MTV & G4's chosen Geek Girl, Action Flick Chick, answers Nightfly's questions about her web series [GAGA] and its Kickstarter campaign.
If you frequent the websites MTV Geek, io9.com, Geek Girls Network or Newsarama, follow G4TV, attend San Diego Comic-Con panels, enjoy social media, or just like reading action movie reviews, you've probably encountered the work of internet sensation and G4's first "Next Woman of the Web" champion, Katrina Hill (a.k.a. Action Flick Chick). Fresh off her two recent SDCC panels and with a cool book due out in November, Katrina took time from her always-busy schedule to answer questions about her upcoming web series, GAGA: Geeks and Gamers Anonymous centered around a gaming addiction support group, and her Kickstarter campaign helping fund it. At this point, with just a week remaining, Katrina's Kickstarter goal is 80% met.
My first questions pertained to SDCC. Katrina organized both the "The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con" (featuring Clare Kramer, Milynn Sarley, Adrianne Curry, and Bonnie Burton to name just a few), and "Once More, with Comics: How the Whedon Universes Continue in Comic Book Form" (featuring Scott Allie, Chris Gage, Jane Espenson, Tom Lenk, Clare Kramer and Amber Benson among others) panels as well as covering the con live for MTV Geek. Action Flick Chick opted to moderate the Buffy The Vampire Slayer comics panel and appear as a panelist (rather than moderate) the "Most Dangerous" panel.
Nightfly: Was there something especially unexpected you learned from either panel you were responsible for?
Action Chick: At my "Most Dangerous Women at Comic Con" panel, I didn't expect to find out that Chris Gore can give any female Slave Leia a run for their money! Before the panel he mentioned wearing a Slave Leia costume, but I thought he was kidding! Also, when I was putting the panel together, I realized that there are a lot of awesome geek girls doing amazing things. I never thought about how many women are in the geek culture until I started trying to fit all of them on one stage.
NF: Any notable downside to the endeavor worth mentioning?
AC: There were so many more women I wanted to include but there just wasn't room. All of us barely fit on the (The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con) stage as it was. I will just have to do a “Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con part two” next year so I can include more women!
NF: What was your favorite experience from this year's Comic-Con?
AC: My favorite experience was getting to hang out with all the MTV Geek people. I co-hosted their live stream coverage of SDCC, and everyone that I worked with was great. I think part of the reason why we had a great time was because everyone who worked for MTV Geek was a fan of the geek culture. I couldn't have asked for a better team of people to initiate me into the world of live coverage.
NF: Any items of memorabilia or merchandise you were particularly happy to've found there?
AC: I was especially excited to shop at the Her Universe booth. They just came out with Doctor Who and Warehouse 13 merchandise so I picked up some splendid t-shirts, and am already scoping out my next purchase from them. And (there's just too much great stuff at SDCC), I discovered a Rambo figurine that hasn't come out yet but I can't freakin' wait!
NF: I continue to be stunned by how often you're moved to respond to various snark, sniping, and stigmas related to geek girl culture. There seems to exist a special preoccupation for certain folks to argue about who qualifies as a "geek," "gamer," and most argued over of all being the combo "Geek & Gamer Girls." Just as female opinions vary widely on (so-called) 'reproductive freedom,' so too do their opinions on (so-called) 'nerd culture' and women's place in it. I wonder what you think about the many vocal women who're negatively critical of (so-called) 'geek girl culture'?
AC: As geek girl culture has expanded it has become clear that one of the groups most critical of geek girls are geek girls. In addition to that, there's also resistance/sexism from a vocal minority of guys, something women have often had to deal with when joining previously male-dominated groups. One of the points I want to make with GAGA and with a lot of my writing in general is that geeks are geeks; if someone says they're a geek, they are. The main thing that defines our geekdom is our love of the subject, whether that's comics, video games, or action movies, not whether we know who all the Cylons are on BSG, or how many times Buffy has died, and it should definitely not be based on gender.
NF: Before getting further into the details of GAGA, I wondered if there was anything you'd like to share about your enjoyably informative debut book (available for pre-order now) and perhaps something on how you experienced the creative and logistical processes of writing it?
AC: I had the best time writing Action Movie Freak, even though there were a few times I swore off writing forever after some multi-day non-stop write-athons! I absolutely put forth my best writing to date into this project, and I think people will have a lot of fun reading it. It includes action movies of old and new, and hopefully will introduce readers to a few films they aren't familiar with but are excellent.
NF: Tell me about the geek girls of GAGA? A little about each of their characters? You can also talk about the dudes too?
AC: GAGA follows three girls: Leeloo (Sybil Vane) is very sarcastic and is required to join GAGA by her boss since her gaming has been affecting her work in a very bad way that you'll see in episode one. Eevee (Kimmie Britt) is sweet, loveable, and naive who joined GAGA only because her D&D group broke up and she hopes to recruit other players. Raine (me) is soft on the inside but puts up a hard outer shell. She willingly joins GAGA because she realizes that she's developing a problem from gaming when she keeps driving away all the people around her. The Leader of the group (Brian Allen) is very supporting and tries to direct them away from their addiction but he's too nice and quickly loses control of the group. And Mr. Wizard (James Cates) is a quirky, relatable guy who always wears a wizard hat everywhere he goes. James originally had a bit role in a single episode, but he was so great I added him as a regular character.
NF: Who did the casting for this series?
AC: I did all of the casting and couldn't be more pleased with these guys.
NF: What can you say about your BTS crew?
AC: We have a very small but great behind the scenes crew. Andrew Greco, Frank Robertson, and Alex Langley are the main people doing all the hard work to set up our shoots, film, etc. They are fantastic. As far as wardrobe goes, I gave each cast member a description of how each character dresses and then they took it from there. Most of the wardrobe comes from our own closets. I already owned the outfit I'm wearing in the "Dungeons and Dragons" episode, you know, for special occasions. [wink wink] But whenever we need help with wardrobe/makeup, Sybil (Leeloo) comes to the rescue as our fashion/makeup expert.
NF: Is there a person, group or company that you couldn't have done it without? Someone whose help was truly invaluable?
AC: Neither Noir photography group helped get us started with our first shoot. My head was spinning trying to figure out everything I needed to do, and they helped me get a location, connected me with Frank Robertson who became the director of photography, and then some of the guys were even extras in the series. I'm very thankful for Neither Noir helping to get GAGA up and running.
NF: Your first episode depicts a Dungeons and Dragons gaming session and is named after the famed Pen & Paper RPG? Do you play D&D? And if so, what kind of character do you most often play?
AC: I've dabbled in D&D a bit, playing mostly fighters. In my case I play my characters the same way I write: no-holds barred, kicking everyone in the nads who dares cross me.
NF: GAGA's Kickstarter campaign offers some exceptionally cool perk packages featuring a range of unusual items. I was surprised by a number of your pledge gifts such as the cast-baked pie and the caricature battle scene drawn by Marko Head and Greg Fischer, not to mention the ability to pick a multi-media item for you to review. One producer perk that caught my notice, starting at only $25, is the exclusive (downloadable) music package from URIZEN. Are you personally a big fan of URIZEN?
AC: Yes!! They are musical geniuses. They have been gracious enough to offer a couple of their awesome songs as perks for the Kickstarter campaign plus they did the GAGA theme song.
NF: Did you help write the GAGA theme?
AC: I talked with Thomas from the band. I told him what kind of tone I wanted for the theme and what the series was about and he came back with what I thought was the perfect theme song on the first try.
NF: What was the primary concept that drove you to produce this web series? What would you say it's about at its core?
AC: The ultimate goal and focus of GAGA is to entertain and be funny. It's a sitcom that everyone, but especially gamers and geeks alike, will watch and hopefully be able to relate to the situations that this group will go through; like the D&D game going off track and getting out of control in Ep.1. Each of the girls have come to a point in their lives where they need to figure out how to balance their passion for gaming with real life duties. However, it's a huge struggle for all of them and they often revert back to their old habits. Most of our episodes center around the GAGA meetings themselves, but we do go off-track a few times, such as in "Dungeons and Dragons" and its second part, "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons." Later on we have one of my favorite episodes - a parody of the old anti-marijuana film Reefer Madness (view the "educational classic" free via Hulu). Our version is called "Video Game Madness," and it gets kind of nuts.
NF: Is there a charity you feel close to or donate to that you'd like to mention here?
AC: I'm a big supporter of the ASPCA. I'm a sucker for doggies.
Nightfly: To wrap up this interview I wanted to ask about your ongoing webcomic, The Action Chick! Please describe it to webcomics fans who may not've seen it up till now?
Action Chick: Action Chick features a parody version of myself taking lessons from action movies and applying them to daily life, as well as going on the occasional adventure with some of action's biggest stars. Overall, I'd say it takes the basic formula of love and parody that most video game webcomics use and applies it to action movies. Nick Langley is the artist and co-writes it with Alex Langley. I'll brainstorm ideas with them, mostly suggesting more hard R ideas with guts and gore! Then they see if they can tone it down...a lot.
Set aside some time to screen both the (uncensored) trailer and first episode of Geeks and Gamers Anonymous (below) and watch the exclusive Action Flick Chick video embedded at her Kickstarter campaign page to learn how you can become a co-producer. Also, consider pre-ordering a copy of her action-packed book, Action Movie Freak complete with free DVD, before it comes out in November!