Drea de Matteo on Embracing Digital…Reluctantly

/ Dec 1, 2014


Debuting today, “The #Muthaship” stars Drea de Matteo (you know her from shows like “The Sopranos” and “Sons of Anarchy”…and maybe even the “Friends” spinoff series, “Joey”) as she goes about her daily life at home with her family and friends.

Though the star was definitely hesitant to get into both a reality show and the digital world, the casual aspects of filming on an iPhone and collaborating with her friends (a couple of hers work at Endemol) ultimately eased her into the idea. Thus, “The #Muthaship” was born. Spanning about 22 episodes, each of which runs between three and seven minutes long, the series is available via Endemol Beyond USA’s Beyond Reality YouTube channel.

Here’s what de Matteo had to say about the process:

What inspired you to create a reality show?

It’s like a 12-part answer, the first thing being that my buddy was wearing me down and begging me to do it. My friend Carter Smith, who’s the director, convinced me that I should do it because our friends work at Endemol, Will Keenan [president of Endemol Beyond USA] and Charlie Corwin [co-CEO of Endemol North America]. It felt like a safe bet. I’ve been offered reality shows a million times but said no to them because I’m a pretty private person. I also have no edit button, so it would be best to keep me away from the press and from reality shows.

The way I saw doing a reality show at this point was like a giant string of press, and I hadn’t done any press in so many years because I hadn’t been working that much. Now, at 42, having had two kids and my life really changing the way it has over the course of the years, I just felt like I’d say yes to a lot of things that I would have normally said no to.

Why put the show on digital?

The faces of television and film and music are changing so rapidly. They’re still in the process of redefining themselves, and the digital era has really taken over. I find it to be a curse and a blessing. I struggled with, ‘Do I sit tight in this sort of antiquated world that I live in, in which I don’t know what Facebook is, I don’t know what Twitter is—the last thing I remember is like Friendster or something…’ So all of the social media stuff to me is very new, and I only just jumped on board with it.

When my life really changed, my family was really redefining itself…so everything was redefining itself around me. I felt like I was ready for a change, and I needed to kind of move into the future with the rest of the world to a degree and stop being so precious about the things that I believed in. I’m kind of a hippy in a lot of ways, and all this technology kind of flips me out a little bit.

How did you end up getting on board with the idea?

My friends convinced me it would be a fun thing to do. It was non-invasive, because it was filmed on an iPhone, which is something that I’m familiar with. They could have told me that they were shooting it on a Motorola razor, and I would have been like, ‘Alright, that sounds cool.’ But if I would have thought that they were bringing big cameras into this house with lights and mics and all that shit, I probably would have said no. Knowing that it was so low key like that helped, but I will say that if we do move forward with it, I will not do it on an iPhone. I would have to do it more professionally.

What does the show look like now?

I was so anti-reality show. I don’t dig them. The only one I ever watched that I loved was “The Osbournes,” but I love documentaries. In that way, I don’t mind the reality format but I’d rather watch a documentary that has something important to say. What we’re doing here at “The #Muthaship,” we don’t always have something to say, but the episodes are short enough to be benign and to not take themselves so seriously.

If we were going to move forward and go with a longer format and be on a different platform, like if we were going to be on television or something, there would be more of a purpose and it would have more of a theme—I wouldn’t go forward without that. But for this, what we did it was fun and cute. It being an experiment with iPhones and with my friends, I felt safe, and it was cool. We had a blast—there was a lot of laughing. We probably clipped it at 22 episodes, like a regular show, but they’re short, between three and seven minutes a piece. It’s fast-paced video style. You know, how long could you watch anything on an iPhone for, really, with bad sound? We weren’t even using lavaliers, so we were really just guerrilla filmmaking. Half the time my buddy Carter who was shooting us wasn’t even pointing the camera at us. I was like, ‘Hello, I’m right here man!’ You’ll see that on the show, where he’s just like on another planet. It’s silly. It’s definitely silly.

All that doesn’t seem like stuff you could do on traditional television…?

It would be contrived. Well, you could do it on television, but it would be contrived if it were set up with really big cameras. It’s kind of easier with this kind of thing if you’re using a phone. You know you’re not taking yourself too seriously on a phone.

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