This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 Brooklyn Web Fest, which is a two day festival dedicated to providing a platform to creators who are changing the way we consume television in the digital sphere. I was able to screen so many wonderful web series along with participating in different panels that provided insight and resources to emerging film and content creators on a variety of topics such as being your own publicist, branded content and working with companies that support digital content.
During the festival, I was elated to learn that a favorite of mine would be screened at this particular festival. If you haven’t done so already you may want to check out IFC’s original web series, Frank and Lamar. I wasn’t the only person who loved the series either. Congratulations are in order because Frank and Lamar won Best Comedy at the Brooklyn Web Fest Award ceremony. To continue the celebration, I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to interview the creators and main characters of the show, Anthony Gaskins and Carl Foreman Jr.
Check out what they had to say about partnering with IFC, the inspiration behind season 1 and what we can expect from them in the near future.
1. How did you know that comedy and film making was something you were destined to do? When did the light switch go off for you?
Anthony: I don’t think that light switch ever went off in that way. I just saw that comedy as another avenue for us to express our voice, another platform for us to create an opportunity for ourselves. After working together for some time Carl and I decided to create work that we’d be proud of. That was always a goal of mine and thankfully, Frank and Lamar was one of the projects that got positive attention.
Carl: Speaking for myself, I don’t know that I put it together that way all at once. Coming out of grad school, I had this feeling that making my own work would be the best way to distinguish my talents as an actor. I originally thought it would come through theater, in the form of maybe a one-man show, like John Leguizamo. That eventually morphed into a desire to perform on SNL, and I began working on improv and sketch comedy toward that goal. As I took improv and sketch classes, I began writing sketches and finding ways to get them produced, first through a sketch collective Anthony and I were a part of called The Jumpoff. Around that same time he and I started kicking around the idea of making a show to showcase ourselves, which led to a whole metamorphosis of this Frank & Lamar idea. So I guess this is a really long way of saying: less a light switch flipping, more like a radiator slowly heating a room.
2. Who do you pull creative inspiration from? What motivates you to continue to make your mark in the entertainment industry?
Anthony: I continue to pull inspiration from the world around me by writing what I know. I am constantly motivated by the desire to be a self-sufficient artist. As tough as this business is, I would love to be able to survive as a full time actor, writer, producer, and collaborate with my friends. The goal is to continue making dope content!
Carl: We only know the lives we live, and if we’re really paying attention we are thoughtfully aware of ourselves. It’s fun to tell stories from angles that maybe haven’t been explored in this exact way before, and try to shine some light on perspectives of life often overlooked. What motivates me industry-wise? I would say a fervent desire to eat on a daily basis, and for my family to do the same.
3. Frank and Lamar is totally hilarious. I instantly fell in love with the show episode one. What inspired you to create this series?
Anthony: After working many years in Education, particularly in private school you see so many funny occurrences on a daily basis, whether it’s from the faculty to the kids or the parents, I was always catching myself saying, “Someone’s got to write this point of view!” So Carl and I did exactly that!
Carl: First of all, thank you for saying that. Like Anthony, I’ve also worked in education for many years, though in a much different way than the school portrayed in the show. My experience was with Boys & Girls Clubs as a college advisor and SAT instructor. Still, just through sharing job stories, we had a lot of experiences in common. Then we were like, “what if we put ourselves in these situations, together?!” So we bring those vibes to the show.
4. How much of this series is based on true events in your life? Are the main characters created with anyone personal in mind?
Anthony: The show is basically a slice of our lives. We took creative liberties in order to create full story arcs, however, Carl and I made sure to demonstrate our fun banter and competitive sports nature that I think makes these characters interesting to watch.
Carl: The interpersonal dynamic is drawn significantly from our actual discourse, but the stories aren’t autobiographies by any means. If anything, we drew from certain common dilemmas men of our age, demographic and location of NYC tend to share. Perhaps certain aspects of our past selves are in there. I think we are both a little more grounded in our actual lives than the guys in the show are in many ways.
5. What do you want people to get from watching Frank and Lamar?
Anthony: Hopefully, they enjoy it! Our goal was always to make a show that touched on the many complexities of a unique friendship. We wanted to focus on the situations and relationships, showcasing two best friends working through adulthood in NYC. Hopefully audiences can relate to the character’s perspectives.
Carl: Get some laughs, some entertainment, some time spent that they felt good about and want to tell all their friends about.
6. How did you get your show on IFC? Were there other platforms you tried before? What advice would you give a content creator looking to find a home for their series?
Carl: We pitched it to IFC first, and we were on the same page too quickly for us to entertain other platforms. The meeting came out of my character performance in Comedy Central’s Comics to Watch showcase in the New York Comedy Festival.
7. What can we expect for season 2?
Anthony: More Fire, More Fire, MORE!!! We are currently working out all of the particulars with IFC television network with the hopes of turning Frank and Lamar into a 30-minute television show. If everything works out, (God willing it will) you’ll get to see Frank and Lamar in a more complete story arc, full of comedic situations and character journeys.
Carl: Da ting goes skrraaa pap pap kak kak kak skib bi skip pap pap and a pup pup krrrut boom skiaat dut dut kut kut dun dun pum pum. That pretty much explains it. Obscure viral video references aside, in the next version of F&L, audiences can expect the characters to continue growing on a trajectory that makes sense to who they are, and for the heat to turn up a bit in their lives. How might they respond? We don’t know yet.
8. Are you currently working on other projects? If so, can you share with us what they are?
Anthony: I am currently writing with Carl on our television pilot for IFC! Hopefully you’ll be able to see me play an uncomfortable police officer on CBS’s new show “Instinct”. I’m also producing a feature film with Chicago film maker Derrick Anthony which is set to begin filming 2018.
Carl: Aside from writing the pilot version of this show, you might be able to see me briefly in a couple of episodes of Search Party on TBS this upcoming season, assuming they don’t cut my scenes. I feel like they won’t because the scenes move the plot forward, but you never know.
Frank and Lamar is truly a breath of fresh air to the world of digital content. There are plenty of things we can relate to or even learn from while busting out of our seams from genuine laughter. Watch the first season today on IFC.
School is now in session. Find out today’s lesson brought to you by Frank and Lamar: