Rosie Kaller is part of Oxygen’s digital series In Progress 52. In 2016, Oxygen's Very Real digital hub is featuring 52 of these outstanding women: that's one woman a week, for 52 weeks. Check out the series here!
I’m here with Rosie Kaller, producer extraodinaire, and a human being who was born in the 90s. Don’t be fooled by her youth, however, Kaller’s impressive resume includes stints with College Humor, Upright Citizens Brigade, and her current position as Head of Production at Cracked.com. She was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a couple of questions.
Rosie! First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room. You have a twitter account, and yet, you have never actually sent a tweet. You’ve got 51 followers waiting with bated breath. What gives?
I knew I'd have to answer to this one day. I got the account because Cracked was live tweeting the first presidential debate in 2015, and I wanted to follow everybody. I'll probably never tweet. Too much pressure now.
Talk to me about what it’s like to be a producer. How did you know producing was your calling?
I’m working as a producer until I move to Maine to live in the top of a lighthouse and write poetry. I've never written poetry and don't particularly feel like it, but I think I will when I'm up there. Until that day, producing is my calling. I sort of fell into it because there was an opening for a producer role in the digital video house team at UCB. From there it just sort of clicked, and my experiences snowballed. I loved bringing together different people - cast, crew, writers - to make the best video possible, so I spent some time producing whatever I could for free.
I was basically working around the clock because I was still a full time PA. I saved up some money and then took a leap and quit my day job to full time produce for free. I lucked out and only had to do that for a few months before I got paying jobs. From there, I worked on a range of productions and budget levels for both major digital companies as well as independent writers. Both are very fun, and have their own challenges. Here we are!
What does a producer do?
A producer can mean so many different things, depending on what kind of producer they are, how many producers are on a project, etc. But I think the short answer is they make sure the production happens and that it's great. And that may mean hiring other producers, or finding the writers / directors/ actors / department heads, or budgeting the thing, but basically, it's all on you (I've switched tenses now, stick with me) to make it happen.
Do you feel like your gender is an issue in the industry, or are we past that sort of thing?
Yes and no! I've been really lucky to land some incredible jobs with some incredible feminist men (shout out to the boys of Cracked). I think in the jobs that matter, it won't be an issue. But that doesn't mean that I haven't had to deal with location rentals where the owner wouldn't talk to me because I was a "little lady", or received inappropriate attention, or had my experience questioned by people below me. But there are d*cks in every industry. It's just that with producing, you're going to be exposed to a lot more people in a short amount of time. Proportionally, probably the same number of d*cks in any industry. You have to have some thick skin and be able to shrug a lot of it off.
You currently work as Head of Production at Cracked.com. Talk to me about what it’s like to produce content for the internet. Do you feel pressure to greenlight things that you think will go viral, or do you feel like you guys can do pretty much whatever you want?
It’s really hard to know what will hit, but we of course have an idea when we're developing something if it's one for us (and our core audience) or one for the masses, and it's a bit of a balancing act. As long as we know we have videos staggered throughout our calendar that will be hits, we can still make bizarro videos that are more of a question mark. It's very important to have this, because it allows us to try new things and keep doing videos that make us happy, while continuing to grow our audience and channel. But we're often surprised by what hits and what doesn't.
The majority of your work as a producer has been in the world of comedy. Is that intentional? Why or why not?
When I started out, I had the opportunity to intern on some Adult Swim TV shows. It was so much fun that I never wanted to leave comedy production. Most jobs I've landed have been through word of mouth, so I kept getting more opportunities in the (very small) L.A. comedy world. But I was also a Producer at Condé Nast Entertainment for Wired and The New Yorker's channels, and the Segment Producer at YouTube Nation, YouTube's official daily show - and neither of those jobs were comedy. Those were truly wonderful jobs, but after a while of doing non-comedy work, I was really eager to return to comedy production. I think in comedy, it's always fun, even when it's really really not fun.
Is there anything that you consider too “gross” to be funny?
I’ve produced a lot of live comedy shows, and smells really get me. If I'm trying not to puke, I'm less likely to laugh. The sketch team I produce, The Midnight Show (performs monthly at UCB Franklin), does a lot of very funny live sketches that involve mixing together terrible foods and eating them. These are not for me, but the audience loves them... and sometimes pukes, yes, but laughs nonetheless. That was a pretty sensory based answer, but content wise, no I don't think so. It's all about how you frame it.
You’re pretty smart. If you were interviewing yourself, what would you ask?
"How does time work? Why do things feel like they are moving fast and slow all at once?" I wouldn't be able to answer this. And then also, "Who is the most influential woman in your life?" because I would love to talk about my mom, who as a recently single parent to a 3-year-old, left a job in Congress to follow her dreams and go back to school as a social worker, eventually starting her own practice. She taught me to just f*ing get it done and not let anything stand in your way (I'm paraphrasing. She doesn't really curse).
Your latest film, Village People was shot in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua and stars a baller cast. Can you tell me about that experience?
Yes! It was truly amazing. We wrapped production in March. It's a feature length comedy about two brother-in-laws who travel to a village in Nicaragua. It stars Aya Cash, George Basil, Brandon Scott, and Echo Kellum - who are all SO talented. We are incredibly lucky to have them.
We rented out a resort on the coast and the whole cast and crew stayed there for a month. Our crew was about half US and half local and just the most dedicated, talented people. It was close quarters, and it was really important to my producing partners Jon Cohen, Paul Briganti (Director/Writer) and I that it be a fantastic experience for all, so we were pretty careful about choosing every person for the shoot. I can genuinely say everyone had a great time and that it was a pretty unique experience.
If you had a genie lamp, but the genie could only respond to wishes related to the entertainment industry, what three wishes would you make?
For there to be more women in leadership positions and more varied roles for women (I'm combining this into one wish, genie), for all of my friends and co-workers to be wildly successful, and for me to have the opportunity to continue to work on really fun and interesting projects that I am passionate about.
If you had to bet your soul against the devil, upon what skill would you bet?
Making a $10,000 project look like $100,000.
Finally, I happen to know that you are physically pretty short, no offense. How do you reach things that are super high up, and can that strategy be used as a metaphor for reaching for the stars slash breaking through the glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry?
I have three different child-sized booster stools spread throughout my home, which is to say that you can't put all your eggs in one basket and you must diversify your support systems.
Watch a Cracked video produced by Rosie!