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FAQ – Byrne’s Answers

March 20th, 2014

Tim2BTS

 

What is your background before you started working on Roommate?  Did you act full time, work retail, etc?  Are you still working other jobs besides Roommate?

 

Before “my roommate the” I was serving tables at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company at Universal City Walk, working front desk for the W Westwood, and operating the mechanical bull at Saddle Ranch Sunset. Currently I PA on various productions, I do stand-in and extra work, and work occasional event photography jobs for the company LA Photo Party. I do get paid to direct and edit for “my roommate the” but not nearly enough to pay the bills. But it’s a full time job so the jobs I DO take are on par with slave labor but are incredibly flexible.

 

What brought you to LA?

 

Acting. I moved up almost immediately after I graduated University San Diego and my goal was to get an agent, join the Screen Actors Guild, and book a supporting role on a notable TV show by the end of my first year. Well, I achieved the first 2 but have yet to achieve the 3rd.

 

How did you get involved with Roommate?

 

 I wasn’t getting the auditions I wanted and Lu found one of my impromptu characters entertaining enough to shoot a sketch around it. So I sat in the corner dressed in all black with nail polish and eye-liner and we did the sketch called “my roommate the Emo”. It was a lot of fun and it garnered a lot positive feedback from friends and fellow industry associates. So we just kept coming up with ideas and shooting them!

 

What made you decide to “go for it” and use Roommate as your claim to fame?

 

There came a point where we were all doing multiple things and not really devoting our time 100% to just one endeavor. Which, if you look at any young industry professional, they are living, breathing, sleeping their career. We made a decision that if we were going to “go for it” then we shouldn’t have one foot out the door. So we took a risk. We took time off our more demanding jobs and devoted ourselves to the show as if it were a fully paid, full-time job. And it worked! The quality improved and our next season got contracted and paid for.

 

Tell me about Roommate.  How is it different from other web series and TV shows?

 

 It doesn’t have a through-line narrative like most shows. Even procedural shows (Sitcoms and Cop Dramas) have an underlying thread that develops characters and relationships toward an eventual end. But the with “my roommate the” you really don’t see a beginning or end to Lu’s story. Like Southpark or Simpsons, it’s a simple formula that allows us and the audience to experience a new universe in every episode. And the show could technically go on forever (or as long as Lu is alive) because we really haven’t specified when it began, when it will end, or how freaking weird it is for someone to have this many roommates and not question it (unless that’s the premise of the episode – which we have one coming up that attempts to answer that question). But yeah, it’s just a free for all and it’s nice to have that as a writer and not feel the pressure to “wrap it up” or “pull out” so to speak… Network TV is so safe, you know?

 

What do the viewers get out of Roommate?

 

They get a Neapolitan bowl of comedic flavors! Maybe you’re a low brow poop joke kinda guy and just want to see someone get sh*t on. Or maybe you’re in college and need a break from reading Sartre but don’t want to swing too far from your intellectual cleverness trip. Or maybe you’re the most sarcastic person on the planet and just need things to not make any damn sense for a change. This show paints targets on all those people and more, and I think that’s a pretty universal thing to get behind.

 

What do you get out of Roommate?

 

 I get to express my frustrations with society while also providing a joke threaded book-report on my archetypal research of human behavior. Like, if I’m doing an episode called ‘my roommate the Corporate Yuppy’, I get to unleash my fury on all the elitists who define themselves by their 401k without it just sounding like some baseless angry rant on tumblr, all the while providing educational facts that slip into your subconscious because you were too busy laughing to notice you were actually learning something about a cliche subculture.

 

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What did you do to start Roommate?

 

 I wrote some scripts and Lu financed them. Originally we were just throwing our own cash at the episode without really evaluating how much it would ultimately cost or how big of a dent it would be putting on our balances. But as the episodes got longer and we started to see a structure in our following, Lu took it upon himself to utilize his amazing credit score and invest in the show properly. Honestly beyond that, it was about being diligent with paperwork and scheduling.

 

Is Roommate profitable?

 

No. Not if you’re defining profit as making a living with actual dollars and cents. The show has had a very slow growth, and although the fans are loyal and care to see us continue, the amount of views necessary to make a profit on Youtube has to be in the millions. Only one of our episodes broke a million (now it’s at 5 million) and that was “my roommate the Pornstar” which you can imagine, has it’s own reasons for obtaining so many views. We never set out to make a living off this show, it was always meant to be a demonstration of our abilities for future opportunities, and of course an artistic vehicle for self expression.

 

How do you promote the show?

 

Marketing is definitely an aspect that could always use more attention. Although we have a kick-ass website with a user friendly interface, and Lu and I are constantly updating on both our personal feeds and “my roommate the” through the various social networks, we’ve always felt that alternative marketing was the key to internet exposure. For instance, a lot of companies will sponsor parties and events for a specific demographic. And in our case, it would be college kids and young adults. To throw a concert or party with a non-profit organization and sponsorship is our goal once we’re in a position to do so. Even live improv performances from the cast to various college theatre and film programs would be amazing. At the moment however, we’re really gearing every last ounce of financing toward making the show as quality and polished as possible as they will likely serve as a bridge for funding future content.

 

Did you partner with anyone to grow the show?

 

 We did. We aligned ourselves with Bunim Murray Productions for our 3rd season. They agreed to finance 15 episodes in exchange for a share in the copyright. The pros to that deal was that we got to produce the show with very little to no overhead on our end. AND they didn’t interfere with the creative process, which is quite unheard of when it comes to investors. All investors want to make their money back so if they feel they can change something to ensure that they will. These guys thought we were perfect just the way we are and we’re thankful of that. The cons to the deal, and I suppose this happens with any deal you make at this stage in the game, is that they are attached to us for the next 5 years whether they choose to continue financing us or not. That means if we decide to continue the show after our contract is up, they will still be collecting their half of whatever money we earn in the future – whether it be through ad revenue, another company picking us up, or a movie deal going through. And like I said before, our aim was never to make a profit on this, and I think Bunim Murray understood that as well, but the concept is always open to negotiations with TV networks, and that’s where they see themselves making a return on their investment. I love this show like it’s my child but at the end of the day someone was going to stake claim on it if it was going to continue.

 

When you started, did you have the vision in mind of where you are now? 

 

Absolutely not. On one hand I’ve become a better writer and producer than I ever thought possible. Namely because I didn’t think that would wind up being my career. I thought for sure I was going to be an actor by profession. I haven’t quit acting but in order to get anything done I’ve had to put auditions at the bottom of the priority list. A lot of actors we work with are limited in terms of changing their look. Once I knew that acting wasn’t going to be what got me through the door (and that’s still not a certainty either), I was able to take on characters that required a change in appearance that most actors would require compensation for. Example, in “my roommate the Time Traveler” I had grown a beard from the previous episode “my roommate the Hippie” then utilized my shaving it to sell a scene where my character had gone into the future for a length of time without shaving. Little things like that are important when doing short comedies like ours but any actor who’s paid 5-600 bucks on their recent headshots is looking at me thinking “that nutcase just shot himself in the foot!” But it sold the story and that is ultimately what’s more important to me now. But the struggle is still alive and the uncertainty is just as daunting. Just when you think you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, something happens to make that tunnel even longer. Right now I can’t honestly say what the future of the show or future of my career holds, but I continue casting out my fishing line and planning for the next project, whether I get the funding conventionally or not.

 

How much does social media play in your business?

 

Some will argue it’s EVERYTHING. I’ve seen internet success based strictly off of their ability to reach a wide array of viewers. The content could be total crap but they’ve found a way to viral market every minute of it, and that prestige goes a long way with the masses. I’m seeing big corporate studios utilize social media in a way that no one else can because studios can afford to pay for the privilege of being seen. Sometimes I’ll see a tweet or facebook post on behalf of a product or show that I had never opted to follow, but they paid hand over fist to make sure my eyeballs saw the ad. And that’s what viewers are to most media moguls – eyeballs. I don’t see it that way. At least not yet. Lu has described me as a boutique creator, in that my content is specific and can’t be easily defined or boxed for commercial distribution. Surely someday a niche will naturally make it’s groove in modern pop culture but to what extent, I can’t say. I look at my viewers as people, and more importantly, extensions of me. And right now, I have the luxury of making a personal and more intimate connection to my viewers. “What would I want to see?” is the question I ask myself. And I can’t promise that will work for everybody. Because let’s face it, some people are freaking weird and what they want to see if too specific. I’m a fan of cinema and I trust that my taste is universal enough but also honest enough for a big company to question it’s marketability to a mass audience. And that’s really where the home-runs are. Until a big hitter is paying google to shuffle us to the front of the line, one could waste their schedule and budget just trying to get people to see their one project when they could be developing the next great idea. There’s definitely balance but If/when I can afford to “boost” my posts or even work out deals with likened websites and products, I will certainly take that step. But until then, the focus needs to be on making what’s true and entertaining.

 

How will you continue to grow the show?

 

‘m going to answer this in terms of actual dollars and cents, since that really is the clincher between a project happening and not happening.

If for whatever reason Bunim Murray does not renew the show, we won’t have the money at our disposal to continue. So, my answer to the question: How will I continue to grow the show? By continuing to write future episodes, pure and simple. A lot of film makers don’t take steps forward because they think it’ll be a waste of time if there isn’t a certainty of funds. Or worse, they aren’t already getting paid to do it! I know my worth, and I look forward to being compensated for it. But until that day comes I’m not going to sit still or only do as much as I’m being paid, otherwise I’m selling myself short.

In terms of crowd sourcing, since the Zach Braff and Veronica Mars campaigns, it’s tough to say how far a kickstarter or indie-a-go-go could really take you if you’re not a celebrity or in cahoots with a celebrity when making your pitch. It’s also tough to say if a production team can do more than one in any given length of time and expect the same enthusiasm from fans the second time through. But our plan as of now, is to kickstart for an epic finale to this season, then use that to promote the feature. I’ve written a feature length episode that will blow your minds. But even with our 60-odd episodes completed, we want to prove to our audience (and potential financiers) that we can utilize a set budget to it’s maximum potential and bring home a really solid piece of cinema. We want our work to speak for us.

 

 

What’s your best advice for anyone who is pursuing their dreams? 

 

Remember them! It’s silly but life will get you sidetracked, especially when things aren’t going your way. As your friends grow older and people come into your life with their own life plans and goals, you find yourself making compromises and still trying to keep that dream alive though motivational conversations with other dream chasers. But just talking about it, after awhile, will actually hinder you because it will serve as a reminder that you haven’t completed shit. So remember what you set out for and FINISH IT. Finish what you started. None of the Tony Robbins stuff is any good to you if you can’t at the very least see your goals through from start to finish.

 

What is the very best advice you would give anyone who wants to “make it”?

 

Depending on what it is you’re “making”, there’s a difference between regret and finding ways to improve on it. If you honestly believe that you were meant for something more in this life than just a job and a family, if you’re willing to sacrifice the comfort of normality to fulfill that purpose, you have to let go of regret. There are so many talented people who hold themselves back because they’re hovering outside of themselves, judging, comparing, weighing the odds against themselves because not enough people are patting them on the back. Stop looking at that person over there who gets things easy, they’ve got their own bag of shit to carry and you may never get to know the weight of it. You wake up with yourself in the morning, you alone. And you’re either thinking about the next step forward or you’re wondering what the fuck happened. Believe me, the second one doesn’t accomplish anything but a bad caffeine addiction (or worse). So learn from your mistakes and make decisions. That’s what “making it” really means.

 

If you were to start again, with all of the experience you have now, what would you do differently and why?  What would be “The Steps”.  Definitely answer this from your own point of view without the collaboration of the other.

 

Well first off, let me re-iterate my previous advice. Get rid of regret. Experience is crucial so my answer to this is less of what I would have done differently and more of what I still want to do and what I think young professionals should be thinking about when getting ready to dive in.

- Keep a hobby. An instrument, a sport, a dance, a martial art, painting, cooking, whittling, WHATEVER! And it’s okay to suck at it. As long as it’s separate enough from what you’re pursuing so that your brain can have some privacy. By privacy I mean like, a place to go where you won’t be bothered with your problems. What you have is a relationship with your goals and dreams. And even though you love your significant other, there needs to be another room you can go to where your brain can breathe and be itself apart from what normally gives it its identity.

- Find a community. It’s not easy. It takes time and patience. You’ll meet some amazing people, but not all will jive with you organically. And that’s okay! Not every ally has to be in your community. But once you have a team of people, a Justice League so to speak, whose goals, interests and abilities are interwoven seamlessly, you’ll find that through shared experience, your art will flow through you like clockwork. You’ll be a well oiled machine that’s nearly unstoppable amidst adversity. Your confidence will be at an all time high because even if it feels like the rest of the world is against you, you’ll have your team to back you up as you keep moving through the fray. My advice, move into a big house with lots of artists, or a complex where there’s like-minded people in your area for you to bounce ideas off of and think-tank. I’d still like to someday live in an artist mecca but as I grow older I see that window slowly begin to shrink. That isn’t to say there’s an age limit, but I feel when you’re young you have a much higher tolerance for communal living than when you get older and more set in your ways. But don’t rush, you’ll find your community organically. You just have to be willing to go through the motions of meeting people, LISTENING, and sifting through the bullshit. You’ll have to deal with some real slimy douchebags. That’s just life. (In big cities in particular.) Which brings me to my next point:

- Trust no one! And I think a lot of people confuse this notion with keeping people at a distance. That’s no way to network or market yourself. You have to collaborate with people and you have to give people a chance. But that doesn’t mean you should get all gitty and jump to conclusions about this fantasy of success simply because “so-in-so” made you a promise. LOTS of people are going to make you promises. And you’ll do well to smile and nod, hear them out, keep an open mind about the possibilities. But the second you start to depend on your expectations (or expectations of others), you’ll fall…hard. You’ll take meetings, you’ll go on dates, and you’ll hear it all, “I’m going to do this for you..” “This is going to happen this way..” “Trust me!” And things might be so shitty in your life that you’ll want to believe them. But there isn’t a more crippling blow than believing in a false promise. You are alone. Even in your community. You are ultimately alone and you will die alone. You must face your challenges alone and as soon as you can accept this, you can accept others for who they are and not fear the possibility that they might be all talk. Most of them are, even if they don’t want to be. You don’t need to burn bridges or be an asshole to protect yourself, just watch your ass and don’t fall asleep at the wheel.

- Make friends with a law student. If you’re going into this game as broke as I did, I’m pretty certain you can’t afford a lawyer unless it’s a friend doing you a favor. Don’t just buddy up with any law student, some of them are idiots. But you’re more likely to make a friend who actually gives a shit about your disposition if they are rising to their potential the same as you. Hell, even THEY might have a friend who is actually a lawyer that can help you. “For what?” you ask? For contracts. If we’re talking about the entertainment industry (and I’m assuming we are) and you’re a creative person, there will come a point when you are presented with an opportunity where contracts are involved. If the person tries to get you to sign it right off the bat, that’s a huge red flag. Take it home, and have someone who reads this shit for a living go over it with you. There’s language and terminology intentionally put in there to screw you. Don’t worry, that’s just the twisted nature of law and they’d be dumb to not put fine print booby traps in there to rob you of your well deserved money. I’ve seen, heard, and experienced many cases where artists were jipped out of a lot of money over a stupid contract technicality.

- Don’t waste your money on luxuries. Everyone deserves nice things. And you’ll have moments where you tell yourself, “Life is short, I’m young, I should definitely live it up.” But what you don’t realize is that you’ve chosen to pursue something that very few people succeed in, and that makes it glamorous and rewarding. Scarcity equals profit. So you might be in this for the long haul. And taking a chance that you’ll book some huge gig within the next two years so you can pay off that new car, or your credit card bill from that vacation to Tahoe is a gamble not worth losing. Go out, mingle, find cheap tickets and deals, scavenge and figure out a way. Learn the barter system. There’s ways around dumping your money to experience your young adulthood, because you should get that experience without a doubt, just not if it leaves you asking your parents and friends for money when the chips are down. Save that for a REALLY rainy day.

- Don’t let your side jobs consume you. There’s a lot of people out here trying to do exactly what you’re doing. So with that in mind, consider the type of people who take on managerial or supervisor positions for actor-friendly companies (food service, hospitality, extra work, events). Most of them are pretty fucking miserable. They may have started out like you, and then their mid 30′s happened. Life happened. The tetris blocks piled up and their choices “forced” them into a full time job babysitting a majority of misguided young actors flocking to the city in search of an identity. You’re not that person, I’m sure, but they won’t know that or care to find out. Like a soldier who’s survived countless battles and lost all their friends, they won’t look kindly on a new recruit because odds are, that recruit will probably get picked off, or worse, get everyone else killed. It’s a drastic metaphor but sometimes I really do see the caged tiger in these people’s eyes. And all they have to live for is their power over you, ESPECIALLY if they see promise. Nothing would help them sleep better than to crush your dreams, and rob you of your spirit the way they were robbed of theirs. It’s just human nature. Crabs in a barrel clawing to keep each other from escaping. So when you go to work, put your emotion shield up and keep your head down. You have real work to do when you get home later (and when you wake up tomorrow morning). The mean people have made their choice. And you’re welcome to try and cheer them up but that will only paint a bigger target on your forehead. So don’t tire yourself out over trivial bullshit. Your youthful ambition is a powerful thing and you’ll need it later down the line.

- Be independent. Don’t rely too much on your parents, if at all. Let them help you with your college fees at most. But if you keep one foot in the nest it will come back to haunt you. Odds are they won’t want you to stop accepting their help. It’s a parental nature to want to give your kids everything but it’s also in their nature to want to correct their mistakes through you, even if unconsciously. That means they’ll have an opinion on everything you do. And because you’re accepting their help, you’ll naturally be inclined to consider it. Odds are you’ve chosen this path because it defers from that of your parents and the world that raised you. That means what they think works may not work for you. There will be guilt, there will anxiety, resentment, regret, passive aggression, all of the things that come with sharing decisions. And if you don’t have to share your decisions then don’t! Just like investors, anyone who puts stake into what you’re doing is going to expect things in return. And it may be counter-intuitive for you to be juggling those obligations. Parents, girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, roommates, investors, fans, anyone who gives you help is going to feel entitled to your decisions whether they want to admit it or not. Keep that in mind when accepting their generosity.

- Keep an active journal. And don’t write like people are going to read it someday. Maybe they will, but by then you’ll be a different person (or dead) and it won’t matter. Write it all. Reveal it all. Whatever your thoughts. Arguably (and philosophically) those thoughts and ideas may not even be yours. But you need to express them. And sometimes, most times, it’s best to express them in private. THEN filter through the self loathing and doubt and find the things worth shouting out to the world. Meditation works in the same way but I’ve found meditation works best when you focus on your sensations. Journal writing on the other hand, gives you a chance to shed your metaphorical dead skin and see your thoughts actuated in front of you. You’ll be surprised how much lighter your thoughts are once they’ve been let loose from the crockpot of your mind.

- Set deadlines! You’ve made up your mind. This what you’re here to do, it’s what makes you happy, and there’s no way you’re going to quit. Because quitting is the only true failure. So, how to proceed? Make a date and stick to it. Understandably, shit happens and if you’re not getting paid for this yet you’re going to be juggling a lot of stuff. But that deadline is a microcosm of your dreams, your goals, your purpose. You can’t see far enough into the future to know for certain if this will pan out the way you intended, but you can be damn sure that you’ll meet that deadline. No one else will care as much you, and no one will be as sorry as you if you let that deadline slip. You are your own boss for now, so bust out a calendar, pin it to your wall over your desk and work towards that day like it’s the last project you’ll ever do. Then, once it’s met, go out and buy yourself a smoothie or whatever the hell you do to treat yourself, and then set the next one. Before you know it you’ll have a library of completed works, a legacy that someday your kids or your students or your fans will look to for guidance as they walk into the fray. There is a light at the end of this tunnel my friends. It’s the deadline(s) you set for yourself.

FAQ – Lu’s Answers

March 20th, 2014

What is your background before you started working on Roommate?  Did you act full time, work retail, etc?  Are you still working other jobs besides Roommate?

 

I was born in Miami, Florida but grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, I always knew that I would someday attend university in the US. Now, when I was in elementary, middle school, and even high school, I was the class clown. So for me acting was a natural progression. Upon graduating from high school I went to the University of San Diego where I majored in Theatre Arts. And after I graduated from there, I made the necessary move to Hollywood to follow my dream. My first year out in LA I worked retail at Best Buy and also DJ’ed for an event company. I eventually quit both those jobs to work full time for an event photography company. I primarily now make my income from production work but I still work part time gig at the event photography company.

What brought you to LA?

 

Honestly? The image of gorgeous girls rollerblading down the beach boardwalk in denim cut-offs and a bikini top, lol! Actually, that’s what brought me to San Diego. What brought me to LA was Hollywood. Los Angeles is home of thee most successful film industry in the world. So like everyone else, I figured that the best place to pursue the Entertainment Industry was in it’s birthplace. 

How did you get involved with Roommate?

 

The idea for roommate came about from my desire to do something while I waited for things to happen with my acting career. I always wanted to be involved with something that incapsulated my Los Angeles living experience, but I didn’t want it to be another story about what it was like being an actor in LA. I had seen too many of those. At the time, I had just moved in with Byrne Owens (co-producer of “my roommate the”), and he would do a hilarious impersonation of the emo kids he had seen and were familiar with. I thought it would be hilarious to shoot something where I had to live with that character. So I put together a script, a crew, Byrne developed his character, and also wrote the insanely funny yet poignant poem that is in the sketch. We shot the sketch with a few friends and I called it “my roommate the Emo”. At the time it was only meant to be a one off sketch. But then I started thinking about my past living situations and so many more ideas came to mind. 

 

I thought about, when I first moved to LA, was very interested in doing stand up. I had written some material that I always wanted to perform. One of the bits I had come up with was about my first real life LA roommate. She was a girl and was sweet as could be, but I would always joke that she was a racist and would do super racist things to me like leave cotton balls on the apartment floor for me to pick up. With that joke in mind, I started working on the next script, “my roommate the Racist”. Unlike the first script I wrote, this time I gave my character a name. And because of sheer laziness and also my love for Jackie Chan, I decided to use my own name (Jackie Chan used his real name as his character name in his first couple of US movies). And I’m glad I did because “Lu” turned out to be the perfect name for this character. 

 

We shot the new sketch and it had a beginning bit and a middle bit. After we wrapped shooting later on that night, I got one more idea for a bit that I wanted to add to the sketch. So we called Chris Mollica back (the actor playing the Racist roommate) and we tagged on an ending bit after the credits. And that format of a beginning bit, middle bit, and ending bit, became the format for the show and hence “my roommate the” was created.

 

What made you decide to “go for it” and use Roommate as your claim to fame?

 

What made me decide to go for it was the fact that I noticed how much fun we all had filming those first couple episodes. I had never laughed harder or had more fun filming any thing else like when we were doing the show. And the episodes just kept pouring right out of me, out of us. Since day one Byrne picked up the idea of the show and ran with it. I really liked what he was writing, so I decided to executive produce his episodes as well as mine. Which I am glad that I did because since then, he has helped me develop the tone of the show to what it is today. And once we saw how people responded so positively to the idea, we decided to keep it going.

Tell me about Roommate.  How is it different from other web series and TV shows?

 

The magical thing about roommate is the fact that the character “Lu” is a very relatable guy. He’s a lovable loser of sorts and has an everyman quality that allows the audience to experience the show through his “unfiltered” eyes. Lu does have an opinion and does take stances on issues, but he is never married to any perspective and his willingness to accept and understand others allows us as the audience to share in his experiences. The biggest difference I see between our web series and others is that “my roommate the” doesn’t cater to just one demographic, genre, or social group. Because Lu is the constant and the roommates change, it allows the possibility for numerous interactions. Had Lu’s roommate always been the Racist or the Emo, then each episode would have only catered to those kind of jokes or living situations. But since Lu’s roommate is always changing, it allows the audience the chance to be taken on a roller-coaster ride every time. And unlike most web shows or TV shows, “my roommate the” is not serial. Meaning that each episode is not contingent on the other. You don’t have to watch the first episode to get the show. Matter of fact almost all of the episodes are stand alone episodes. Now over the years we’ve connected a few of the episodes together, for our own fun, by having a multi-episode arc with one character as the common thread (i.e. my roommate the Homophobe – my roommate the Queen – my roommate the Girlfriend, or my roommate the Southern Belle – my roommate the Thespian – my roommate the Bank Robber). We also cross genres. Some episodes are sci-fi (my roommate the Time Traveler), where as others are horror (my roommate the Ghost), or social satire (my roommate the Artist). We always keep the comedic overtone, but as far a story goes, the show is whatever we want it to be.

What do the viewers  get out of Roommate?

 

Viewers get to watch a great story unfold right before their very eyes. With “my roommate the” we do our best to infuse our own personal life experiences into the episodes so as to give people insight into a social group they might not be familiar with, or we connect with them on a shared life experiences platform. We also take the viewer on an adventure into a world of that which is both familiar and unfamiliar. But most importantly, viewers get to laugh their asses off as they partake in “Mr. Lu’s Wild Ride”. 

What do you get out of Roommate?

 

For me, roommate is an escape. A chance to relive certain stories from my childhood that impacted me and also and opportunity to live out the realities of my adulthood. I get to both see what its like to live with a “Desperado” in one episode and a Girlfriend in the next. 

 

I also get to have my own show! How cool is that?! Any time I feel like getting something off of my chest or want to play around with an idea, I can just write an episode about it and then shoot it. Best-thing-ever!

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What did you do to start Roommate?

 

The first thing I did was I started with a desire. I wanted something, and from that want came an idea. I wanted to tell stories and from that came the creation of an outlet to do so with. Once I had the desire and the idea, I put together a skeleton crew that included a camera guy, 1st AD and other actors and I wrote a script for us to shoot. Once we shot the script, I had it edited into a cohesive story and then we posted it on Youtube so as to share it with others. I also registered my scripts with the WGA (Writer’s Guild of America) so as to protect my work. And the final step I took was that I made the show into a SAG Signatory show, meaning that it would adhere to the Screen Actor’s Guild guidelines and also grant us access to SAG actors. While all of this was happening, my neighbor helped develop a website for us to house our show on which added legitimacy to what we were doing.

Is Roommate profitable?

 

Yes and no. Since it’s conception, “my roommate the” has been immensely educationally profitable but never been monetarily profitable. The reason that I make the distinction educationally profitable and monetarily profitable is because while the experiences and knowledge we’ve gained from producing the show are invaluable, we have yet to make any money from the show. Matter of fact, the show has cost me a lot of money to produce. How much you ask? Well, a gentleman never tells, but let’s just say more than one year’s tuition at any private southern California university. But like I said before, the wisdom, new found skill set, and business savvy I’ve gained from producing the show totally make it worth it.

How do you promote the show?

 

We promote the show via the conventional social media outlets available to us i.e. facebook, Twitter, Instagram as well as merchandising such as t-shirts and hoodies (available on our website by visiting myroommatethe.com/merch).

Did you partner with anyone to grow the show? 

 

Since the beginning I’ve been partnered with Byrne. He shares in the writing, directing, acting, and editing aspects in the show. He writes half of the episodes and produces all the episodes that he writes. Our styles are able to blend and co-exist in the “my roommate the” world and he’s helped me expand the universe of the show beyond what I could have ever imagined on my own.

 

 The 3rd season of the show is sponsored by a production company and they’ve helped us reach a new audience. They also gave us a loan to produce the episodes for season 3.

When you started, did you have the vision in mind of where you are now? 

 

I had never really put pressure on the show to be more than what it always has been; a creative outlet. Sure it would be nice to see it make the leap from the web onto TV and Film but I’m very proud of how far it’s already come. At the end of this season we will have done 57 episodes. 57. That’s more than most TV shows. I’ve been blessed to have had something so sustainable fall into my lap and I can’t wait to see how much more it will continue to grow. 

How much does social media play in your business?

 

As of now, social media doesn’t play too big of a part in my business. Sure it helps spread the word about the show, but I don’t yet have the social media following that it takes to really make a difference. We are kind of flying under the radar right now which is good because it’s giving us a chance to hone our skills so that when we do get a big opportunity, we’ll be ready. 

How will you continue to grow the show?

 

We have plans to continue growing the show by reaching out to subscribers and seeing if they’ll support us in a Kickstarter campaign to fund two more super epic episodes. And from there, hopefully also find funding for the feature length script Byrne has written of the show for a movie. In conjunction to all that, we’ll also be packaging the other 57 episodes we’ve already completed and shopping those around to see if we can spark any interest in any other sponsors.

What’s your best advice for anyone who is pursuing their dreams?

 

Never lose sight of who you are and what it is you originally wanted. If your pursuit is something in the realm of the Entertainment Industry, then get ready because dark days are ahead. Every thing you think you know about yourself and what you believe is going to be put to the test in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. My experience is specific to LA, so I can only speak on that; This city will come after not your weaknesses, but your strengths. It will attack you in the areas you are most sure of and confident about so that once it takes them from you, you’ll have nothing but your weaknesses to fall back on. And that’s when the real mindf*ck will begin. 

 

Unfortunately there in no avoiding this, and you can’t really prepare for it. All you can do is trust in yourself. Trust that no matter what is thrown at you, you’ll adapt and evolve so as to survive. You can’t have a back up plan because it’ll prevent you from being present. And from being bold. You can’t hold back. If you want to catch up to your dream then you have to chase it with all you’ve got. And when you’re done and feel like you have nothing left to give, that’s when you’ll have to dig even deeper and reach into the depths of your soul to find the strength to pick yourself up and keep fighting.

What is the very best advice you would give anyone who wants to “make it”?

 

To anyone who wants to make it I would advise that you actually “make it”. Meaning that an idea is only an idea until there is action put behind it. If you have a great idea or any idea for that matter that you want to see come to life, then you’ll actually have to take steps towards accomplishing it. Active steps. A lot of people talk about what they’d like to do, but until you actually start taking initiative and putting your money where your mouth is, then that’s all it’ll ever be. Talk.

If you were to start again, with all of the experience you have now, what would you do differently and why?  What would be “The Steps”. 

 

There isn’t any series of things that I’ve learned that I can simplify into steps. But I will say that the most important thing that I’ve learned throughout this entire experience is, “Know your worth”. Know-what-you-are-worth. I’ve rushed into a lot of things in life and have made bad decisions because I was scared and didn’t know what I was worth. For me specifically, I’ve said yes to things that my gut told me to think twice about, but I never listen to my gut (it’s actually something I’m working on currently and will probably struggle with for a long time). 

 

There is a very difficult juggling act that takes place between staying motivated while simultaneously not rushing in and making careless decisions. Where the show is presently is a perfect example. Season 3 is about to wrap and already people are asking us about season 4. Now, there’s a part of me that is embarrassed and even afraid to admit that I have no idea when season 4 will happen. Particularly because I don’t want to see that look on people’s faces or hear their tone change when THEY come to THEIR own conclusion that my uncertainty on a specific date for season 4 means that I’ve given up. It’s like they can’t wait for me to throw in the towel and join them on the sidelines, because after all, we know that misery enjoys company. But as I said earlier, I now know what I’m worth. Whether it takes me 5 days, 5 weeks, or 5 years…as long as I’m alive I’ll always be producing. So there is no end in sight for me. The world is stuck with me :) 

 

With that being said, there is no rush for me to jump into the next thing. I’ve earned the right to take my time and weigh out all my options before making a decision.

 

Making Fun of Me Making Fun of You

October 8th, 2013

The BunnyMan Commeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s play a little catchup.  From what you may have pieced together from previous blogs, roommate promo vids, and Lu’s responses to fans’ questions on the comments, we are nearing the end of our contract with Alchemy Networks, a partnered production company with Bunim Murray.  If you don’t know Bunim Murray, they produce mostly reality television.  And like most TV networks and production companies, they’re making a slow and steady move onto the internet.  For Alchemy, “my roommate the” was the perfect program to couple with their other shows.  I’d like to think it’s because they just genuinely enjoyed our show and wanted to see us continue.  But from a business standpoint I’m assuming they thought simply because Lu is black that our show would cater to a young black audience..  Well the numbers proved otherwise.  What’s more, when we finished Gleek we were advised to make the remaining episodes longer so that the show would be more pitch-worthy to TV networks.  And in exchange for making said videos longer, the contract would be amended to accommodate for their budgets.  Well, that was all talk because…Hollywood.  And not only was it a false promise, but we didn’t find out it was smoke and mirrors until we were well into our pre-production process.  AND that our agreed-upon deadlines would be moved to well after the summer months.

Lu and I both put our lives on hold (jobs, family, health, leisure, additional opportunities, etc.) to give the follow-up episodes everything we had to elevate our careers into the next dimension of producing.  Perhaps our biggest mistake was to move forward without having signed the amended contract.  Or even more so, spending our own money (and the money of our friends and family willing to help) in order to fill in the gaps that Alchemy created by delaying (and ultimately retracting) their verbal agreement.

To put a cherry on top, and this is still a bit grey for me so forgive my lack of law knowledge, but Alchemy’s contract with us not only granted itself the rights to Season 3 of “my roommate the” but also rights to the CONCEPT of “my roommate the” for the next 5 years or until it makes its 30,000 back.  That includes selling our concept to a network without us being present.  It sounds raw but it’s actually pretty standard in this industry.  The only sad part is, “my roommate the” wasn’t the show they thought it was, and it’s likely that if “my roommate the” continues, it’ll be at our own expense – which is no different than before – only now if it does really well – Alchemy is the one collecting the cash – not us.

This process was perhaps the most educational experience of my life.  And despite the mixed reviews, we really put a lot of thought and care into these next episodes.  We did a lot with a little.  We have no intention of quitting either.  But we do so knowing that if it’s gonna happen, it’ll likely be out of our own pockets with nothing to gain but the episode itself.  We love doing this, so we’re okay with that.  Just cross your fingers that Alchemy doesn’t get weird and completely halt us from producing the show altogether – which they are legally allowed to do.

Hopefully that clarified some of your questions about our recent delay and move to the network known as Alchemy – AKA Breakdown.  We’ve tried our best to not get too Youtubey about linking you guys to their channel but it seems the only way to really get you over there is to be very blunt and borderline dumb about it.  Which brings me to my next topic of discussion:

 

 

 

MY ROOMMATE THE ARTIST &

 

The Oreo Cookie Film

Sqe has Nothing.

 

 

I’m not sorry.  Honestly if you hated it (though if you’d read this far I doubt you’re one of the haters) you can kiss my desert walking ass.  Half of youtube is a bunch of spoiled, ignorant, illiterate, violence-addicted, porn-seeking, lazy sacks of shit with absolutely no patience or taste for irony.  I can’t help them.  And if “my roommate the Artist” aided in their departure from our subscriber list then I’ve done a good deed.  The theme of the episode was self indulgence.  And being that the audience relates most to Lu, you can easily find yourself as emotionally confused and frustrated as he was.  Is that laugh out loud funny?  No.  And it doesn’t have to be.  Nothing HAS to be anything anymore because at this point, who the hell is keeping score??

In our industry, no one cares who we are.  They don’t appreciate us like you do, and enough of them know who we are where we would have known by now if this was enough of a reason to be admitted into their circle jerk club of “pat yourself on the back” entertainers who get paid 10x more than what they should.  I’m fed up with Hollywood.  And I’m bored with traditional comedy.  It’s all regurgitated crap with a thin slice of Political Correctness to help wash it all down.  The game is fixed, and anyone who is “succeeding” has an express ticket to the mass audience.  Everywhere I look are charlatan artists taking dumps on stage and getting applause when they should be getting the response “my roommate the Artist” got from our fans.  I don’t expect anything for the work I do but for god’s sake can we stop idolizing losers?

If you look closely enough you’ll see that it’s really not anyone’s fault.  This is nature playing itself out the same way a Tsunami will crush an entire coastline then go back to being a paradise the next day.  I can’t hate on anyone for what’s happening to entertainment but I don’t have to be happy about it.  It’s my hope that at the very least my alternative story telling will inspire others to be honest and true to themselves when it comes to expression.  It’s okay to dive deep, it’s okay to ask questions that don’t have answers, and most importantly, it’s okay if everyone doesn’t like you.  That might actually be a sign you’re on to something.

I have to get back to writing cover letters where I gloss over all the real work I did on this series and emphasize how good I’ll be at spreadsheets and fetching coffee.

So that’s all for today.  I love you, and I thank you for your time.

 

We’re Still Here, We’re Still Standing!

February 5th, 2013

HEYYYYY ROOMMATES!

There is absolutely no need for you to know how many hours of sleep and body weight were lost, or how much of our personal lives have been sacrificed to bring you this recent round of episodes.  And despite both Lu and I having to learn how to edit while under a tight week-to-week deadline, we’re pleased to inform you that we’re now in pre-production to deliver a fresh batch of 11 “my roommate the” episodes over the course of the next 2 months.  Alchemy Networks has generously raised our budget so that we’re able to devote ourselves full time to bringing you the highest quality videos with the least amount of self-inflicted agony.  And boy do we have a stellar line-up for you guys!  After an intense labor of love, the long awaited episode my roommate the Gleek will be premiering on KscopeNetworks next Tuesday at 3pm.  To my knowledge it will be our longest episode to date, and we have no intention of stopping there.  At this very moment, our specialized writing team (Lu and I) are hard at work writing the next episodes with all new locations, characters, and plot-lines to dazzle and wow your hungry web-viewing brains.  Prepare yourselves roommate fans, we’re just getting warmed up!

 

“You should have way more subs.” – most comments

October 18th, 2011

As much as that’s a compliment I’m getting tired of hearing people say I should be something better than I am.  And I get that their intention is to fuel me to keep going but this pursuit has gone into a dark corner bordering on insanity.  And pursuit for what?  I used to think it was for artistic expression but now it’s turned into something else.  Is it a lust for money?  I don’t necessarily want to be rich, although being rich could afford some very mentally stimulating adventures and personal projects.  But that’s what these are now, personal projects.  And as entertaining as they may be, they’re sucking the life out of me.  So quit?  Not that simple.  When you’ve put as much into it as I have it’s difficult to walk away, even if it’s for a moment.  So shut-up and keep writing stuff we like to read instead of this emo shit?  Okay okay.  Let’s start over:

Everything is fine.

The big thing  you have to remember here is not to have expectations.  If there is ever such a character that should remind us of this it’s Lu.  Poor Lu.  I noticed a lot of you want him to be free.  And we play each one as if the last hadn’t really occurred so you see there how the frustration is mounting.  But I write as if the previous situation hadn’t really occurred, or at least not directly recalled for comparison.  Yet he’s still present in the on-going-ness of his situation.  Really because that would be an even bigger tragedy if his character wasn’t somehow aware that the world was handing him yet another lemon, vs. being handed his first one every episode.  And what kind of hell would Lu be living in if he did remember every roommate?  As a writer, I don’t think I could continue to give him the roommates that I’ve written if I didn’t treat this like a Sunday morning funny page where we just see this guy who knows it’s coming but doesn’t necessarily know how.  But yes I can tell the audience is getting tired of seeing him get shit on.  And that’s unfortunate because we the people (and I’m not trying to get political or specific here) are constantly getting shit on.  And as much we all think we would do something about these situations that we’re watching, would we really?  Yeah the hard motherfuckers who like to fight, those guys would throw punches upon the first insult.  But they look for reasons to throw punches so that doesn’t count.  Same goes for drama queens.  Elements of those people have been put into other roommates but there’s only so far you can go with someone who resorts to violence or yelling every time they don’t get what they want.  And oh, do those dipshits irk me.  Seems like there’s always one of them in a group.  And you want to spank them like a child, well actually that’s politically incorrect, according to the new parents it’s spanking your kids that makes them awful people when they grow up – supposedly.  I’ll leave that there…for now.

But back to the issue at hand, the metaphysical dilemma of Lu.  It’s the same metaphysical dilemma that we’re all facing!  The causal loop who’s origin can’t be determined or fixed.  You give Lu a normal roommate, it’s not going to be normal.  Sooner or later one of them is gonna pop.  And maybe it’ll be some civil dispute over who cleans the bathroom and who cleans the dishes, but it’s still a friction of ideals nonetheless.  And realistically it would be super drawn out and the events that move the story along would happen over a span of months until one of them meets a girl (or guy) and moves into a place with that person.  And the story could definitely continue there no doubt.  It’s weird, it’s like I translate people’s wanting us to move on with my own wanting to move on.  After all these useful situations made from this box, we still haven’t gotten the kind of swell to move us off the island.  We may look like we’re living our lives, but it’s more like our lives are on this island, interpreting the lives of others who have chosen to go an easier way through life, which affords them the luxury of having a life – if that’s what you want to call it.  I’m not pointing fingers at any particular roommate here, but if being able to go to a bar and drop 60 bucks on poisoning yourself is having a life I guess I’m not missing much.  And believe me, I’m not judge against the drinkers.  The alcoholics got it bad but so do the sober folks, recovering or virgin otherwise.  Unless of course your a monk who’s found his space in the in between, that might be the best place.  But how would we know, we’re emotional creatures still trying to fix problems that can’t fix so we can remind ourselves we’re alive.  If you reach existential bliss then you aren’t even surfing the internet looking for kicks anymore, you’re sitting on your floor connecting to the cosmos that doesn’t even speak a language, or emote a feeling.  Right now that kind of sounds like death, or nothingness, and my mind’s not ready for that, not this morning anyway.

That’s enough for today,  I’ll give you a little roommate update and we’ll move on with our day shall we?

Today we’re shooting my roommate the CEO, due to air next week.  In this episode Lu get’s a first hand taste of Occupy Wall Street as a CEO on the run takes refuge in his apartment.  It’s a one act but it’s 5 pages long…  Basically I’m just not in the mood to time lapse this one.  It all happens in the now, and what happens from there is up to you.  KIND OF LIKE WHAT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING!  Am I supporter of Occupy Wall Street?  I see it’s merit and I see it’s weakness.  I’m definitely not a fan of greed but I’m also not a fan standing around talking about what we want to do as opposed to doing it.  Hipocrit you say?  Yeah well there’s a certain threshold in a person’s life that determins whether they want to make an impact by interpretation or make an impact by enforcing.  At the moment, the whole enforcing thing seems to be going out the window, so story telling for the sake of shared ideas seems to me to be the most proactive approach.  And my roommate the CEO, although only grazing the surface, is my contribution to this movement that seems to have only just begun.  Depending on how inspired it makes me, I may just go out to Wall Street myself and record some commentary.  We shall see.

Later!

And remember, if you’re gonna be a hater, hate yourself first.  If you actually care about people that is.

Season 2: the return of myroommatethe

May 20th, 2011

Hello most patient fans and friends,

After Time Traveler we took a 3 month long moment to cook up some new episodes for you, and we’re excited to say that this summer will have a grand kick-you-in-your-face explosion of episodes to enjoy on a more consistent basis.  That way, we can wrangle in some of those not-so-sure viewers who can’t sit still long enough to have their own opinion.  Poor kids and their adderall…  Anyway, a lot of comments mentioned recently that there was no where else to go with myroommatethe; and THAT – my friends – is unfortunately the reason why there aren’t more awesome shows like us – a show fueled by “why not”s – a show that has no one to answer to – and most importantly, a show that has NO LIMITS!!

It is our hope and mission to deliver you unfiltered, organic myroommatethe goodness until Lu, myself, and this apartment have been obliterated, consumed, and then digested by a black hole somewhere.  Because in a world that’s run by scared, talentless cheats, there needs to be that one place you can go to where you feel like something was made despite the offended status quo.  And hopefully, you too will feel inspired to do your own “why not”s  and spread the freedom of good old fashioned WHATEVER.

So keep your pants on viewers, this ride is about to step up the speed, step up the fun, and take a 0 G face dive toward that fiery inferno known as society with nothing but pure, unadulterated senses of humor to break the fall.

-Byrne

Oh, and by the way…

Lost Time Traveler Photos

May 9th, 2011

Lost Hippie Pics

May 9th, 2011

Found these while organizing my computer.


 

What’s your favorite ‘my roommate’ episode? GET A SHIRT!

April 5th, 2011


That’s right!

T-SHIRTS, SWEATSHIRTS, MUGS, HATS, and yes even PANTIES are available for you to purchase with your most favored roommate characters featured on the front!

Go to our MERCH tab (upper right) to view our selection of ready-made shirts from your favorite episodes – OR – check out the DESIGN-YOUR-OWN tab to…design your own shirt from the wide selection of graphics and apparel.  For instance, you could put a picture of my face on a pair of panties.

The READY-MADE shirts are printed on American Apparel shirts, slave labor free.  Too expensive?  Just go to the APPAREL TAB in the designer and pick the STANDARD WEIGHT shirts for a whopping $10.00 (warning: you get what you pay for).

SUPPORT MYROOMMATETHE WEBSERIES BY PURCHASING SOME MERCHANDISE.  WHY?  BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU.

Minglemedia Interviews ‘my roommate the’ at Time Traveler Premiere

March 14th, 2011