside that it gave me the time to think about where my audience was.

Did you have any sort of public profile at the time?

FD: I’d been on “Buffy” — that is an amazing community, the Joss Whedon fans. So that was a little bit of a leg up. And then being able to target gaming blogs, and inevitably a couple featured it. And with Episode Three, I think, YouTube saw the traffic and featured us on their front page. After that we had a lot of offers from studios — there were some big studios jumping into the space in 2007 and 2008, but their traditional model is to own the show’s IP, and I looked at what they were doing with other Web properties, and was like, “Well,what exactly are you going to do that’s better than what I’m doing?” I kept turning down deals, even partial ownership deals with really impressive people, though I got close several times, because in my mind I was doing things slowly but surely, and I didn’t see that they were going to help me out either logistically or financially enough to justify giving up my show. And the week before we started shooting Season Two, Microsoft called and said: “We’re interested in doing this with you. It works with our demographic. We want to do original content, we don’t need to own the IP, and we have Sprint on board to do overall sponsorship.” It was absolutely a dream deal — they introduced us to millions of new people. That was the big lesson, in that with every platform you’re on you’ll find a new audience. We experienced another huge leap when we got on Netflix, which I didn’t expect; and continue to find new audience there as well as on Xbox Live. We just did a distribution deal with Hulu, and again, tons more people just discovered the show.

Do your actors work under union contracts?

Since our first season we’ve been AFTRA. SAG and AFTRA have been pretty aggressive in trying to sign Web series. I guess the challenging part for them is how do you treat a Web series people are making in their house differently from a big company doing a quote-unquote Web series that’s really a direct-to-DVD movie they just want to pay everybody less for. I’ve done a couple of pilots for real networks that have been made under a Web agreement and made, like, $100, yet they’re presenting it to a network to consider for pickup: That’s the company trying to get over the unions. I think more and more the unions are savvy to those plays.

Codex, your character in “The Guild,” is a bit of a shy flower. For “Dragon Age: Redemption” you’ve written yourself as an elf assassin.

FD: I saw all these superhero movies and I knew I would never be that; I could be the waitress that gets killed in one of those superhero movies. And so when the opportunity came to create a character for a world where I could wield daggers, I couldn’t pass it up.

How did it feel?

FD: It felt great. It was a monumental opportunity, but it was definitely taking “The Guild” and raising it ten-thousandfold. I mean, I wrote a $10-million movie on the page, and they were, like, “Well, you should not write a fight sequence for 14 people on a Web series budget, when you have no trailers.” I called in every favor from every person I could to make it more than what I had resource-wise. 

You were approached to make the series?

FD: I had been approached by a lot of people to do another Web series; it was almost intimidating how many people wanted me to do a project with them, and so I kind of put them all off. Because to me it’s all about, “Does it feel right?” Whenever I get out of my own way and make decisions based on my gut feeling I always do well. And when Electric Arts [makers of Dragon Age] called, that was the first call in years that was really like, “Oh!” They asked, “What would you like to do?” and I said, “What properties do you have?” And when Dragon Age came up I was, like, “Yes!” Because when am I ever going to be able to be in a medieval world as an actor? Probably never. So I’ll help create it myself.

This will be the first time that a video game property is a Web series; and the elf is an actual playable character. So my character will be a DLC [downloadable content] piece; if people own Dragon Age II, they’ll be able to purchase an extension pack and play with my character. It’s full motion capture with me, full facial capture, full vocal acting. It’s pretty much the coolest thing I could ever imagine: Not only am I in a game, but it’s as a character I created.

Have you noticed narrative ideas from video games working their way into movies and TV shows?

FD: I would almost say the opposite: The storytelling in video games has gotten so much more sophisticated and well-thought-out — I mean, if you play Uncharted, it’s like you’re living an Indiana Jones movie. And [Dragon Age developer] BioWare games specifically have a depth of storytelling where you feel like you’re living a season of a really good hour drama. You’re able to form relationships with other characters, your dialogue choices influence the story. Just the number of lines that I had to record to satisfy all the player decisions in [“Dragon Age: Redemption”] is kind of staggering. So it’s a three-dimensional kind of storytelling that to me is almost more attractive than passively watching a narrative. I think that’ it’s going to be very interesting to see the long term of it — it’s almost like video games have an advantage over movies in being able to go beyond the traditional barriers of media.

Do you see Web series remaining entrepreneurial as more money flows to the Web?

FD: When someone asks me to help them with their Web series, I’m like, “Do you really want to do a Web series, or do you just want to to a short film? Because if you want to do a short film, make one.” Sustaining an audience with a Web series is an impossible task. You’re starting a company and the video is just one piece of your offering. You have to have a start-up mind, you have to think about the Web design, the trailers, your social networking sites; you need to make sure that you’re consistent, you need to have marketing materials at all times. The three-dimensional way that you have to build a Web series is unique. Some people upload a video and expect to get reviews overnight. “The Guild” didn’t have that. Maybe a couple of stars will have that kind of penetration, but big stars have done Web series that have gotten zero people to watch them. There’s no magic bullet; it’s just persistence and making content over and over again and knowing that you love doing it even if you might not get a million people to watch.

You have to hit harder in order to be able to be spread on the Internet, because you’re not going to hit 2 million people at once like you’re on television. You’re going to hit … whoever you can get access to. Distribution networks like YouTube and Twitter and Facebook, that’s your network. I tweet — I don’t think 100% of my Twitter followers see every tweet I do. It’s a scattered, I like to say, “info-collander”: You pour in the information and it’s going to catch just between the holes. So it’s all about consistence and consistency. It’s challenging for the traditional sort of marketing approach; we invent whatever we can to get our audience.

Do you watch other Web series?

FD: I do. I mean, I try. The last six months have been really challenging to me. But one of my best friends I found online because I admired their work. There was that steampunk series “Riese” and there was a sci-fi series, “The Mercury Men,” my friend did and then sold to Syfy for distribution. There’s a really sweet comedy called “Awkward Embraces.” Especially on the comedy side, there are some really good Web series, and they get more and more polished because the equipment gets cheaper and cheaper and people get savvier and savvier. The storytelling and production values are improving. Certainly Episode One of Season One of “The Guild” is completely different from Episode One of Season Five. We’ve improved exponentially. You’ve got to compete with that Hulu thumbnail of a professional TV show; so you’d better make your Web series pretty good, or who’s going to click on it?

Do you imagine creating series that you don’t star in?

FD: “Dragon Age” was the first step. I could go off into the wilderness and write fantasy novels for the rest of my life and probably be happy; but I always want to challenge myself. So my producing partner Kim and I have several projects in development; a couple of them might have me as an actor, or personality, and others have other people. My goal is to do a whole slate of programs, start small and then end up at those bigger-budget things I really want to do. I also know that as a woman [actor], my face has a shelf life, in a sense, I’m very aware of that. So I just have to be long term about it, and think, you know, that was the time for that and maybe in the future it’s more writing and producing. I tend to not to think too far ahead.

This will all be online?

 FD: Yes. I’m always interested in digital distribution — that’s where it’s all going to end up anyway. I never felt more fulfilled than when I uploaded that first “Guild” video and I saw comments starting to appear; and they were good and they were bad but they were there, and I saw that feedback and I saw people that started using our icons on their page because they liked the show. It’s that interactivity that keeps me interested in doing it; it’s intoxicating in a way. And I always wanted to be part of that community, and the community I’ve formed I’m loyal to. So I want to tell stories to them.

Original Interview at The L.A. Times

Lust for Love Kickstarter Project ft a Host of Whedony Actors

26 October 2011 Leave a comment

Lust for Love is a feature film project by a group of artists including Fran Kranz, Dichen Lachman, Enver Gjokaj, Felicia Day and Maurissa Tancharoen.  The Kickstarter fund for the project, which will film in December has already reached it’s goal of $70,000 but you can still donate to help make the film even better and receive a number of different rewards depending on how much you pledge.

For full details and to make your donation go to Kickstarter

Felicia Day: Queen of the Geeks from Paste Magazine

26 October 2011 Leave a comment

FELICIA DAY

QUEEN OF THE GEEKS

By Josh Jackson

Felicia Day knows she only has herself to blame for this schedule. When videogame company BioWare approached her with the idea to make a couple of webisodes to supplement its launch of some new downloadable content for Dragon Age II, she wrote, produced and starred in an ambitious six-episode adventures – nearly an hour’s worth of television. But she learned quickly that creating a fantasy action-adventure series was very different than her low-budget, highly successful comedy show, The Guild.

“I said, ‘Let’s mae a huge, epic web series on almost no money,’ and I underestimated not only the work of managing the production on two huge properties” she recalls over breakfast in West Hollywood, “but also as a person – being able to act and produce and write and have everything on my shoulders and being the face of it, and then also being full-time on a TV series, SyFy’s Eureka. It was a very tough year.”

But the 32-year-old actress knew that she wasn’t going to get cast as an action hero in a blockbuster film, and this was her chance to create that role for herself. She took more than three months of fight training, transforming from “gamer shape” into someone who showed off her muscles on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. “That will never exist again, that gun,” she jokes. “It’s like being naked on film: you want to preserve that for eternity. That’s my version of naked. Like, ‘You have biceps.'”

When Day speaks of 18-hour days, it wasn’t just learning how to portray a deadly elf assassin. She was determined to make sure her story fit well inside an existing universe to please a much broader audience to justify the huge budgets. But here was an opportunity to make something for the existing fans. She’d already been a fan of Dragon Age: Origins, played the game over and over for months, reading every forum post and internal document, including the plot of the then-unreleased game.

“I used a lot of subtle videogame tropes in the piece,” she says, “because I wanted Dragon Age fans to know that I didn’t just take this and ignore what they love about the game. In fact I researched so much that the creators of the game were like, ‘Oh, we hadn’t though of that’ and ‘You know this more than people that work here.’ I’m not being arrogant about it, but you can’t take a videogame world and try to just whitewash it so that everybody will love it. The point of a videogame world is that you spend 40 hours in it, so people who love that world know it better than they’ll ever know a movie. To betray basic facts about a videogame is to betray its fan base even more than a redoing of a movie or a TV show.”

Day doesn’t do anything half-assed. When she took up violin, she practiced enough to earn a full scholarship to the University of Texas – at age 16. She majored in math, with no intentions of doing anything with the degree other than showing her dad, but she loved the coursework, graduation as valedictorian. “I was doing calculus at [age] 12, and it wasn’t like I was some kind of savant; I was interested in the subject and I had people teach me as far as I could go.”

Day speaks quickly, as if her mind is racing, and her mouth is just doing the best to keep up. But while she excelled at math and violin, she didn’t love the predictability that came with either career path. So at age 20, she headed west to pursue acting. “I always had this blind idea that I was going to go to L.A. and be an actor, and it was unfounded in a lot of ways. But I think there are a lot of people who arrive in this town just thinking that’s what they want to do and it’s their destiny – or righteousness or arrogance, of course. And then when you get here, you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s not going to be easy.’ But you know from Austin, Texas, a girl who did like two or three student films, I thought I was perfectly qualified.”

For two years, she worked without an agent, experiencing constant rejection and acting in “horrible student films.” The turning point came when she took an improv class. “I didn’t know I was funny,” she says. “I didn’t know about humor. I was actually very inhibited and very straight-laced. And I think it was that first improv class where I got out of my head, and I started acting without my brain getting involved, and I realized there was stuff you didn’t have to control about yourself that is unique and can make people laugh. And then when I started doing that, I became a lot more comfortable acting and auditioning, and I got a little more work. But it wasn’t until I started making myself look like more of a character that I started getting more and more roles, like put the glasses on and the short quirky hair and sort of fit what Hollywood saw in me, which is great but it ultimately felt unfulfilling. And that’s why I kind of delved into World of Warcraft ,” she adds, laughing. “Full time job.”

Videogames had always been a big part of Day’s life growing up. A military brat, she moved around a lot, and she would escape with her brother into the games on their Amiga system or hand-me down computers from their nuclear-physicist grandfather. She became particularly enamored with King’s Quest and the Ultima series and every role-playing game that followed. In fact, she only bristles when her videogame bona fides are called into question. “That’s the biggest insult when I read Internet comments, which I really need to avoid. But when they say, ‘Oh, she’s just a poser gamer taking advantage of gamers,’ – you can say whatever you want about me, about my talent and my writing, but if you challenge the fact that I love games, I will come punch you.” She’s laughing as she says this, but all you internet trolls out there, remember those biceps.

Despite landing a recurring role on the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2003, work was sporadic and the process frustrating. Acting, it turned out, was a far cry from the hard work/reward cycle of the violin or her math studies – or World of Warcraft.

“[I was] so tied to achievement based things,” she says, “especially things where the more work you put in them, the more you were rewarded. So, violin, the more you practice, the better you are. The more you do math, the better you are. The more you study, the better you are. And then I got into a world in L.A. that for whatever rhyme or reason, you’re talking about something you can’t measure. In fact, the more you work at it, as an actor especially, has absolutely no reflection on your achievement level. It’s not merit based. [With] World of Warcraft, when I get in there, the harder you work, the better you are.”

Her gaming obsession became unhealthy, but even her in-game efforts eventually paid off in a very different way. After quitting cold turkey, she gave herself a deadline to finish writing a script for a TV pilot, based on a girl obsessed with gaming. “I was filled with fear,” she recalls. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. But as soon as I allowed myself to sort of write and fail – you know just write it for myself – that was where I finally finished the script at midnight on January 1st, because literally, that was my deadline.”

She pitched the show as a half-hour sitcom to a few networks and producers, but no one understood the size of the gaming audience. “They were like, ‘Oh yeah, there’s some really great stuff here, there’s some really great characters, but I don’t know what the hell is going on,'” she told me back in 2009, just after releasing the second season of The Guild “Even then, people didn’t understand. [They] thought, ‘Oh you know, maybe she gamed before and now she has a boyfriend and she works at a coffee shop.'”

Undeterred, she followed the lead of her friend Kim Evey, who had a viral video hit with Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show, and took her script where most of her audience was anyway – online. Breaking the half-hour pilot into short segments for the web, Day and Evey produced the series themselves under the Knights of Good Productions banner, getting actors and crew to volunteer their time and paying for things like set design out of their own pockets. When they began releasing the short webisodes, Day discovered that there was indeed a part of her new career which followed that familiar work/reward cycle. She poured herself into promotion.

She began emailing gaming bloggers, personally, repeatedly, fanatically, 12 hours a day. She says they  got 200,000 hits on the first episode, double that on the second, and the third was featured on YouTube. One of the show’s early fans was Buffy creator Joss Whedon. During the writer strike in 2007, he told her he was planning on doing something on the web himself. “We were walking around in a circle with our signs at the strike,” she remembers, “and he was like, ‘I want to make a superhero musical.’ So I was like, ‘That sounds amazing; please go do it.’ And then around the corner of the year, he just randomly sent me this email saying ‘Can you sing? – J.'”

That superhero musical turned out to be Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Whedon cast Day in a love triangle with Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion. If The Guild was an unprecedented success, Dr. Horrible was a phenomenon, with more tha two million viewers out of the gate. (To be fair The Guild has since surpassed  million episode views over its five seasons).

Whedon managed to get sponsorship for his series, but Day and Evey simply put up a donation button and were shocked when money started trickling in. Between gifts from fans, DVD sales and a partnership with Microsoft’s Xbox, they were able to start paying cast and crew members while retaining full ownership and creative control. Day had the freedom to shoot a funny music video for her character Codex, called “Do You Want To Date My Avatar?” and even developed a series of comics with origin stories for each of the guild members through publisher Dark Horse.

For each season of The Guild, Day and Evey increased production values as the show got more ambitious. They do forum posts and little Easter egg videos at WatchTheGuild.com. Season 5 takes place at a sci-fi convention, and the cameos read like a marquee day at Comic Con – Erin Gray (Buck Rogers), Zachary Levi (Chuck), Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and comic-book legend Stan Lee are but a few. While Day and Evey still work out of their homes, Knights of Good is currently developing a dozen projects right now, taking what they’ve learned and scaling it.

Day’s most ambitious project to date, though, is Dragon Age: Redemption. She’s brought her laptop to breakfast, to play me the first episode, and it’s a long way from the bedroom web-cam opening of The Guild. Where Cyd Sherman lacked an ounce of self-esteem, the assassin Tallis is more like Cyd’s avatar, Codex. She’s cocky and capable, a bad-ass in leather and steel. She’s also funny in the context of a serious adventure, where Cyd was straight-laced within the confines of a sitcom.

“If you’re familiar with BioWare games,” Day says, “you know that part of the charm of them is the characters are in tense situations, but they still have a sense of humor, like any human world. They have witty one-liners and amusing character interactions, and then they fight people and kill people. So I tried to, again, not only to be faithful to the world and the logic of the world, but be faithful to the tonality of Dragon Age… It’s almost Buffy-ish in a way – that’s what Joss Whedon does amazingly. He feels the dramatic stakes but humanizes the characters through their point of view and their humor.”

Tallis will also be making an appearance in the game itself. “I created a character,” she says, her face lighting up, “and the cool thing is the character goes into a piece of videogame content, which is kind of the first time that’s ever been done. When I do something that nobody has ever done before, that’s my personal victory. I don’t really go do Hollywood parties; I don’t get a lot of free things, except for video games, which is awesome. I do it for the self-challenge of it. Can I pull this off? And has it been done before? That’s the thing that I’m the most proud of, that I can open a door to something new and innovative. For some reason that’s what tickled my brain and makes it satisfied.”

Day hasn’t fully given up on old media. The Eureka creators wrote a character specifically for her in a recent eight-episode run, and she was contemplating writing another TV pilot when the folks at BioWare came calling. But she;s content with the smaller scope of web video if it comes with the opportunity to keep trying new things. Knights of Good is looking at bringing on more people, and with those dozen projects ranging from tiny budgets to ideas grander than her Dragon Age series, Day’s level of involvement will vary.

“I really believe in the space,” she says. “I pay my bills, and that’s all I need. I’m not really an extravagant person, so my life is fulfilled by creating things, and whether I’m working with a mainstream studio, or a Microsoft, or I’m just doing it in my house on my own, I believe in the web. [But] obviously, in order to scale and be a human who plays a little bit of video games at night, I can’t do everything anymore.”

Looking back, my first question to Day upon hitting “record” on my iPhone app turns out to have been a really silly one: “Did you know this was what you wanted to do when you were growing up?” I meant, “act, write and tell stories.” But this, the thing that Felicia Day does, didn’t exist when she was growing up, didn’t really exist until she started doing it. She went to L.A. because she wanted a career that was unpredictable, that didn’t have boundaries on where the next five years would take her. She’s certainly found it.

Original interview at Paste Magazine

 

 

 

Felicia Day Talks DragonAge with TubeFilter

26 October 2011 Leave a comment

Felicia Day’s ‘Dragon Age’ Series: “The Ultimate Experience”

by on October 11th, 2011

The premiere of the sure to be fanboy/girl favorite original companion web series to video game publisher BioWare’s role-playing title Dragon Age II went live late last night/early this morning on Machinima’s YouTube channel.

The first of six installments of Dragon Age: Redemption introduces us to our star Felicia Day’s character Tallis, an ‘knife eared’ Elvin assassin in moderately protective fantasy armor with crazy skills on the hunt for the dangerous and recently escaped Qunari mage Cerebus. Take a look:

 

 

 

In addition to slaughtering pigs and humans in front of the camera, Day contributed a helluva lot to the series behind the camera, too. She wrote Redemption, executive produced the series along with Kim Evey and Dan Kaplow, and her Knights of Good Productions (the same crew behind her uber-hit web series The Guild) took on the physical production duties of the program.

We caught up with Day to ask her how the Knights of Good got along with BioWare and Dragon Age lead producer Mike Laidlaw, if she has any particular penchant for elves, and how she thinks Dragon Age: Redemption will impact sales of Dragon Age: II and the game’s latest downloadable content package (DLC) Mark of the Assassin (which features an in-video-game character based on the live-action Tallis).

Tubefilter: How’d Redemption come to be?
Felicia Day: EA approached me about potentially working on a project in early 2010, and I proposed if it would be possible to work with the world of BioWare’s Dragon Age RPG, which is one of my favorite games. Many steps later, we had a really interesting deal set up where I would develop the web series and they would create a piece of DLC that carried my character over into their actual gaming universe.

TF: How many hours of the Dragon Age franchise do you think you played before you got the gig? 
FD: I’m sure it was over 40 hours. For the first game I played all 6 starting origin quests, and then twice through the whole thing as an elf then a human.

TF: How many hours of Dragon Age II did you log afterwards while you conceived of the storyline and characters?
FD: Dragon Age II did not release until a few months after shooting, so I didn’t get to play it before writing the script, but I was allowed to see all the story points and character breakdowns during development to make sure I was staying consistent with their world in the web series.

TF: How much of the storyline was your own conception and how much of it was BioWare saying, “We’d like something like this…”? Did they give you any guidelines?
FD: It was definitely a back and forth where I would come to them with an idea, like being a rogue elf character, and then would suggest an area for backstory afterwards and then I’d go away and outline more, etc. They were approving every step of the story that I would show them, because I wanted to make sure fans of the game would feel like the lore was consistent with the game they played.

TF: What about during production? Was there one of the writers or creators on set to ensure “video game accuracy”?
FD: We had EA/Bioware visitors, but there was not a daily presence. We showed them pictures of most the props and sets in advance. It was extremely important to us to be as faithful to the game as we could on a web series budget. All the weapons are based on weapon art directly taken from the game.

TF: Why’d you choose to play an elf? Was it simply the closest physical match? Or do you not dig the Qunari?
FD:I felt that it was a close match to my physicality, unlike a Qunari. With the slim likelihood of my ever being involved with a huge budget fantasy movie as an actor, this was the ultimate experience for me as a fantasy fan, to be a part of a fantasy universe. I hope it’s not the last time either.

TF: What do you think the audiences will like the best about the series?
FD: I hope that seeing a web series set in a fantasy world will be a fresh change of pace for viewers. It’s not the most common genre, and hopefully people will experience the DLC and the web series together, which I think is storytelling in a new and interesting way. Also the character is much different from what I usually play, she’s tough and not-apologetic. I hope people enjoy seeing another facet of me as a performer.

TF: What’s your favorite part of the process of creating a companion program for a video game you really love to play?
FD: It was a difficult project to do on the budget, so seeing it all come together was a magical process.  I think production-wise being present at every stage of the sound mix really educated me on how incredibly important that aspect of filmmaking is. The soundtrack and special effects can sell a moment that wasn’t there in the edit.  It’s really quite powerful.

Also doing all the mocap and vocal recording for the character was an amazing experience.  To see video game production from that many angles was fascinating, I really appreciate what the writers have to do when scripting a world where the player has so much freedom. The amount of content is astonishing.

TF: Do you think Redemption will encourage video game sales? 
FD: I hope that it will. I see a lot of feedback on my social networks that indicate that people are picking the game up because of my involvement. I can only hope that it does well for EA so they do more projects for the web in the future!

Check out Dragon Age: Redemption at YouTube.com/Machinima and pick up your copy of the game today.

Original Interview at TubeFilter

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