French-born actress Oriane Pick has only been performing for a few years, but she has certainly made her mark in the industry as an award-nominated actress, writer and producer. In 2019 Pick, along with actress/writer/singer/producer Rachel Mariam. created the six-episode streaming series Call It a Day which since being released on YouTube, has been viewed over 20,000 times and has been making the rounds of the film festival circuit this year. What makes Call It a Day remarkable is that each episode runs no longer than 12 minutes yet content-wise, is full of humour, drama, tears and genuine emotion. It’s no wonder then that Call It a Day has been selected for “Best Series Pilot” and “Best Web-series at the Oniros Film Awards 2020 and nominated as part of the official selection for Pilot Light TV Festival. Pick and Mariam, who established their own company Candid Broads Productions are currently busy at work on Season 2 of Call It a Day. For this interview Pick spoke to us from her home in London, where she along with the rest of the world is currently staying home do to COVID-19. Should you be looking for a new series to watch while inside, Call It a Day should be your #1 choice.
Jason: Hello Oriane. Can you tell us when your interest in performing and writing started?
Oriane Pick: In terms of acting, that’s always been part of my life. I moved to London back in 2013 or 2014 and started a full-time job in advertising. I liked it but I felt something was missing and that’s when I decided to go into acting and take some part time-intensive courses whenever I could. Then a couple of years later, I just decided to create my own things and create my own opportunities and became a producer and creator for films, acted in them started and exhibiting them in some festivals and selections, which was amazing. Then I made it a full-time thing so dreams do come true, I guess.
Jason: What about performing was the main draw for you?
Oriane Pick: I think it was discovering myself and what I could do. In business school, we’re very much told to control our emotions and be as professional as possible. So going into acting made me realize that this is so much more important. That’s how you discover yourself and you’ve got emotions, and you just need to actually let go and actually feel something and if you want to cry, just cry. If you want to laugh, just laugh and it’s okay. That’s what makes you human. So that’s what I thought was was fascinating with acting, you can be way more than your civilian self. Just let go and if you want to shout, just shout, and that’s so invigorating and so much fun.
Jason: Let’s talk about Call It a Day. Why did you choose to keep these episodes short? Could you have gone longer if you wanted?
Oriane Pick: 100% Yeah, and that is still our goal. So Rachel Mariam, the writer and the co-creator of the show with me, we both met at drama school, and we wanted it to be something that we could actually sell which is why it’s so short. Also, its because all of our savings basically went into this show with the aim to then present it to networks and broadcasters and ask them to basically trust us with it. The aim is to approach them sometime this year after the festival circuit and make it a TV series that’s a lot longer.
Jason: You’ve probably heard this before but to me, the episodes didn’t feel short. There was so much emotion in them that you felt completely entertained after each one. Most full-length series don’t even leave you feeling that way. But what you did with Call it a Day filled that in.
Oriane Pick: That’s wonderful to know. Rachel and I worked as hard as possible to really develop our characters and make them as real as possible even though we knew we only had 10–12 minutes for each episode. We wanted the audience to want more but also feel like they were actually getting something out of each episode about those two characters who keep on learning from them their mistakes because they’re far from perfect. These women we wanted to portray, we didn’t want perfect, stereotypical women on-screen. I think everyone’s quite sick of that now. They just want something that feels more authentic and someone that they could actually relate to.
Jason: The chemistry between you two is obvious from the minute you share a scene. Where did you and Rachel meet?
Oriane Pick: We met in a part-time drama school. It was funny because we met on the first day, and we weren’t that big a fan of the specific class that we were in but during the break, we were kind of drawn to each other for some reason, and we started to talk in English, even though we’re both French. Then at some point, she said, ‘Oh, I’m French. That’s what your accent is. So you’re American? I would have never thought.’ And for the rest of the class, it ended up being just the two of us. We were doing playing a scene from Shakespeare if I remember correctly, and we had to Google pretty much every word because it’s not the English that we’ve learned at school, so I think that really bonded us quite quickly. Afterwards, we just shared our love of cinema and TV shows together, and we decided to create a series to portray different women that we hadn’t seen on screen before.
Jason: What were some of those shared loves you had?
Oriane Pick: In terms of shows, Fleabag 100%. It’s a show that we absolutely loved. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is someone that we absolutely admire and would love to be like one day in terms of the kind of comedy that she brings to screen. Broad City we absolutely loved because it’s all about lighting everything up and just making everything more fun. Rachel and I are both massive fans of Friends, and we had so many battles to find out who actually knew Friends more than the other one, and we still disagree. I still think I do, but she’d disagree if she were on the phone (laughs). In terms of movies, there were so many. This year, there were so many amazing movies that came out It was overwhelming. There’s one film that Rachel saw before me, which was Honey Boy. We thought that was absolutely beautiful, very authentic, and the cinematography as well was just wildly breathtaking. Movies like that really left something in us and really inspired us in telling a story that is different, not perfect in terms of the characters, but you can really relate to somehow as well.
Jason: I grew up with Friends so I’m a big fan as well. I also liked the British series Coupling that was on I think about 10 years ago and your show reminded me of that one. What do you feel is it about awkward or uncomfortable comedies that you think people relate to so much because those tend to be the ones that are quite popular these days.
Oriane Pick: I think it’s because you’re telling something out loud what a lot of people are thinking inside, but they just don’t feel comfortable saying. I think that’s changing today on television and probably in the cinema. I go back to the typical perfect woman on the screen and it’s so good to see someone that has flaws and is actually really human and authentic. It makes everything lighter in a way as well as taking off the pressure and everyone can relate to those characters much more. Seeing someone on screen that is so perfect that you actually don’t like that person, you don’t want to be that person because you know you’re not them anyway. And I think that’s the beauty of Fleabag. She’s far from perfect, but everything that she does and the way that she talks about sex, you’re like, ‘this is genius.’ The fact that women can talk about it this way is liberating. That’s what Rachel and I tried to do with our show as well, with the writing of it. It’s said some stuff that women would probably not say or think is politically correct to say, so audiences are really responding to that type of comedy. There’s a shift happening for sure and it’s exciting. It’s probably just the beginning and writers are going to have lots of fun with it in the next few years for sure.
Jason: I’m looking forward to seeing what pops up. How long does it take to film a single one of your 10 or 12 minute episodes?
Oriane Pick: For us, it was quite a complicated production because we obviously had a limited budget given that it was Rachel’s and my money put into it. We had to film as quickly as possible and because of the many locations that we had, we had to shoot per location rather than per episode. So for us as actresses, it was sometimes extremely tough given that we had to go from an emotion that we had in Episode 1 and then another emotion that was completely different from Episode 5, for instance. And that was quite tricky in terms of the characters and building on that. So in total, If I remember correctly it took 11 days to shoot the whole season. Which, when you put it all together is about a little less than a feature film, I guess in terms of length.
Jason: What do you think of the many ways of watching a series these days? Meaning you can stream them and there are festivals and people can even watch a show on their phone. Do you think that’s a new novel approach to watching a series these days? I’m sure you just want to entertain people, but there are all these new ways people can receive what you put out there.
Oriane Pick: I think it’s exciting and scary at the same time. I also see it myself as an audience member your attention span is just so different. You’re not looking at things the same way as you did before. Viewers today are probably using a minimum of two devices at once. If you’re looking at a series on TV, then you’re probably on your phone from time to time on social media and it’s really hard to keep the audience engaged so it’s scary in that sense, but it’s also exciting because you now need to be more creative with the way that you present something to them and how to keep them engaged and captivated. I think that’s also why some movies today are very long but some others have chosen to actually be a lot shorter. That’s why you’re having a lot of web series coming out as well. When they’re a lot shorter, they’re easier to digest but you still want to make sure that the audience stays hooked until the end of it, which is the exciting part of it. But then obviously, sometimes you can’t actually tell your story in that short format. That’s the tricky situation. It’s about how to remain creative.
Jason: Was the relationship between Eva and Amy based on a real-life relationship?
Oriane Pick: We did want to tell a story about two women that were from very different worlds and in very different situations in their lives. Even though Rachel and I are in reality extremely close now, we were very different. Well, we still are very different. We come from different backgrounds, we grew up with different people in different cities and even our old day-to-day jobs were very different. But We still wanted to tell a story about two girls that had nothing in common. They become best friends and the most important person for the other whenever there’s a problem coming up.
Jason: How is the character you play and created, Eva, similar to you?
Oriane Pick: Eva’s a lot more like me than I like to admit. Her background is that she comes from a business school, which is exactly my case. She’s like me in the sense that she used to be in a very strong relationship with her fiancé which is the same thing for me in the sense that I’ve been with my boyfriend for quite some time now. However, she’s different in a way that she’s always wanted to get engaged and that’s the complete opposite of what I wanted. I was told all the time by my family or friends that when I had turned a certain age things were going to move on to the next stage of my life, etc, and all of that pressure, I was really tired of it. Being surrounded by lots of friends who are getting married or having kids, etc, or buying their first house together can feel quite overwhelming. That’s what I wanted to tell with Call It a Day. The width of a story, for instance, is that life can always go the way you want it to go but It can also be different and it can just be as good if not actually better.
Jason: So what has the response to the series been from people who’ve seen it?
Oriane Pick: It’s been very interesting, to say the least. We’ve had great feedback on it in terms of the production value, the story itself, and the two main characters and the writing. But sometimes as well, we got some very interesting comments about especially one episode, which funny enough is the one doing really well in festivals at the moment. But that specific episode, I think, even just with the title, we knew we’re going to upset some people. This episode, Episode 2, which is called “Bad Feminists”—this is the one with the most comments, the most views and the most disagreement between people. Some people loved it, some people hated it, and it actually sparked a conversation which was very productive. It’s good that people are talking about it. We’re very happy that we actually sparked a conversation here.
Jason: Was that episode your personal favourite or is it another one?
Oriane Pick: Let me think. It’s hard because I also have my producers hat on so obviously in terms of producing it was different but in terms of acting, I would say Episode 6 (“That Fuc$*ng Constant Void”) was very interesting and I love how it came out. This was the season finale. Episode 3 (“Stupid B****”) is a very funny one and interesting to see how their life shifted.
Jason: Okay, can I tell you mine? I think my favourite episode was Episode 4, the Christmas episode and it was striking while I was watching it because of that uncomfortable comedy I referred to earlier but the two best friends spend the entire episode apart and we see that though they just met each other they really do need each other.
Oriane Pick: Yes exactly. Especially we only see them interact in the same room especially for the opening. Gathering and getting all of our family with our ex-fiance. Actually, I remember launching this episode (“Joyeux Noël”) on the 23rd of December, and we were all excited to see how it would pan out and it did really well. It was really fun to shoot as well with lots of family Christmas drama that we’ve all experienced at least once (laughs).
Jason: As a producer and creator I noticed in the credits you do a lot on this show. You even cast the roles. You employed a real hands-on approach because this was your show in many, many ways. Is that something you enjoy?
Oriane Pick: Yeah, we absolutely love it. I think in terms of casting, for instance, it’s always interesting to see how it is for actors on the other side. No matter what you do, if it’s casting, if it’s producing, if it’s being a first AD or whatever it’s just so interesting to see a different take and to see another job within this industry, because you’ll learn so much from it and casting wise, watching the tapes, seeing how actors introduced themselves, what they understood of the project. So you learn from every single aspect of it. For casting there was a specific tone that we wanted for the show and this is why we felt we needed to also cast it and be very close to it.
Jason: Is there anything you can say to anybody reading this who might be considering creating their own series after feeling inspired by Call It a Day?
Oriane Pick: With Call It a Day we wanted to explore serious themes without making fun of them. It’s really like just trying not to laugh about them. We’re left with it and try to lighten everything up. I’d encourage any performers or any writers or producers to go out there and create opportunities for themselves and just do something that’s passionate—that is a passion to them and will explore themes that are interesting to them. Because it’s so rewarding afterwards, once it’s out there. When people I know binge-watch the show for the first time and tell me it’s good I feel so proud of it. Obviously, there are always things that I’d like to change, but you learn so much from it when you’ve got your own project. As an artist, there’s nothing more rewarding than that.
Jason: It’s a terrific series with wonderful chemistry between you and Rachel and it’s got the comedy and it’s got the drama and it’s got surprises. Can You tell us what’s happening with Season 2?
Oriane Pick: We can’t reveal too much but what will happen for sure in Season 2 is that Ava and Amy are definitely going to remain close, and we’re still gonna see them together but a lot of things are going to change for those two women. Ava, we’ve already seen is not having fun at her job and not being rewarded for her hard work so some things are gonna change with that and in terms of love stories, there’s definitely a lot that will happen on that front as well for her, as well as probably for Amy. As well, we’ll learn a lot more about her family and the whole story behind what happened to her and what will happen next with everything that we’ve seen in the final episode without saying too much.
Jason: Are you writing it right now?
Oriane Pick: Yeah, the whole season and obviously all the characters arcs and how we want to make them evolve and who will stay in the series who we’ll see less of because we want to see what happens in terms of potentially doing Season 1 over again but a lot bigger and longer. So yeah, exciting times.
Jason: For sure. I hope people find your show because I think they’d really enjoy it as I did.
Oriane Pick: Oh, thank you. That’s so good to hear. Fingers crossed on getting the word out because I think people really need a distraction these days. For sure.
Jason: It was an absolute pleasure speaking with you, Oriane
Oriane Pick: Thank you so much for your time. Take care.