An Interview with Patty Carey

Patty Carey is a New York based Writer, Stand Up Comic and the Creator and Executive Producer of “Half Life” starring Larisa Oleynik, Nancy Giles and Finnerty Steeves. She is the winner of #GreenlightHer, NYC’s groundbreaking screenwriting and pilot competition designed to highlight and address the underrepresentation of women in the film and television industry. Patty Carey is a member of NYWIFT, IFP, and the Director’s Guild of America. As a top film and television Location Manager, she brings 20+ years of filmmaking experience to her writing and has helped some of the industry’s must successful and innovative storytellers bring their visions to the screen. Her Location Department credits include HBO’s “Succession” and “Divorce” as well as the feature films “The Greatest Showman,” “Doctor Strange,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and “A Beautiful Mind.” A graduate of the University of Maryland’s esteemed College of Journalism, Patty Carey lives in Manhattan with her husband and kids, the oldest being a freshman at NYC’s Stuyvesant High School which is totally irrelevant to this bio, but she likes to slip it in whenever possible.

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Patty Carey

1. Welcome to TV Series Hub, how are you?

“Thank you! This is so exciting for me because I’m so proud of our show and can’t wait for everyone to see it. I know these are crazy times, and I hope everyone will come through this stronger; maybe Half-Life can be a ray of sunlight during the quarantine.”

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2. You are the creator of a new series called Hal-Life, Could you tell us what the series is about?

“Yes! “

“Half Life is a single-camera, comedy starring Larisa Oleynik (The Secret World of Alex Mack, 10 Things I hate About You, The Healing Powers of Dude) as Patty, a New York City mom struggling to reboot her stalled screenwriting career without letting the rest of her life fall apart… but first, she’s got to pack lunch for the kids.”

“Half Life offers a comedic perspective into our ability as women and creative people to dream bigger while balancing ordinary life. Patty is a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and location manager, but what she really wants to do is write.  But how? When? It’s not easy choosing between getting dinner on the table –do Cheerios count as dinner – and words on the page.”

“As a location manager and aspiring screenwriter, Patty takes the audience behind the velvet rope with a host of engaging characters wheeling and dealing in an industry where a “no” is almost never a no, a “yes” is almost never a yes, and Patty would settle for a maybe. “

“Like Mary Richards striving to stand her ground in a man’s world and Richard grasping at straws to gain a foothold in Silicon Valley, Patty’s journey to get both her screenplay – and the beds made – is always two steps forward, two hundred steps back. Her story arc is to succeed as a writer while also succeeding as a wife, mother, daughter and friend. “

“Moms can have a mid-life crisis too!”

3. How did this project come about?

“Half Life was produced after winning (alongside Robin Rose Singer’s pilot Maturity) the NYC Women’s Script Writing Competition and subsequently the #GreenLightHer Pilot Competition, the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment’s (MOME) groundbreaking initiative designed to highlight and address the underrepresentation of women in the film and television industry. Sourcing emerging talent from NYC, the pilot episode and four-episode first season was shot with a diverse team of young filmmakers that includes two female directors, three female DPs, and four female editors.”

4. Was this inspired by real life? You’ve mentioned that “it’s not autobiographical” because your “kids eat school lunch.”

“My primary writing tool is to take my personal experience and build a universal story. While I like to joke that Half-Life is not autobiographical, there are some similarities…hey, we write what we know. Like Patty (also my name), I am a location manager living in NYC with my husband and two kids. Also like Patty, I write in my “spare” time… Okay, there are a lot of similarities.  But these are just the basics. The story arcs in Half Life transcend NYC life and Hollywood careers speaking to anyone who’s ever gone after a dream.”

5. You won the #GreenlightHer NYC Women’s Screenwriting competition from the Mayor’s Office o Media and Entertainment for this project. What was it like winning that award?

“It was everything. There are so many screenwriting competitions out there, but this was the only one I had ever seen that actually makes your show. Having the opportunity to run my show from the ground up and subsequently having that body of work as proof of concept for future endeavors is a game-changer.”

6. Now the reason in my second question that I called it “new series” is because I’ve only seen clips and trailers for it on social media. But it had aired before only in New York City’s NYC Life channel, is that correct?

“Yes, the pilot episode aired January 19, 2018 on NYC Life, the city’s official broadcast network with a reach of 18 million households, and  Season one premiered May 10, 2019.”

7. When and where can our readers watch the series?

“We’re partnered with WhoHaha a female comedy content studio and creative community for funny women. I can’t say just yet but exciting things are coming and we can’t wait for you to see.”

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8. The series stars Larisa Oleynik playing the lead role as Patty. How did that casting happen?

“Because we had the most amazing casting team – Cody Beke and Seth White – who took a chance on our show and sent us out to fantastic actors. Larisa came into read, and she was perfect – PERFECT. She’s a great comedic actress who also has a ton of heart, and she just nailed it.”

9. What was it about Oleynik that fir the part of the character?

“It’s funny because Larisa is not a mom, but she’s a total pro who can carry a huge range of parts. She just got it. She got Patty. She got the show. I want to say more, but honestly, she was just so perfect for the role that it’s as if I wrote it with her in mind.”

10. The series also stars Finnerty Steeves and Nancy Giles. That must have been pretty exciting?

“And, funny enough, I actually did write the part of Roselyn with Nancy Giles in mind. In fact, I recently pulled up an old casting breakdown, and it actually says “think Nancy Giles.” I’m a HUGE fan of CBS Sunday Morning, and I had seen Nancy host several events here in NYC. Her energy and everything about how she carries herself made me want her as a mentor for myself, so I wrote that into the script. And Finnerty too really! She was with us from the beginning. She just came in with so much heart that we knew we needed her in the show. And, the more episodes we wrote, the more important she became.”

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11. Who are they playing?

“Nancy plays Rosely, Patty’s straight-talking, do whatever it takes, agent who,, despite a tough outer shell, has a sweet spot for Patty. Finnerty plays her best friend and wing” mom”, Rachel. She always has Patty’s back but is also a voice or reason.”

12. How many episodes are in this series? Are they short or long format?

“We have four episodes, each about 26 minutes.”

13. Besides creating a series, you’ve had more than 20 years of experience being a location manager and scout in New York City for film and television. How did that get started?

“I have to admit, I kind of fell into that. My first job after college was working as  GO at Club Med. After that, I started working as a Production Assistant on small things shooting in NYC. At one point, I mentioned that to another Club Med friend who said he had a high school friend doing the same, but that friend was actually a location scout. I was able to get a few days working with him as a locations PA on a Whoopi Goldberg film called The Associate which I parlayed into a career.”

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14. You got to be a location manager or films like “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Greatest Showman” plus the HBO series “Succession” just to name a few. What’s it like finding locations for these films and shows?

“I was actually an Assistant Location Manager on A Beautiful Mind. It’s great. It’s the perfect combination of creative and management. You get to see places that most people don’t even know exist or can only imagine are like from the Chrysler Building eagles to deserted subway tunnels to a ship graveyard in Staten Island.”

15. Could you describe what a location manager and scout do?

“Sure! The Location Manager is the head of the Locations Department. So, we both scout and oversee the other scouts in the department. We work directly with the director, producer, production designer and DP to choose the filming locations for a film. So, if the script says INT. BAR, we send out scouts to look for all the bars that match the director’s vision. And, once the director chooses the location, we oversee the logistics for filming on location to ensure that all of the departments have what they need once we get to the shoot. We are also the liaison between the location and the crew, so we handle permits, location agreements, etc.”

16. Do you have a favorite film/show that you enjoyed the most working on?

“They are all amazing. I’ve been super lucky to be part of some fantastic projects. BUT, if I have to choose, I’d say Half Life!!!! Hahahahah.”

17. Did you always want to work in the entertainment business?

“I did, but I didn’t know how to do it. Things were different when I was coming up in the business. It wasn’t a normal career path for most people or at least not where I grew up. So, I’m super lucky I found my way in, and, even though it took me a long time to make the shift to writing, I had an amazing ride working with some of the best filmmakers in the world.”

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18. Who has inspired you?

“Filmmaking is truly a collaborative effort. Everyday is an inspiration when you show up at five o’clock in the morning with hundreds of other like-minded people. The energy and creativity is infectious, so I’m inspired by all of the filmmakers I work with. And, of course, I’m inspired by so many female show-runners making fantastic content like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Shonda Rhimes, and Sharon Horgan – dream big! Hahahah.”

19. To those that are thinking about getting into the entertainment business, what advice would you give them?

“Filmmaking is hard work, so be prepared for long days and nights. Show up, and work hard! Be on time and come with a positive attitude. Watch and learn. Don’t think you’re going to make it right away. Be prepared to work in a film job that might not be your ultimate goal, but remember to keep your eye on the prize. So figure out what you want to do early and steer yourself in that direction.”

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