Marissa Ross is a twenty-something actress and writer who lives in Echo Park. She'd been writing her blog Tangents and the Times for a while, when her neighbor director Bennett Smith asked her to consider turning it into a web series.
The two are now three episodes into the odyssey.
The result is hilarious and often insightful--a slice into an Echo Park lifestyle Ross and Smith say could happen anywhere.
Ross plays a blogger who just can't get the love she needs from fans or boyfriends.
We sent the two a dozen questions about the project. The questions--with answers--are below.
Echo Park Patch: Who came up with the idea for the series and how?
Marissa: I'd always wanted to do a show of some sort, but didn't really know how to go about doing it in at the production standard I wanted. Bennett was (is) my neighbor, and he randomly hit me up one day with an idea to make this series. He wrote an awesome treatment, put an awesome outside perspective on things, and I was sold.
Bennett: In October of last year, I moved out of Echo Park to live on a farmhouse in Colorado for a month to finish a feature script I was working on. Only then did I contact Marissa, and ask her if she wanted to do a show based on her blog. When I got back to LA in November, we started writing.
Echo Park Patch: How's it different than the blog?
Marissa: The blog is more about casual and inconsequential life observations that about eight people at time usually relate to. Obviously, that sort of thing really isn't sellable to a large market, so the series is more about universal themes that all confused twenty-somethings go through.
Bennett: I think we aspired to take the best parts of the blog and attempt to portray them in a scripted narrative. Those eight readers are totally picking up on our inside jokes.
Echo Park Patch: Did the blogging change once the series started?
Marissa: Blogging is always changing. I don't think it has anything to do with the series, as much as it does that I'm not quite as angsty as I was at twenty two, and I'm much busier. Unfortunately, I just don't have as much free time as I used to. I'm posting less, but I'm trying to make them count.
Echo Park Patch: As you may know, some folks are making an indie TV series about Silver Lake life. Is Echo Park really so different? How? And how does that come across in the series?
Bennett: I think everyone is trying to capture these neighborhoods right now. There's a lot going on in Silver Lake and Echo Park, and it's exciting (or maddening) to those who live here -- we want to convey that. The story of Tangents is less about Echo Park, more like its a series that happens to take place in this neighborhood. And we occasionally roll down Sunset to film in Silver Lake... so don't think we're snobby. We're equal opportunity.
Marissa: Is Echo Park so different than what? Than Silverlake? No. We all just don't have the money to live in Silverlake. [laughs] We never intended the show to be a portrait of Echo Park. I think the things that we are describing happen all over LA (albeit, without coon hats). These things have always happened here, and they always will.
Bennett: But I do think Echo Park has a certain character that makes the setting of this show unique. This show just wouldn't be as fun if it was set in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Echo Park Patch: How would the web series have to chance to become a television show?
Bennett: It's kind of the age-old formula: part self-promotion, part who you know. We're doing both at the same time and knowing eventually it will all come together.
Marissa: I'm not sure, but I believe in the culmination of hard work, preparation and opportunity. We'll end up where we are supposed to. I'm also joining a Lunar Society, so I mean, I think we have a chance.
Echo Park Patch: What are some Echo Park and Silver Lake sites you've shot at?
Bennett: The kind folks at La Esquinita Restaurant let us shoot on their back patio during a busy Saturday morning -- they were awesome! I highly suggest their breakfast sandwich special, the burritos are excellent as well. We've also shot at Stories, El Prado, the streets of Silver Lake Boulevard and the Satellite. And the Laveta Terrace steps north of Sunset -- they look like they're straight out some European film.
Echo Park Patch: What are some Echo Park and Silver Lake sites you'd LIKE to shoot at?
Marissa: I'd love to be able to shoot at The Echo, it's been a huge part of my life. It was my boyfriend before I got a boyfriend. Also Cliff's Edge, Hyperion Tavern, 1642, Silverlake Wine, Origami Vinyl, and The Park, the restaurant. Although I wish I could shoot at Echo Park Lake. See you in 2013!
Bennett: Gold Room. And the helicopter pad on top of the Citibank building -- that would be epic!
Marissa: We'd like to shoot anywhere.
Bennett: Yup. That's the dream.
Echo Park Patch: What's it like being a "micro-celebrity" in the EP? Do you have to hide out or is it still a pretty anonymous existence?
Marissa: Haha! This is the second time I've been referred to as that in print, and I'm not sure what it means but I'm just going to roll with it. I definitely don't have to hide out, although in certain atmospheres I do get more attention than in others. It's not like people at Fashion 4 Eva (another spot I'd love to film at) are bowling over me walking in without any makeup on, but at shows and stuff I meet people who know my work and it's really nice. I am always so taken aback and truly grateful.
Echo Park Patch: If you got a whole bunch of money to improve the show what would you do?
Marissa: Oh, man. First, our director of photography, Echo Park local Josh Fuss, would definitely start getting paid because he is so talented, and his time is so valuable. Secondly, I'd love to be able to spend money on just the general production-- locations, sound, editing. Thirdly, I'd love a bang-tamer and someone looking out for my face, like a make-up artist. Guys don't see that stuff. I need a right-hand woman.
Bennett: I agree with Marissa, so many talented people have donated their time and I wish I could have paid every single one of them. Josh is a f****** saint. I don't think we'd ever be a big production though -- it's nice to have a small crew. It makes everything have a naturalistic feel.
Echo Park Patch: What kind of feedback do you get on this from Echo Parquenos? Do they feel it's legit?
Marissa: The people I have received feedback from that live in Echo Park, think that it does a good job of representing the lifestyle without trying too hard. We get great feedback from the independent music community, and terrible feedback from middle aged dads who love Jesus and think I cuss too much. I'm okay with that though.
Bennett: I've never heard that term, but its definitely is more pleasing to the ear than "Echo Parkers." I'm not sure how many people in the neighborhood have heard about our show, but I guess we're about to find out.
Echo Park Patch: Do they buy in to the accents, which seem to merge hipster and Val?
Marissa: There's nothing to really to buy into, it wasn't something we devised in writing. That's just how I talk. I'm a southern California native, and despite my father's best effort, I say "like" and "dude" a lot.
Echo Park Patch: Finally, I see three episodes up on the site. Are more coming?
Bennett: Actually, we have three episodes and a promo we did back in April. We've written enough for at least six more webisodes, but we're still trying to figure out the best way to present them. TV would be ideal, but we're not opposed to continuing on the web.
Marissa: Of course more are coming. And of course they're about me! [laughs] All the episodes we've written fit into this really nice, relatable character arc that exemplifies it's not where you are, but who you are. It isn't about Los Angeles or New York, it's about how you have to stop looking for excuses as to why you're not where you want to be, and really just put your nose to the grindstone and get there. I hope we can continue to do more, and hopefully, branch out and off the web. We'll see!