Spotlight: Our interview with youtube artists ‘Not Literally’

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Welcome to Lytherus, Not Literally! I’ve been a huge fan of your videos ever since a friend linked me to Sorted This Way after four separate Pottermore accounts actually did put me in Hufflepuff. Though a little stunned at first, I’ve fully embraced my new housemates and love the anthem you created for us.

But each of your subsequent videos has been equally amazing with A Character I Used to Know being about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen come out of any fandom. Thanks for joining us today to share some insights about your work.

For starters, please tell us a bit about you, your videos, and where people can find you on the internet.

G: Thank you so much! We produce parody music and comedy for the web, primarily related to science fiction and fantasy pop culture. You can find us on YouTube as NotLiterally, and our website is at www.not-literally.com.

D:  We’re also “Not Literally” on Facebook and our tumblr is http://not-literally.tumblr.com

Obviously you’re both singers and both fans of fantasy and science fiction. How do you go from that to producing high quality music videos?

G: There’s this super embarrassing backstory I’m going to skate over in which, alone and bored on Easter weekend, I made a “Friday” parody called “Ravenclaws” that went mini-viral. Basically, there was demand for more house-themed Potter parodies. I asked Dana, with whom I had sung at the Renaissance Festival, to team up with me, and we met Erik that very week, out of some extreme good fortune. Everything since then has just been baby steps!

D: I was a late nerd bloomer.  I was into tons of movies and book series that would tend to indicate nerdom but didn’t fully realize my potential until I met Ginny.  She helped me to embrace my nerdy side, then we met Erik, and together we do things that the internet occasionally likes.  It’s great fun.

E:  I’ve always been fascinated with music videos, I love the translation process of sound to visuals, I think it’s an amazing art form.   It’s the same reason I love musicals, you get transform music into motion and really engage the audience with a creation that’s really unique.

Do you start with a certain theme, like being sorted in Hufflepuff, and search out the right song to go with it, or do you hear the song first and then craft the mash up around that?

G: The house pride parodies are unusual, because we sort of have to start with a theme and find a song to fit. For most of our other songs, an idea will hit us when we listen to the song, and we go from there. It can be ridiculously difficult to force a song to fit a theme. I don’t recommend it.

D: Usually what happens is one of us will be listening to the radio or Spotify or something and a section of lyrics will spark something fandom-related.  Then we call the other person and dramatically insist that the new idea is the next best thing and we either run with it or we don’t.

E:  Yeah, the easiest themes are the ones that just pop into your head when you’re listening to a song, and usually go the fastest.  Although the challenge of picking a song first is pretty rewarding when you finally get everything to fit together.

Do you just have an amazing group of friends or do you hold auditions for the “choir” roles?

G: Both! Some roles require more “casting” than others, particularly those that require physical resemblance to existing actors.

D: Our dance requirements have also gotten a lot more demanding since Sorted This Way’s dance crew, where we just took volunteers.

Do you also record the instrumentals for each song?

G: We have a tremendously talented audio engineer, Cameron Severn, who does a lot of our instrumental tracks digitally, although some licensed tracks we purchase already complete.

How long does it take for you to produce a typical music video from script to screen?

G: It depends a lot on the scale of the production. For our major music videos, it can be as long as six months total production time. But we’ve produced smaller videos, like Movies of the Night, in a matter of weeks. It’s also very dependent on the whims of our schedules at the time. Since we all work “real jobs,” scheduling shoots and meetings can be extremely difficult, which can extend production time by weeks.

 There’s pre-production, which includes the actual concept development and script/lyric writing, as well as the production of the instrumental track, audio recording and mastering, and then the gathering or construction of props and costumes. We also have to figure out locations and sets during this time, budget, shotlist, shooting schedule, and sometimes casting.

D: Shooting itself takes the least time out of everything, but it often has to be done in one or two days, which can make some shoots very high-stress.

After that, it’s editing time, which is almost completely Erik. We help log the footage, which is where we watch all the clips we shot and label them, to speed up the editing process. Then we basically get out of the way.

Besides your amazing musical parodies, you also make a hysterically funny series with characters from each of the four Hogwarts houses running an advice column. Where did that idea (and the amazing wigs!) come from? Are you accepting questions for Season Three?

G: Dana and I came up with this idea very soon after Not Literally inception, while slap-happy and sleep deprived. There are other ideas from that night that didn’t make it to screen, like…a comedy sketch about “wizards in Muggle Land,” about an amusement park where wizards can do things like sit in traffic.

The wigs are from an awesome local gaming and costume store called The Wizard’s Chest!

D: We are accepting questions for Season 3! We won’t put out a call for them for a few months yet, but any questions we receive all year round get put into the Ask Hogwarts folder, so it’s okay to send early!

You just released a new video showcasing ships and shippers. Do you have any favorite OTPs you’d be willing to share?

G: My Firefly ship is Rayne. That one’s pretty out there. And I’ll ship Zutara until I die.

D: I’m hugely into Destiel from Supernatural (come on, it’s basically canon already) and lately I’ve really been getting Captain Swann feels from Once Upon a Time.  And Ginny’s right about Zutara.

E:  What’s shipping again?

What other fandoms are you interested in making videos for in the future?

G: We can’t even give a complete list because we’re continually getting into new things! But we have plans for a Star Trek parody, we have a million Disney plans, and I have a Firefly concept that I’m really excited about!

 D:  I would really love to do a Supernatural parody but I’d have to have just the right idea.  Avengers universe would be fun someday, too.

E:  I hope we move into the video game realm, there is such an enormous online gaming culture that loves seeing their favorite games in live-action.  Oh, and Star Wars.  Because Light Sabers. 

I really have to ask – which houses are you in?

G: Ravenclaw!

D: Slytherin!

E: Hufflepuff!

And my standard random question: what color lightsaber would you have? (And I have to add that these answers made my day!)

G: I mean, I’m gonna be honest, I probably wouldn’t be a jedi. Their philosophy is so flawed. So that basically leaves red, excluding extended universe. I dual-wield red sabers in Old Republic as a Zabrak Sith and I have to admit, they look really badass.

D:  Honestly, I’d be so pumped to have one that I wouldn’t even be picky about the color.  Light sabers forever.

E:  HA!  I didn’t even read ahead.   That’s easy.   Purple, because it would be Kyp Durron’s saber, the purple one that can extend 3 times it’s normal length due to being constructed with 3 crystals by Gantoris.   Dana, stop laughing.

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