Purple Squirrels: Exclusive Interview With Cast And Producers : The Lion's Den University
Class Notes - 04/28/17

04/28/17 - Class Notes

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Purple Squirrels: Exclusive Interview With Cast And Producers

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Purple Squirrels is a new new Canadian TV show, that is premiering on October 18th at the Big Picture Cinema. We were so stoked for this new series, that we decided to interview the cast and producers!

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Alix Thorne - So first off, tell us who you all are and how you relate to the show.

Michael LippertI am the Writer/Director of the pilot episode of Purple Squirrels (First Day/Last Day), as well as the co-creator of the series. Basically, if it has something to do with Purple Squirrels, I’ve had my hands in it.


Alex Lee - I play Alex Peterson. He’s your average 20 something guy, caught up in the whirlwind of life in the city and the joyous experience of finding decent employment.


Olivia Clarke – I play Natalie, she’s from out west (Alberta) and just moved to Toronto, so she’s feeling a bit out of place, but is determined to make a fresh start.


Brett PeyetteI play Melissa. I think she is a fascinating character. She comes across as a hard, manipulative, devil-on-the-shoulder type, but what she is really looking for is someone or something to challenge and excite her. This is something she sees a flicker of in Alex, which is why she gravitates towards him.


Jacob HoganI play Simon. He’s an extroverted and fun loving character. He is trying to make it into the big city, pushed by a dream of success and happiness, which to him, are benefits of holding a job there.


Craig Estrella - When I’m not writing or producing, I play the part of Doug who manages the IT recruitment team at RPG, the agency that Alex, Natalie, and Simon are hired into.


AT: Great! So what is the show about?

CE: Michael Lippert and I first met while working at a recruitment agency in Toronto. As we got to know each other it became apparent that we had similar interests in film, music, and television. Knowing he was a script reader for a local producer, I asked him to review one of the scripts I’d written.

We had plans to go to a concert but when the tickets went missing we went for a drink instead. We got talking about the writing on HBO’s “Girls” and screenwriting in general. Mike threw out the suggestion that we should write something together, and I agreed to get together a week later where we could bring some ideas forward.

ML: He binge-watched the first season of “Girls” in a few days haha.

CE: It seemed to me that Canadian television didn’t have anything like it. With the oldest piece of advice to all writers being to write what you know, to me it only made sense for us to write a series based in the crazy world of recruitment that we had both been a part of. When I suggested it, Mike agreed instantly.

AT: So the show will appeal to people who like “Girls,” I take it? Is that your demographic?

AL: I think there are a lot of human qualities, both funny and serious, that people will be able to relate to in Purple Squirrels. People in my demographic certainly can relate to the different characters’ journeys, because they may still be at that point in life where they’re searching for a way to define themselves. But I think it will appeal to an older audience as well.  People who’ve fallen into a rhythm at work and aren’t really doing anything they find meaningful. Then also to people who are at the start of their careers and will be amused by the craziness of the office, but also those who work in an office and know that most of the time you can’t write the stuff that happens on a daily basis. And of course, everyone is going to love seeing their city up on the big screen. Some of that footage, man…you’ll just have to wait and see.

AT: You’re debuting the show in a theatre for one night only. Seems a little strange. What was the logic behind that?

ML: The way I see it, film was at one point in time seen as the superior medium to television. Television was entertainment that ran between commercial breaks. It was made on the fly, with little of the artistic consideration that filmmakers were afforded, while making their films. A totally different mindset.

Similarly, you watched TV on the fly. Maybe it was on while you were cooking dinner or putting away the laundry, and maybe you just sat down at the end of the day and channel surfed before bed. With film, you paid your ticket and were locked in to sitting and doing nothing but watching for two hours. You were there and committed to seeing the film. Fast forward to the present day, 90% of what plays in theatres is shit. Everything good has gone to television. HBO has always been quality, but AMC, FX, Netflix, etc have raised the bar for what we can expect from conventional and non-conventional cable.  Look at Hannibal and find me anything that compelling and great looking playing in a movie theatre. You just won’t find it.

Purple Squirrels follows this new trend of a quality story told across a series of episodes. So why not take that quality back to the theatre? This is a special show. It requires a special mode of exhibition.

AT – You’re clearly very passionate about it. 

JH – Purple Squirrels aims to capture the feelings of people chasing their hopes in the city. It’s absolutely hilarious and fun, and a show that doesn’t pull any punches. I think people are really going to love it.

AL – I agree with Jacob. I’m happy to be a part of a project like this, that was made with a lot of laughs and a lot of passion from its creators. It’s a great view of life after college/university, and touches on the idea that things aren’t so cut and dry when you get out. It’s a reality that many people face when they’re out of the classroom, and I think it’s  something that a lot of people will relate to. Plus, the show is really funny. Who could ask for more?

AT – It seems like you all really love this show.  Was it fun to be on set? 

BP - Working on the set of Purple Squirrels was definitely a memorable experience. Everyone involved was dedicated to making it happen smoothly and efficiently, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time!  Mike was very focused on knowing what he wanted to get out of certain shots, with a fantastic crew to back him up. Watching the crew drool over getting the perfect shots was almost half the fun!  But this didn’t hamper the mood at all. Between takes we were all laughing so hard our cheeks were hurting. You should ask Alex about his accents, and ask Craig for his unique version of David Bowie’s Magic dance.

I think everyone walked away with at least one memorable set story- it was so much fun. Mike and Craig gathered a fantastic group of people to work on Purple Squirrels, and I can’t wait to get back to working with them again!

OC - I honestly just loved the script when I first read the scene for my audition. It told me a lot about my character, and I just fell in love with her story! I also love that it is set in Toronto. It’s nice to be able to shoot in the city, but also to acknowledge the city in the show. For the show to be distinctly Canadian and Toronto based is something that I think we hold a lot of pride in, and it will also be really exciting to see our city recognized!

AT: I’m getting excited just hearing about it. Any last words?

ML: I really just couldn’t be happier with the results of this pilot and can’t wait for people to see how this story will continue to unfold in new and unexpected ways. This is only the tip of the iceberg.  Don’t forget to come out at 8:00pm on October 18 at Big Picture Cinemas.  We’re on Twitter @PSquirrelsTO and on Facebook as “Purple Squirrels” where you can find the event link.


So there you have it! Don’t miss it, this Saturday Night!


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