NMR was supposed to connect with “Destory the Alpha Gammas” months ago, but there was a little matter of our magazine temporarily disappearing off the face of the map. During that time, “Destroy the Alpha Gammas” (DAG) became a big online hit, won a bunch of awards and is now nominated for five IAWTV awards.
If you’ve somehow missed the buzz bus until now (ooh, if that term doesn’t exist, I’m coining it), allow me to fill you in: Devised by Leah McKendrick, who plays “Carrie” on the show, and directed by Scott Brown, “Destroy the Alpha Gammas” is kind of a college-set “Glee” (cools versus the uncools, sorority-style) — except I like this better. I loved the first episode of “Glee” but everything that came after it I liked less and less — that hasn’t been the case with “Destroy the Alpha Gammas.” If I thought I had the power to jinx them I wouldn’t say this, but I got very familiar with a little show called the “Lizzie Bennet Diaries” a while back and they happened to do pretty damn well at the IAWTV awards. I feel like DAG has that same digital-medium-shaking vibe.
Definitely check out my interview with McKendrick and Brown below, and then make sure you go to their website to watch the entirety of weason 1. You’ll want to do this before the IAWTV Awards tomorrow, because that way you’ll look oh so trendy on the Twittersphere immediately after the awards show, so get cracking.
Tell us about how “Destroy the Alpha Gammas” came to be and your involvement with it? Was it based on some real-life experiences (minus the public singing and dancing)?
Leah McKendrick: DAG was created because I wanted to do a musical so badly! I grew up in musical theatre and found myself in the last couple years doing a lot of music videos for my music but I missed the journey and the development of a character. I got the idea for a sorority musical because I knew whatever I did would be low budget so I was trying to cut corners by coming up with a concept that wouldn’t require a ton of crazy location shooting. I figured if we did sororities we could do a lot of interiors and cheat a lot, which we did!
My college roommate and close friend was in a sorority that was gorgeous, blonde and very pink. I was on the outside of all that. I was in the theater/film world. Still, I would see other sororities who just didn’t have the same aesthetic appeal, shall we say, and I would hear them saying petty things about other sororities. I thought it was all so funny! All these little alliances. In another life I would have been a sorority girl for sure. I don’t hate on Greek life at all. I love it.
Scott Brown: I was approached by Leah and another producer on the show after they had been referred to me by someone else that I had worked with. They were clearly very passionate, excited, and driven to produce this very ambitious project. A 7 episode digital series with 10 songs isn’t something you take lightly. When I read Leah’s script I was struck by the subtle emotional truth she was able to discover in this otherwise crazy world of sororities. My mantra is sort of find real moments in absurd worlds, so after a few discussion points with the producers I was off to the races, and with only five weeks of pre-production!
How does it feel to be one of the most nominated shows for the IAWTV awards?
Scott: It’s a testament to how hard the team behind the show worked. We were very fortunate to have a group of people that worked insanely hard for free in most cases on something they believed in. To see them get recognition for that work is a reward in itself.
I know it’s not a fair question and you totally don’t have to answer, but do you feel like DAG got snubbed in any categories in particular?
Scott: There are so many quality shows out there that the job of choosing five nominees in any category is an incredible task, and I understand the preliminary judging was a process that was quite rigorous. You believe in your project of course — it’s your baby — but it’s an honor to be nominated at all, and that fact is one we never lose sight of.
You’ve assembled a pretty dynamic team — had you all worked together previously?
Leah: Thanks so much. Many of us had worked together previously, or at least with me or one of the producers. I like to work with the same people over and over, like my choreographer, Justine, or my music producer, Minde. A lot of the team went to Chapman University, where I went for acting. Some of the team I got from recommendations from friends, like (director) Scott for example. I also went on Mandy.com and called up total strangers I felt were qualified. Sometimes it took some convincing — not gonna lie. That’s how we got our first A.D. Marilu and our wardrobe stylist, Taylor, amongst others. Whatever it takes! The cast were mostly friends, with a couple exceptions. Karma (Bex) did a video audition since she lives in Austin, and Jon Hall (Adam) I met at an audition and I sent him the script the next day and pressured him!
What’s your best DAG story?
Leah: When we were shooting the blood balloon scene in episode 5,”There Will Be Blood,” it was the last scene of a very long day on location at Chapman. It was super cold, the girls were in skimpy dresses, we were all tired and the blood goo our art department concocted was super gross and thick and sticky. I was joking with my girl, Christie (Mary), telling her I was aiming for her. She was laughing it off but when they called action I threw it at her and it nailed her RIGHT IN THE FACE! It got in her mouth and hair and eyes! It must have hurt. I was NOT aiming for her face. I felt SO bad! I thought she was going to break character; I was about to run over to her and apologize but she stayed in it and we used the take! That horror on her face: it’s real, man.
How familiar are you with your competition in the various categories? Any favorites stand out?
Scott: They are all quite good in their own unique ways. I’ve either watched their work before or learned of them through the nomination process. It’s just great to stand alongside such talented people.
Some big things are supposedly in the works for “DAG” — any chance we could find out what those big details are?
Leah: We have some interest in taking DAG off the web and turning it into something bigger! Fingers crossed!
How do you plan to celebrate if you pull off the sweep?
Leah: We will be in Vegas. So hookers, obviously. Joking aside, it’s just very cool to be nominated. Getting to party in Vegas with my friends-icing on the cake.
Here are some other good series to check out: