Deanna Meske -- actress, model and entrepreneur -- tells us about her web series, Government Lies, as well as her career in film and television. Among current and upcoming guest stars for the Government Lies web series are Lane Davies (well remembered for his role as "Mason Capwell" on the NBC soap opera Santa Barbara) and Jacqueline Fleming ("Harriet Tubman" from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). To find out more about the show, check out the IndieGoGo campaign at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/government-lies-the-series--41
DM: GOVERNMENT LIES is a thriller/suspense story. It starts out with Erica. She’s one of the main characters. In the opening scene, she’s having an affair while her husband is away in Afghanistan at war. He’s been away for a while. She starts to feel guilty; and she breaks off the affair right at the beginning of the episode. She goes down[stairs] while her husband is going to leave. Tom, her husband, comes home and shocks her. She’s in this predicament. At the end of the episode, the lover ends up being killed. It looks like Erica did it; and she gets arrested. The FBI get involved; and the police and military say that her husband is actually dead. So we don’t know if she actually imagined if he came home. Or did he come home? Because we have an actual official notice saying that he is dead. Now she’s on the run. That is when Lane Davies comes in. He’s actually a friend from the past who works with the FBI. She’s on the run now trying to find out what’s going on and who killed her lover. She says that she didn’t do it, but she has lapses in her memory. It’s a suspense thriller with government elements, meaning there’s different people in the government and other groups that have big secrets. Somehow Erica and Tom and Jake (played by Lane Davies) are somehow involved with all of this. There’s mind control elements, brainwashing. Kind of a sci-fi mix when it comes to that.
OUTTAKES: We already have two episodes out now (as of December 4, 2013). When can we expect the next episodes to come?
DM: Episode three has been filmed; and it’s in post-production right now. I would say probably within the next two weeks. It’s actually done. And we’re scheduled to shoot episodes four and five from December 17th to 19th of this year. The latest would be the middle of January.
OUTTAKES: The first episode was around five minutes. The second was ten. Are they going to be ten-minute episodes from now on?
IDM: ’m really working to get them down to seven minute episodes. That was my original goal in the first place. The second one went a little longer where you had the “previously” section. The pace is going to pick up. Even though it’s pretty good now, it’s going to move a lot faster than it did in Episode two.
OUTTAKES: What inspired you to come up with this story?
DM: I’ve always been an actor in the 48-Hour Film Festival Project -- which is basically that filmmakers get together; and they have 48 hours to make a film. I’ve always been cast as an actor. The last year that they did it, I was cast as a lead which was great…but I wanted to produce my own and write my own characters. I always get cast in these very typical cute girl roles. I wanted to play something deeper and grittier. So I put together my own production team. I found a writer that I liked; and he had this idea. He gave me his script. I tweaked it up a little bit. When we filmed it and shot it for the 48-Hour Film Festival -- as I was watching it, I saw that this could totally be a web series. Everybody I talked to about it said, no way, it can’t be a web series. It is so obvious that she killed him; and what are you going to do with it? I said, oh just wait. I have ideas on how we can twist this and turn this and make it into a web series.
OUTTAKES: That’s pretty interesting that this started out as a short film…
DM: A short film that was filmed with no planning. No rehearsing. Nothing. In 48 hours, you shoot it and you edit it and you post it. We just got on the set and we did it. We didn’t have any rehearsal. So it still turned out pretty good, especially for something shot in that short of a time with no preproduction planning. You don’t really know what your genre is until that day you have to shoot. So we didn’t know we were going to use that script before seven o’clock that night; and we had to start shooting that night.
OUTTAKES: How did you get Lane Davies to get involved with this series?
We were co-stars. It was one of the first TV series that I did as an actor. I just moved here from Florida to New Orleans. I had played one little role in Florida; and then I came to New Orleans and I booked this TV show. And he was the lead in it. We met and stayed in touch. I kept telling him that I really wanted to get him in one of my series. I had made this other series called NEW ORLEANS PIE. It’s more of a college comedy, so I couldn’t find a way to fit him into that. And then this one came. And I was like, oh, this is perfect! He would be perfect for this role. He said, yes, definitely. And so he was on board for that.
DM: We also have Jacqueline Fleming who has come on board for GOVERNMENT LIES. She’s been in lots of things. She’s been in ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. She played Harriet Tubman. She just booked a lead in a pilot that might get the green light to shoot in New Orleans.
OUTTAKES: How can people contribute to the series?
DM: We have a couple of different ways. We definitely need contributions because I could make this move a lot faster. We have an IndieGoGo campaign where people can get prizes there. But I’m looking for companies that want to do product placement. Because I’m the creator of the show, I can put anybody’s product or service right into the show. We can use links. We can visually show the products. We could actually have the actors talk about the product -- built into the script so that it’s very natural and seamless.
OUTTAKES: Will there be more of the NEW ORLEANS PIE episodes coming up as well?
DM: I have four of those in the can. The reason why those aren’t out is because that is my trial web series. I was a new filmmaker. I did not go to school for filmmaking. I have since taken some seminars, but at that point I did not go to school. So I was learning; and I had this idea. I still have it. It’s a great web series idea with older women going back to college later in life and just running into all of these random crazy things. I can probably get all four episodes out by the end of January. They’re already filmed and mostly edited. I just have to tweak a few things. I’m actually co-editing on those as well so that takes a little bit of time.
OUTTAKES: Do you think that scripted drama on the internet is the future of entertainment as opposed to regular television?
IDM: watch all of my TV on the internet right now. I watch it all on NetFlix; and I sometimes will watch on Amazon. I think it’s going to be filtered through the bigger companies. I’m submitting GOVERNMENT LIES to a place called WIGS right now. It is a channel where they show short films and series. So you have to filter it through a channel. If you watch the CW Channel on Web TV, all their main shows are on there. They have advertisements for their web series. And they have two original web series right now. I think you’re going to find that more and more. The trick is how you’re going to make money doing it so that you can make better productions.
OUTTAKES: Aside from shooting these web series and running Outlook Productions, you’re also an actress and a model. What upcoming projects do you have going on that people can see you in?
DM: Right now I have a film called ELSA AND FRED. That was my most prestigious role to date. I play a role opposite Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Scott Bakula. That movie should be coming out. And I just shot a Nioxin hair commercial in DC. I have six episodes coming out on The Food Network on a show called MYSTERY DINERS. I play an undercover agent in that show. So that’s kind of fun; and that’s out right now. I have another show coming out. They haven’t told us the name. It’s on Investigation Discovery; and I play a really gritty role. I play this killer; and it was a very non-attractive role. It was really fun playing that. It’s kind of an evil role too. That should be coming out soon; they haven’t told us the name of show yet but it’s brand new. We filmed that in Mexico.
OUTTAKES: What inspired you to want to become an actor?
DM: I always knew that I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. Before I started acting, I was thinking maybe I should be a singer. I started looking into that; but I was just too shy to sing in front of people. And I thought I can’t even do this. This isn’t going to work for me. My voice is getting better, but I could just never see myself performing. And then I went out and auditioned for this role for a short film. I got a part; and I thought, oh this is so much fun. It felt so natural to me. It felt like this is what I needed to do. That’s when I moved to New Orleans and started acting here to build up my career. I pretty much knew right away when I got on the set.
OUTTAKES: What advice would you give for actors trying to break into show business?
DM: I would advise to only keep positive people in your life who believe in you. Be prepared for people to say the famous things when you tell them you’re an actor. Oh, that’s a tough career. Oh, that’s a hard business. Oh, it’s hard to make it in that business. Get used to that -- or just don’t tell people that you’re an actor -- because people will say that to you left and right; and it can really discourage you and make you want to give up sometimes. I would say just ignore those people. Figure out the game. You’ve got to figure out your strengths of how you fit in and where you fit in. I’m still figuring that out. And make your own content. That’s why I make my own content. Because it helps me as an actor. It helps me understand the business; and it helps me build relationships with directors and producers…and just get it out there.
To hear the audio interview, go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/outtakes/2013/12/10/deanna-meske-creator-of-government-lies