After months of tracking the exploits of The All-For-Nots on their popular web series, we wondered what would become of our favorite make-believe indie band now that their season has ended. Particularly after their rocking set on Kimmel, we were curious if this fictional group had become non-fiction. Will the band play on? Will Vuguru renew the series? We caught up with star Vanessa Reseland and the show’s creators Kathleen Grace and Thom Woodley (of Dinosaur Diorama) over the phone to find out what’s next for the band, the show, and the blurring line between web and TV.
Vanessa Reseland is an actress/musician based in New York. She plays Farrah on the show and writes some of the songs.
Tubefilter News: Had you been in a band before The All-For-Nots?
Vanessa Reseland: I’d never been in a band, no. I’ve written music since I was twelve, but all kind of solo stuff on piano or guitar, so this was definitely my first endeavor, especially in rock music. I did more introspective singer-songwriter-y stuff.
Tubefilter: So what was it like doing your first live gig then, in a rock band, having never done that before?
VR: Our first live show that we booked ourselves was last December at the Mercury Lounge in the Lower East Side … I wasn’t nervous, I was very excited, but I think I was much more reserved than I have become. Because at that point, too, the songs were all songs from the show and I sing backup on them, and I don’t think I had any lead songs yet. Since then, Kevin and I have both – Kevin plays the other lead singer – have both written songs for the show and the band, so I think that helped us find our voice. Because when we first started we were pretty chill, but now we have a lot of fun and jump around a lot. It’s more of a show, I think.
VR: We aren’t sure yet. Basically at any point Vuguru and the producers there can tell us at any point that they want another season. They haven’t let us know yet. So as of now, we’re kind of assuming that we’re going to go along with the band thing and each pursue different endeavors, and then if they come calling, all of us are really eager to do it. We all had a lot of fun doing the first season and I think we figured out some ways to improve upon it both from the production side, storyline side and even as actors obviously too.
Tubefilter: Can you play gigs now as The All-For-Nots, or does Vuguru and the show’s producers own the rights to the songs?
VR: They own the rights to the songs, but they don’t mind. It’s good promotion for them. Since we’re not selling CDs, we’re not really making money from these shows, so basically we still play as The All-For-Nots. We actually draw pretty decent crowds, so we’re all very eager to keep the band going even if the show doesn’t continue … But we don’t really play in character anymore …
VR: There were only a few times when we really tried to play up the characters, and those were the few events that Vuguru had booked us for. The rest of them we booked ourselves … We had done some preconceived banter, or decided that beforehand we would have some tension between me and Johnny, or I would be over flirting with Caleb, and Erica kind of be off in her own little world … and Thom is just the same as he is in real life — no major difference.
Tubefilter: Do you have any gigs coming up that you want to tell us about?
VR: Yeah, actually, we’re booked up through December. I think all of the dates are on our MySpace page. Our first tour is coming up which is exciting. We’re going to Montreal. Friday night (October 17th) we’re playing a show at Fat Baby in the Lower East Side, and that’s kicking off our weekend tour, and then Saturday we’re playing Montreal and Sunday in Boston.
Tubefilter: Any plans to come to the West Coast?
VR: I don’t know … In June we were out there for Kimmel and we played the Knitting Factory out there, that’s the only time that we’ve been on the west coast. We all really want to … so I think we’re going to keep playing and keep trying to plan these things … this tour kind of happened because we knew some bands who were going, and they — that’s really how we’ve gotten anywhere so far- really through the music scene, it’s really not really through the show itself getting us the gigs. At least three of the band members are more into music than acting. So between them we know a lot of people in the music scene, and people seem to like us so far.
Tubefilter: How did The All-For-Nots come to be?
Kathleen Grace: Well, Thom and I created a show called The Burg that was online – we posted our first episode in June of 2006, and about a year ago, early 2007, we got an email from Vuguru – Michael Eisner – and it said, you know, “we really like The Burg, and we want to work with you, whatever you want to do next, tell me about it.” So we had this idea for a sort of cross country road show, that we’d been talking about for a while, but along the lines of we’ll never have the money or resources to do this, but wouldn’t it be cool to do.
Thom Woodley : A road show.
KG: So, we’re with someone who did have the resources to do it. We went for it, pitched it, and he really liked the show. We started shooting August 2007, and created the band the prior month literally, like did auditions and Thom and a friend of ours Kyle Jarrow, this composer and we shot it.
Tubefilter: What was it like working with the folks at Vuguru?
KG: It was great. They were really supportive of us, and it was definitely a learning experience for both sides in a good way.
TW: they had just come from doing Prom Queen, and they had a lot of things they wanted to differently, and things they were kind of discovering, and one of the things that we were able to do was say well, you know — they had some more TV ideas of how to do some stuff that we thought didn’t really apply to the web world — and so, yeah. They were open to hearing ideas and suggestions about promotions and episodic structure.
KG: And also, they aren’t music people, and Thom and I – you know, Thom has been in a lot of bands and has a lot of experience, and we kind of know the scene more in terms of Brooklyn and so we brought a lot to the table in terms of that. For us it was a learning experience because on The Burg. There was no one to say “no,” we could do anything we wanted as long as we could afford it. Time wise, we could take four months to shoot an episode if we wanted to…. Having an executive producer was really a good learning experience for both of us – Thom in his writing and me in my directing and producing – to go through the process of getting notes and realizing that sometimes it’s good to have another voice — most of the time it is. Someone to look at it and say “Oh, you’re crazy. That doesn’t work” or “That’s good, but why don’t you try it this way?”
Tubefilter: The band really gels. How did you go about casting that?
TW: We had to cast people who were non-SAG and good, and funny, and they had to play an instrument. Also, they had to get along well, and also because of the way we were planning on shooting The All-For-Nots we were actually going to travel around the country, shoot it very, you know, dirty—
TW: Yeah, very rock-u-mentary, kind of gritty style, but also we were traveling around the country so these people couldn’t be crazy.
KG: That was the third category. They’d come in to audition and we’d say “Okay, good voice. Okay, they’re funny,” and they’d leave the room and we’d say “Can I spend three weeks in the car with this person? Can I go to the rest stop and not feel weird?”
TW: There were some people…. Anyway, we put the feelers out, we put out an open call … It so happened that all the people we ended up casting were either friends or friends of friends … We have talented actor friends and they have talented actor friends … The sort of last minute hitch was we thought we would have intense difficulty casting the female drummer, but we had several candidates for that, and we only had a couple for the piano player … [none of them were working out] mainly because of scheduling reasons … it ended up being that about a week before we started shooting, um ….
KG: Thom submitted a tape of himself that he, like, shot in his apartment. He was like “I know you think I’m crazy,” but he gave it to me, and I said “Well, y’know, you’re pretty good at it.”
TW: Up to that point I hadn’t planned on being in it, so that necessitated us bringing on another producer so, you know, it wouldn’t all be Kathy … It just so happens for the most part people have gotten along pretty well musically … We thought we would just cast people who just looked convincing playing instruments, but what actually happened is we ended up with people who had an interest and ability to write songs, and so…
KG: They wrote songs, too.
TW: They wrote a bunch of songs, and, yeah, and a year later we’re on Jimmy Kimmel playing songs that the actors had written.
KG: The All-For-Nots the show, right now we’re not planning on shooting a second season, I think that … you know, it did well, we liked it, Vuguru liked it, but as the web video economy figures itself out, shows like The All-For-Nots are great, but they’re big shows. It’s not Lonelygirl15, it’s not funny sketches on YouTube, it’s a production, it’s a TV show. I mean, we shot HD, it’s broadcast on HDNet, it’s broadcast quality TV but it’s on the internet. Thom and I are playing with ways to scale the production back … But then [we wonder] do we have a production partner and a brand that is interested? I think it doesn’t help that advertising agencies are cutting spending because of the economy. So it’s a business decision right now …
TW: … As far as the band goes, that’s another we’ll see thing, I think everyone has fun with it.
KG: We have three shows this weekend, one in Montreal …
TW: We’re playing pretty regularly … so I don’t know, we might keep doing it. So there’s the grey area now: you know, real band or not real band. It’s like – it’s a real band, but we’re calling ourselves The All-For-Nots, which is a Michael Eisner property, so it’s an unusual situation … but we’re all into pushing it farther.
KG: And the great thing about the web, and we discovered this with The Burg you can not do an episode for a year, then if you come back with something really good, people will pay attention again. It’s a little more flexible – it’s not like “we canceled this” – its’ constantly evolving, you can change your mode of production, you can change your style of storytelling – look at Lonelygirl15 versus The Resistance — things can evolve and change and your fans are a lot more forgiving – or not forgiving, but adventuresome.
Tubefilter: Do you have any other web series on the horizon?
TW: It just launched very, very quietly. That’s a comedy about the Renaissance Fair, so we’ve got nine episodes up now, and more coming soon.
KG: We’re actively developing a lot more. Pitching, finding new partners to work with … probably more stuff will launch … in the next four to six months.
Tubefilter: Do you guys have aspirations to take any of the shows you’ve already done or show ideas you have to television or to film?
KG: I am currently working on a TV show, Thom and I are developing a TV show together, and he’s working on stuff. We’re opened up to all mediums. We’ll do anything at this point. It’s not like don’t want to do TV, or we only want to do TV and we want to leave web.
Tubefilter: Right, that’s what we’re hearing.
KG: The thing that we firmly say to everyone whenever anyone asks that question is in three years –not even three years, whenever everyone gets fiber optics and everything is really fast — there is going to be no difference between TV and the internet … It’s going to be digital. You have to learn how to tell stories that can cross to both mediums. It’s got to be a TV show that has interactive elements like a web series. Or a web series that can be expanded to thirty minutes, or there will be more interstitial programming as we get farther away from a traditional broadcast television ad model. That’s just going to change.