I had the opportunity to chat with Lane Allison, who not only the star, but a major part of the webseries After Pluto all about the work she and her team have put in on the pilot for this series and their plans for the future.
How would you describe After Pluto?
“After Pluto is the story of story of Truman Wells, a 38 year old woman. She’s an author who has written a series of books and the world is waiting with baited breath for volume three. On the night of her 38th birthday she is involved in an accident that takes away 10 years of her memory. It takes her back to about August of 2006. There are people in her life who she remembers from that time, but of course they’ve changed, and there are people she met during that time that she doesn’t remember at all, including her husband, who she was just about to get divorced from before the accident happened. So there’s a lot going on *laughs*”
What inspired you to create After Pluto?
“Really just more and more of being out in Los Angeles. I have a lot of friends who are really amazing and they do their own original content. I watched a few friends do their content and got to be in involved in some of them, including with Sara (Lafferty, co-creator, co-producer, and editor of After Pluto) when she did her first webseries, Room for Shenanigans, that’s how we met. I was really inspired by the people that surrounded me and I wanted to work with good people and create something that we could be really proud of. It’s really all about the work and everything after completing it has been a giant bonus.”
What has it been like working on After Pluto, especially since it is predominantly female led and you wear a number of hats within the series?
“*laughs* Sara and I both wear a lot of hats. We co-created it and co-produced together. She’s our editor and I’m director and writer, and we’re both acting in it. It was so daunting at first, but it really came back to I’m the only person, or she’s the only person, who we can get to do this absolutely for free, because you’re doing a lot of it for yourself. Then later as we built our team, we found the most amazing cast and crew who were so passionate to work with us, and they worked for free on everything. We had our budget, which was for the shooting, but the actual work was absolutely pure passion. We built the team that we really trusted, which came from a lot of time in pre-prep knowing that because I was on both sides of the camera I needed a really strong team. My assistant director, Cory Wang, was absolutely vital to making that process so much easier for us. Also Devin Cutter, our director of photography, he had an amazing way of working where we would sit down and before we even got into the location we were scouting, we would do a pre-block using a program that sort of made it look like a blueprint. Then we were already on the same page during the location scouting that on the day it came time to get everyone on the same page, it was really just kind of plugging in the actors, which saved a lot of time.”
Left to right: Nina Welles (Jennifer Sorenson), Wesson “Wes” Welles (Griffin Burns), Holly Craig (Jill Fouts), and Jaqueline Welles (Kate McIntyre)
What was the most challenging thing in filming After Pluto so far?
“I think honestly the money. We did it as a self-budget situation and just to plan for what we thought everything was going to cost, and it’s always more than you think, and trying to find that. There were also those times where we’d say we’d love to have this piece of equipment, but we’re going to have to macgyver this. Again, having the amazing crew that was so willing to not look as those challenges as something negative, but as something positive to overcome, then when we would overcome it, there was this big group celebration to kind of say “Yay we got through that and look we did it when we thought we didn’t have the money to do it.’”
In the production vlogs, there’s one dedicated to you doing your own stunts (You can check out all of the vlogs on the After Pluto YouTube channel, and what was it like filming your fall?
“What was funny is that with the fall it was written a couple of different ways, trying to say okay we could do it this way or this way, depending on what our limitations were once we got to the location. Then we were really able to sit down with everybody and say okay, this is what we thought and the blocking, but this is what we can really do. We had a great rehearsal process too for trying to get it just right. It was pretty daunting, it was definitely something I was like okay, if we do this, we have to do it in the safest way possible. Once we figured out what it would take to do the fall as a full executed fall, we knew there was no way with our small budget and with me not necessarily having the experience to do a fall from multiple stories like that, that it wouldn’t really work. Then it was how can we keep the camera, which was again a challenge that we really nicely, with the group, found a solution for. During the rehearsal process we looked at whether we could do it this way or we could do it this way and we tested both. The first one really did hurt a lot and the second one hurt less, so we went with the second one *laughs.* Then on the day that was the last thing we wanted to shoot because there was a chance that I could kill myself *laughs* so we wanted to make sure that it was the last thing. We rehearsed it a couple times once we got the rest of the actors got there, because they hadn’t been there for the rehearsal because it was just a set rehearsal, we had to kind of let them know what was going on. Then we ran it three times and then we shot it, then did it an additional three or four. It was a lot of rolling down, but everyone there was counting on me to do this and when you have a team that for the whole process has put their undying faith in you, you just kind of go okay I’m going to take this leap of faith, even though I’m leaping with my body. *laughs*”
I know only the pilot exists online so far, are there any written out plans for the rest of the series that you can tell me without giving too much away?
“Right now we have the beginnings of a very strong outline for the rest of season one. We’re either going to have six or eight episodes, we’re in the mix of figuring that out. Then what we’re wanting to do is use the pilot to try and get distribution, but if that way doesn’t work we’ll switch over to a public funding campaign. As far as what’s on the horizon plot wise I can tease that in the argument between Ian and Truman right before the accident, Ian confesses what he’s gone through and he hints that she had feelings for someone else. That teases out that the somebody else is going to come back in to play, which will be an interesting dynamic. Then the world is waiting for volume three of her book series and in her mind she’s back in 2006 and she’s just begun writing professionally. That’s going to be an interesting thing for her to adjust to as well as there being a lot of pressure that’s going to be coming down the pike on a global front for her.”
Ian Barnes (Christopher Carver)
Has a plot for the books Truman writes been thought out or exist in some way?
“Not entirely, because obviously I’m not a novelist *laughs*, but in the back of my head I think there’s a little bit of a story that’s percolated and comes to mind. I think it’s very much a Young Adult, adolescent book series in the vein of Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling fantasy. I think there’s time travel involved, definitely an adventure series, with a woman at the helm, definitely a nod to our keeping ladies in charge.”
How do you relate to your character Truman, since you not only wrote her, but also are her in the series?
“It’s interesting because a lot of these characters, it’s totally going to sound crazy to say, they kind of talk to me *laughs* at all hours of the day and in various ways. She kind of has a very loud voice inside because she is similar to myself. As I’m writing for her I’m always trying to think what her inner perspective is in the moment and then what would her history have been back in the day. She sort of simultaneously has her foot in two realities, which is the trickiest thing to look at, but also from an acting stand point one of the most exciting.”
There was a scene where Truman was talking about the decorating of the house with Ian, did you help decorate the house or do you have a key eye for decorating like your character?
“I think for us the beauty of where we got to shoot is actually Sara’s house. A lot of the decoration was already there, we put the Truman and Ian touches on top of that and took some stuff away to sort of give it the Truman and Ian feel. I’m told I have a good eye *laughs* but you’d probably have to ask other people we know me.”
This question was also asked in the production vlogs for After Pluto, but I wanted to ask in case you had changed your answer at all, if you did lose 10 years of your memory what would be the hardest thing for you to lose?
“In the vlog I talked about my husband and generally anything with him would just be tragic for me to lose. A lot of the other cast members mentioned various things about pets and what was interesting is that some said they’d want to remember, but others wouldn’t want to remember putting an animal down. I lost a wonderful cat of ours who was almost 15 last year, we’re actually coming up on the anniversary of that so that’s kind of bittersweet to think of. I think expanding on the answer would be my grandmother. She was part of the impetus for me writing the show, she’s no longer with us. Right before her death she was dealing with dementia and I had moved out to Los Angeles in 2009. When I saw her before I moved, she’d always been such a support of anything that I wanted to do, she was very much go for your dreams kid. As I was telling her I was feeling nervous about making this big move out to Los Angeles she was like “I always knew you were going to be able to do this honey and I have absolute faith and I’m so excited. The next time I’m going to see you it’s going to be on my television.” That’s not necessarily the case, but I absolutely loved hearing that from her. I think if I lost that memory of her, which was one of the last times I saw her and she was still fully there, that would be really, really gut wrenching.”
What I thought was interesting is that you use the demotion of Pluto as the point where Truman’s memory starts from, is there a particular reason you chose that moment?
“In this instance where you’re trying to take the audience on a careful journey you don’t want to give them too much exposition because that will take them out of it. You want to plot things in that seem very organic to the world. We were trying to think of what’s the best way that we can come up with something that was a universal, pun intended *laughs*, way to connect with where she is. When we were trying to decide are we going to take her back, 5 years, 7 years, 10 years, we were sort of looking at different events that we could attach to that timeline too. For instance I wasn’t alive when JFK was shot, but it seems like a lot of people who were always know exactly where they were, just like with 9/11, I know exactly where I was. We didn’t want to use a moment that was so emotionally devastating, but something that was socially very common, but not so tragic. I grew up with an absolute love of space and sci-fi. I loved Pluto growing up and when I learned it had been demoted I was actually very sad for it, which I know is so crazy *laughs*, but it’s true. I was like poor Pluto. What’s funny is other people, friends, at random times when this was brought up there was this emotional attachment that Pluto was stripped of its identity, of its planet status. When we were thinking about that and I realized that had happened 10 years ago I thought this is a really great time to have memory wiped. There is a lot that could go on in her family life, a lot of changes that would have gone with her friends, her relatives, and her career that we could really play with. Then it was just a matter of saying okay, in that 10 year time frame of these events Pluto seems like the one that most audiences remember and would say oh, that was 10 years ago and that makes sense to me, I know where I was during that time. It makes that step that much easier for them to identify with where Truman might be in her psychological headspace.”
Truman Welles (Lane Allison) and Ian Barnes (Christopher Carver)
What are some of your upcoming projects, if you can share?
“We just finished pilot season out here so there have been a lot of auditions going on with that and then I’m a member of the Open Fist Theater Company in Los Angeles. We are in the process of moving into a new home, but it won’t be ready until the end of the year. We are currently in this interim space that we’ve been getting ready. We’re working on a big push for this series of plays, The Gary Plays, which is a collection of plays that span this one character’s life. I’ve been involved with that and I’m on staff and have been working to build up our membership. That takes up a lot of my time and then I’ve been working on getting the word out about After Pluto.”
Any additional mentions you’d like to make?
“I’d just like to make a quick shout out to Sara (who would have been part of the interview, but is due to give birth any moment now) and her husband Smithers, who was the catering guy on our series as well, all the best to them and we’re so excited. We can’t wait to meet little Evie, her name’s Evelynn and she’s going to be so cute!”
(Interviewer’s note: The Nerdy Girl Express would like to congratulate Sara and Smithers on welcoming Evelynn into their lives earlier this week)
You can find After Pluto on YouTube and on Twitter, @After_Pluto. You can also find Lane Allison on Twitter, @thatlaneallison.