Many web series creators aspire to combine their favorite or the most popular shows on television. Few succeed. But Destroy the Alpha Gammas, a musical comedy about feuding sororities, has combined Glee and Greek into a frothy, fun digital treat.
Destroy the AGs follows the Delta Pis after electing a new president, Carrie, to lead the group of losers. The Alpha Gammas are where the popular/mean girls pledge, and Carrie is feeling extra-vengeful after their leader steals her boyfriend. The series features a slew of pop songs, woven into the story with ease. It’s good fun and one the most polished indie web series of last year.
This week the production team received proof of their success with two wins (out of five nominations) at the IAWTV Awards, held in Las Vegas. Phil Bucci won for best editing and veteran web series director Scott Brown (Larry King Now, Asylum, Blue Mountain State) won for best directing.
But the heart of the project is Leah McKendrick, an actor and singer-songwriter. While Glee and Greek were created by men, Destroy the AGs allowed McKendrick to work with her friends and colleagues, who are mostly women.
“After watching Girls, I was like, I’m going to write a damn musical. I was hugely inspired by Lena Dunham and her talent, voice and fearlessness,” she said.
Below I talk with McKendrick and Brown about how the project materialized.
How did this project come about creatively? What were your inspirations?
LEAH MCKENDRICK: I always wanted to do a musical for the screen. I’ve done a ton of live stage musicals which I miss all the time, but I wanted to create something that could be captured and (hopefully) endure. After watching Girls, I was like, I’m going to write a damn musical. I was hugely inspired by Lena Dunham and her talent, voice and fearlessness. I thought, I have no excuse to not create this musical that I want to be in. I thought, I need to write something that: 1. I can feasibly produce. 2. I can put my friends and myself in. And 3. Something that will hopefully find an audience. I got the idea for Destroy the Alpha Gammas simply from the fact that I knew it needed to be female-dominated since I know a lot more singing/dancing/acting girls, and it needed to be primarily shot in houses since I knew I wouldn’t be working with a huge (if any) budget and could borrow my friends’ houses. The ball really got rolling when our EP (and actress), Anna Roberts, got on board and made the initial investment. From there, it became real and we spent months building the right team. When we got our director Scott Brown on the project, it was all full speed ahead and before we knew it, we were at UCLA shooting!
What’s the basic story?
LEAH MCKENDRICK: The Delta Pi sisters are not cool or popular like the Alpha Gammas, but after years of vicious bullying they reach their breaking point. Delta Pi president, Carrie, declares war on the Alpha Gammas and a battle of the bitches ensues. In the process of taking down the AG’s the Delta Pi’s find a new sense of confidence and unity, but is it for the right reasons? The Delta Pi sisters want out as the war starts to take an ugly turn- revealing a darker side of Carrie. Her personal vendetta against Alpha Gamma president (and infamous man-stealer) Autumn has taken precedence over her duty as Delta Pi president. Both sororities put up a united front while simultaneously struggling to extinguish their raging internal fires. Which house, if any, will win?
How important is it the story is about sororities, and not fraternities?
SCOTT BROWN: I think Leah did a great job of capturing this story with the nuances of a woman’s point of view, and there are things the humor looks to achieve that is specific to the world of sororities. That being said, I was in a fraternity, and there are themes in this show that resonated with me. Ultimately, this is a story of not letting the darkness in you take over, and that’s something that I believe could be relevant to anyone.
How did you secure financing for the project, or, how do you plan to finance it in the future?
LEAH MCKENDRICK: It was all independently financed by the production team. In the future we hope someone writes us a check for million dollars, but if that doesn’t happen we will continue to create however we can!
How did you navigate getting music rights?
SCOTT BROWN: Music rights were a strange adventure, and something that we learned a lot from. The most important step was picking up the phone.
What changes, if any, in the web TV market give you hope this series will thrive?
SCOTT BROWN: Ultimately, I believe everything is going to merge. It’s not going to be TV and Web series, it will probably just be called TV (People don’t like to give up familiar names) and it will be content of all sorts of lengths delivered through apps on whatever device you own, be it an Xbox, Roku, or your TV itself.