Lip fillers and seven divorces, Therapy with Pami is bringing you the LA housewife fantasy in a new setting. The web series, created by Kaitlin Huwe and Stephanie Erb, features Beverly Hills socialite Pami as she embarks on her therapy journey with unphased therapist Dr. L.
We had a chance to chat with Huwe and Erb about the creation of the series, the characters and more.
Tell us a little bit about your project and how it came to be.
SE: Therapy with Pami was born out of some backstage hijinx during the run of a play at The Road Theatre. Pami was a character Kaitlin had in her back pocket and I had fun interviewing and prodding her along while we were getting our makeup on, occasionally recording for the fun of it. We had such a good time, and social media response was peppy, so we decided to actually create a series for Pami and an equally odd foil for her, Dr. L. With our own funds and friends, we managed to compile 16 episodes and aim to create much more!
KH: Stephanie and I were in the World Premiere of “Through the Eye of A Needle” by Jami Brandli at the Road Theatre, and would goof around backstage, improvising little things. My character Pami tends to come out when there are lots of lights and mirrors around. After a while, Stephanie started picking up her phone, and improvising little bits with “Pami.” We kept it to ourselves for a while, and then Stephanie posted one of our little videos on instagram, and it just blew up. People loved it! After the play closed, Stephanie and I missed each other, so we decided to get a little crew together and film a bunch of little mini-episodes!
Where did the inspiration for your characters come from? Are they based on anyone?
SE: I will let Kaitlin speak to Pami’s origins, but mine was most definitely a compilation of every therapist I have ever seen or played on TV and film. Our assertion is that everyone is nuts somehow, and Dr. L is no exception. I have had therapists fall asleep while I was talking to them, give me wonderful assistance, be late for every appointment or even just suggest I go get some drugs! I want to make it clear we are PRO-THERAPY, as it has helped both Kaitlin and I at times in our lives. But when faced with a conundrum like Pami, the therapist must be willing to go where no therapist has gone before, and thus, Dr. L was born. In the future we will explore more of Dr. L’s dark background and absurd issues. I have also played therapists on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and LA’S FINEST, as well as onstage, so I have a flair for it! And, I always say as an actress, I LOVE TO LISTEN.. and that is certainly put to use for Dr. L.
KH: I began creating the character over 10 years ago. I was watching The Hills with my brothers, when I was in high school, and I began to imagine what it might be like to be a stereotypical “LA Woman.” Over the years, I’ve perfected “the face” more and more. I think of it as more “facial yoga.” It’s actually a very intricate and strange skill I can do. I don’t know whether I should be embarrassed or proud of the fact I can move my face like that. After my training at UCLA, I further developed the character with my teachers and mentors at The Groundlings. I wanted Pami to have more dimensionality, and Stephanie and I both agreed that a therapy setting would be the most conducive to revealing more to Pami’s inner life.
What helps you get into character?
SE: I don’t need to do much to get into character. I decided Dr. L was a turtleneck lady who wore “statement necklaces”… I just don the garb and I am good to go. Ears open.
KH: It’s funny, since I’ve had this character for so long, it feels like my brain just opens up and I tune into the “Pami Channel” and she just comes right through. I don’t even have to think about it really. The costume and the wig definitely help me get into character too. Putting on a giant push up bra and those fake nails really puts me in the Pami state of mind.
What was the writing process like for this series?
SE: Truly the writing process was mostly compiling ideas for psychological subjects that were current and Pami-centric.. and also creating a life story for Pami and Dr. L respectively. A predominant amount of the final shoot was improv because Kaitlin and I have such a good chemistry we could ad lib for hours on any manner of subjects. I tend to get brilliant ideas in the middle of the night and forget them, so Kaitlin has encouraged me to, well, to NOT do that and get stuff into a computer.
KH: Yes, it’s true, Stephanie has brilliant ideas in her sleep, and I force her to write them down. We wanted each episode to be about a specific psychological focus, and then we’d just riff off each other to find out what was the funniest. For the day of the shoot, we mostly just had a bunch of themes and ideas written down, and then since we had three cameras going, covering every angle, we would just roll with it! So fun! And always a plus to have an amazing partner in improv.
What challenges, if any, have you encountered so far?
SE: Simply put, the challenge is MONEY. We funded the first run of the show ourselves.. gladly… but we all have human lives to pay for and have to have priorities. We did extremely well with what we had and now the gig is to find our audience and continue making Pami and Dr. L’s adventures preferably with the help of sponsorship or streaming services etc… we hit 100K views in the first month, so we are encouraged but are very aware you gotta keep reaching out to find the show’s enthusiastic supporters!
KH: As independent artists, money is always a challenge. Since I’ve been producing my own work for a few years now, I try to use these limitations as a container for the creativity. We didn’t have a lot, so we kept it really simple. Just one location, three cameras, short episodes, and a super talented and professional crew. Now our main challenge is trying to get this project out there, we want people to see it! Luckily people are really enjoying it, and sharing it with their friends, so that is helping a lot.
What advice do you have for women looking to create their own content?
SE: My best advice to women who wish to create content is just DO IT. Like Nike says. I spent 20 plus years acting in other people’s projects (luckily and happily) but I also wasn’t always playing roles I felt were memorable or really ME or in projects that I loved… and I also realized that I had learned enough by being onset and reading scripts to just give it a try. I met with several executive producers before I started creating content who just encouraged me to make stuff. It was scary at first, for sure, because you are using your own resources… but then of course you really want the quality to be GREAT because you have more at stake. It is no joke being a woman in this industry… no matter what concessions are supposedly made toward finding female content, etc, there is so much more progress to be made. I would be so very upset when I would notice casts of a show or film would have eight male leads and one or two women. We are half of the population. This is just not right. So make your things. Keep making them. And find fun, kind, smart people to work with – because then the experience is gold.
KH: Do it! Creating my own work has helped me to feel powerful, and capable. It put a lot of agency back into my work. Just know that it’s going to be a full cycle, and you’ll experience highs and lows and you’ll need to do lots of creative problem solving. Collaboration and open communication are key. Make sure that you’re always working in service of your project, and that you’re super clear about what you want to make, how you want to make it, and let all of your energy move in service of that vision. If anyone gets tripped up on their ego, or vanity, make sure you bring it back to the root of your project. Ultimately everything works best when everyone puts their differences aside to make something bigger than themselves! I’ve also found it to be really amazing to give people their role, and let them run with it. Try not to overly manage your team. Choose your team wisely, but then give them the reins, and encourage them to bring their creativity to the project. The thing about filmmaking is that it’s highly collaborative. You can’t do it all yourself. And even though it may sound fun to have complete control over every aspect, it’s way better when you let in the creativity of others, and allow other people to feel like they have a creative stake in the project. Keep the roles really clear, and let people work their magic! Your project will be much better for it.
Excited to check out the series? Watch Therapy with Pami today on the links below!
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Images: Shark Party Media
Interview By: Caitlin Arcand