Q&A: Kate Hackett of Classic Alice

gYk2fj51Alice is shocked when she receives a less-than-perfect grade on a test, with notes from her professor saying that she has little more than an academic understanding of the novel. So she swings wide and decides to start living her life according to the books! With the help of her friend Andrew and his video camera, Alice embarks on a rather interesting journey…to take her books VERY seriously.

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That’s the plot of the newest transmedia-project-you-should-totally-already-know-about: Classic Alice! Alice is played by none other than the lovely Kate Hackett, who also created and writes the show. (I’m 90% sure she’s Superwoman.)

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The face of Superwoman

But as you know, Kate and her crew can’t do this sort of thing for free — as awesome as that’d be — so they’re currently running a kickstarter to raise $8,000 to keep the lights on and the cameras rolling! You can check out the first six episodes of Classic Alice here, and help donate to the project here! They’re so close, and if you’re a true fan of projects like The Lizzie Bennett Diaries or The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, you’ll love Classic Alice too. The kickstarter ends Friday morning, so hurry! In the meantime, check out this adorable interview we snagged with Kate!

(And if you don’t want to see more of her writing by the end of this, I can’t help you!)

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Hi Kate! Thanks so much for agreeing to talk with us! We’ll start with an easy question: How’s it going? Do anything fun recently? 

It’s going well! I’m working a lot right now, but I’ve had a little time to hang out with some friends and work a few monologues on horseback, which is such a blast. I’m also in the middle of Little, Big, which I’m really enjoying.
So you’re both the brains and beauty behind Classic Alice, can you talk to us how you got the idea? A bad grade on a test, perhaps? A lingering resentment against a really tough Early American history professor?

My Early Colonial History professor was actually also my advisor; he was tough but exceedingly fair and I learned a great deal from him! Things like: a county in New Jersey tried to declare itself a country. Useful things. I still have all my books. They’re on my “non fiction” shelf and one of the best books I have ever, ever read was Changes in the Land.

The idea was actually born of “what’s the silliest thing”, a question I frequently ask myself. Alice is a type A personality, obviously, and getting a mediocre mark is beyond her. I definitely had that kind experience, sort of, in college — I learned that I really had to work for the first time and challenge myself. I couldn’t just ride the wave into A+-territory! But it was really a way to springboard her into what is a pretty ridiculous life choice: live according to the classics? Do you know how depressing they are? Wuthering Heights? Tess? ANYTHING Poe? I mean…
Tell us about why you picked Crime and Punishment for your first novel. It’s an interesting choice because Dostoyevsky’s not a very commonly-read author. Had you read it before you picked it?

Isn’t that painful!? Dostoyevsky is incredible — my aunt gave me a copy of The Brothers Karamazov and that was my first Dostoyevsky. I read it in lines at Disneyworld on spring break one year. I positively devoured it — my CATS are named after Dmitri & Grushenka! I read C&P a few years later, so yeah, I had read it before picking it for Alice.

I was looking for a book where the protagonist makes a CHOICE, since it would be very hard/weird/boring to make Alice try to create situations to have things happen TO her. Rasky, which is his nickname I just made up right now, makes … well. He makes a choice.

 

Classic Alice is a little different from other transmedia projects we’ve seen, in the sense that it basically has two protagonists: Alice isn’t the only focus of our attention, it’s also Andrew. Can you tell us a little about how you write for Andrew’s monologues versus Alice’s? 

I chew tobacco and spit to get into a manly mind frame.

(No.) (Yuck.)

Alice’s energy is higher than Andrew’s; she needs to please more than he does so she has more words to speak.  When I write, and this is going to make me sound like a complete lunatic, I act it out. I become each character, I talk it out, I roleplay the lines. So my writing process is probably pretty entertaining now that I think about it, just me sitting at a computer talking to myself & having conversations.

The day we shoot, Tony has/had some input too about what Andrew would say and I workshop the script with different people to help keep Andrew’s voice his.

The original script was actually MUCH different and Andrew was more of an Abed-from-Community kind of guy. He wasn’t even named Andrew, he was named Sanket. Cara was a much stronger presence in the original and was almost the main character because Cara is more of an ‘everyman’. When I rewrote it, Andrew became the everyman gateway into the world and therefore one of two protagonists. He also has a more visible arc in this book; Alice’s development is more of a long term path.

 

Working off of that last question… Andrew has already hinted that he has a little bit of a crush on Alice. Can we expect more in terms of a budding romance between the two? And will we see more from Alice’s roommate, Cara?

Right now, Alice & Andrew aren’t even on speaking terms. Their friendship is pretty tattered, so it’s going to take some time to rebuild it. I think you can see online that Andrew keeps reaching out & Alice is really resisting. As far as their romantic involvement, I think that’s something that will or won’t play out over time. I don’t know right now. (Editor’s note: For those of you who can always use some nice abs in your day, The $6000 goal was just released and… oh my.)

I DO know that Cara is definitely going to be in it more (your 3k Kickstarter reward even showcases her a little) and their friendship will be highlighted.

 

So there’s you (Alice), Tony (Andrew), Elise (Cara)… What kind of crew does it take to get a project like this running?

A DEDICATED one! We have a cameraman do lights with us, a sound guy, props, makeup/hair, director, two production assistants, four actors, two producers… And that was really barebones. You can check everyone out here: http://classic-alice.com/credits/

 

In the first book, Alice has to commit a crime to live out Raskolnikov’s story. Have you ever done anything illegal? 

KILLED A MAN JUST TO WATCH HIM DIE. No, haha. I’m not a wild kind of person – the illegal-i-est thing I’ve ever done is pass a car on the right or something. Never done a drug in my life, nothing of interest. I’m a pretty straight-and-narrow lady; my parents gave me a good head on my shoulders.

 

There’s a rumor floating about that the next book will be Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw! (Excellent choice!) Can we expect Alice to do a terrible Cockney accent? Will she offer herself as an assistant to the wronged history professor as both atonement and to live out Eliza’s story?

Maybe if you guys ask nicely I’ll do a little “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.” 😉

That’s a very cool suggestion — you’ll have to donate to the kickstarter & see the next season to find out!


Is there a book you’d love to do for Classic Alice, but don’t think you’ll be able to because of logistical problems? 

We talked a LOT about this on set actually. There were wonderful novels I’d kill to do, but we don’t have money to acquire rights — so more modern things. I wish we could’ve done Gatsby, but it would make no sense for Alice to have somehow missed reading that book.

I think we discussed A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court but something about time travel seemed hard.


Take us through a typical writing session for you. What do you do when you sit down to write an episode?

  1. Clean the house.
  2. Eat something, you just cleaned a house!
  3. Laundry?
  4. Ugh, I guess I better put the laundry away.
  5. Eat something, you just did laundry!
  6. Make a drink?
  7. Remember you don’t really keep alcohol in the house. Take one swig of terrible champagne.
  8. Lay on couch.
  9. Grab a pen & yellow legal pad. Flop down on the floor and write the names of two characters.
  10. You did so much, you deserve to watch an episode of Community or something.
  11. Google “how to write things good”
  12. Find Dan Harmon’s story circle.
  13. Draw a circle on the legal pad.
  14. Annoy Pepin
  15. UGH NO. HACKETT, YOU HAVE A DEADLINE. WRITE SOMETHING.

    306881_10_e1165ade53
    We imagine this step looks something like this
  16. Suddenly and with great gusto, outline the entire plot of the first season
  17. Oh crap, I’m on a roll, what time is it? Whatever.
  18. Start writing the skeletal outline of each episode & mapping the show’s timeline
  19. No, go to bed. Do the rest tomorrow.
  20. Can’t sleep. Get up, finish outline. There. Done.
  21. Once the outline is set, I sit & “talk” out the script/roleplay my characters. I follow the (pretty detailed) outline & don’t REALLY deviate, but it’s not set in stone.
  22. Write! Act it out, write more. It comes fast at this point – dialogue isn’t hard for me.
  23. Oh, whoa, I wrote 33 pages in 2 days? I’M A GOD.
  24. Take it to a workshop & have it torn apart.
  25. Revise! Rewrite!
  26. One more workshop, one more revision.
  27. GOLD, YOU GUYS. GOLD!

Then I shoot it! I don’t dawdle – momentum is really important in this town, so I push things through hard.

 

Speed Round! 
Favorite book: Lolita!
Favorite movie: Moulin Rouge!
Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley?: You know. They’re kind of the same archetype… So… (I think I’d say Darcy because Knightley is a little too passive for me; Darcy does what he knows is right & waits for the world to catch up. I’m like that too.)
Rainy days or sunny days? SNOWY. Stupid L.A.
Strip poker or Strip Sorry!?: Hahah. Strip Sorry. (Which may have been a true story, if you’ve seen Kate & Joe Just Want to Have Sex)
Favorite place in L.A.: I could answer this if you asked for my favorite spot back East (Wubba Wubba Trail!) … I guess the beach. I love the sea. But I always feel a little betrayed by the Pacific. It’s not as romantic as the Atlantic and it’s really mean. Those undercurrents are wicked.
Most prized possession on your bookshelf: Lothar. That goddamn cat is always jumping up there.

 

And finally: If Alice was an alcoholic beverage… what drink would she be? 

Guys, I had to google “alcoholic beverages” because I drink like one thing and it is Diet Coke + Vodka. According to the internet, Alice would be White Chocolate Hot Cocoa with Coconut & Rum. Probably some marshmallows

 

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That sounds delicious! I think I need to go make myself a “Classic Alice Cocoa” right now… but I’m pretty sure I only have Diet Coke and Vodka in the fridge…

Thanks so much for speaking with us, Kate! We wish you the best of luck with the Kickstarter and with the many more episodes of Classic Alice that are sure to come! For more on Kate, be sure to check out her website and for lots more on Classic Alice, join their Facebook, twitter or subscribe to their YouTube channel!

 

– Admin R wants to re-read Alice in Wonderland now

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