Interview With Nancylee Myatt


Writer-producer Nancylee Myatt is one busy woman these days. After spending her mornings walking the picket lines for the Writer’s Guild strike, she hurries off to spend her afternoons working with co-producer Maeve Quinlan to put the finishing touches on their web series, 3Way. The series, which stars Quinlan, Jill Bennett, Maile Flanagan and Cathy Shim, makes its online debut today, Feb. 4, at 3waytv.tv.

Having spent the past 15 years writing and producing for prime-time television, including South of Nowhere (The N), Myatt is well-versed in what it takes to get a television show up and running, but developing a series for the web is a new adventure for her. She recently spoke with AfterEllen.com about 3Way, the brave new world of online media, her experiences with South of Nowhere, and the writers’ strike.

AfterEllen.com: How did 3Way come about?
Nancylee Myatt:
What happened with 3Way was not untypical of going in and pitching any other show. After Nikki and Nora and South of Nowhere, I was invited to Logo [AfterEllen.com's parent company] to go and talk to them about some ideas I might have, and could I come up with a Nikki and Nora–type show for them; they really liked it. … I pitched several ideas to them, and then nothing sort of stuck. They were still getting their scripted side of their lives together over there.

As we know, when a network launches, it’s a whole heck of a lot easier to grab a library of films or television shows that already exist and license those or syndicate those or do reality shows.

AE: Like Curl Girls?
NM:
Right, it’s much easier to do … to get it off the ground and help people find your network. But I always maintain that if you get a good show there, people will find it, and it has very little to do with what it costs.

So when I pitched a few things at Logo, nothing really stuck, and they said, "Hey would you be interested in creating a web series?" And I said, "Yeah, I might be able to."

So, literally one evening, Paige [Bernhardt], Maeve [Quinlan] and I were sitting around and swapping stories and talking about what’s next. Paige and I were mourning a little bit the demise of sitcoms and half-hour comedies in general, because that’s where we’d both cut our teeth. Maeve was telling some of her true-life adventures, and out of that session came us saying: "Oh my God! That’s a sitcom." A gay-themed sitcom, and even more importantly, it’s pretty much Three’s Company for a gay audience. Why can’t we tell this story?

So we put together an amazing production team and did a great pitch. … They [Logo] were incredibly receptive and thoughtful about it, and ultimately came back and said it’s "kind of not what we’re looking for in a web series right now, but keep coming back to us."

So I said, "Oh well, OK." … You usually mourn it and move on to the next project, because for all of us writers who are out there pitching, it’s not just one project you’re pitching, it’s one of many that you’re pitching because it’s always such a fluke when it gets sent up, anyway.

Then I said, wait a minute, we’re acting disappointed as if we’d walked into 15 networks and got passed at the door on everything. This is a web series!

AE: You’re not beholden to anyone.
NM:
Yes. It was that moment when that light bulb goes off! Everyone I know is shooting something in their backyard, and everyone’s kid I know is shooting something in their backyard and posting it on YouTube or their own MySpace or their own website, and everybody is trying to gather and figure out what "new media is." … So, I said to Maeve, "You want to roll the dice on this one and fund it ourselves and see what happens?" … and before I even finished the sentence, we were off and running. It’s completely raw and really fun because nobody is saying "no."

AE: Kind of like the Wild West?
NM:
It’s very much like the early days of television. It is people figuring out how to supply content for a specific audience that will be funded by advertisers, who know that they’re going to get the ear of the demographic buying that product. It’s that simple.

AE: The other factor too is that it’s unlimited bandwidth, really. Now anyone who gets their act together can broadcast their work.
NM:
Yes, and it’s always available … and if you embed your product in your show, or even take a more interesting approach and create commercials that live within the content of the show, then that commercial is always going to be there, and that’s really attractive to advertisers right now.

3Way was born from the idea of "let’s just test this." We love this idea; we know we can pull this together. Let’s just do it, and let’s be really specific about it.

And God bless AfterEllen.com and Sarah Warn and everyone over there who have really sort of guided us just by what they’re putting on their site. I’d have conversations with people: "What stars do you want to see?" "What do you want to hear?" There’s not enough funny. Girls take themselves way too seriously so let’s try to have some fun, and that’s exactly what we did.

We said: "Listen, we know this is a funny idea, we know how to produce this. Let’s put stars in it that people are already attracted to in this demographic, and let’s get really specific and see if we can’t bust it open."

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