Rachel Mariam is an actress, writer, (broke) producer, and singer (she doesn’t do weddings, but might consider funerals. Again, broke). She studied Theatre & Filmmaking at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, before moving to London at the end of 2018. Since then, she had the great opportunity to work with Academy Award-nominated Director Lenny Abrahamson on a speaking role for BBC TV series “Normal People”.
She also wrote, produced, and starred as the lead in the web-series, “Call It a Day”, which gathered thousands of views and is running the festival circuit in 2020, as well as being pitched to networks and streaming platforms in 2020.
As a writer, she has been recently selected out of 3,000 scripts to be a quarterfinalist in the ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship for her feature film ‘Juliet Is Fine’ (spoiler alert: she is not). Rachel Mariam wrote and will be directing a short film about mental illness called “I AM” in 2020.
Oriane Pick is a French-born Actress, currently working between London and Paris, with experience in Film and Theatre. After having lived in various countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, she moved to London in 2013 and has been involved in various projects since, including short films and commercials. Oriane trained at Les Cours Florent in Paris for a summer. She further continued her acting training in London at the Salon: Collective, becoming a fully trained Meisner Actor. She recently enrolled in the 12-week intensive course of renowned Acting Coach Gary Condés in London.
In 2019, Oriane has produced and starred in the multi-award nominated short drama, ‘Say Your Name’, for which she received two nominations as Best Actress. Having dreamt of creating her own series, Oriane is also the official writer, producer and lead Actress in the award-nominated and Amazon-Prime web-series called “Just Saying” as well as the Showrunner, Executive Producer and Lead Actress of award-nominated short-form drama “Call It a Day” which already gathered thousands of views on Youtube. Oriane Pick will be producing and playing the lead in a short drama about mental illness called “I AM” in 2020.
Welcome to TV Series Hub, please introduce yourselves to our audience.
Rachel: Thanks for having us, it’s cool. I am Rachel Mariam, I am the writer and co-creator of “Call It a Day” and I am French based in London.
Oriane: I am Oriane Pick, I created and produced the show with Rachel as well as act as one of the leads. I’m also French and based in London.
Tell me something interesting about you that people don’t really know.
Rachel: I also make music as well as cinema.
Oriane: I’d say that I am probably one of the people that know “Friends” the best even though Rachel will probably disagree and say she does as well.
Rachel: I am a bit rusty, but yea.
Oriane: I know it really well, at the moment we are watching season 5 and I am just loving it and know everything that every character says every time.
I was binge-watching it recently and watched a season a day, it was really good.
Oriane: It is so good, it is so much needed at a time like this.
Rachel: It is good for anxiety in lockdown.
It sucks when you finish and don’t know what to do.
Rachel: And then you feel the void.
“Call It a Day” – the web-series you both have created, how would you describe the show?
Rachel: The show is about two women who have nothing in common, but end up bonding over their own respective drama. It is a show that allows people to relate and identify and hopefully also help put a humorous twist to things aren’t necessarily funny at first glance.
Oriane: I think as well you’ve got goofy characters in there and lots of comedic moments that make it even more relatable and more authentic.
Out of curiosity, did you both know each other from before?
Rachel: We met at an acting class a little bit more than a year ago now and so we came up with the idea of this series together – so we already knew each other before that.
How did “Call It a Day” come to be?
Oriane: We didn’t want to wait by the phone to get an audition or a role we could really relate to 100%. We just started to brainstorm, had a few glasses of wine, and came up with the idea of creating 2 characters that are very very different, but also kind of relatable to us and what happened in our personal lives etc. Then Rachel just went away and wrote the entire season.
Rachel: Oriane was already working on a web-series when we met and she came to me and she wanted to do more like an ambitious web-series and make a well-produced series and as actresses, we were kind of fed up to not have a broad range of choices for our roles so we decided to write roles for ourselves that we could have fun with. We are in real-life quite different and we kind of thought to extrapolate that to the maximum and to try to make a couple of good characters out of it.
Is it a challenge in the UK to get good ranges of roles on Television? Is it not big enough?
Rachel: It is big, it is just very competitive. We are kind of starting out in the industry and it takes a while to make a name for yourself. You don’t necessarily get in the room with the biggest casting directors straight-away. You have to fight for it, have agents, good agents that also have good connections which not all agents do, so there are so many interesting projects out there but unfortunately, there are so many people fighting for those projects as well – so it is tough and very competitive. I don’t know if you want to add anything more Oriane.
Oriane: No, that is exactly it. I think as well, the way to somehow break into the industry today is creating your own independent projects showing what you can do and be as creative as possible. That is the best way to show an agent, a casting director, a producer or anyone in this industry, that we are productive and if we can’t get in the room just yet for some big castings, then at least we show them the work that we are doing by ourselves.
Rachel: People are so multi-talented nowadays, much more than before. With technology and books, you have ways of becoming really good at what you do on your own so it is much more competitive. Many people are writing now, as well as acting so I think creating your own work and having your own voice is also a good way of getting noticed in the crowd. Writing tailor-made parts for me and Oriane was such an opportunity for us as actresses because I think it’s the kind of part we wouldn’t have gotten through agents or at least not now.
How are your characters similar and different from yourselves?
Rachel: They were kind of inspired by Oriane and by me, but it is just an extreme version, I think Amy is like me when I was teenager, I was awkward, I was partying a lot and drinking a lot, I was very anxious, so I think Amy is kind of teenage me.
Oriane: Eva is a lot like me on so many levels. For instance, she went to business school which I did, she was told to follow a certain path which I did until a certain point when I decided to become an actress and just say that I wanted to do something completely different than everyone around me. I guess as well, the tension or the pressure she is feeling in her life, I felt it as did a lot of my friends. “You’ve been with your boyfriend for so long now, you need to get married… when are you going to have kids?” and all of those things. So I think this is very similar to Eva even though obviously I was always against it in a way because I wanted to do my own things before becoming a mother or getting married, for instance, but Eva slowly became a lot more like me today – we will see what happens in season 2 I guess!
Why should viewers watch the show? If you had to pitch it, how would you do it?
Rachel: I think what is nice about the show is that it is very relatable. These are situations people can relate to, nothing extraordinary happens in the show, it is like everyday events and it is just 2 girls who are not great at coping with what is happening in their lives. It helps people identify and maybe feel they are not as weird or out of place as they think they are. For example, Amy has anxiety. It is nice to put a fun twist on anxiety as it can be such a tough thing to go through. I know it does help me because I have anxiety, to have that kind of show that does talk about that subject and puts a little humour in it to lift up things a little bit.
Oriane: I totally agree. I think as well, as you were saying Rachel, you see young women that are flawed and not 100% perfect, they have their problems, they are trying to deal with it in their own way. I think it is really interesting because you don’t know how you are going to react to something that happens in your life, you just know that it is going to be a unique reaction because it is yours and you just have to embrace it and have to feel okay with how you are feeling and dealing with things. I think that is an important part of the show as well. Amy is going through some very difficult moments, same with Eva although under different circumstances but they are both trying to deal with it in their own way – and that is what makes this show even more relatable.
What is your favourite moment in the show?
Rachel: For Eva, my favourite moment is her Christmas meltdown; it was so stressful to shoot though.
Oriane: That is what I was going to say, as the actress definitely not that moment for me.
Rachel: That is my favourite Eva moment because it’s the moment the character says f*** this, she is finally standing up for herself, so I love that moment. For Amy, my favourite moment was when she gets drunk and she sings at that party because it is an absolute failure but at the same time she doesn’t care and she is just happy she has done it.
Oriane: Agreed. It is when she actually does something she always wanted to do but never had the courage to do, I think it is so strong.
Rachel: Even though she is miserably failing, she is just completely happy anyways. It is a very vulnerable moment for her – I like it.
Oriane: And that was really fun to shoot I have to say. A lot of bloopers on that scene.
Rachel: We had the director throw salami across my face for like half an hour.
Any other funny moment behind the scenes? Will you be releasing bloopers by any chance?
Rachel & Oriane: We will.
Rachel: We have to work on that. Now that we are on lockdown we have all the time in the world.
Oriane: Absolutely! As soon as this lockdown is over, we’ll get right on it!
Rachel: Behind the scenes moment, let me think…
Oriane: Definitely the Salami one was amazing. For Eva, I remember something during Episode 1 when we were shooting the Engagement party scene. We had so many extras on the day, and it was an insanely busy set. It was really hard to follow what was going on and hearing the Director say ‘Cut’. Several extras on set kept on congratulating my character for her engagement and I was quite confused and not sure whether or not I did hear ‘Cut’, needed to stay in character or whether or not extras suddenly believed I, Oriane, was engaged in real life. That was a really confusing yet hilarious moment on set!
Rachel: Wasn’t it Stephen? Because my best friend was on set as one of the extras and he was really into character and he was really into it like “This is my 15 minutes of glory” and then the director yelled “Cut!” and he didn’t hear it so he kept on going. We were like “Okay Stephen, it’s over now.”
Oriane: Yes totally! That Engagement party scene was hilarious on so many levels.
“Call It a Day” premiered on Youtube, how was the decision made to release it there?
Rachel: At the beginning, we kind of hesitated with Vimeo, but then we realized Vimeo is more for industry people.
Oriane: On Youtube, it’s also easier to raise awareness and increase reach amongst our audience, so it felt like the right platform to launch our series on.
Rachel: We have all been stuck in a Youtube hole where you go from video to video for hours – a lot of people do that. A lot of web-series that I love like Broad City, which was a big inspiration for me- started out on YouTube as well. We decided it was the best platform for the show.
What is the long-term plan for the show? Where do you see it going from here?
Rachel: As the writer, I have so many ideas for season 2, for like the evolution of characters, but right now we really want to get picked up by a network to be able to do a proper production and have a team behind the show to push it and develop it further.
Oriane: Definitely! We want to make “Call It a Day” a TV series, which will give us the opportunity to develop our characters and the story even further.
Rachel: Right now we are doing the festival circuit and then hopefully we are going to try as well to getting commissioned by a network.
Oriane: Yup, by 2021.
I am sure you will get it! What has the feedback been like about the show?
Rachel: It’s really funny because we have had very good feedback or people who really hated it which I think is great because we get reactions. The worst thing would be for people to just not care. But yea we have had people that loved it because they felt they could relate to it and “Oh my God, something so similar happened to my friend” so we have had people who liked it that way. We also had comments like “This is just very vulgar, and these women are not very likeable and they are a bit annoying.”
Oriane: I remember one comment on Eva I think it was in episode 2, where someone said that “she needed to go see a doctor because she was drinking all the time, she was trying to deal with her problems by drinking and then she jumped on a random guy, she clearly has some issues.” There were so many comments like that.
Rachel: There was one that said: “no wonder why her fiancé left her, she is a horrendous person!” We have been getting extreme reactions, which I think is great because it means we are triggering things good or bad and that is the point. Especially episode 2 has been getting some intense reactions.
How do you deal with such comments? You can’t call them negative because they are someone’s thoughts from their perspective but they aren’t what you are looking for?
Rachel: As an actor, anyway, you always get feedback and rejections, so I think we kind of got used to it. You can’t be precious about it otherwise you will drive yourself mad. I think Oriane and I also laugh about it a lot because some of them are really funny. But also as you said it is someone’s opinion, while I was reading them I was thinking are they right on something or are they making an interesting point to also build from it and maybe make the show better. We laugh about it a lot and we knew it was going to happen – when you put your work out there you have to be ready for that kind of stuff.
Oriane: Totally, I agree.
“Call It a Day” has been selected for Oniros Film Awards 2020 for the categories “Best Series Pilot” and “Best Web-series” and nominated as part of the official selection for Pilot Light TV Festival. How excited are you? How important are such festivals for independent production or web-series such as yours?
Oriane: We are really thrilled, we have had Oniros and Pilot Light TV Festival as well as UK Offline Web Fest and Ramsgate Film & TV Festival, at a time where we are all on lockdown having good news like this is simply fantastic. It is obviously a shame because some of those festivals were meant to happen now and they are obviously being postponed. which gives us something amazing to look forward to once this lockdown is over. It’s amazing to see that your work was selected by those festivals and we felt really proud of what we have achieved and being nominated in several categories as well is just fantastic.
You mentioned there will be a second season? What will it be focusing on?
Rachel: Season 1 ended on a pretty dramatic cliff-hanger for both characters. I know what I want to do with Eva because I have known from the start. I don’t know how to not spoil things – what can I say and what can’t I say?
Oriane: I guess, Eva would try to take control of her life given everything that has happened and she’ll try and make up for her mistakes with Eric in the last episode – I am trying not to say too much either. For Amy, the question will be: what is she going to do with her family and we won’t say any more about that as well.
Rachel: Yes, Amy gets a call at the end of the episode and I know who the caller is, but I don’t want to spoil it. Eva is going to get control back in her career because she has been treated badly, so she is going to take back a lot of control over this. Amy is going to try to sort her things out. So basically, season 1 was about them completely having their lives breaking down and season 2 is going to be about building them back up.
Oriane: I know that I am really looking forward to Amy and Eva being together again and I would love to see a scene between them where they actually argue because I think it will be very electric.
Rachel: Yeah, because they kind of had a honeymoon phase where they hanging out a lot, but then I think it is important for them especially the way episode 6 goes where Amy feels completely let down by Eva and she feels abandoned. Amy already has abandonment issues so yeah, maybe a fight scene for these 2 characters to cement their friendship as well.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, how has it affected your production and yourselves as part of the industry?
Rachel: We literally launched our production company a few weeks ago, but I mean I guess it allows us to have time for pre-production for a project we are working on called “I Am”. So we are just trying to prepare the foundations as much as possible so that when getting out of lockdown we are ready to hit the ground running. But it has slowed everything down. We also see this as an opportunity to connect with people who are very busy because we know they are less busy now – so it is kind of a strategy to talk to established people and try to get through to them.
Oriane: Obviously, there are lots of ups and downs in the industry. But it has made everyone more looking forward to working together as soon as the lockdown is over. There are a lot of people I never thought I’d talk to and they’ve emailed saying “Oh, let’s have a chat” and we ended up staying an hour on the phone when I had never met these people before in my life. Things like that are really heart-warming and it is beautiful to watch. That is the beauty of this industry is that everyone is getting together and trying to make something out of COVID-19 and make it more bearable.
Rachel: Yeah, that was nice where everyone came together and supported each other.
How are you coping? Do you have any strategies to keep you going or busy?
Oriane: I’ll be producing and acting in the short drama Rachel was referring to earlier whilst Rachel will direct for the first time after having also written it for me. We have split the roles quite a bit on this one. There is a lot to do, it is an ambitious yet beautiful project that has been close to our hearts for some time now. Obviously it is all going slower than expected given the lockdown, but it is definitely keeping us busy.
Rachel: Same. I am lucky enough to be a writer, so that means I can write as much as I want in lockdown – which is great. At least that is something I can do.
About the short-film – “I Am,” do you want to give some insight into it?
Oriane: It’s a short drama touching on a very important subject that isn’t talked about enough these days or if it is, it is very often misunderstood – Schizophrenia. It will follow a young couple, just starting to live together and Gabi, the main character I will be playing, is hiding her mental illness from her boyfriend. Because of everything going on and the big move, things are going to happen and there is going to be a big discussion around Schizophrenia and how she is dealing with it from her point of view and how it could affect the relationship that she is in.
Rachel: Oriane came up with the theme, we decided to do a dramedy with it because Schizophrenia is always treated in a sensationalised way where it is always very dramatic and people are always acting always erratic and in a very cliché and unnatural way. People who have Schizophrenia feel that it is depicted in a very reductive and not necessarily good way for them. We kind of want to make a short film that is more humanly depicted and also put a bit of humour in it because that always helps and break the stigmas around Schizophrenia and make it less “caricatured.”
Oriane: And more authentic as well.
Thank you for joining me, it has been a pleasure speaking to both of you, we should do this again when your short film comes out, any final words for our readers?
Oriane & Rachel: Thank you so much for having us.
Oriane: If you have an idea just put it out there, create your own stuff, find a team and just do it. Don’t wait for something to happen to you, it will be a lot more rewarding if you actually go out there and do it yourself.
Rachel: Time to do things you love and get creative. And check out “Call it a Day”, you are in a lockdown – there is nothing better to do. We hope it is going to make a lot of people laugh out there and we hope everyone is keeping well during these crazy times.
Connect with Rachel, Oriane and Call It a Day social media: