Before she costarred in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Felicia Day already had a web hit to her credit, The Guild. She writes and stars in the award-winning series about a group of adult online gamers who, for better or worse (mostly worse), come to know one another off-line. Seasons 1 and 2 were just released on DVD, with audio commentaries and other extras, exclusively through Amazon. Taking a break from penning Season 3, which she begins shooting next month, Day phoned PopWatch to chat about The Guild, "the frowny face heard ’round the world," a recent high school production of Dr. Horrible she attended, and her Dungeons & Dragons dice collection. (That’s why we administer the Pop Culture Personality Test, people.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’re right on time.
FELICIA DAY: I try to be. I sit in front of the phone. It’s the equivalent of sitting in your car outside someone’s house. I do that, too.
For a half hour, like Cyd [a.k.a Codex, her character in The Guild] does?
No. You have to take everything and exaggerate it in comedy. I would say, conservatively, I’m usually 15 minutes early in the car.
The show is written for gamers, by a gamer, but I stopped playing back in the day of Atari 2600, and I still related to it. Is that something you hear a lot of?
Yeah. A lot of our fans are not gamers at all. They’re kinda geeks, they’re techno people. And there are a lot of women who like my show, which I find to be gratifying, ’cause that’s what I was aiming to do — give a geek girl a chance. I mean, listen, you don’t have to be a surgeon to understand ER. Just because you don’t know gaming terms doesn’t mean you’re not gonna get it, as long as I did my job and made jokes understandable.
How are you going to top the final shot of Season 2, with Codex running away from herself in a sort of out-of-body experience? [Note: That would only really be a spoiler if we told you why.]
I have no idea. I was actually a little intimidated when I sat down to write Season 3. That visual was actually the one thing I got in my head to be able to write Season 2. I was like, Oh, this would be a really cool analogy for somebody dying inside. Which some gamers pointed out was inaccurate because your ghost should be running back to your body, but I figured people would intellectually understand. [Laughs] It’s always hard to sit down [to write] and have enjoyment without having pressure on yourself. I got over that in a couple of weeks.
Describe your writing process. I follow you on Twitter, so I’ve got some idea of –
The agony? [Laughs] The problem is I do so many other things that it’s hard to stick with a schedule, and I think scheduling is really important with writing. So after a couple weeks, I figured out that I need to get up in the morning, and I need to not check my email, and then I need to write, and then I need to whine a lot, and then I need to go buy some kind of expensive coffee and maybe some peanut butter pretzels, and then I need to sit down and get a first draft on paper, a "vomit draft" I like to call it. Because I could agonize over a page for weeks… It’s hard with comedy because you read it, and then you go back, especially with a rewrite, and it’s hard to trust that if it made you laugh the first draft, you should keep it. Your instinct is, Oh, I’ve seen that. Maybe I should make it funnier. It’s like watching a sitcom taping. The first couple times you watch [a scene filmed], you’re like Oh, that’s kinda funny. Then after the fourth take, you’re like, Please get me out of here.
Why did The Guild succeed online when so many web series don’t?
Web video is really at a weird position now. There are a lot ofcompanies going under. Personally, I think that’s because people were trying to doTV shows on the Web. When I see people funding Webseries and I look at the description of the show, I’m like, "Why wouldI watch that on the Web with lower production values, when I could seethat on TV next week?" TV has to please everybody to make a show, theWeb needs to be the opposite. If it’s a Somali immigrant familycomedy set in Chicago, it’s something you’ve never seen before, and itmight be really interesting. You’re more likely to give it a chancethan Hey, it’s a bunch of white people who work in a coffee shop. Seen it. It’s been done better. With very attractive people…. The Guild is tailor-made for anaudience that is specific. We were able to get our show to peoplebecause it was aiming toward a niche. Then we were able to grow out ofthat niche because it’s about the characters not the gaming. But youprobably never would have seen the show unless the hardcore gamers hadspread it around the first year.
And you’re hoping to take Season 3 footage to Comic-Con?
That should be fun. I only went the first time last year for Dr. Horrible. I saw a rumor on the Internet that they’re going to screen my Dollhouse episode.
Well, since you brought that up…
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