Annie: Hey guys, so after so many interesting interviews of late, we thought we would keep the ball rolling with someone who has (so far) managed to escape the Street Team interview! So it’s crunch time and Kasia and I are delighted to have Kelly Tenney with us for the interview series. It is an especially busy time right now for SGP , KT and allies, with presumably lots of juggling going on so we are really delighted Kelly agreed to take the time to answer our questions!
Kasia: Our standard interview question is how people discovered SoGoPro, but this time we ask how SGP found you and what made you decide to get involved and become a co-owner? (Apart from Hilarie’s charm, of course *laughs*).
KT: Wow - way to ask the tough questions right up front! To put it in context, we need to go back to OTH Season 1: it was a huge challenge for Hilarie. She worked just about 7 days a week, between MTV and OTH. I was responsible for (among other things) getting her to and from her gig in NYC... She was a trooper and did what was asked of her uncomplainingly but if I had a chance to give her a break -I tried my best to work the logistics to give her breathing room. Obviously - a lot of communication. Sometimes a mutual trust and respect happens - we started talking about projects beyond OTH that inspired us. By Season 5, the OTH rollercoaster had us all giving serious consideration to other irons in the fire - and SoGoPro incorporated... and the rest is history.
Seems like you both ‘clicked’ from the start! What a beautiful beginning of a friendship-turned-partnership!
Annie: Its pretty amazing when things just snowball like that isn’t it? Thank goodness for irons in the fire, as we all love SGP, and without it, the community we have all built just simply wouldn’t exist. However I was wondering, do you sometimes think you underestimated the workload of a such a company especially whilst all of you work full on with (sometimes multiple) “real” jobs?
KT: HECK YES we underestimated! (*snip rant about getting cornered into interviews*) We’ve all been thrown some unforeseen curve balls - time and energy to pursue SoGoPro projects get sidelined. Honestly - we started our SoGoPro social media stream thinking of it as a one-way output channel. We’ve learned it can be so much more - the momentum of the SoGoPro Street Team (each of you with your own curve balls *sorry old umpire influences*) have kept us in the game and doing what we can. It will take us a little longer to achieve some of our goals but we’re confident this team has legs.
Annie: Ok, so now that you have just reminded us that even in Wilmywood things are not necessarily that easy, what aspects of setting up and following through with SoGoPro have been the most challenging, rewarding and down right nerve wracking?
KT: Most Rewarding - absolutely sharing Hil’s creative strengths
Most Challenging - frigging website and t-shirts
Down Right Nerve Wracking - right this minute: SAG contracts for The Weather Channel
Annie: Well clearly one of the best placed to witness and enjoy Hilarie’s creative strengths is you, and that’s just another reason to follow your instincts and see things through isn’t it? Sounds like the old t-shirt drama gave you all a few headaches, as for the website... errrm, we know there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on to keep it all functioning and up to date!
Kasia: I’m guessing I won’t be ordering any t-shirts soon since you might hold it against me :-)
Heck no, Kasia - now that we’re actually running (mostly) smoothly with t-shirts we appreciate every sale. I’ll keep that in mind! (laughs)
Kasia: You work in tv series production, but do you have favorite tv shows of your own?
KT: I’m a difficult tv viewer, I don’t get really involved in characters... Because of the nature of this industry I time-shift a lot of what/when I watch: I’ll watch some scripted shows like; True Blood (note to self don’t watch this show on a airplane, lots of weird glances), Glee (guilty pleasure) but enjoy and watch every episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Chef Ramsay’s many shows. Both of those characters are pretty fun to watch... just got involved in BBC’s Merlin and Scarlet Pimpernel, Robin Hood was a bust. Most everything on the History Channel... I like to know why and how previous civilizations and societies flourish and eventually fail. All programs on religion and it’s historical impact on the human race get my attention too, like the Naked Archaeologist.
Annie: There really is something pretty colourful about Gordon Ramsay shows, probably his language (!) amongst other things, but it is a show you can just pick up easily without too much of a headache ! Speaking of pick ups, delighted to see there is to be a Season 9 of OTH, but do you think professionally you will be happy to see this last season wrap so that you can move on to new projects? What are you going to miss the most?
KT: Honestly - we’re all geared to the film/tv/gypsy lifestyle. I’ll miss Mark Schwahn and Joe Davola the most when we break camp. Yes - 100’s of technicians and actors in limbo again - but strong bonds have been formed... oh - and maybe I’ll miss a couple of the actors... :-)
Annie: Do you think there is any scope for SoGoPro to work with Mark at a later stage, maybe ?
KT: Not sure of SoGoPro working with Mark but you never know. It’s a strange dance that happens when creatives mix, Hilarie and I work very well together especially when we write or develop a project, Mark on the other hand is more of a lone wolf, he tends to write with his voice. Obviously he has many scripts that he wants to write and get developed into film and tv series and if I find the right project I’m sure that he would help us if he could.
Kasia: You showed SoGoPro fans how it is to work behind the scenes but we’d love to know how did you even start working in film and tv? How did it all begin?
KT: I’ve always wanted to work in film, even when I was a child (no... really), I loved watching movies (that was about all I was allow to watch, my Mother was strict about the tv, basically never, however she did send me to the matinees every Saturday to watch the latest children’s movie) and wanted to be part of that world. I really did believe that I would work with John Wayne one day... alas ... [I was lucky enough to work with Roscoe Lee Browne (starred with John Wayne in The Cowboys) on Morgan’s Ferry. Roscoe was so nice and answered all my million questions about The Duke that I threw at him.] Anyway, the New York state college I had been accepted to only offered performing arts, no film studies, (I came from a lower middle class home and paying for school fell on my shoulders, so no NYU for me) I went the directing/producing route in theatre. At the end of my senior year I did a internship at a local tv station (Channel 6) in Schenectady NY, hoping that I would be able to segue into tv production through them. While interning I met my dear friend, Garrett McCarey who also worked at the station as a cameraman/editor. Garrett only worked there for a few months before landing a job running a tv station in Massachusetts. [Also, while working at the station I met Rick Herman whose stepfather is Robert Girolami (Bobby G.!) - who later became my mentor when I moved to North Carolina.] I did land a job at Channel 6 after graduating college but not in the area that I was trying for. I was the maintenance man... not exactly what I wanted to do... I was able to write copy for local commercials and tag along with the production staff to watch when I wasn’t mowing grass or emptying trash baskets. Pretty low time... Garrett reached out to me and brought me over to his station and we were able to get a couple of productions made. That’s when I really developed live directing and editing skills. It was great experience but still not what I had envisioned when I was in college, I was gonna be directing and producing in no time, I thought and probably said out loud to my fellow mates. Lord, how many times have I heard those same words from so many different people over the years... Well, no time turned into several years of trying to find my way. Bob G. (Bobby G.!) had moved down to Wilmington, NC during this time to work on “Young Indy” series and invited me to visit him. I fell in love with the area and couldn't wait to get back and try my hand at “real” production work. I moved to Wilmington without a job but with Bob’s blessing. Started driving a truck to make ends meet. Fortunately, that was only was for a short time because Bob’s brother, Lou landed a show for CBS, “The Road Home”, and he gave me a shot as a production assistant in the production office... [OK - that’s enough typing about that!]
Annie: Pretty epic story Kelly, and great for us to hear how it all evolved for you. Hard work, determination, opportunities and a little bit of ‘right time - right place’ certainly seemed to work for you, perhaps that will inspire a few of our own team members.
Kasia: So, if you weren’t working in the film industry what do you think would be your profession?
KT: I would loved to have owned a restaurant. Not a take-out one though... (no delivery bikes) Of course, my hat goes off to Loic who has a successful restaurant and still finds time to have hobbies such as mountain biking and such. I would probably be a better silent partner in one... finding the great chef, the constant turnover in staff, all the government bureaucracy and such would probably make me drink up all the profits... :-)
Kasia: But, you bike, too - there’s a chance you might handle running a restaurant and having a life. Maybe Loic could share some advice what’s his secret?
Annie: One word - spandex (for the cycling not the cooking......)
Kasia: Music is also a big (huge!) part of SoGoPro and its community. We all share our thoughts, reviews and recommendations. We learn what each of us likes (or not!) and encourage others to try and discover new things. Is there an artist/band that you’d like to share with the community to give us an insight what kind of music you like?
KT: For the most part I’m still stuck in the 80’s (just ask the ladies in my office) Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Bob Seger, Meatloaf, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Styx to name a few, okay maybe even Loverboy. With that said, I do love all kinds of music, from classical, jazz to country and even pop. It’s the media that speaks to us all no matter what age or where we’re from, international. (By the way, I watched Eurovision finals for the first time this year and was totally blown away by the scope!)
Kasia: What a wonderful taste in music! The Eurovision contest is not that terrible but without some horrible performances it wouldn’t be so fun to watch!
Annie: As a wise woman once said of Eurovision, ‘its a logistical nightmare’ but honestly it ranges from the fun to the surreal and you need the surreal as an escape route. So, as we all hope we bring a little bit of the surreal to your day Kelly what do you think are the most valuable things you have learned from us, the SoGoPro Street Team?
KT: How unselfish, generous and totally supportive of SoGoPro that all of you are. Anytime I can pop into chat and have a conversation with anyone who’s in there... everybody is so friendly and supportive, I wish we could do more to give back.
Kasia: In my opinion you really make effort to share with us all the behind the scene stuff - the interviews, updates - it all matters and we are truly grateful you interact with us as often as you can! We had Hilarie reading and recommending books for the SoGoPro book club that fans found really interesting and enjoyable. So, now, use your poetic magic and skills to describe SGP in a few short phrases.
KT: Dang, this is a really tough question... (never knew I had “poetic magic”!) A production company that tries to look beyond the product by interacting with those who believe in us...
So where is Nick these days? Haven’t seen him for ages! Did you part ways or is he busy with his own projects?
KT: Nick continues to write and work his craft. We haven’t been actively coming up with new projects as SGP. I’ve been trying to get the ones we have completed or our best ideas into the right hands that might get us a pickup or pilot. I know that he’s had several pieces accepted into script writing contests and will be very successful as a writer... that man IS a very talented wordsmith!
Annie: Insofar as reassurance goes, people don’t tend to stick around to support something long term if they don’t find that something that makes them want to come back. Its not just about the content of the site, but now so many of the Streeteam are real friends... that’s a huge strength and something you all at SGP gave to us. As SGP’s project base grows, you may have more scope for bringing in extras, as I understand you were planning for the exciting weather Channel project. We are all seriously delighted that SoGoPro has had the Weather Channel promos picked up. It sounds like you have really had to send in the cavalry in order to get this all sorted. So when the call came and the job was SGP’s who was the first person you called?
KT: Well, Alicia and Hilarie at about the same time... I needed to get the budget sorted and
Hilarie involved in the casting. *Cue random vision of KT with two cell phones to both ears, whilst quietly dancing around with joy!*
Kasia: Maybe if everything runs smoothly it would turn into a long term gig and you’d be hired to do autumn/winter (and other) promos as well. And, if you get really good recommendations it would open some doors for you at tv networks and such. We’re keeping our fingers crossed!
KT: I can only hope that they will all be as professional and even-keeled as The Weather Channel folks are.
Kasia: Is there a person you’d call your mentor and inspiration, someone who is your guiding light in life or work, or both?
KT: I’ve had many wonderful mentors: Garrett McCarey, Robert Girolami, Mark Schwahn, Joe Davola and Jim Dyer to name a few, all of them have moulded me into my professional image Hilarie, of course inspires me, Alicia Lowe, Lois Peters and Lance Armstrong are pretty high on this list too.
Last time we checked he (Lance) was high but on something else...
Annie: It was nice to see the industry interviews you did with Robert Girolami and I guess working in such close proximity to Joe and Mark has only increased your admiration for two very talented people. As for the ladies, well that goes without saying!
Kasia: Any news on the graphic novel? Did you find the artist to illustrate the book or is the project on hold? The SGP fans are pretty curious what’s next for SGP in the nearest future. Do you have anything planned (apart from the Weather Channel job)?
KT: Well, the graphic novel is on hold. After that debacle with the artist (to be unnamed) we all took a step back. It’s difficult to find the right talented artist that all of us can agree upon and frankly I don’t have the energy to find that soul. I’m trying to get the tv version out to contacts that I have, but it’s a pretty big project and scares most of the executives that I’ve pitched to. Never say never... With OTH wrapping this year, I’ll have more time to spend with developing projects and reaching out to friends that I’ve made over the years and pitching them some of our older projects. I feel good about the future and know that we have good, terrific projects and the talent needed to bring them together.
Kasia: I hope once your contacts find courage it will be fantastic, they just need a little faith. We also keep our fingers crossed for other projects that you have in mind. I think team work and positive attitude will get you very far!
Annie:Do you believe this to be the beginning of a new stage and maybe somehow a new direction for SoGoPro?
KT: I sure hope so, that The Weather Channel promo shoot was one of the best production experiences that I’ve had on set. Several of the crew have also mentioned that it’s been a long time since they worked on a show that was that professional and well run. Now that we have a budget template done and have SAG and the Unions on board, the next production will be a whole lot easier to land.
Annie: So the Star News Article and pictures gave us a little more of an insight into the theme behind the shoots, looks pretty fun. Is there any chance, that once all is done and dusted that you will pop them up on the website/youtube, so the friends from afar can have a peek?
KT: We absolutely hope to! [Disclaimer: While Bill Keith has graciously granted permission for us to share what we have so far, we are looking forward to receiving further publicity information from the Director of Public Relations & the Marketing Manager of Social Media for TWC.]
I would like to thank Annie for helping out with this special interview! Also, big thank you to Kelly for for sharing his stories and finding time to take part in our Sunday Street Team Interviews (and surprising SoGoPro fans!). We are all really pleased to have the opportunity to interview him, but he spends a lot of time delivering amazing behind the scenes videos and posts to SGP fans so we had to return the favour! We really hope you all enjoyed our special interview! Please feel free to share your thoughts in comment section!
Kasia and Annie
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