By Leah Curney
NYWIFT member Taylor Coriell is the executive producer, co-creator and co-star of the new comedy web series You’re The Pest. Fellow member Leah Curney, who is currently developing her own web series, sat down with Coriell to chat about the joys and challenges of being a multi-hyphenate creator.
Leah Curney: You’re The Pest is about two former childhood friends who unexpectedly inherit their families’ extermination company in Queens. Which inspired you first – the characters or the bugs?
Taylor Coriell: I’d like to say it was characters, but actually, it was bugs first. My writing partner Jasmine [Romero] and I were at brunch one day, chatting with the guys sitting next to us and it turned out one of them was an exterminator. But he didn’t look the way you might expect an exterminator to look. We asked if he knew any female exterminators and he said, “No.” Jasmine and I looked at each other and had a little lightbulb moment.
So, in addition to writing and starring in the web series, you’re also the showrunner. How do you juggle all of your various responsibilities?
I’m definitely overseeing everything and that’s been a really interesting journey, because when you are low budget, if there’s any slack or if a ball gets dropped, you have to pick it up. Which is fun…and very stressful. But I hope this is the first of many experiences where I get to run a show like this.
Adriana DeGirolami (left) with Coriell in You’re the Pest
And are you able to set your producer hat aside when it’s time to step in front of the camera?
Yeah. About three or four days before we started shooting I realized, “Shoot, I have 35 pages I have to memorize. Why did I write so many lines for myself?” But it was pretty easy, because we had such a supportive team.
You and many of your team members wear a lot of hats (i.e. actor/writer/producer) – how did that impact the process?
One of the best things about that is that people know how it feels to be on every side of creating, and they’re automatically more inclined to be truly collaborative – everybody is cool to throw ideas into the ring.
The larger mission of your production company Ginger Rage Media is to create multifaceted roles for women, people of color and members of the LBGTQIA community where the characters’ qualifying attributes aren’t the sole driving force of the story. Did you have this in mind when creating You’re The Pest?
Well, when Jasmine and I started writing it, one of the things that bugged us so much—
No pun intended.
Sorry, you’re probably so over all the bug jokes.
No, it’s good. I love it! Yeah, Jasmine is Latina and I’m a redhead and we were always getting cast in the same kinds of roles. So as we were writing this, we didn’t want to play into the tropes, that’s why there’s no romance in the show, and we were really passionate about it passing the Bechdel Test – which it does with flying colors! Straight, white men are given so many options of what they can play, and women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community get one or two. In all our projects, we want people who aren’t getting a voice to get a new one rather than just the same story over and over. Why I think it’s important for these stories to be told, is that when you see yourself and the people you know on screen in a new light, it makes things possible that you didn’t know were possible before. Because if you don’t see it, then how are you ever going to be it?
Absolutely. I mean, two women exterminators might seem funny, but it’s really not. I know if you say the word “exterminator,” I picture a man. Cause that’s what I saw growing up.
Same. And it is a comedy, it’s supposed to be light, but also I hope that in the back of someone’s mind they’re seeing the fact that these two women have rolled up their sleeves and figured out how to run the business their fathers’ left behind to them. It goes back to the idea that if you can make people laugh you can make them listen.
I have to say, I love that you created social media accounts for your lead characters.
Oh, thank you! I feel like more and more people are having the trans-media element to their shows. It’s a fun way to continue the story outside of the actual episodes.
So are you working on Season Two?
Well, there’s a couple of things in the orbit right now. I think we’ve spun the show out into at least four seasons, and we definitely have a very rich world for these characters. So, we’ll see…
Any advice for people like myself who are in the process of creating their own web series?
Find your tribe. Find the people who believe in what you’re trying to do and will always say “Yes, and…” Write your perfect show and think about the budget later. Because one of the best things about web series, is that they afford you the opportunity to be extremely creative and think outside the box. You don’t have anybody to impress but yourself.
Catch up on episodes of You’re The Pest here. You can also follow You’re The Pest on social media:
Marissa Insta: http://bit.ly/ytp2012ig
Marissa Twitter: http://bit.ly/ytp2012t
Alex Insta: http://bit.ly/ytpomcig
Alex Twitter: http://bit.ly/ytpat
YTP Facebook: http://bit.ly/YTPfb
YTP Twitter: http://bit.ly/YTPTweets
YTP Insta: http://bit.ly/YTPInsta
Photos courtesy of You’re The Pest