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Tara Theoharis
Tonight's Feature Presentation

GEEKING OUT & KICKSTARTING A SECOND SEASON

an interview with tara theoharis

featuring kristina horner

The Green Room

Last year, Job Hunters became one of the most talked-about webseries to hit the net, and now the creative team is back and hoping that the show’s fans are just as excited about getting Season Two off the ground as they are.  One of the show’s stars and producers, Tara Theoharis, was kind enough to take the time to reflect on Season One and discuss the current crowdfunding campaign for Season Two, and her fellow actor and producer Kristina Horner was so excited about the show that she couldn’t help but join in. (Thanks, Kristina!)  After that, Tara goes on to discuss her other passion: namely, all things geek, and what it means to be a “Geeky Hostess…”


The Interview

Don't Forget To

Watch Job Hunters!

Ziggy: We all know that the modern job market is pretty cutthroat, but Job Hunters takes it to the next level.  Describe the premise of the series.

Tara Theoharis: Job Hunters is a dystopian web series where, after college, citizens fight in an arena from 9am-5pm daily, hoping to be placed into a career. Job Hunters focuses on one "rag-tag" group of hunters during their down time spent in a government-sanctioned house.

Ziggy: In an odd and frightening way, the premise of fighting to the death in an arena almost seems more dignified than what real HR departments do to job applicants now.  Where did you and your team come up with the concept?  What was the genesis of Job Hunters?

Tara Theoharis:  We wanted to create an original web series, and we were all drawn to the dystopian genre. “Hunger Games” was getting pretty popular, and we were excited about the possibility to introduce new fans of the genre to more examples of dystopian cultures!  We played around with a few concepts, but we knew we wanted a group of "rag-tag" individuals living together in an extraordinary situation that was normal to them.

Ziggy: When I first heard of the series, I’d imagined something that spends a lot of time in the Arena, but the script keeps most of the on-camera action in the Safe House.  Why did you choose to go that route?

Tara Theoharis:  We love showcasing the relationships of our characters, and wanted to focus on a series that would show how the Job Hunters world would affect their relationships and day-to-day lives compared to our own. And, on a practical note, scenes in the house are much quicker, easier, and more cost-effective than in the arena.

Ziggy: Job Hunters draws from a wide variety of character archetypes: the aloof gamer, the perfect hostess, the young pop star, the guy drawn into a family business he’s no good at, an evil doctor, and so on.  Were there any character types considered during the development process that were ultimately left out?  How did you end up deciding on the mix audiences see on the screen now?

Tara Theoharis: We created a group of characters that would bring their own strengths and weaknesses to the world, and who would show us the most about that world.  We originally had a character that we had thought would be our "straight man," but because we tried to make her normal, she just ended up boring and difficult to write for.  We got together and ended up changing the character to what Paige is now, and we are so happy with the change!

Ziggy: Cornelius the unicorn.  I must know more about Cornelius the unicorn.

Tara Theoharis:  Oh, Cornelius. We have a full Behind the Scenes video about Cornelius. Check it out here! 

Ziggy: What was the biggest challenge faced by the production team during the filming of Season One of Job Hunters?

Kristina Horner:  We underestimated how much work creating an entire season of a show would be. We went into production with very optimistic idea of how long this project would take us, but ended up extending our filming time by weeks, and put in more late nights than we could have ever imagined. On the other hand, those days on set were some of the most exhilarating, and definitely brought our team even closer together.

Ziggy: What was the biggest surprise, pleasant or unpleasant?

Kristina Horner:  A big surprise for all of us was the sheer number of people who wanted to be involved! We started with a small crew of people, but by the time we were wrapping Season One, we had a huge list of people who'd donated time in some way or another. There was never any struggle to find extras - more often than not we had people contacting us!

Ziggy: Considering for a moment fans who may be unfamiliar with the process of filming a webseries, what do you think would be the biggest surprise to them, even if it might seem normal for you?

Kristina Horner:  I think I'm tied between two things – First of which being how much of what they see on screen isn't actually real, from the darts to all of the crazy electronic devices we used to even things as small as a lot of the background noises you hear that we added in after the fact.  The second thing I think might surprise them is just how often the actors were freezing on set. There were multiple times when we had people whose specific job was "coat holder". It was Winter in Seattle, after all.

Ziggy: As a member of the cast/crew, what’s your favorite memory of working on Season One of Job Hunters?

Tara Theoharis: It's so hard to pick just one! But the moment we got back together to watch the show we had worked so hard on was pretty incredible. I got tingles seeing what all of our work had accomplished!

Ziggy: What about as a member of the audience?  Do you have a favorite scene?  Can you step back from your own production and still view from the eye of a regular viewer?

Kristina Horner:  It can be really difficult to sit back and watch the show as a piece of entertainment and not as the product of months of our own personal hard work. It can be tough not to remember the cameras and the script and everything that happens behind the scenes. But there are plenty of scenes that are shot that certain actors aren't there for, and I always really look forward to seeing those scenes after the fact, because they're all new to me!

Ziggy: As part of the creative team behind an independent webseries, you have the freedom to tell the story you want to tell while being answerable only to yourselves and to your fans, and not to any studio executives or play-it-safe marketing analysts.  Do you think that Job Hunters could have been made and remained recognizable without that independence?  Is the creative freedom worth the significantly lower budget?

Kristina Horner:  On the one hand, our show is inspired by other works that have succeeded before us in the mainstream media - Battle Royale, The Running Man, The Hunger Games. I will say though, our writing is inspired by shows that have struggled on TV, like “Arrested Development” and “Community.”  Sometimes writing that tries to be smarter than your average sitcom can have a hard time reaching a larger audience, and it is nice to know we can write our show the way we want and gather the fan base that appreciates the extra care we take in trying to make our show smart – without worrying about anyone trying to get us to "play it safe".

Ziggy: Being in Seattle, you’re surrounded by a vibrant creative community that has made and is making some of the best web productions out there, but by all accounts I’ve heard so far, rather than making for a cutthroat competitive environment, that community goes out of its way to help and support its own, even “competitors.”  Has that been your experience?  Talk a little bit about the Seattle creative community.

Kristina Horner: When we first started Job Hunters, we actually made it a point to attend a handful of local Seattle web series meetups, and we were really amazed by the welcoming attitude this community has. Everyone was more than happy to get to know us and hear about our show, and now that we're attempting to start up Season Two, we've gotten a handful of emails from people in the community interested in helping out in some way. There's a lot of crossover, especially with actors, in this group, and it's a nice camaraderie to witness.

Ziggy: Job Hunters aside, what other Seattle productions are you watching/excited about?

Tara Theoharis: I'm loving Transolar Galactica myself, but we all do our best to stay up to date on all of the series in the area. After all, some of our actors are also in other series!

Ziggy: For those readers unfamiliar with it, please explain the Kickstarter process and why the Job Hunters production team decided to use this platform to raise funds for a second season.

Tara Theharis:  Kickstarter is a way to raise money through crowd-funding. People can choose to donate and receive "incentives" or gifts in exchange for their donations. If the specific campaign reaches its goal, they [the campaigners] get to keep the money. If not, they don't. Kickstarter works as a great litmus test to see if people are interested in your content. 

Ziggy: The Job Hunters Kickstarter campaign is an “all-or-nothing” endeavor to raise the funds necessary to make Season Two, with a goal of $50,000.  (Very sensibly explained on the campaign site.)  This means that if you raise $50K or more by April 6 at 9pm Eastern, Season Two happens, but if you fall short by even a fraction – say the campaign gets 94% pledged – you get nothing at all.  Considering other campaigns that have lost everything and died under exactly those that type of circumstance, why go with an “all-or-nothing” model instead of one that allows you to collect and move forward if you come close?

Tara Theoharis:  Webseries cost money to make, and without the amount we've carefully budgeted for, we wouldn't be able to create the same quality and quantity of content. It's not fair to donors if we only take some of their money, because we would be creating a different show than what they normally gave their money to. We want to do it right or not at all.

Ziggy: What hints can you give about Season Two for people who are thinking about contributing to the cause?

Kristina Horner: The biggest hints are already buried in Season One; even if it's not totally obvious! Plot points we're excited to come back to are who was behind that security camera in Episode 3, why that one guy hates Max so much, whether or not Tiffany is okay, backstories for some of the main characters... among other things!

Ziggy: The Job Hunters Kickstarter hints at some live events.  What’s being planned?

Kristina Horner: Well, people who have been fans since the beginning might remember an exciting live show we hosted in the final hours of our Season One Kickstarter (which included an impromptu fully clothed pool jumping!). We are definitely planning to host a bigger, better version of that show at the end of our Season Two Kickstarter. We might also have a few other tricks up our sleeves as well.

Ziggy: One of the Job Hunters Kickstarter campaign perks that you guys seem most excited about is a new role playing game based on the series.  What can you tell us about that?

Tara Theoharis:  Many of our fans write fan fiction about the series, and an RPG is something that will appeal to them and to gamers. You play as a Job Hunter, and split your time in the arena and the safe house trying to get your dream job. It's being created by RPG writer/editor Logan Bonner, and I am so excited!

Ziggy: For those who’d like to help but whose circumstances prevent them from being able to fund the campaign – there are still plenty of real world job hunters, after all – how can they assist the cause?

Kristina Horner: We totally understand! Our show is targeting toward that very group, so we understand their plight better than anyone. For people who want to help, the best thing they can do is spread the word. Share the show with a friend, post about it on their blog, share it out on Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook, create animated gifs of their favorite moments, whatever!

Ziggy: As more and more people question the effectiveness of the age-old advertising model (seriously, has anyone ever gotten a Visa card because Morgan Freeman said so?), do you think crowdfunding is the wave of the future for more than just small, independent productions?  Or do you think things might swing the other way with studios and other corporate interests trying to muscle in on the niche currently held by the crowdfunded indie scene?

Kristina Horner: Well, if “Veronica Mars” is any indication - I think we're about to witness a lot of change in this area. I have no idea what the future looks like, but there's no way crowdfuding is going to stay exclusive to indie artists.

Ziggy: Away from the set, Tara, you are what your series character of Tiffany can only dream of being: the Geeky Hostess.  Explain what that entails.

Tara Theoharis: Well, I've pretty much created my dream job! I find awesome geeky products and activities and share them with others. I go to cons, host geeky parties, do interviews, and am currently in the process of writing a book, pitching a cooking show, and creating an online store. In my spare time, I create videos and have become the unofficial "craft services" and cupcake-maker among my friends. To be a Geeky Hostess in general, one just needs to incorporate their geeky passions into their life – through parties, home decor, gift ideas, and recipes. 

Ziggy: What, to you, makes a person a true geek?  What makes you a geek?

Tara Theoharis: A geek is anyone who is not afraid to be fully in love or obsessed with an item. They don't worry about being "too cool" to show their excitement. People can geek out about all sorts of things; I geek out about cupcakes, some TV shows, memes, and silly home products. 

Ziggy: For what and/or whom do you count yourself as a fangirl?

Tara Theoharis:  I'm currently a fangirl for the following shows: “Doctor Who,” “Community,” “Arrested Development,” “Archer,” “BSG,” and “Being Human.” I'm also a fangirl for a lot of the movie series out right now like The Avengers and Hunger Games. And I of course have some fave web shows, including Burning Love and Transolar Galactica. 

Ziggy: Just ten years ago, one would have been hard pressed to find many adult females willing to admit to any form of geekery, but now, “geek girls” are everywhere.  Do you think that more women really are actively embracing geek culture, or do you think that more women are simply willing to admit to geekery they’ve always had?

Tara Theoharis:  I think it's a bit of both. People are realizing they no longer have to be ashamed of their excitement/fandoms, which is fantastic. Plus, more women are being introduced to traditionally geeky media as those become more common in mainstream culture. 

Ziggy: Say someone wants to fly his or her geek flag proudly without scaring away any potential houseguests (and along with them, perhaps any chance at mating during this lifetime).  Any tips for geeking out without geeking overboard?

Tara Theoharis:  Start subtle! A nice subtly geeky t-shirt or print with an "in-joke" on it can be a nice way to spot the fellow fans of your show/comic but will be discreet enough that "non-geeks" won't even notice. 

Ziggy: On your website, GeekyHostess.com, one thing you focus on is “geek etiquette.”  Where do you see most people getting it wrong, and what are some simple things they can do to become more gracious geeks?

Tara Theoharis: A hot-button issue right now is "geek shaming." Don't put geeks in tiers. If someone wants to like something geeky, let them! If they are obsessed with X-Men but have only seen the movies [without reading the comics], don't discount them or criticize them. Instead, introduce them to your favorite issues and encourage them to learn more in a positive way. Everyone geeks out about different things at different levels, and that's okay. 

Ziggy: What are some of your favorite “geek essentials” for having around the house?

Tara Theoharis:  Computers, laptops, and smart phones are an obvious answer, as is "fast internet." From the stylistic end, I love our BSG propaganda posters and my TARDIS pillow!

Ziggy: It’s time to entertain some fellow geeks, but pizza and beer have reached a point of “been there, done that.”  Any suggestions for feeding friends for a movie marathon without getting cliché or breaking the bank?

Tara Theoharis:  I'm a sucker for themes, and a lot of popular movies and shows have recipes books now, including Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Doctor Who. Encourage your friends to do a potluck where everyone brings a snack or dish that relates to the movie you're about to watch!

Ziggy: We’re all about the cheese here.  Any favorite cheese recipes you’re willing to share or point out?

Tara Theoharis:  I recently made some delicious Mac and Cheese cupcakes! You can see the recipe here! 

Ziggy: Who doesn’t like tiny marshmallows, anyway?

Tara Theoharis: RIGHT?

Ziggy: You’re hosting a Job Hunters viewing party.  What cheese and alcohol would you choose to match the occasion?

Tara Theoharis: I'd say a delicious fondue and some good beer!

 Ziggy: And what kind of cheese and alcohol do you pair best with?

Tara Theoharis: I'm a fan of feta and Beecher's flagship cheese. Add in a glass of earthy red wine, and I'm set!


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Tara Theoharis and Kristina Horner



- Interview conducted by Ziggy Berkeley, March, 2013

More From The Bar! | Job Hunters | Interview with Darlene Sellers |



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