Daryn Strauss is a New York actor who has written and produced a web series, “Downsized,” which is becoming an outrageously successful series on the web. It has received rave reviews from tubefilter.tv and visioweb.tv, among others, and is getting attention from the Writer’s Guild and its own growing fan base. But most importantly, “Downsized” speaks to the current economic climate and its affects on the job market.
Love and Water- Are you so excited about the rising success of “Downsized”?
Daryn Strauss-I am beyond excited about it. I didn’t expect it to explode into what it has exploded into. I knew it was going to be the quality I wanted because of the actors I had on board from the beginning, but I still didn’t know how far it would go. One of the things I thought about was that most of the web series I was watching were sketch comedy-driven, or like a sitcom in format. So that was one thing I was striving to do different, and that’s what people have really noticed. So I’m excited about that.
L&W- Are you shooting anymore episodes right now?
DS- In January I’ll shoot the rest of the episodes for this season. I want to have around 15 episodes for this season. I’m in the process of writing some new stuff for the last few episodes, which has been really fun.
L&W- How did the idea for the writing the show come about?
DS- A friend of mine who is in the show was talking to me about how she wanted to be doing more directing and shooting. I wanted the same, we ended up motivating each other to work on things. I started writing “Downsized” around that time and sent the first few episodes to her and asked her what she thought. She thought it was great and wanted to shoot it. I started to send it around to other actors I knew and they got back to me about which characters they responded to. And then I went to Chris Shimojima, who is this ridiculously talented cameraman and editor who I had done a film with and asked him if he was interested in shooting it and he said yes. So then I went through a really long rewriting process. The preproduction process was around six months. We shot the first six episodes in three days and started to sit down and edit it and Chris and I both were really pleased with what we had.
L&W- How has creating the series affected your life as an artist?
DS- I have to say it’s completely changed my personality. I have an artistic side, but I also have a very logical side and most times working in an artistic role doesn’t allow for that. Also in the artistic world you’re usually at someone else’s discretion- if you’re an actor you have to get cast, if you’re a writer you need someone to buy your script- and the difference with creating my own series was that I didn’t have to follow any of those rules. I didn’t have to conform to anyone else’s ideas, and with my writing I was able to be free and write what really resonated with me without anyone arguing about what worked and what didn’t. Even with the editing process, I could go back to my editor and discuss what I liked and didn’t like. It gave me more confidence in myself in realizing that I could make good decisions. I think it’s important to be able to practice that, because that’s really the only way to strengthen those leadership skills and find out where your strengths lie. And also, for the first time I wasn’t relying on anyone else to give me work, which was the aspect that changed my perspective completely.
L&W- What are your plans for the future of the show?
DS- The goal right now is to complete the first season, and then to find out how to strategize the marketing of it because there are so many options. But I think the main thing that has been really satisfying to me is that the subject matter is something people really relate to right now. I had this great experience the other day where a number of people wanted to talk about what they’re going through and how to come up with solutions. I’m hoping as the episodes go on that people will still have that reaction and open up about where they are with their jobs and how they can move into better situations.
L&W- That’s really great. Where can we see it right now?
DS- You can go to www.downsizedthewebseries.com, which is probably the best place to see it. There are some behind the scenes writer’s notes and pictures and info on the actors. It’s also on YouTube, and a really great website called www.webseriesnetwork.com. It’s also on www.mosoutloud.com. There is a different episode airing every Monday on that site.
L&W- Thank you so much for sharing! This is very inspiring for all artists, I think, and I hope everyone watches the series, because it’s really amazing!
DS- My pleasure! Thank you!
Read reviews of “Downsized” here: