More from our students reporting at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival by Ricardo Verdesoto and Meagan DelVecchio; video by Ricardo Verdesoto
Party Girl, a zany web-series about a party princess who works the kids’ party circuit, premiered last month. The show, incubated at Ron Howard’s company New Form Digital, follows YouTube fan favorite Lisa Schwartz as she navigates the perils of post collegiate life. Series star Schwartz, her co-writer Lacey Friedman (of The Goldbergs) and director Evan Beamer screened three episodes of the comedy at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
The series, based on Schwartz’s real experiences as various characters, gets to the heart of someone in a rut. She continuously self-sabotages, both romantically and professionally, yet you root for her to succeed. One scene shows Lisa as she teaches a novice Snow White how to urinate without breaking the “no bathroom rule” set by the homeowners. The scene ends with an angry birthday girl fighting for the bottle, drenching her dress, and a resignation from the “fairest of them all.” Her irreverent humor and self-awareness make Lisa feel like a friend, or maybe even you. Only time will tell if this party girl reaches a hard bottom to build back up.
After the screening, Evan Beamer spoke with The Campus about the series he directed and how he hopes the festival will be the turning point of his career:
TC: Have you been to New York prior to this trip?
EB: I’ve been here, but only for like a weekend at a time. I’m from New England so I would come down here on short trips. Once I had friends here I would couch-surf for a weekend and like go to a party or something. So, I was never really exploring the city, this is the first time I got to explore it.
TC: You’re here because you directed Party Girl; how did that come about?
EB: They wrote a pilot, and were going to make it with my friend, Heath Cullens (who directed It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Hulu’s Deadbeat)—so he was going to direct. Then Maker Studios came in and ordered 9 episodes more. The episodes were written, but by the time they were finished, the production date had to be pushed late. Once they did that, Heath couldn’t direct anymore. Since I’m good friends with him, he put me up to the job. They liked my stuff, I met with them a couple of times, and they hired me as the director. It was pretty sweet!
TC: How was it to work with predominantly women?
EB: I don’t look at it that way! I like working with all people. If I’m going to be honest I didn’t see a difference between working with men and working with women.
TC: Lisa is used to creating and editing her own content. Was it challenging to collaborate with her being that she’s mostly done solo work?
EB: Not at all she is one of the sweetest people I’ve had the chance to work with, and she was actually looking for direction. She wanted to hear what I had to say and try different things. I think she wanted to show that she is not only her YouTube personality. She is an actress with skills, and she’s great at what she does!
TC: Talk about your beginnings. When did you know you wanted to make movies?
EB: My brother and I realized we were watching the same movies. We both fell in love with the Coen brothers. It just made sense. We were doing commercials for local businesses and car dealerships. We didn’t get paid a whole lot, but we got to make a lot of stuff, which you need to do if you want to be a director. The first commercial we made actually played during the Super Bowl in Vermont, so a lot of people saw it. That was our first exposure.
TC: So you never went to school for film?
EB: Never went to film school, I took a film theory class once. It was all self-taught.
TC: Is there a specific style, or something you do in your movies that you would consider your signature?
EB: I like to balance between funny and sad or action/thriller. I love those kinds of movies, but it looks like I’m walking more towards the funny/sad path. Especially with Party Girl, and a handful of ideas I want to pitch to networks, fall into that category.
TC: Tell me how would you summarize your time here during the festival?
EB: It’s been about meeting other filmmakers in my position, or in a slightly better position than mine, and that I can relate to so that I can ask them questions. Maybe I can help them or maybe they can help me. [I’m] trying to form a community. The more writers, directors, and producers I can meet, and they’re actually good people, the happier I’ll be. This is a dangerous business, and it can feel like you’re dunked in the shark tank sometimes. Having friends is important. You need to be a school of fish in this big tank, you know what I mean?
For more on Tribeca, watch our video below.