Let’s take a wander into the world of The Sisters Plotz, a film that sprung from a web series and a web series that sprung from the minds of Lisa Ferber and Lisa Hammer.
I was fortunate enough to have been able to send some questions over to Lisa Hammer, Lisa Ferber and Eve Plumb, who all star in the series.
Here are those questions and of course their answers. Firstly I’d like to thank Lisa, Lisa, Eve and William Bisgrove (their wonderful unit publicist) for taking the time out to allow FromPage2Screen to put together and run the article. I very much look forward to future Plotz (see what I did there).
Let’s kick off with the 2012 web series that The Sisters Plotz is based on. Where did the idea for the web series come about, and what then became the spark that made you think, let’s make this into a feature?
Lisa Hammer: Lisa Ferber asked my husband Levi and me to perform in her play The Sisters Plotz and Their Darling Butler Reginald in New York City, and from that night onward I was struck by how wonderful the writing was and how much fun it would be to film it. We didn’t have any money or good equipment, but we went and shot it anyway. It ended up a Top Five Most-Viewed video on Funny or Die, which was great fun.
Lisa Ferber:When Lisa Hammer said, “Let’s film it!” just minutes after we had done the play reading, I felt so excited and flattered. So that was the web series, and then she suggested making it a sitcom pilot, and after that she said we should do the feature. Well, I’m absolutely not saying no to working with my best friends on a project I love, so it all just kept blossoming and now we have this magical feature film.
The Sisters Plotz looks nothing like anything I have seen before, so how hard is it to pitch the premise and style to future audiences?
Lisa Ferber: I think as soon as we say that it’s a vintage-style musical comedy about three eccentric heiresses who live with their butler, people begin to get a sense of it. There will of course be people who just don’t aren’t into it, because it’s not their thing, and we won’t reach them no matter how successful we are at telling our story. But the people who are hungry for this, the people for whom we fill a need, will notice us by the short description, as well as our character names like “Ladybug Plotz” and “Torrance Manly.” Plus using words like “screwball” and “camp glamour” helps too.
Lisa Hammer: I have been making silent and vintage-style films since the ’80s, so I’m known for this style of filmmaking in the indie world, but I’d like to branch out further. I do think we will have a little bit of a time finding traditional distribution. We will have to be very creative with our release of the film. I was happy when The Artist did so well—it made me think that there definitely could be a place in pop culture for retro-style films to find success.
The three of you also appear in the film and the web series. Was it easy to put those roles back into action after the three-year gap?
Lisa Hammer: I feel like we live these roles—it was so easy to slip right back in. Lisa and Eve and I feel like we are sisters already, and we love to goof off, so I think that we will be like sisters and fall back into characters and projects seamlessly, because we are that goofy in real life.
Lisa Ferber: Lisa is definitely right about our living the roles. I feel so grateful to have Lisa Hammer and Eve Plumb in my life, both in terms of friendship and creative projects. We have a natural comedic chemistry and are very supportive of each other, so the film was a tribute to that dynamic. Over the course of making this project, we would occasionally refer to things we noticed as being “very Plotz,” because we had really embraced it as this fun alternate reality. And since we never really stopped working on it, and had just been growing it since 2012, the characters were alive for us the whole time. In fact, if you were to tell me that we’ve been offered a sitcom season, I could whip up the first season starting right now.
Eve Plumb: Because the writing is so fun and easy, it’s easy to get into the role. That, plus the encouragement of the Lisas, always lets me know I’m on track.
What has been the most difficult aspect so far?
Lisa Ferber: Waking up the morning after a shoot and wondering where my butler and maids are.
Lisa Hammer: Ha! Yes! You’d think that shooting a film out of pocket with only a small fund-raiser and a tiny crew would be impossible, but I tell you it is not impossible. We bit off small chunks, shot on weekends, and pooled our money. We had a successful Indiegogo campaign that was set up to help fund the pie fight, and we made triple our goal. The cast was professional and came prepared to shoot, and the crew came to me as interns, but their intellect and skill made them indispensable to us—they quickly moved into higher positions on our team. We got this movie made because of their hard work and talent.
Eve Plumb: Having to sleep on sponge curlers the night before for my hairdo.
Have you any tips for those thinking, I want to create a web series?
Lisa Hammer: Everyone has a web series, you can shoot and edit on your iPhone. What are you waiting for? You can literally upload video of a baby farting and get an audience. Do it! No regrets!
Lisa Ferber: If you look at something like Broad City, you can see that these gals make their viewers feel like insiders. I think cultivating that feeling, especially since people are probably watching in short increments during possibly busy days, helps cultivate viewer loyalty.
What are some of the inspirations for the world of The Sisters Plotz?
Lisa Ferber: I’m very inspired by 1930s screwball comedies, the over-the-top glamour mixed with witty dialogue and improbable plots. I also grew up in a building where there were a few sets of grown siblings still living together, and I found it intriguing. Plus I’m a big fan of the artist Florine Stettheimer, who lived with her two creative sisters and held salons with guests like Salvador Dali and Gertrude Stein, so that’s another influence too.
Lisa Hammer: My inspirations as a filmmaker for creating the world of The Sisters Plotz were old movies and cartoons. Slapstick has always been a favorite genre of mine. I grew up watching the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers, to name a few. Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry shaped a lot of my comedic instincts, both for directing the actors and creating the look and feel of the scenery, props, and visual gags, such as the ashen faces of the sisters after the house explodes. I overlit the scenes and boosted the saturation in the editing process so that the film looks like Technicolor candy. Thank god I found Lisa Ferber and this amazing cast and crew, we are all so like-minded!
Eve Plumb: I’ve always enjoyed 1920s and ’30s films, with the witty banter and the wonderful clothes, so recreating a sense of that was inspiring.
What are your initial plans for people being able to see The Sisters Plotz? Will this be available internationally?
Lisa Hammer: We are talking to a distribution consultant and possible partner as I write this. More news to come!
Lisa Ferber: We plan to debut it in New York City and L.A., send it to festivals, and try to get the attention of distribution companies. I would love for this to be available internationally, and I suspect we match well with the cheeky, clever, U.K.-style humor.
I run a film site that has a large focus on not only indie films, but also UK films. So lets ask a double barrel question.
- What are a couple of your favourite indie films?
Lisa Ferber:I loved The House of Yes, The Opposite of Sex, Clerks, But I’m a Cheerleader, Little Miss Sunshine, American Beauty, The Virgin Suicides. I think with indie films, since you can’t necessarily do huge crowd scenes or take up a whole New York City block, there can be an inviting feeling of intimacy that brings the viewer in to a quiet world.
Lisa Hammer:Eagle VS Shark, What We Do in the Shadows, The Tenant, The Holy Mountain, Viridiana, Fearless Vampire Killers (are those indie?), all John Waters films, Happiness, all David Lynch films, most silent films, too many….
- What are a couple of your favourite British films?
Lisa Ferber: So many. Gosford Park, everything by Merchant Ivory—I’ve seen A Room With a View a zillion times and The Remains of the Day was fantastic. Also, Sense and Sensibility, Withnail& I, Four Weddings and a Funeral. It’s pretty much a given, but the Brits do wit very well.
Lisa Hammer: I too have watched A Room With a View about 100 times. I also love all Monty Python films,The Devils, Tommy, The Ladykillers, Quadrophenia, Secrets & Lies, The Innocents, A Clockwork Orange, Alfie, Barry Lyndon, Withnail& I, Under the Skin, Snatch, Trainspotting, Black Narcissus, Sense and Sensibility, I still religiously watch the Pride and Prejudice [Colin Firth version] series over and over, and everything with Peter Sellers. My family has British roots way back, so I think I’m partial to British comedy. Cheers, thanks a lot!
I hope you enjoyed learning more about the world of The Sisters Plotz. I know I did and will be keeping an eye on this project and of course will keep you all updated on what I find.
You can find out more at their official website http://thesistersplotz.weebly.com/
Its a great site and once again Id like to say many thanks to ‘The Sisters’ for allowing me to use images from that site in this article. You can dig into depth far more in their galleries, cast and crew section, press information and more. Or you can just head over there and say hi to them all.
You can follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheSistersPlotz
Or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheSistersPlotz