I will admit I started watching the web series, Classic Alice, only a short time ago. I was too engrossed in Emma Approved and The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy. However, I was instantly hooked. I see myself having the same type of experience Alice does in her videos. Classic Alice is the masterful creation of Kate Hackett, who plays Alice Rackham in the series. After some friendly tweets, Kate agreed to an interview for Fandomania. Here is what she had to say about the immensely quirky and entertaining series.
Kate: Thank you so much for having me! I’m excited to be able to talk about Classic Alice with you guys.
Tell us a little about yourself and what is your favorite classic piece of literature?
Kate: I never know what to say for these — talk about me?! No one’s interested in me! It’s a running gag with the cast that I’m pretty awful at talking about myself and Tony [Noto, who plays Andrew] has to help out.
But I can talk about books! Books forever! My absolute favorite classic novel is Nabokov’s Lolita. His writing, his ability to navigate the pitfalls of language (and so many of them!) and craft something so exquisitely grotesque, has fascinated me for years. Poe as well — I love writers who make me think and make me feel; drifting away from a book and just sitting there with the language for a little while is one of my favorite moments.
What is Classic Alice (for those who don’t know) and what inspired you to make the series?
Kate: Classic Alice is the story of a girl who gets a bad grade and decides to live her life according to classic novels to prove to her professor (and herself) that she can identify with great works.
I was asked to write something that would bridge the gap between a hosting position and a narrative for a YouTube channel that was being developed by some friends of mine. The channel didn’t happen, production just had other projects come up, but I kept the pilot and decided to finish writing the arc for the season (book 1, Crime & Punishment). I hemmed and hawed a lot because I wanted to do a mockumentary instead of just a vlog-style series, but at the end of the day… vlogs are cheap to make and easier to produce, so I went ahead with that style.
I’d still love to open that format up though and get more of Alice outside her room.
What other works of classic literature would you like to have Alice follow next?
Kate: Well, we have 24 episodes for everyone so we’ll be tackling some doozies over the next few months. Beyond that? Les Misérables could be fun. Tony has been pushing for The Iliad since day one. I’m not sure; I promised myself a break during August (Well. A break from writing more) and then I decided to just let the show play out. If we break 10,000 subscribers, I will start outlining, but money is always a fight for webseries.
That said, I do know where the show might go if we can make more… so it’s always a possibility. Pretty much everyone on the cast and crew has expressed interest.
How much of Alice is you?
Kate: I think all of my characters have me in them. Alice’s nerdiness is definitely in me (Tony recently asked if he should watch The Tudors and I launched into a 20 minute RAGERANT about the Tudor dynasty and that show) but so is Cara’s calm voice-of-reason and Andrew’s dedication to his friends.
I went to college very young and was a very book-smart kind of kid with a lot of structure in my life; I make pro/con lists for EVERYTHING. I definitely face artistic struggles like Alice does — am I good enough? is this the right path for me? what if I’m too level headed? etc.
Cara’s music love is me — I’m a classically trained singer and competed in national singing competitions during high school. Opera, musicals, stuff like that. So I grew up with a lot of music around me and my parents have amazing musical taste, so I really reaped the benefit of an excellent musical education. Giving Cara a podcast was super fun for me because I LOVE combing through music and giving people recommendations; this was just a perfect outlet! (You can listen every Friday at 9am at soundcloud.com/classicalice)
How hard is it to make a YouTube series and what advice would you offer for those considering it?
Kate: I think how difficult it is depends on your location and goals. If you’re in a film market, you have to expect to pay people. There are a lot of series out right now that utilize the vlog format that are made with absolutely no budget. Our series can’t do that and the reality is: we’re professionals, so we have to make sure we have enough funds to pay people for the product we’re asking them to make.
Our show is also a bit more polished than some of the other vlogs; we had hairstylists and wardrobes and sound and makeup and lighting — it’s a big operation to make these little things.
If you’re considering producing a series, I cannot stress the writing enough: these things live and die on the writing. They’re usually very short (vlog style or not; I’ve also written and produced shorts and another webseries that was not vlog-style) so the writing has to be incredibly tight and layered. Classic Alice (and my other productions) is pretty nuanced; we actually had a little worry this week that we were TOO subtle with one of our plot points. There are lots of literary jokes, lots of very tiny hints that grow, lots of planting seeds for payoffs much, much later. I love that kind of writing, but you really have to pay attention!
To get back from that tangent, writing and good actors make or break the vlogs. Don’t skimp on sound. Get a camera guy. Be professional — it should look and sound like you’re on TV if you want this to be your calling card. Yes, that means you have to deal with money, but that’s important too. It means you can create and stick to a budget (I can’t stress how amazing Lex Edeleman with Bam!Produced is with that; Clare O’Flynn as well) and that’s almost as important as having a good product.
Can you share any Classic Alice behind-the-scenes secrets?
Kate: Sure! I mean, there are TONS, but here’s a good one:
There is a take we couldn’t use because you see me lift up my mic pack — Brent Bailey does more than just put an arm around my chair in episode 201, let me tell you that. It’ll definitely be in the bloopers, which we’ll release on YouTube.com/HackettKate
I’m not sure if it’ll make the bloopers, but Chris and I also started a weird thing where if we thought we were between takes or the cameras were off, we’d pretend to lick each other’s faces. I don’t know why.
Any words for fans and future fans of series?
Kate: I really love all the discussions — it’s so fun to see you guys all debating about the show and wondering where things are going. It’s very much a big-picture series and very much a slow burn for some plot points, which I personally enjoy, so I hope you guys get excited when you start to see some of the reveals.
Definitely follow the social media too; we have some really fun things planned.
And ultimately… Thank you so much for watching! We would not be here without you and it means the world that so many of you want to see where this story goes. Our team worked incredibly hard and we are so proud of the show we’re making; it’s affirming and wonderful that you tune in every week with us.
Thank you so much for the interview, Kate. Fandomania and I look forward to seeing more of you and Classic Alice.