Imagine you’re the owner of a celebrity-dog who commits a playful indiscretion with another famous dog. Imagine it’s caught on film, and the video goes viral. Now, imagine the owner of that dog accuses your dog of rape. That’s the hilariously bizarre set-up for a new web series from creator Katherine Sweetman. We had a chance to ask her a few questions just after the release of the second episode:
Q: How did you get the idea for this crazy web series?
A: Well, I own the real Pithuahua. He’s half Pit Bull and half Chihuahua, and people really to gravitate to him — especially when they find out his breed. (Pit Bulls and Chihuahua’s for practical reasons, don’t typically mate.) People take photos of him, they ask to hold him, they tweet about him, they call their friends, “Hey, Man I’m looking at a Pithuahua!” So, long story short, he ended up on Instagram with thousands of followers.
He’s also a very mellow dude almost all the time, but there are certain dogs, like maybe 3 percent of all the dogs he’s ever met, that he wants to … um lets say dominate in the ways doggies do. One time a man at the dog park called him a “rapist,” and that kind of stuck with me — so that’s where the story begins for the protagonist, Chase Stewart, his famous dog has just “rapped” another dog, and it’s causing his life to spiral out of control.
Q: Are other characters based off real-life individuals as well?
A: Yes, for sure. The series is not just written by me. Each episode was written and directed by someone new. I did the first, AB Troen wrote and directed the second one, Jay DasGupta the third, and we are waiting for Mercedes San Roman to do the next one. We are all grad students at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts program, and that’s how we all met each other. I am sure that we all base characters on real-world observations of others and ourselves. Every hero is us, and every myth is an exaggerated story of our life, Joseph Campbell would say. So Chase is kind of like a gay, male version of me I suppose.
Q: The series seems especially designed for YouTube, why did you go that route and not with Vimeo or Facebook or other streaming platforms?
A: The notion that dog-play can get turned into “rape” and millions of people can blindly agree it’s “rape,” is perfectly set in YouTube-land. YouTube has the power to do that — without question. Videos go viral on YouTube. People say whatever they want to say on YouTube. Vimeo is a different animal entirely, no pun intended, it’s more respectful and conservative seeming. YouTube feels much more democratic and open, and there are just a lot more users — over a billion users they say. So conceptually, it was a YouTube project, but also logistically it needs to live on YouTube because with YouTube it’s free to upload huge files (our project was shot in 4k).
Q: Why make a web series and not a short film?
A: Well, this idea about a YouTube video, going viral, just seems to really want to live on YouTube. It all stemmed from the idea of this viral video, and that’s the first thing we shot. Jay and I took my dog to San Diego, where the real Eduardo El Guapo-dog lives, and filmed the dogs together. Eduardo is in that 3% that my dog is overwhelmingly attracted to — all the time, so I knew we could film that. The always amazing, Anjela Piccard, is my long time collaborator and his owner, so she agreed to be the owner in the series as well. (She is the one calling for Pithuahua’s balls to be snipped off.) After we shot that video, the concept had to be YouTube. It all revolved around YouTube.
Q: What is the best part, for you, about making this project?
A: My collaborators are the best part. It’s so fun working with talented people who will indulge you in your weird ideas. I loved working with Jay, Mercedes and AB, and I have to commend the spectacularly talented actors who really made it happen, Deane Sullivan, Dian Van Patten, Lacey Dorn, Dan Tucker, Bobby Reed and others. (Thank you guys!) In a very rushed shooting schedule, they were able to to ad-lib on the spot and make this so much fun to shoot and also to edit. Everyone was fantastic, and I don’t have a single regret.
Q: What’s next for Pithuahua?
A: Well, the third episode is about to come out. It’s being postponed by two days so it can have an off-line world premiere at the Web Series Unplugged festival at the El Cid theater on Sunset (in Los Angeles). If you’re in LA and want to come out, it’s July 20th. 8pm is the Pre-Show Cocktail/Dinner party and the show starts at 9.Activate Social Media: