O BOY! Interview: Is The Contemporary Film World Ready For The Realism Behind UNINSPIRED?

Grab your popcorn.

Uninspired, the show that follows the story of: “Two roommates, a gay man and a straight black guy, struggle with their identities and relationships as they navigate the many trials of New York City.”

We virtually sat down to chat with the creators behind this riveting and addicting show to discuss everything there is to know. How these two iconic characters relate to Matthew Tenenbaum and Alexander Payne, the current film festivals they’re involved in, and of course some of the most memorable moments they’ve made when filming in public.

We’d also like to congratulate the hard work of these two creators because not only were they accepted into the Los Angeles Film Awards, but they were recently accepted into the NYC Web Fest as well which will be taking place November 8-10! Congrats, you guys, you deserve it.

Could you introduce yourself?

Matthew Tenenbaum: My name is Matthew Tenenbaum. I am a comedian from Long Island living in Astoria, and I make a show called uninspired with my pal Alexander Payne.

Alexander Payne: I am Alexander Payne, a Los Angeles born comedian based in New York. I have been performing stand up all around the city.

How’d you two meet? What’s the story?

MT: I had seen Alex around doing stand-up around the city, but one day I caught him doing a set at The Creek & the Cave, and he did a joke so brilliant that it floored me. We started talking and the rest is history.

AP: We met doing open mics and Matthew asked me to work on a long form pilot. We were rejected in the competition and decided that we should still make the show and uninspired was born.

Your web series, ‘uninspired’ is genius, while it might be a bit ironic, what inspired you two to create this project?

MT: I saw a TV show that featured a brief scene with a gay guy and a straight black guy as the butt of the joke, as if to say, “Look how whacky it is that these two are interacting!” I thought that was pretty strange, especially in New York, where all kinds of people of different backgrounds are friends. It occurred to me that not only is that kind of friendship possible, but it would be fertile ground to explore. The more Alex and I talked, the more we realized there was a lot of overlap between the two cultures, while also analyzing things unique to our respective upbringings. And the deeper we got into talking about our lives, the more we realized that there was a show.

Is the show based on two fictional characters or have you found that the show really does have parallels in your lives? Has the show helped you get through situations in your personal lives?

AP: The show definitely has parallels as well as some liberties taken. A parallel is my father passed away and the character Chris is also dealing with the death of his father. In Episode 4 (“Date Night”) Chris gets in a lot of trouble because he is in love with a fantasy, and I didn’t come to this realization until we were editing. The show has helped become an x-ray into our subconscious.

MT: Michael is closer to my personality than I’d like to admit. I just take all the awful things I wish I could say in real-life and filter it through him. So in that regard, the show has definitely helped me filter through tons of insecurities, especially with the last episode we did (“What Do You See?”).

CONGRATS on being an official selection at the Los Angeles Film Awards, that’s so amazing! How has this achievement changed how you see your creative path?

AP: Being accepted into the festival helps us in the sense that our work is going to be seen. Now that we know we have some sort of audience, I’d like to push it further and delve deeper into the characters and the world they live in. Acceptance is inspiring.

Since you film many parts of the show in public, walk us through one of the most memorable moments that occurred to you both when in the process of filming season 1.

AP: The most notable scene for me was when Chris gets robbed. I believe we created the gag where a guy sees it in the apartment complex across the street and says nothing. Just the physical location created a whole new joke I never thought of.

MT: You get a lot of pedestrians walking up to you asking “WHAT ARE YOU FILMING?!” I think the memorable moments in public were when things went wrong and we took advantage of it. So for example, in Episode 3 (“Percy”) there was an entire scene with Chris and Percy talking in front of Barnes & Noble, but there was a garbage truck nearby making a ton of noise, so you couldn’t hear any of the dialogue. Rather than waiting around for the truck to move, Alex had the idea to use it. So it adds some suspense to the next scene — the viewer isn’t sure what kind of deal Chris and Percy just made, and how it might affect Michael. It made the scene better than we originally intended when we wrote it. Those are the moments I’m proud of, because Alex taught me not to panic when things go wrong, but to be in the moment and use the environment you’re shooting in.

We’re on the edge of our seats! Could you give us a tiny hint in regards to your future plans and releases?

AP: Working on Season 2 and perhaps a movie.

What makes you happy?

AP: What makes me happy is doing the work. The tiny details that we spend hours going over.

MT: Working on the show makes me happy. Also, popping a fresh thing of bubble wrap.

Any closing comments?

MT: I leave you with my 95 year old grandfather’s world famous advice: “Don’t get killed.”