I’d always dreamed of doing this episode, as Calvin and Hobbes was a big part of the genesis of the show, but I never knew exactly how to do it. MK and I were talking after a table read about Zelda’s character, and it just struck me that this was the way to do it. It was the most demanding episode on every department and I am so proud of it and our team.
The adoption line was almost cut, because I was worried that it made Sarah seem too unsympathetic.
We shot the coffee shop the day after Halloween, and we were all exhausted. MK and Kylie both fell asleep on the couches at the coffee shop, probably because they were so tired from trick or treating all night.
Chrissie almost broke character every time she shouted “milkshakes, dummies” at Sarah, the extra at the table. Sarah was with us most extra days and is the sweetest. It’s absurd that anyone would shout at her.
The Coffee Shop Manager’s lines at the end were improvised. When the extra in the background raised his hand for a scone, we all LOST IT.
The street we’re on is out front of where we mix our sound, Sound Guy Kevbo’s house.
I am obsessed with coffee shops.
We shot the sci-fi elements in the same place as the Water Tower section of Adventure Date and the Star Trek elements of Cosplay for Dummies.
Though we’re shooting on private property, we often have problems with the cops when we’re on that land. During the end of the day the cops showed up to give us a hard time, and make us prove that it’s legal to shoot there (though it’s private property that we’ve been shooting on for years). The trouble with this location, is that because it’s in a valley, you lose your sunlight at about 4:00. I knew that by the time I wrapped up talking with the cops, it would be too dark to shoot. Cops know that the best way to stop a production from happening is to make a lot of noise so it ruins your take, so they make sure to do so first thing. Luckily, we didn’t need sound for any of the shots. So a producer stalled while MK (very nervously) tried to find Agent S. You can hear cops in the background of the raw footage, and me whispering direction while people stalled.
We recorded Zelda’s voice over live on a google hangout. Watch us record right here.
Our production designer Ellie made the star command logo out of tape, and the rest of the costumes were scavenged from thrift stores.
I asked our make up artist Bethnay to do Barbarella hair for MK, and she nailed it.
This is the first time we’ve seen Sarah and Zelda’s living room, which is shot in our friend Emily and Todd’s house. “Jeremy Rosenhog” was named in homage to them. Emily was like, 9 months pregnant at the time and the house is basically brand new, so it was extra extra generous.
It’s been so incredible to see how Sarah Wars has resonated the Squaresville audience. Obviously, it’s an episode close to my heart–and that’s not just because I play Sarah. (Although I’m sure that doesn’t hurt!)
When Matt began writing this episode, he lovingly referred to it as his “Spaceman Spiff” episode. If you read Calvin and Hobbesyou know what that means. Basically, in the comic, Calvin had an alter-ego who is a space explorer. Calvin would daydream about circumstances in his life and then confront them as Spaceman Spiff.
Spaceman Spiff is a fun device because wouldn’t we all like to imagine an alter ego who can combat our current problems? And with such gusto! I wonder what Sarah’s Spaceman Spiff episode would look like?
Now back to Squaresville… The thing I love about playing Sarah is actually the biggest challenge: She’s lost. She’s full of potential and was once very much like Zelda, but now Sarah has fallen off course and doesn’t know how to get back on. We’ve all felt this way, one time or another. I know I’ve felt it many times. I remember the rough summer after graduating from college where most mornings I would wake up and wonder, “now what?" From the beginning of the show, this was at the core of the character. Someone crippled by their own potential. It was something that Matt and I understood, and in many ways Sarah represents what could happen to Zelda. All that being said, I don’t think that Sarah is a hopeless character. Her relationship with Zelda actually saves her in many ways–she reminds Sarah of all the possibilities while also allowing Sarah to mentor her.
Now to answer a few great questions that you guys had:
How do you identify with Sarah, what advice you have for people who do? I definitely identify with Sarah. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and disappointed. Often times, because of the nature of an artist’s career, I feel discouraged. If auditioning is slow or if a project doesn’t go, I can feel very lost. The advice I would give to Sarah is to find a little time every day to do what you love (whether it’s "productive” or “money making” or not). Make time for the things that fulfill you. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your main job, but what matters is that you don’t give up on art and don’t give up on yourself. You define your success. And if you’re enjoying what you do, I think you’re pretty darn successful.
Can you talk about Sarah’s custom design for the space part? Like your hair had like doggy bones? Haha. I love the costume design for Sarah! Believe it or not, Mary Kate and I are wearing the same outfits. The only difference is that I had an awesome Lizard-like cape and netting, plus lots of space dirt. Oh, and the hair. Basically, we wanted Agent Z to the be the sleek graduate of the Space Academy, whereas Agent S had been out for awhile. Time had been tough on Agent S and she let herself go. I like to think that those bones are from some of the space dining that Sarah had to do in order to survive.
You went to USC, which is an awesome school. Do you really think success is not tied to what school you go to? Sometimes I do think your good/privileged circumstances do influence your success, don’t get me wrong it is not a bad thing, just want to know your perspective on it. This is a great question and I’m no expert. I will say this, though… When I was in high school, I remember really believing that if I went on a certain track that I would be guaranteed success. You’re sort of led to believe that an Ivy league education is a promise of success. And as I’ve gotten older, I do see that people succeed who don’t go to those schools or come from wealthy families. And, likewise, people fail even after they go to the “best” school or have the most privileged upbringing. I think those factors definitely help, but I also think that the individual can help overcome their circumstances.
What’s the difference between space dirt and real dirt? Space dirt is from Space. Duh.
And a few fun facts:
In one version of the script, they were called “Capp-o-cinni’s” instead of “Frapp-o-ccini’s”. Also, I think “Capp-o-Frappi’s” was a possibility that was also thrown around. Which term do you like best?
Matt does believe that Frappucino’s and Ice Blended Mocha’s (my fave!) are milkshakes for breakfast. That doesn’t mean I don’t still like them…
I was in a Progressive commercial with Victoria Kelleher, the woman who plays the outraged customer in the coffee shop.
This episode was shot in a day and a half. One day for all the space stuff and the living room fight. And a half day for the coffee shop and scene on the sidewalk.
The Waring living room is really the living room of my best friend (since 6th grade!)
The video that is playing on the TV (before Zelda hands Sarah the brochure) is from a series of parody sketches that Matt wrote and directed for a fake job site called “MyJobESearchOnlinester.com”. Here’s one that I did.
I hope this answers many of your questions about the making of Sarah Wars. Thanks for reading!
So Genevieve, RC and I had a great Vidcon experience this year, part of that being attributed to the cast and crew of Squaresville, who have been great to see, chat and hang out with. Whether it was just the panel where they were so warm to all the fans to just random encounters with one, or all of them.
Some of my personal top moments from this year’s Vidcon involved moments from these great members of the Youtube community, including the following: - The panel itself, featuring great Q & Heys, previews, and great interaction with the fans. - Bobby’s Cinematography panel, a really insightful and good panel. - Receiving a limited edition Squaresville shirt. - Kylie’s reaction to seeing jelly babies for the first time in ages. - Running into Kylie Sparks almost every five minutes, I swear she had a time turner on her. - Seeing Austin Rogers play Story War with some fans. - Spending a good hour chatting with Matt & Christine in the Hilton lobby, they were great to talk with about many things. - Running into MK, given she had flown in that day, she is a trooper. - Trying to get a photo with Kylie & MK, and getting funny poses in waiting, which made us laugh for a good while. - Telling Kylie & MK about how our story of getting engaged came about, and them only realising that we’re an LDR couple. They were sweet about it.
So I want to say thank you to the Squaresville cast and crew for making some memorable moments at Vidcon this year. You were all brilliant to meet and see. If you haven’t seen Squaresville, I’d recommend you check them out here (expect to be addicted). But outside of a great show, these guys really do appreciate their fans and treat them with great respect, which is why they get just as a big amount of respect in return.
Thanks once again Matt, Christine, Kylie, MK, Tiffany, Austin, David & Bobby for being awesome and staying square.