‘Failing Upwards’ Takes Unemployment To Another Level. - Interview

A new series that focuses on a hot topic is “Failing Upwards.” The show touches on unemployment and according to its creators and stars, Michelle C. Bonilla and Matt Crabtree, “Failing Upwards” takes this touchy issue to a whole new level - comedy. The series premieres online (www.FailingUpwardsTheSeries.com) September 3, 2012. Bonilla and Crabtree recently stopped by to talk about “Failing Upwards.”

Q - Real quick, what is “Failing Upwards” about for those not hip to it?

Michelle – ‘Failing Upwards’ is a very unique term that sees incompetence being rewarded, most often in the business world. You have seen it: A CEO does a terrible job at running the company, gets the boot – leaving the business with a huge severance package (most often because he is “one of the good ole boys”), and then lands a better job at a larger company, typically for more pay!

Matt - So many people are unemployed in this country and then you look at who's in charge and you wonder "how did that happen?" We have taken this concept and put it toward a small group of unlikely friends who are going through unemployment together. They do whatever they can to get by even if it means that they must "fake it till they make it," saying ‘yes’ to money in the most ridiculous ways.

Q - Being a comedy, will this series come across as insensitive to real life people suffering from job loss and finances, etc.?

Michelle - Heck no! We will actually provide a break from those “pounding the pavement” everyday! We offer laughs, and when reality comes into play, we also offer our viewers tangible advice and sites to actually help them on the road to seeking employment.

Matt - Hopefully the series will offer a bit of relief from those suffering in these times. People need to laugh and when they see the situations our characters get themselves in to, it should give them a bit of hope.

Q - Why did you decide to put this series together?

Michelle - Matt and I decided we would love to cultivate our own series based on the odd jobs we have had to take as actors. However, Matt did not like the idea of our characters and series to be centered around ‘actors’, per se. So, we made the characters normal, everyday people, with slight… okay, more than slight, quirks and turned it into a comedy.

Matt - Michelle and I were talking one day, as we were sitting around with a coffee, how great it would be to do our own show together. It gave us the creative control over story and the ability to play roles that are close to us that people rarely get a chance to see.

Q - How much of “Failing Upwards” is fiction and how much is based on actual experience of being unemployed?

Michelle - As this is a scripted formatted, five minute, television show some of the stories are loosely based in reality but most of our material comes from our imaginations. Even though most of my career has been made up of portraying dramatic characters, I’m really pretty funny! And, so is Matt (Crabtree - Co-Creator) and our other writers (Pip Lilly and Deidra Edwards).

Matt - I have a lot of experience being unemployed over the years. As an actor, I book jobs and I work and then there are times when it just stops for whatever reason. I have to supplement my income like many other hard working people in this country. Lots of the stories come from our imagination but are based in the realities of what we have experienced and the experiences of friends.

Q - What challenges will you face trying to market a series about a touchy subject and the fact that it’s primarily online?

Michelle - I don’t see any challenges marketing it. We feel that unemployment is the hot topic. Especially as we go into this election season. I look forward to presenting a series where people can take a little break from their realities and laugh a little. Hey, it beats crying!

We decided to use the web platform because WE HAD CONTROL of OUR MATERIAL and could CREATE and PRODUCE IT OURSELVES. We also loved how quickly we could reach our audience. And, because the internet is so fast, we would get quicker feedback from our fans and would be able to have a closer contact with them.

Matt - I am hoping that people need a good laugh. They see, such a heartbreaking experience as, being unemployed and they put a stigma on it. Many people feel worthless or that they did something wrong in life when it happens. And that is entirely untrue. Being unemployed happens to most people at some point in their life. And we want to give them a place to laugh and a business resource on our website so they continue on their journey. Shame free.

Q - What has been the reaction thus far?

Matt - People say "we love the title"..."we love the concept!" "we love the logo" and watching people laugh at our few sneak peeks makes it all worthwhile. Fans are anticipating the Season Premiere on September 3rd.

Q - Thank you for taking the time. Is there anything you wanted to add?

Michelle - You are so welcome! We love talking to our followers on social media and always enjoy the exchange we receive from them. So, they can follow us on Twitter (@Failing_Upwards), like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Failing-Upwards/233927146640917), subscribe to our YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/FAILINGUPWARDS1) page, and make us funny on Funny or Die!


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at jason@zoiksonline.com.
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