Do ten minutes of television? That may sound a little crazy to what we are used to, but Quibi, the new platform for mobile video format, short has mastered the art of the entertainment of ten minutes, and you have a whole series of fun and quirky shows to prove it.
For example, ‘Dummy’, one of the latest series of Quibi of the comedian Cody Heller. ‘Dummy’ is starring Anna Kendrick and continues the relationship with the sex doll of her boyfriend, who hilariously has just come to life. The story is semi-autobiographical for Heller, which was inspired by her own experience with her now-fiance Dan Harmon –who has won acclaimed recognition for creating shows like “Community” and “Rick and Morty”– and on her own personal journey of being a woman that is accepting your own insecurities to create and foster more intimate relationship that one can have: a personal relationship with one’s self.Heller sat down with Metro to chat more about what you wrote and the creation of his one-man show, why “Dummy” is perfectly located in Quibi, and more about what hopes the public will take of this personal project.
Q: What inspired you to write and create “Dummy”?
– It had been and scriptwriter of tv for a while and had a companion script, but we approached the end of our society, so I needed a sample script as a writer in solitary for the hiring season. So I started working on a pilot, but it was not going well. Also I just started going out with my fiance, Dan Harmon, that is a great name in the world of television writing, and I had much less experience. At the beginning of our relationship, we decided that we were going to be radically honest with one another and that this relationship would be different from any other kind of relationship… be honest about all of our sexual problems and fetishes, watching porn together and be very evolved, blah, blah. One of the things that came out was that I said that I had a sex doll. At first, I was like ‘oh that’s great’, it was fun and I gave him a nickname fake and I joke about it. Then, when we started to take more and more seriously dating and I was spending more time at home, I thought about this sex doll and where it was, and in what closet was, I was getting jealous of this inanimate object. So basically, I set aside the other pilot that he was working on and I decided that I just needed to get some ideas on this. I was so used to having a co-writing before, and writing on your own is very different and really lonely, so everything is joined with this strange mixture in which the sex doll became my companion scripture in my head and I was writing this article semi-autobiographical about my friendship with the sex doll of Dan. Thereafter, he became a pilot to get me to work in other programs, and then took a life of its own.
Q: So, how did ‘Dummy’ to be a script of specifications to land a series on Quibi?
– Went through a million different versions of different things before finally become a program of Quibi. Basically, it was just a sample and I used it only to arrange meetings and stuff like that, and I met this guy, Colin Davis, who at that time was working for TBS. He said that TBS was going to make this new block of programming for fifteen minutes and thought that “Dummy” would be perfect for that, so I started to write it for TBS. Then that crumbled, all the block crumbled in TBS, and I was disappointed because the show was not going to happen. A year later Colin called me, we had kept in contact as friends, and just get the job with Quibi. They had been taught the script, loved it and wanted to meet with me the following week. Colin has been a real promoter and basically my greatest supporter, without him this program would never have done and that is why I am in debt to him forever for seeing something inside of it that it was worth it.
Q: After signing with Quibi, how was the production?
– With Quibi, each episode has to be ten minutes or less, there may be more. So, basically, I liked the surgery and took almost all of the material that he had written and was already prepared. I went to the desert alone and I locked myself in a hotel room and I said, ok, let me reconfigure this season in ten episodes of 10 minutes. So I did, and I came out of that trip to the desert with the episodes. It all happened very fast. Anna Kendrick was interested in playing the role, and when he signed, we had to roll immediately because he was filming a movie in the summer and had to do it in the little time that was available. It was very fast, it was a shooting of 18 days to more than 100 pages of material and it was amazing, really 18 days ago most magical of my life. It was a very special experience. Due to the theme, I really wanted to have as many women on the set as possible. We had a director, a director of photography, the majority of department heads were women, we also had some amazing men, but all the members of the cast and the team wanted it. This was the first time that I was really a show-runner and being my show and being the leader, I really tried to take that job as seriously as was possible – and by that I mean not very seriously at all because I have done so many shows where the people he mistreats people and I never want to mistreat anyone–. This art form is so collaborative, and often I feel that if someone in the department of props make a mistake, instead of screaming, I would only say, wait, maybe it is destined to be so, we are going to embrace him. The universe works in weird ways, so maybe you should be as well, and then maybe leave better than they should for the error of someone. I just try to embrace that philosophy. Quibi also supported me a lot all the time. I give a lot of credit to Jeffrey Katzenberg for allowing this crazy program. There are so many mad moments in which you say: “What am I watching? I give a lot of credit for understanding and putting faith in this, so I have nothing but praise for Quibi and how they work.
Q: What do you think the design of Quibi brings to the experience of the public in general?
– For me, as a writer, I definitely think that it was difficult to wrap my head writing something this way, because I am so accustomed to the shows of half an hour which gives you time to set a barrier and a conflict, and all these things that are normally the formula of how to write a show. So you have to put many things in ten minutes for the audience to feel rewarded and satisfied in so little time. But I found it a challenge very fun, and at the end all joined in the editing room. But Jeffrey is right, it is very worthy of a marathon and each episode definitely leaves you wanting more.
Q: In general, what do you expect the public to take the series?
– I hope it makes people laugh and forget a little of their concerns and hopefully make people think a little bit in the genre. But I think that, ultimately, is what the series is that every woman has a voice inside your head that is kind of your worst enemy. Is the voice in your head that when you look in the mirror says you’re fat or ugly or that you’re not smart enough or good. This program is, for me, a kind of make friends with that inner voice instead of leaving it to your enemy, so that, in reality, it is a woman’s relationship with herself. I hope that the women who see it relate to that and laugh at it and see how ridiculous it is to be a woman in this time.
‘Dummy’ is now available to be viewed through Quibi.