The premise of I’m Sorry Melissa is simple–(a) dude cheats on girl, (b) dude makes apology video, and (c) dude stubbornly believes he will win girl back. Wayne Parillo is the name of that dude, and what Wayne and his show have going for him is total unabashed honesty. In the show’s first episode, “I’m Sorry,” Wayne’s apology feels real–scary real–like Wayne might be apologizing to his real girlfriend that he might have actually cheated on. To get to the bottom of this v-pology that started it all, Tubefilter and Wayne had an honest heart to heart about love, betrayal, and forgiveness–and of course, John Cusack.
Tubefilter: How did the whole concept of I’m Sorry Melissa come about?
Wayne Parillo: It’s based on a true story. Or maybe it isn’t. Or maybe it will be. It all comes back to Say Anything. I found it fascinating that people love John Cusack outside her window. Meanwhile, I was horrified: he’s standing outside her window. Isn’t that stalking? It really is how you look at it. The whole concept developed along those lines: it’s how you look at it. Cheating also happens to be a subject that is extremely subjective and people are fiery about. A subject I’ve always been fascinated about. What are you willing to forgive if someone hurts you?
I used real people and their stories because I didn’t want people to watch the show and think, “Yeah, the writer is manipulating me.” People only take away what they want from a story. So if you agree that Wayne should be forgiven–you’re going to agree with some of the videos, or vice versa. The audience needs that option of drawing their own conclusions.
The apology video also takes—and again I’m not saying whether I ever did this or not—takes John Cusack outside the window to another level. Or at least tries to. The other thing about Say Anything – he never quits, which when talking to women about the movie, they love that in a guy.
That is also part of the concept: Wayne did wrong. He apologized. He seems sincere. Do you forgive it?
The apology video also plays into my thoughts that technology can be used really inappropriately. People will text break-ups, post terrible things about each other on websites, and do everything but talk to the person directly. It’s the thought that if enough people agree with what you did, then you must be right. A court of public opinion; which all ties nicely with the audience vote on what is going on– really play into people having an opinion that matters. I wanted a concept that would allow complete freedom and be something people could relate to.
TF: So how much of your material comes from real-life relationships?
WP: It feels real because stuff is real. Here is where the sociologist in me comes out even more—and it was a happy accident. Depending on which episode comes out, the voting changes. I find that even more fascinating.
To me though, in the end, this is a boy chases girl story where you certainly question his methodology. Yet at the same time, he isn’t evil or anything, and he isn’t dumb either. He is a person, and I think the audience relates to that; just like people related to John Cusack outside the window.
TF: Have you gotten a big response regarding what Melissa should do?
WP: Yes, besides people voting, I’ve gotten emails. Interestingly enough some emails from women explain exactly what Wayne should do to get her back, sort of a female battle plan on the road to forgiveness. Some from guys’ lament with Wayne. It has also proven rather fascinating that people seem to be completely okay with Mark blatantly trying to get with his friend’s ex.
TF: Are the people you’ve interviewed willing to talk openly about their private relationships?
WP: It depends on whether I’m using the camera to record them, or using only audio or pen and paper.
People are more aware when the camera is on them—sometimes they don’t want to be on camera, or ask that someone else tell the story. Mostly, because the video goes online and they don’t want a perspective employer, or a sibling in one instance, seeing them tell a story. This is a valid concern. One woman went on a date with a guy and showed him the video we shot. No follow up date.
On audiotape, or when I’m just taking notes, they’ll say just about anything. I have a story that someone told me about fooling around with a prince that I can’t wait to use.
TF: Is this show helping you to find love or to make up for lost love in real life?
WP: In a way, part of it is an apology to the woman I cheated on, or my understanding on why someone cheated on me. I guess that would fall under the category of potentially lost love. Though I’m married now, and certainly stuff you see in the series contributed to the success of my relationship.
TF: What is your distribution strategy for the show?
WP: On the Leesh Productions, who handle the distribution portion of the show, have been working with Koldcast, and it’s going well. It has also been arranged that the series is available for download through Sprint phones. We also have a link on imsorrymelissa.com that goes to full fledged versions of the videos.
TF: I love your John Cusack, “never give up” attitude. Will this work out like Say Anything?
WP: Thanks. You’ll have to keep watching. The audience voting ultimately decides the outcome—though I’m never going to tell when the series ends. I want to make sure every episode continues to matter.
I will say that Melissa and Wayne continue to have to deal with each other—that’s for sure. In life we learn lessons as we go along, though there’s certainly never an “aha!” moment–you gradually change and these characters are destined to change.
I’m glad you’re enjoying Wayne’s disbelief. There’s definitely a huge amount of truth in there—where people do something horrible, apologize, and can’t believe the other person doesn’t forgive. Though the human spirit is definitely not to quit. Which is what Wayne is all about.
I enjoy the audience feedback and letting them shape what’s happening. I also love the stories we get to put up there. I also would not be a good person if I didn’t give props to my DP-editor Ben Jurin who makes all of this look the way it does. Mark, Michael, and Annie for being involved with this—Mark really is my best friend, and Michael really is a close friend. Alicia Arinella and everyone else at On The Leesh. Also, my wife Danielle, she encourages this.
New episodes of I’m Sorry Melissa are posted every other Thursday on Koldcast.tv.