Al Keyser is the writer, director and star of the web series The Rent; here is a link to the Facebook page:
Q: What is The Rent about?
A: The Rent is a dark comedy about a 40-year old loser who is forced to go to work for his mother collecting the rent in a Beverly Hills apartment building.
It’s a fun show about how the working class tries to meet the needs of the wealthy residents which are not really that wealthy at least in our pilot episode so far. They are trying to make the rent just like everyone else.
But also, primarily, it’s about the story of Freddie Jones who needs to wake up and do something different with his life, instead of freeloading off his mother while drinking and gambling his life away.
Q: What gave you the idea for it?
A: I was working on different pitches for a screenwriters conference and I needed some secondary ideas so I looked at my staff and our relationship in that we were very good buddies working and laughing together despite all sorts of seemingly dramatic things happening around us, and so I came up with The Beverly Hill Buddies, a story about a nutty Beverly Hills apartment manager who has to cope with his oddball staff while trying to satisfy the rich residents. I pitched that logline and it got a lot of interest. Later I changed the title to The Rent.
Q: How much of it is autobiographical?
A: There are some parts that I have pulled directly from my life. I really am an apartment manager and I wrote all of the characters based off of my experience with people that I have worked with. I basically understood what my casting was and created a story off of that. So let’s say 50% =)
Q: How did you finance your series?
A: I used my savings to finance the project. I normally would not do this, but as I continued to vet the idea and it continued to gain more interest, I decided it would be a good investment.
Q: What did you look for when casting the film?
A: I knew specifically what I wanted, the most talented actors that would best represent Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. I type casted all the way because it was the best choice. However each person brought their own unique personality to the table and closed the deal for their respective role. You know when you know.
Q: What is your funniest onset story?
A: The funniest onset story has to be that we all enjoyed working the scenes and laughing together. In particular, everyone enjoyed the scene with the mailman and then the real mailman showed up causing even more laughter.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it motivate you to create?
A: I have a great job working as a property manager near UCLA, but it’s completely separate from how I create. I like to sit alone with my thoughts and away from my work. I’m very easily motivated to create if I am strongly interested in an idea.
Q: What famous filmmaker would you compare yourself to?
Q: What are you doing to promote your series?
A: The Rent was launched on Facebook and YouTube which has done okay so far, and I have some other show biz contacts that I have reached out to, but the best thing I’ve done was to hire Josh Mitchell as my publicist. He’s been able to connect me with all sorts of journalist that are helping to create a buzz and elevate my exposure far more than I could have done on my own.
Q: Why Beverly Hills?
A: I’ve been living near Beverly Hills for the last 7 years and found an interesting juxtaposition between the working class and the wealthy. I write what I know.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)