The Outs Season Two
Text by Adam Hurly
Photos by Kevin Truong
It’s been three years – and six issues! – since we spoke with Adam Goldman about The Outs, his all-too-realistic web series that broke Gay Internet with its calculated handling of everyday nuances and banalities. Goldman, who co-writes, co-directs, co-edits, and stars as Mitchell (a figuring-shit-out twentysomething Brooklynite), produced dynamic characters, relationships, and scenarios that elevate the show above the crowded pack of web serials. While The Outs is laced with humor, it is regarded for its sincerity and universality.
The second season of The Outs premieres on Vimeo today (March 30, 2016). We see the characters a few years later – some relationships have lasted, some have dissolved. Friendships have evolved. Mitchell and his best friend Oona (Goldman’s frequent collaborator Sasha Winters) both have new careers. The series looks just as crisp, paces just as steady, and rings just as true – not to mention another appearance of the incomparable Alan Cumming – there is one big difference: This time, Vimeo itself is behind the production (as opposed to Goldman and Co.’s crowd-funding efforts that brought the first season to life). The video-sharing site recently entered the original content market with a slate of shows, and approached Goldman a year ago about working together on a second season of The Outs.
Hello Mr. sat down with Goldman at Vimeo HQ to discuss the new season. No spoilers ahead, we promise.
Hello Mr: When you wrapped and launched off the first season, did you imagine yourself ever returning to these characters?
Goldman: No. I had initially proposed to Vimeo a second season of my other series, Whatever This Is, because that story felt very unfinished to me. As we talked about reviving The Outs, however, it felt natural to do another season, to revisit those characters a few years later after life as progressed. I do love long-form storytelling. I like growing with characters. I like that we can see what these people have been doing with their lives, and exploring the changes that come along with that.
How long did this season take to make?
We started filming in October and finished in November. Jay [Gillespie, co-director and co-editor> and I have been editing in our own apartments since Thanksgiving, and we have an editor named Seth Clark in LA who helps whenever we feel stuck or whenever I’ve acted really hard in a scene that just feels weird for me to edit. We’re finishing edits on the final three episodes now.
You successfully crowd-funded your last two series, but now with Vimeo behind the efforts, the money came up front. Did this affect the production process at all?
The relationship hasn't changed much for us creatively. They were very hands off, and didn’t require much supervision of the script or the production. The only major difference is we are now surrounded by a team of people that gets paid to work with us. They give us so much freedom that it really just felt like the same process as the other series. It’s great to have Vimeo behind the promotional process, too, but nothing matters unless the show is actually good.
This season, viewers have to buy or rent the episodes on Vimeo. How do you feel about this shift? Has there been any pushback from fans?
Well, they funded it upfront last time, so either way, people are paying for the thing they watch. There's this idea that once something is finished, nobody wants to pay for it. Louis C.K. just premiered his own show "Horace and Pete" on his own site, and he charged $5 for the first episode, and a lot of people came after him since it felt too high. So, he came down to $2 for the next one, but he wrote a nice letter to his fans outlining why it costs so much and explaining that it's a very expensive process. So what we're doing with The Outs is very similar; if you like it, support it, and put your money where your mouth is. The response from people online has been fine, especially when I remind them that the whole season costs as much as going to a movie; it's 3 hours of content, so it's worth it.
[Ed. note: It costs $14.99 to buy the full season, and $9.99 to rent it. You can also pay per episode: $2.99 to buy, or $1.99 to rent.]
Will they be released all at once, or one at a time?
They’ll be released one at a time, each week. I don't write them in a way that is meant to be watched all at once. That’s the Jenji Kohan [Weeds, Orange is the New Black] way of doing it: Stuff happens and stuff happens and stuff happens and than OH Nancy finds a dead body and then it ends. Ours is a different pace. People may find it after it’s all up, and they can binge because it lives online, but it's not written in a way that demands you to watch the next one right away.
How much of this season – and the first one – is true?
None of it is true. It's not autobiographical. Emotionally, it's "write what you know," but the arc of the show does not cleanly correspond to my life. Of course, there are things that they're all dealing with professionally that paint a portrait of stuff that goes on in my head. I certainly maintain relationships with my exes the same way Mitchell and Jack do, but they’re not based specifically on any of my past relationships. Dan Savage says that you can tell a lot about a person based on whether or not their exes are still in their lives, so I guess that says something about those characters. One thing that is true, though, is that the apartment where Mitchell lives is actually my apartment. That makes filming really easy, obviously.
Right—it spares the logistics and favors of asking other people for their space. Did you have to call in lots of favors on this like you did with season one?
Less so. But we still asked a lot. Someone always knows someone who can help. And if you don’t know the right person, like the right shop owner for example, you just go into a store and ask them if you can film there. Sometimes they say yes and sometimes they want $600. So then you move along and ask someone else. Sometimes they just have to ask for money, to see if you say yes, but really they’re willing to negotiate and work out something convenient. There are no rules. But you’ve always got to ask for it first.
You probably learned that lesson very early on in this filmmaking process, especially since it was so DIY the first time around.
People will tell you what the rules are and what you can or can't do, but you just have to figure out how to do things your way, so long as you do it properly. On a different level, people said our first episode of season one was too long, which was 12 minutes, and now we have half-hour episodes that people watch all the way through. I think you have to know what the rules are perceived to be, then work out how you can get away with breaking them.
What are you working on right now, and what have you been working in between series?
I’ve got a few scripts and projects I’m writing. I’ve taken some random jobs between projects to make money. If you want to do the stuff you want to do, you often have to embroider that with some work that holds you over. That’s the reality of it. One really fun project was that I got to write for the TONY Awards last year, since [Outs fan and notable cameo] Alan Cumming was a host. He asked me to write for him since we have very similar sensibilities.
It’s great to see Alan Cumming back this season. I think my favorite performance comes from Michael Cyril Creighton, who plays your grotesque colleague Gordy. How did he get involved?
He’s a friend. He wanted to be in it, and we certainly wanted him there. He was great on set, and he’s a web series vet. His show Jack in the Box won a WGA Award, and he was recently in High Maintenance too. He played a big role in Spotlight this year – a lot of people will recognize him from that.
Any other cameos that people don’t know about?
Yes, but I can’t tell anyone just yet.
Purchase or rent The Outs: Season Two.