Interview: Felicia Day on ‘The Guild’, Trolls, and Geek & Sundry

- 10-02-12Featured, Interviews Posted by Jason Tabrys

She is an actress, a business woman, and an innovator. Felicia Day is adored and idolized for her adorkable  “one-of-us” appeal, her vision and her achievements in the realm of digital content creation. The woman who tamed the internet and made it work for her is now working for herself — creating original web series’ like The Guild, Flog, Vaginal Fantasy Hangout, and others that live (or will live) on her Geek and Sundry web channel. In short: Felicia Day is the queen of the internet, and in advance of the 6th season premiere of The Guild, I got a chance to talk to her about The Guild, a possible Doctor Horrible musical, and internet trolls.

The Geek & Sundry line up is so creatively diverse, the shows are sort of specialized, but they also really pull you in if you’re an outsider. I don’t like children, but Written by a Kid really pulled me in. Could something like Geek & Sundry live on TV or do you think the dream of a real, full geek television channel is kind of outmoded?

Felicia Day: I think that all of these shows that we created for this channel were aiming to be TV quality, even on our budget. That was my goal when I pitched the channel. I really wanted to do high-quality curated videos that would give a voice to whatever subject or sub-culture that we were giving a voice to with table top games or comics or Sci-Fi and fantasy literature. I think that there could definitely be a whole TV station full of shows, that’s kind of what we’re doing, we’re just on the web.

It’s interesting because there’s a lot of breakdown between where people get their content. A lot of people just started to cut their cord. I think it’s going to be interesting in the next five years. Like, where does a cable box go? How are these smaller channels on cable supported when people are moving to make more content digitally [on the net]?

It’s an interesting and complex business equation that I don’t really understand totally. I just know that I don’t have the opportunity to make all these shows on a TV station. I have the opportunity to make a whole channel on the web and it’s kind of been my dream forever, so that’s why I’m so excited to be working on this channel.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP

Is there a type of show that you personally want to do, but haven’t gotten around to yet?

Day: We had other shows that were actually part of our pitch slate that didn’t make the cut because of budget reasons. The Guild season 6 is coming to Geek and Sundry, which I’m so incredibly proud and excited about to be back on Youtube, but my love is scripted entertainment. I love creating worlds, I love putting those characters through horrible things in those worlds.

The problem is it’s very expensive to make scripted content on the web and the projects I want to make are bigger in scope [and] Dragon Age: Redemption sized. Maybe down the line we could start doing one of those a year, that’s kind of my aim.

Obviously the success of The Guild is an inspiration to others who have entered the web-series arena. Do you relish your role as sort of an Interweb Spirit Guide?

Day: I am proud of the fact that whenever I go out and meet people, especially at conventions and public speaking things, I have a lot of people coming up to me, especially women, saying “Thank you so much for representing gaming in a really good light.”, “You convinced my boyfriend or girlfriend to start gaming with me.” or “My family is able to enjoy what I do that way, even though they don’t game, they understand it even from an outside perspective and they can watch The Guild and share that.” That’s the kind of thing I appreciate. And also, I’m definitely thankful that we get to keep making things and that inspires other people to make things themselves.

All the shows on Geek & Sundry were designed not just to be watched, but to be shared and to be taken into people’s lives in a way. So that if you’re watching “Tabletop” you’re not just watching thirty minutes of really funny stuff, you’re maybe buying that game and having your own game night in your own house. Or you watch the Flog and you decide to take a lesson in blacksmithing because I did an episode on blacksmithing. It’s kind of the design because I think when you’re making content for the web, video should be a social hub versus just watching it.

Who inspires you?

Day: You know, there are a lot of people who inspire me. I’m really inspired by Tina Fey, because she somehow manages to run a TV show and have children and also be a lead in a show. I mean that’s really inspiring.

You know, when Nora Ephron passed away… as a kid I loved her movies so much, I saw Sleepless in Seattle like fifty thousand times and knowing that she was out there, behind the architecture of things I love so much as a woman, that was very inspiring to me as well.

There are other people online who are doing amazing things like The Nerdist and even Michelle Phan and other Youtube people who are running their own fan-driven things, but they’re able to manage everything at the same time and continue to do really good work. That’s definitely something I admire.

A lot of angst about the guild seemed to fall away from Codex at the end of last season and now she seems to be going into a situation where she’s sort of seeing how the “sausage is made”. It’s the kind of situation that could turn her into a cynic — what made you want to raise the stakes and go in that direction?

Day: Every season, if you look at it, we’ve raised the bar. We broaden the world out, and we’ve taken our characters into new places. We can’t really be considered a TV show because we don’t have such regular output that we can kind of tell the same stories every week like a regular TV show or tell small stories. I think that since we’re more of an “event” show we can only… you know, we’ve only been able to do a season a year really, in the last five years. I think that it’s important for me to introduce things that the audience hasn’t seen before in the world or why else… why are they watching, right?

So, you know, creating that opportunity for Codex to actually go outside her comfort zone and find a… some kind of fulfillment from behind her computer was like an aim of mine and the story just happened to really dovetail really nicely last season where she gets to work for the game she really loves.

Definitely that was an aim, but at the same time there are other storylines that are going be in the show this season that I think are kind of surprising and fun and comfortable for the audience and they’ll say “Hey, my old Guild is still there.”

I’m required to ask you this: Doctor Horrible 2. Can you give me anything on that?

Day: I mean I wish I could, Doctor Horrible is actually showing on television October 9th! I’m so excited.

On the CW right?

Day: On the CW, which is very exciting. I mean it’s been such a journey and to have that show on TV and maybe, possibly, find so many new fans. I can’t say anything about the sequel other then I’m as fully aware as everyone else that it’s on a burner for the Whedon camp and I can only hope, as a fan and somebody who’s a part of that world, that there will be time to be able to make the sequel. I know it’s on the forefront of their minds… I mean it’s not my project so I don’t have control over it.

Would you like to see it as a Broadway play?

Day: I think that would be a great idea. I mean, I’ve seen several adaptations of it over the years that either high schools or local productions have done and it actually plays extremely well onstage and just the things you can do visually alone make it kind of… There is definitely a compelling argument to adapt it. I think.

What’s the biggest threat to Internet tranquility? Spam ads, buffering, or trolls?

Day: I think trolls. Trolls, because that’s kind of the worst of the internet. I created The Guild to celebrate the fact that anonymity can bring people together and I think that’s [trolling] taking it to the worst degree where people can isolate themselves to the point where they find a kind of unacceptable behavior to be acceptable and then they’re allowed to bully people with it.

So that’s kind of the dark side of the coin that I try to ignore my best, but the bright side of the coin is what I did with the show — which is, you know, saying hey you can meet somebody you would never meet on the street and be friends with them because you met them online and through a common activity.

Season 6 of The Guild premiers on October 2nd on the Geek and Sundry channel but you can watch it below!

Category: Featured, Interviews

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