WE CAN DO IT!

ART/CULTURE

WE CAN DO IT!

A new web-based interview series is launched

Text: Periscope

Recently, we learned that director Peter Glantz has opened an independent web-based network WCDI, and premiered a new interview series entitled “We Can Do It!” that he created along with singer songwriter Becky Stark and artist/cartoonist Ron Regé, Jr. where they invite friends to hang out at a puppet set to talk, joke around, and discuss creativity and craft.  The guests for the first season include such familiar names as Damian Kulash, John C. Reilly and Andrew W.K.  We chatted with Peter about how this project was born. 

We watched the series’ trailer.
That was a fun moment from the show. That’s the theme song recorded for the show, but Damian Kulash (of OK Go) picked up a guitar and learned it right there and then, and they sang it together.
So it was spontaneous?
Yeah, there was another fun moment with John C. Reilly where we wanted to ask him about transformation because we felt like he is the master of transformation as an actor in all of his roles. So when we asked him about it, he decided to show us his magic trick.
How did this "show" come about?
It has a mysterious origin.  It's really rooted in work that Becky Stark, Ron Regé, Jr.and I have been doing in live performances and videos for 10 or more years. Becky and I have been collaborators since we were teenagers.  And Ron has been our friend for many years.  Then in 2011, I was hired by a website to make a series. We shot seven guests at Becky's apartment and when I was about to edit the videos the website went out of business.  So I had to put them aside and didn't know what to do with them until I started to show some of them in live performances. Audience reaction was positive and it made me determined to put them out independently. So when I had a period of free time in June, I decided to put together as many episodes as I could that I wanted to share with people. Then, when the three of us watched them, we decided to create a website that we think of as a "network". That's why it's called WDCI just like other TV or radio networks.  We are going to put out a new episode every Tuesday.
What was the original concept?
Originally, it was meant to be an interview series. These people are the ones we have worked with or are friends with. Once they came over, we played around with them as we shot them.  Some of what we shot were serious conversations and some of them were funny bits that we made up in the moment or when Becky or I had an idea for before we started.  So it’s an interview series and more.
Is there a theme?
It’s about creativity and independence and DIY. So even though we ended up not getting the final payment when the original plan fell through, it is now an independent project where we can be creative and do what we want and see where it takes us, which is a blessing.  I'm able to include things that weren't a part of the original concept, like comedy bits and absurd skits.
The whole thing has the feel of a television series.
It helps contain the idea in my head. We had seven guests over 20 episodes, and we shot them in a specific way all at the same time.  I hope the audience will like it and demand more. We already have more guests who want to be on the show. So we are going to do another round of it and call it Season 2.  My personal focus is now to create sustainable projects, and for me a series allows us to create a template that we can repeat and give people a chance to find the show over time. I have done many music videos and have always been disappointed at the amount of effort we go to in order to create an entire world, and then the video just appears once.  There is a lot to explore in this world and I wanted to create something that would last indefinitely.  Ultimately, I consider the website our "network" that we can add series to as we make them, and have it be a place where people who want to see our shows can go and watch them.  There are more and more potential restrictions on the internet by people who want to limit the freedom of the internet, but for now you can just make a website and call it a network and have the same potential audience that Warner Brothers and NBC and all these places have.  I am inspired by that. There's so much work that I want to make and I have a number of series that I have been wanting to do for years.
So this came out of your past professional experience?
It did a little bit, from the frustration of the process of working within bureaucracies and corporations. But the most inspiring thing for me was, for the past few years I have been working a lot with independent bands that were formerly on major labels like OK Go and Andrew W.K,. and currently I am working with Wilco. In working with them, we had been given creative freedom that none of us could have had if we were working within the corporate structure. It works because they have a fan base and people respect them. I think they are now doing some of the best creative work of their careers without the controls of corporations.  Distribution has shifted and possibilities have changed because of the technology.  That is inspiring to me as someone who has worked within the major media system and still does.  I'm also inspired to create something independent that is sustainable and focuses on creative people making it.  Working with OK Go last year, I saw them collaborating with so many friends who they believe in creatively, dedicating themselves to creating something great, and finding a way to make it sustainable by getting sponsors.  The same thing with Andrew and Wilco. They are all a little different with their particular style and fans, but they each inspire me because of who they are working with and their dedication in creating and having an impact on a national scale and culture in an independent way.  Seeing their structure and how much fun that was inspired me to not go around and pitch the show to another place or a network. Instead, I decided to put it out independently and have control over it and give it time to grow.  It can't be cancelled until we want to do something else.
Hence the title.
Yes, we can do it. It sums it up there. It is not just about Becky, Ron and me. This is just an example of Becky, Ron and me being able to do it. But it is also an inclusive idea we can all do "it,” whatever “it” is for you.
You also are rooted in the DIY scene.
Yeah, to be able to create something independent and sustainable is an extension of the DIY stuff that I and many people have been doing for a long time. This is an outgrowth of that.  There are  a lot of people who work toward this and it comes from that beginning. On one hand, I have been involved in DIY performances for years and making the Lightning Bolt movie, but also my first job was in an assistant position for Roger Corman, one of the first independent filmmakers.  He had the biggest independent company in the country and I got to see firsthand how he created a sustainable business that employed a lot of young creative people.  That was another inspiring thing for me.
You also call yourself a pickle maker.
I live in Providence in a house called Wonderland. We have a front yard and backyard garden.  With my partner Meredith Stern, we garden from spring through fall.  It is not incidental for us to be able to do this kind of project. To be independent isn't just about being able to make a show, but it's also about having a life with not as many expenses, that you have control over your food what you are eating. Meredith is a great gardener and I have been gardening for years. I like to ferment pickles and sauerkraut, but also we have lower expenses and we are a little more liberated to take risks because we know we have food.

09.13.2012

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