Tara Platt answers questions about Shelf Life and talks about their live interactive party, Shelf LIVE!
Imagine waking up to a freshly packaged reality in which you're just one of a million superhero action figures destined to sit on some random boy or girl's shelf. Would you realize or care that your pre-ordained persona is shared by all the other dolls that look like you around the world? Would you, could you, free your mind from that pre-packaged, factory issued identity? Those are the philosophical and psychological kinds of questions that fuel the "irreverent and silly" (uncensored) humor Shelf Life is known and has been acclaimed for.
Currently in its third season, Shelf Life is the award-winning brainchild of actors Yuri Lowenthal (a.k.a. "Bug Boy") and Tara Platt (a.k.a. "Hero Lass"). Focused on superhero-centric doll comedy, the web series enjoys an authentically funny cast and talented behind-the-scenes artists that've helped Shelf Life establish a reputation for quality hijinks and hilarity.
Helping fund the web series' upcoming fourth season is Shelf LIVE!, an interactive event Tara and Yuri are hosting tonight @ 8p PST via TheStream.tv/LIVE. Expect special guests, BTS highlights, games, prizes, giveaways and a chance for Yuri & Tara to answer questions and engage with new and longtime fans alike! "It's a chance for fans of the show to hang out with us (and the folks behind the show) and ask questions and party down," invites Tara. The Shelf LIVE! party kicks off SL's ambitious IndieGoGo campaign which hopes to raise thirty thousand dollars. The thirty day campaign, ending August 17th, promises cool producer incentives, credits, and offers the most effective way to help support their independently produced show.
If you're a gamer or fan of animation there's a really good chance Tara and/or Yuri already appear in games and/or DVDs sitting on your entertainment shelves. Yuri Lowenthal voices Ben Tennyson of Ben 10, has voiced both Lagoon Boy and Icicle Jr. in Young Justice, speaks five languages, voiced the Prince in The Prince of Persia games and has voiced superheroes Spider-Man, Nightcrawler, and Superman as well - and that frankly only scratches the surface, something that could also be said of both their imdb pages. A few of Tara's credits include voicing the Umbrella Corp.'s Red Queen, playing a mythical Muse on Charmed and portraying warrior-goddess Wonder Woman's voice in the video game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Yuri & Tara also voice Sasuke Uchiha and Temari in the hit English-dubbed version of Naruto: Shippûden. Look for Lowenthal soon appearing as Piers Nivans in the Resident Evil 6 video game [now in production]. When factoring in their indie film projects and network tv credits, Shelf Life web series and near-monthly appearances at cons, the married pair surely rank among the busiest actors in the business today. The couple also co-wrote the entertaining 2010 book, Voice-Over Voice Actor: What It's Like Behind the Mic (check it out).
While gearing up for SDCC this past weekend, where her and Yuri would host a panel called Moving to the Web: Be Your Own Producer, Tara generously made time to answer the questions in this interview. Revisit my article about their panel and the outstanding free comic they offered to attendees here.
One of my first questions regarded the impressive artists and craftspeople that've helped make Shelf Life the successful web comedy it is. Three that immediately lept to mind were character designer Eric Wight (Batman Beyond), costumer Lino Stavole (of The Creature Company) and famed maestro Bear McCreary (Defiance, The Walking Dead). Tara shared, "Lino, our amazing costume-designer, took Eric's truly eye-catching art and created the fantastic costumes we've used for the past 3 seasons. They are the heart of the show and really help bring the production value up." Continuing, "Bear is a true miracle worker, his score and ear for musical composition elevates each and every episode. It colors the characters actions, punctuates jokes, highlights things we didn't even realize would be fun and makes the show come to life." She warmly added, "We're thrilled to work with these amazing guys who are each so very good at what they do." Platt also expressed praise for Shelf Life's high-energy theme song and Brendan McCreary (lead singer of Young Beautiful in a Hurry) who composed and performs the rousing anthem.
Just over a month ago, Tara and Yuri both guested on Wil Wheaton's Table Top web series on Geek & Sundry. "We both had a blast on TableTop," Tara confirmed when asked about the experience. "Yuri and Wil are long-time friends and we had met Felicia a few years ago, so when they asked us to come play with them, how could we say no? Game playing is at the top of my fun list! And to be able to play a game as a team and not against each other - planning together and using teamwork skills to best the game - was also really exciting." See Tara, Yuri, Wil and Andre the Black Nerd storm Castle Panic in Episode Six here, then watch Yuri and Tara's bonus TT interviews here (Tara) and here (Yuri).
I asked Tara to discuss her and Yuri's approach and relationship to social media and to explain how it impacts their new media productions. "Well, I think with the influx of content on a minute-by-minute basis, people can get really overwhelmed and overloaded. Social media can help to weed out some of that "noise." If you follow/like/group/etc. online with communities, then the community can start to sift thru the voluminous amount of content online and begin to sort based on common interests. This narrowing down helps the audience to find its content and vice versa; especially when you are talking about independent productions. When there isn't a huge budget backing a project that means there isn't money to spend on advertising and marketing, and that is where social media can play a huge role. But like anything, social media (be it tumblr, pinterest, twitter, FB, instagram, google+) is just a tool, so you have to remember the purpose of the tool you are using in order to utilize it to its highest potential. But at the end of the day it is all a preference as to how you want to get the word out there and try to get folks interested and watching what you are creating."
A couple off-topic questions I pressed her about were meeting Nathan Fillion during her recent Castle guest appearance, and, how her and Yuri's recent dietary change has worked out for them? "I feel great. I haven't had sugar (processed – I eat fruit and maple syrup), in almost 2 months. Yuri and I have started following the Esselstyn diet – a heart healthy diet – which is no meat, no processed sugar, no dairy (including eggs), no caffeine, no oil and no nuts. So it is pretty strict, but within that we are really enjoying all the cooking we're doing and feeling healthier to boot. It takes some willpower but the resulting energy and overall good feeling makes the work payoff bigtime." Considering that last year they - aside from all other work - attended eleven conventions in twelve months while producing and starring in a mockumentary film about it (Con Artists, coming soon) it's no wonder staying healthy is one of their highest priorities. The couple also work with and support several charities such as Susan G. Komen, Smile Train and The Help Group to name just a few. As to Nathan Fillion? Tara shared, "Nathan Fillion was very nice, and he came over to introduce himself to me, which was lovely."
Platt (recently asked her twitter followers to help her locate a hi-res screencap of Ellie Martinez, a video game character she played in Resistance: Burning Skies. I took this opportunity to ask her if anyone had come through with that request? "Not yet. I got a cool fan art image, but not an in-game screen capture. I would really appreciate it, thanks." Perhaps she'll have gotten one by now? - that's a question that could come up tonight during Shelf LIVE! If not tonight, it may get mentioned again when she and Yuri appear as Eric Ratcliffe's guests for his Why I Love Comics podcast Thursday, 7/26.
Lastly, being a fan of fashion, I concluded the interview by asking Tara which designer she most enjoys wearing on Hollywood's red carpets? "Eva Franco," she answered with obvious affection. "I love her style and the feminine and playful element to her dresses." I wondered if Eva Franco had designed anything specifically for Tara, or if she had sent her clothes in the past? "I Wish." She confided, "No. All the things I've worn I've purchased. I just happen to like Eva Franco's dresses and so I purchased a few of them and then had the opportunity to wear them at a couple of events."
Make sure to join the Shelf LIVE! fun tonight @ 8pm PST on TheStream.tv/LIVE. It'll be a great chance to interact with Tara & Yuri and an opportune time to become a Shelf Life co-producer by contributing to the launch of their IndieGoGo campaign!
Shelf Life is a Monkey Kingdom Production.
Written or Contributed by: Nightfly