Click Bait: The Show is an up-and-coming series created by 20-year-old Ephraim Birney, fresh out of NYC. With over $11,000 raised in their path to production, I had the pleasure of calling the team and discussing what exactly the Click Bait: The Show is all about, and what it means to be a young creator in this ever-changing world of content media.
Creator: Ephraim Birney
Co-Executive Producer: Elisha Nilsen
Lead Actress: Michelle Martinelli
[After a Few Introductions + Lots of Laughter]
KEJA: I’m so glad that you guys all got together and took the time out to talk to me!
EPHRAIM: Oh, yeah we’re so excited that you had any kind of interest in us! [laughs]
KEJA: Oh, yes, definitely. It’s awesome to see individuals my age getting together and collaborating- and in a professional manner at that. I’m stoked. I had to talk to you guys, had to.
KEJA: I wanted to start off by talking to Ephraim for a second. I want to learn a little more about yourself as the creator of the show. What inspires you and ignites those creative senses? What does film mean to you- why are you doing this at all?
EPHRAIM: Okay sure. Well, it started with me, a 20 year old who’s not getting any roles [Laughs] like practically everyone else I know- and I’m a firm believer in the best kind of content, and the most exciting work that you can produce is going to be the work that you do yourself. It’s that kind of- something- that a lot of actors don’t get to experience. *phone beeps* Just turning off notifications. [Laughs] I started working on an original script about six months ago because I wanted to write about stuff that I knew, and every time I attempted to sit down and write something, all I could do was write about people that didn’t know what to write about. [Laughs] And I kind of settled on the idea of: what if I chose characters that wanted to become YouTube celebrities, and from there I kind of just built it off of archetypes from TV shows that I liked and ideas that just caught my mind. I feel like this online video streaming... YouTube, Vimeo- all that stuff- is now kind of replacing established media, you know? Like TV and movies. I felt like there wasn’t really a lot of it [sic] just because TV doesn’t like to address that it’s going extinct. I felt that not a lot of stuff addresses that, and the stuff that does is weird- YouTube-produced stuff where you have Vine stars who are in high school and it’s just- weird. It came out of me just having some kind of opinion on contemporary media, I suppose.
KEJA: I like that, that’s great.
EPHRAIM: In regards to creative influences over this, what makes me want to do it is... I noticed especially in film nowadays, to be accepted is all just about “Let’s just watch a bunch of awful people do awful things and just, like, laugh at how terrible their lives are.” [Laughs] I think there is a place for that, of course. TV is like, you kind of churn down who you are- like Masterminds and like Keeping up with Joneses - and it made me kind of yearn for a time when you saw stuff like Mel Brooks spoofs. Things where your characters served a point, and none of them were all very happy- they were still damaged and such characters, but they weren’t these just awful people. They were characters that you could kind of relate to, and the comedy came from how they were interpreting the things that we saw. And that’s not something I see a lot of nowadays- I was hoping to channel that stuff and make modern day spoofs of stuff that we see- so that’s why a lot stuff is us parodying YouTube videos.
KEJA: You make a very great point- I think that is awesome. So guys, I’m opening up the floor for everybody, anyone can talk at this point. So... tell me a little about the show!
MICHELLE: This is Michelle speaking to you, coming at you live from Ephraim’s dining room table. [Laughs] A quick little bit about me- Ephraim and I met in an acting class when I first came to New York, and when he texted me about the show and said he wanted me to get involved, I just didn’t even question it, because I know his work ethic and knew his talent level and I knew whatever he was putting his mind to was going to be a cool product. I’m talking him up because he’s not going to! [Laughs] So, the show is about a 23 year old, young, undiscovered comedy writer named Spencer who is played by yours truly, and I think Spencer is probably the most relatable character on the show for sure, but also just in general as a young millennial woman. She’s applying to all theses internships and she’s trying to work for YouTube and Buzzfeed. She is trying to create her own voice in the Internet community and isn’t getting the opportunities she would like- to create her own content. She is inspired to apply to a position at YouTube and doesn’t get the position but Ephraim’s character, Elton Tube, who finds her application and for reasons that he later reveals, seeks her out in being his partner in crime in becoming a YouTube celebrity.
KEJA: Awesome. This is going to be crazy. I’m honestly excited to see how this all comes to life.
MICHELLE: Yeaaaah, it’s shenanigans. [Laughs]
ELISHA: Shenanigans! [Laughs]
KEJA: Shenanigans! [Laughs]
EPHRAIM: She totally did it justice, that is exactly what happens in the pilot. [Laughs] I don’t know if you want to hear a little from our man Elisha here.
KEJA: Yes! Come on! The more, the merrier!
EPHRAIM: He is so much of this project, he has done all of the hard work and I get to boss him around. [Laughs] If you want to hear a little about how much of stickler I am for detail and how many times we had to make that promo video- talk to him. [Laughs]
KEJA: Alright, Elisha. Put it all out there for us, put it all out there. [Laughs]
ELISHA: You know, it’s been interesting working with Ephraim. I met him, you know, when he was still young and in high school [Laughs] when he was like... what, a junior? And I’ve seen this idea just being developed over and over again since, like, his very birth of being.
EPHRAIM: The birth of illumination! [Laughs]
ELISHA: Yeah, the birth of illumination. [Laughs] But it went from just a couple of us, you know, trying to create a web series- because the first time we tried to make a web series we failed. [Laughs] But now, we have a producer and we’re raising $30,000 and we have an IndieGoGo so- I’ve been working with him to get people together, get a logo, get an animation up there- and just make the best kind of product that we possibly could. And an objective, with just making a show in general, is bringing people together and having that sense of family and community and learning a lot- a lot, a lot, a lot, [Laughs] and finding those qualities that we really like in people and the qualities that we don’t really like in people when working together. [Laughs]
KEJA: I was just about to ask you guys about that! [Laughs] I was wondering if there were any challenges that come with having such a young cast and crew. Are there any benefits?
EPHRAIM: I mean... the challenge is that- when we first started not a single one of us knew what we were doing. [Laughs]
ELISHA: Yeah, exactly that! [Laughs]
EPHRAIM: That’s the first challenge.
ELISHA: Before anything- getting people scheduled, getting people together- and in the same day. You get that once a month maybe at the most, I think we got everyone together once, but it wasn’t even at the same time; but it was the same day. [Laughs] Also, other people’s ideas and how it’s going to go down and stuff. How the picture is going to look and our little sketches, you know. It comes down to just people coming together and really talking about their ideas and all being on board.
EPHRAIM: I will say, and Michelle can probably agree with me... I think a real benefit with having such a young and youthful cast is that we’re all really, really ambitious- and this is a group of people who want to pave their own way.
MICHELLE: And in addition to being dedicated and ambitious and creatively minded- we also have people who are flexible because they’re still learning and aren’t set in their own ways yet. So at every roadblock, it’s less like “Well it HAS to be like this!,” and it’s more like “Well... that didn’t work soooo, what are we going to do now?” [Laughs] And that makes this very fun, it’s a collaborative journey we’re going on here.
ELISHA: Definitely more relaxing than being in a very... corporate environment, when you’re on a schedule and in a box. There, everyone just does their job. Here, everyone’s learning a little bit each and every day, you know? Ephraim wanted to act, but aside from acting, he’s been the coordinator, you know, he’s been everything. Same with me and same with Lauren, we’ve all pulled our weight in numerous different ways and worn different hats per say as far as jobs go- which wouldn’t happen on a big budget film project.
EPHRAIM: Big budget, Avatar 3! [Laughs]
ELISHA:Yeah, The Avatar. [Laughs]
MICHELLE: We are not making The Avatar!
KEJA: Avatar, up next, coming soon? [Laughs] This is why I commend you guys a lot. You just don’t see this happening very often. This many people coming together and doing something productive at this level. Pats on the back for that, I think it’s great. I have so a few more questions. As an audience, what could we expect to see from the show? What kind of humor and content?
EPHRAIM: Okay, I feel comfortable answering that, as the writer. [Laughs] I think, in regards to the content and the stuff that you’re going to be seeing, what’s nice about it is that- because we’re using friends and people that we know- we have a very diverse group of people. I want the show to reflect the content of real life. Hopefully when you watch this, you should see people that, you feel like you know and would want to hang out with. The idea kind of came behind- and at least I find this with most of my friends- we were what?- 8 or 10 when YouTube first came out. And back then, it was this thing where you could put videos on it and it all seemed very random and exciting. I remember as a kid, I would get my friends together and we would make a video and it usually was very sh*tty [Laughs] but it was fun- like, that is what we would do. It seemed like in old days, you know, you would get together and get to take things like blankets, and dress up as superheroes or whatever, and that was kind of- at least, part of my childhood- was making these videos.
When it comes to the content, I want it to reflect that feeling, you know, I want it to feel like this team of goofy characters are not getting along all the time and they barely ever do, to be honest. It should bring about that feeling of getting together with your friends and making a story, making a movie, a video, a play. It should feel something like that. I want to evoke that feeling.
KEJA: Real people that our generation can definitely relate to and connect with... I personally like that, alright. So tell me, I see you guys are opening the door up for other people to come in and contribute and so forth - even people who don’t have the experience to do so. But what about those guys who are too far away? Is there any advice you can give to those who don’t have the resources but do have the aspirations and want to take part in or start something like this on their own?
EPHRAIM: What I would say is that, one of the biggest challenges for me making this- was actually sitting down and making this. Because I would talk myself to death over it. I would have a million different reasons not to do it and it always came back to- there’s 100 different things that could happen that will make this difficult, but there is only one thing stopping you from actually making it- and it’s you. My advice, it sounds kind of cliche- but just write if you want to create something, seek out the opportunities, and really pave the way for yourself. You are going to be your strongest champion. No one is going to look out for you as much as you can- and if you live in the New York City area, we’d be happy to have you. [Laughs]
MICHELLE: I mean, that was beautiful. It’s hard to follow Ephraim’s TedTalk there but uh- I would just say- I’m a little older, no- I’m 24.
KEJA: You’re not old! Be quiet. [Laughs]
MICHELLE: Yeah! [Laughs] But interacting in the real world thus far as an actor and in the industry, it’s pretty much expected now that you generate your own content and that you produce your own work. No matter what, even if you aren’t acting in something you still have projects and creative pursuits of your own- because we are fortunate enough to be apart of this generation that has such easy access to these different mediums such as Youtube and Facebook Live. We have the ability to make these things happen like we never have before. I think if you want to be considered a serious creator and if you want to be considered as someone who wants contributes to the conversation, then you have to create your own content and get something going- and I think Ephraim took a big leap of faith when he sat down and wrote a script, and we’re all happy to help him realize that.
ELISHA: My best advice is to never focus on what you don’t have, and focus on what you have and who you have around you and your ideas- implement those ideas, and use any means within your reach to get your ideas and goals done. Just because you don’t have a fancy camera or this or that doesn’t mean you can’t make something that people will love and enjoy. And, at times, your limitations are going to define you- they are going to make you learn more things and think of things you’ve never thought of before. So, that would be my biggest advice- never let limitations falter your efforts. And then you know...
EPHRAIM: Never surrender. [Laughs]
ELISHA: Yeah, never surrender and then also- you obviously have to generally have an unprecedented work ethic. I’ve spent countless hours with Ephraim, at this very table we’re at right now- editing and re-editing and fixing audio and all this stuff, you know. And it’s a part of the process, and to me the most enjoyable part is the process and the learning.
KEJA: Wow. These were amazing answers, I’m very happy- thank you!
ALL: Thank you!
EPHRAIM: I think it would be a shame if we shared all these inspirational thoughts with you and it turned out to be a terrible thing we’re making. [Laughs]
KEJA: Yeah... that would be a little interesting. [Laughs] But I’m glad you mentioned that, because I would love for you to let us know when we can expect to see something officially from The Click Bait Show?
EPHRAIM:T he idea is that we spend the next couple of weeks (3 weeks) campaigning. After that, we’re going to sit down, look at what we raised, make a proper budget and hopefully film throughout May and June. I would like to have something by the end of the summer.
ELISHA: We may not have anything publicly released for awhile, just because we are going to pitching the show and stuff, but we will have a screening at some point.
EPHRAIM: And we’re going to make a bunch of these tiny little sketches for our characters that everyone should keep an eye out for throughout the month.
ELISHA: And those will be on Youtube, Vimeo, the IndieGoGo page, and you can find us on Instagram and Facebook @ClickBaitShow.
KEJA: Got it! I seriously want to thank you guys for speaking with me - I appreciate it all so much.
E/M/E: Oh yeah, of course, we feel like we’ve really gotten to know you and love you! [Laughs]
KEJA: I love you all too! Hope to speak with you again in the future real soon. Thank you.
article by: keja telp
visual by: the clickbait show