Freakishly Normal is a charming modern-day dramedy, following four middle aged moms as they navigate the ups and downs of every day life in sunny Burbank, California. Through marriage, motherhood and mortgages, and with the help of a lot of white wine spritzers, they break through the ordinary to find the extraordinary in a life that is Freakishly Normal.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Eva Sippel
Congratulations! Why did you make your pilot?
We made our show, Freakishly Normal, because we thought we had a fun and interesting story to tell about a group of suburban Moms who struggle with the day to day routine of every day life. My writing partner, Rachel Hunt, and I wrote a full first season, six episodes, and shot the pilot with the intention to sell the show on streaming media such as Netflix, Hulu or facebook watch. We are those Moms, so we are telling a very personal story.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this pilot?
Freakishly Normal is funny, sad, heartwarming and real. Let’s face it, adulting is hard! We all need a little break from our routine lives to laugh, reflect and connect. Anyone in our audience can relate to the characters in our show. Maybe the lives on the screen seem a little shinier, a little better than ours, the audience, but, in the end, we all face the same challenges in life. We start the day wanting to do the right thing, do good by others and honor our true selves. Sometimes that is an impossible task and once the day ends…we might even think we failed. But FN shows the every day struggles in a funny and supporting setting and hence, is an uplifting and inspiring experience to watch for any adult.
How do personal and universal themes work in your pilot?
The universal themes of love, family and friends are demonstrated by our four main characters. More personal themes, what does it mean to be a woman, a wife, a working Mom and/or stay at home caretaker bring the conflict up front and ask the question: Is it possible to have it all? We try to address these issues in an entertaining, not preaching, yet educational way.
How have the script and pilot evolved over the course of their development?
We were sticklers for preproduction and prepped until we had all our details worked out. Or so we thought! On the day of shooting, we knew our plan inside out and tried to work as effectively and as fast as we could. It is amazing to me, reflecting back, that we were able to shoot all our footage in one day and that it turned out as well as it did. Of course we had issues, we have little kids in our show – daylight, public park, noise issues…any curve ball you can think of was thrown at us – but as I said, we managed and I am very proud of our team.
We shot the script pretty much as it was written. Since I am the co-writer and the director, I had a singular vision and was able to execute it.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
I love that the audience can relate, especially to the dilemmas of the character I play, Ace. All she really wants is to take a tiny break from her every day duties as a Mom. But she is so scared that once she stops she won’t be able to pick it up again. Other Moms and even women without kids have come up to me and told me how they can relate to that fear on a deep level. Also, our show is pretty funny and I love hearing other people laugh.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I was scared the audience might not get our jokes. Funny is important to me, and I think you can get a point or opinion across in a less judgmental way when you use humor. It did surprise me that people were responding in the way I was hoping they would. You write and hope for the best, then you shoot, edit and lay the soundtrack and still you don’t really know until you watch the final product on a screen with an audience. So far, the feedback has been positive and affirming.
What are you looking to achieve by having your pilot more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We are always looking to connect, network , achieve exposure in hopes of reaching our goal in selling the show. On a personal level, I really want other Moms to know they are not alone. Being a middle aged Mom, a wife, a friend, a caretaker, can be so overwhelming and so easily we doubt ourselves. I am hoping Freakishly Normal will demonstrate that we are all in this together and each of us does the best we can. Freakishly Normal is in all of us. It’s what makes us crazy, human, lovable and in the end, turns out to be the spice of life. Go figure!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this pilot’s message?
I do need producers and/or production companies, sales agents, managers, people who can bring Freakishly Normal to a wide audience by having the series made. Six episodes are written and ready to go! And I am itching to work. Anyone want to be my agent?
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this pilot to have?
More than anything, I would love for our show to resonate with people, and to create a connection to each other. Freakishly Normal really is a nod to the fellow Mom, whether she has a wild kid, an autistic kid, wants to have kids, a teen, an out of control toddler – you name it - but that also, we, the adults, have problems on top of being parents which need to be addressed.
I would want to produce a mutual understanding amongst the Mom and Dad tribe that while life is hard, no one is isolated. We are all in this together, and we can do it.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this pilot
Can a woman have it all?
Would you like to add anything else?
It was so much fun to make this show. A true product of friends and family coming together to make a kick ass product. The love that was poured into it shows on screen, and I am very grateful. We had no budget, did it on the fly, gorilla style, like a 20’s group of college kids studying film and having no other responsibilities. We are all middle aged, have tons of responsibilities and made the time. We rock!
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I have several works in various stages of development , including a neo-noir film, a “Hot Dad” TV show and a comedy about an upscale seniors assisted living facility.
Interview: December 2018
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A dramedy centered around four adulting female friends and their daily struggles which make them nuts and all of us – Freakishly Normal.
Director: Eva Sippel
Producer: Eva Sippel and Rachel Hunt
Writer: Eva Sippel and Rachel Hunt
About the writer, director and producer:
EVA SIPPEL and RACHEL HUNT met on a sunny afternoon in Burbank, California, where they were hosting a play date for their children at a local park. Soon, the two women realized they shared more than the mere joys of motherhood, as they discovered their mutual admiration for good story telling. Not long after their initial meet in the park, the duo set out to write about extraordinary stories of an ordinary mom's life, and Freakishly Normal was born. Eva Sippel is a longtime writer but first time director.
Key cast: Eva Sippel, Rachel Hunt, Carol Kaufman, Kaylie Gipson, Tiffani Ann Mills and Marshel Adams.
Funders: Private Investors/self financed by director and producers.
Made in association with: We made it ourselves. Mariposa Productions. This truly is ground up film making. My husband works for Company 3 and is an amazing DP. It would not have been possible without the amazing Paul Carlin, who spent his time off from work to lend his talents to our film.
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Youtube and various film festivals throughout the country.