UNICORN PLAN-IT Is BACK: Director K. Rocco Shields Talks Season Two

Hello everyone, I have some really huge news that I think you’re gonna want to hear. Ready?

Season 2 of UNICORN PLAN-IT, Autostraddle’s first ever original narrative series, premieres in just over one week! Yes, it’s true — the show is back and it’s going to be bigger, better and hornier.

Creators of UNICORN PLAN-IT: Croce, Haviland and Ashley
photo by Sabrina Bringuier

Carmen and I took on some serious investigative reporting and interviewed the cast and their new director to get all the juicy details about this upcoming season, and we’ll be sharing those little tidbits with you over the next 10 days. But before we dive into Very Important Questions — like for example each actor’s favorite brunch food — let’s take a stroll down memory lane to the premiere of the series, because it was a really big deal.

Do you remember? It was August 2011. There was no new Real L Word and no new Glee. A-Camp wasn’t a thing. You hadn’t donated over $100,000 to help us build a new home.

The world was a different place. To be honest, I have no idea what the majority of us were even doing. The cast and crew of UNICORN PLAN-IT, however, were taking the initiative to make lesbians laugh with art that matters. In case you need a refresher, here’s the deal:

UNICORN PLAN-IT is a tight little comedy best described as Modern Family meets The Office meets “a bunch of hot lesbians in Los Angeles.” Has anyone made a real comedy about that last one?

Three co-workers, one crazy boss and one enlightened fairy-tale-haired spiritual healer face the slings and arrows of everyday life as event planners and ladylovers.

This show is written, directed, produced and edited by Real Lesbian Females who want to make you laugh, make you proud of who you are and generally make your life better in every way. Who are these females?

The fantastic cast includes Haviland Stillwell (TV/Broadway Actressrecording artist, voice of Raquelle on BARBIE LIFE IN THE DREAMHOUSE),  Ashley Reed (screenwriter/producer, playwright, once recorded a song for you), Sarah Croce (Actress, Miss AprilGirl TalkFake-Whitney), comedian Sherri D. Sutton, and actors Amir Levi and Catherine Wadkins.

Season 2 also promises guest appearances by Oscar Nominee Bruce Dern (Big Love, Monster) and Deborah S. Craig (Hart of Dixie).

And for this season, Director K. Rocco Shields of WingSpan Pictures has joined the unicorn team!

We’ve been anxiously anticipating the October 3 premiere that will take place right here on Autostraddle, and to deal with our enthusiasm we’re going to help you get to know the wonderful women (and dude) who are responsible for making this masterpiece happen.

Also! If you really can’t wait, Beretta at Revolver has you covered. They will host the Season 2 Premiere Party on October 2 at 6:30pm, so if you’re in LA make sure to check it out — meet and scissor bump the cast and crew, participate in the GET HORNY photo campaign, and try your hardest to work Croce’s magic on her. Season 2, Episode 1 screens at 9pm, followed by a raffle for UNICORN PLAN-IT t-shirts and other fun prizes. Plus your photo may end up on Autostraddle the morning after — who can resist?!

Keep up with UNICORN PLAN-IT:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

dotted-divider2

The Autostraddle Interview: K. Rocco Shields

UNICORN PLAN-IT director and editor K. Rocco Shields
photo by Sabrina Bringuier

We heard from all the cast members that we can expect some changes and surprises in Season 2, but perhaps the most significant change is that the show acquired a new director and editor, the talented and accomplished K. Rocco Shields of WingSpan Pictures. Rocco was kind enough to hang out with me on Skype a few weeks ago, and we chatted about many different things: her involvement with UNICORN PLAN-IT, the new film she’s working on, and her new puppy. Don’t worry, I took a screenshot of the puppy and included it in this interview. — Vanessa

So, what brings you to UNICORN PLAN-IT?

When I saw the first season I saw something very amazing, but I thought there were things that could be strengthened. When you don’t have a full-time director you lack a cohesive voice. When you’re directing, writing, and acting, sometimes some jokes are lost in translation, so I went to the girls and said, “I think we need to do a Season 2 of UNICORN PLAN-IT, I will do it with you.” And they were totally down for it, and the rest is history.

What was it like working with your good friends?

I love Haviland. I’ve always wanted to work with Haviland and Ash and Sarah, and I wanted to do something for the lesbian community. One of the strongest things I’ve seen come out [for lesbians, by lesbians] is UNICORN PLAN-IT so I thought, “Wow, it would be so awesome if I could work with them and we could bring a Season 2.”

photo by Sabrina Bringuier

Can you tell me a bit about your background and where you learned about film?

I was a film theory major in college, and most people go to film school to learn how to make things, but I learned none of that; I learned about the psychology of cinema, the history of film, the history of television, and the aesthetics that are used to make the viewer feel a certain emotion.

Can you tell me about your most recent project, “Love Is All You Need“? I’d love to hear in your own words where you’re at with this project, and also what inspired you to create it.

When [the issue of] teen bullying was all over the news in 2010, I was struck by how all these newscasters and moms and dads were like, “I don’t understand how an 11-year-old could be [committing suicide].” They kept saying things like, “How is this possible? When I was 11-years-old I was playing with trains, you know, I didn’t think about committing suicide.” They were talking about it like it was this new thing, and I felt like, “This isn’t new, and you don’t even understand where these kids are coming from.”

The next morning I woke up with the idea to create a short film about being bullied from the point of view of a kid, but the world would be reversed so people would understand what it would be like to be prejudiced against someone with their same ideals.

What would you say was your goal for the film?

My goal for this film wasn’t to make a splash in the gay film circuit, but it was to get to the straight film market. It was to get to festivals that don’t normally accept gay submissions.

What are some of the most meaningful responses you’ve gotten?

At one festival, they put it before this documentary about camps people send their kids to where — like real life, But I’m A Cheerleader type of stuff — they are brainwashed not to be gay, they’re shown coffins and they’re like, “This will be you if you keep on being gay.” It’s real stuff, and the protagonist of that documentary was this evil priest-type guy who took these kids in and showed them all this awful stuff and turned them “not-gay.” Since the filming of that documentary he has changed his ways and he was at that festival premiere, and he got on stage and he turned to me and he said, “Before I say anything, I have to thank you for Love Is All You Need? because it gave me a whole lot more to think about . . . thank you for making that film.”

photo by Sabrina Bringuier

Wow, that’s kind of incredible. So aside from UNICORN PLAN-IT, have you worked on anything new?

Yes! The short really took off, and it was always designed to be a test run for what this concept could be on a broader scale. I wrote the feature film version, and the short film has served as its calling card.

Camilla Belle (Push, 10,000 BC) and Kellan Lutz (Twilight) play the two leads, and there are also several other Academy Award winners coming on board to create an A-list ensemble cast. We want this movie to really fly and get out to everyone.

It’s so awesome that you’re fulfilling your dreams. But I’m curious: with such a sensitive topic, have you received any backlash or criticism for the project? And how do you handle that?

Definitely. I’ve already been sent a few letters by gay people who think that I’m going to bastardize the concept. Because it could be very easily bastardized. I mean, you think of this premise of a “gay world,” and it’s already been done. People have tried to create comedies about it, and they played on stereotypes and gender roles in order to do it. If I do that – if I play into any sort of stereotypes – it will discredit the film. It will make the film a joke, and it will make gay people look bad, because in this world it’s gay people that are kind of being the bullies.

A lot of people are going to be really pissed off about this film, but that’s okay, because a lot of people are going to be really excited about this film. I’m excited to show them all my take on it, and then everyone will relax. But until they see it, they won’t.

As a gay filmmaker, do you feel like you sometimes get more backlash from the LGBT community, rather than the mainstream community? I feel like this happens a lot because we’re all invested in making sure our stories are told in a way that feels true to us.

I think because gay people have been so oppressed for so long, they are so quick to judge. So quick. The second I released the trailer I had an email from someone who was very angry, and I took the time to write them back, and then they thanked me. They wrote, “Thank you so much for writing me back, I understand more what you are going for. I’m sorry if I came across as defensive.” So it will be an interesting PR thing.

Definitely interesting! I’m intrigued now, I’m excited to see it.

Yeah, me too. I can’t wait, we are going to start production in the next couple of months.

Rocco is really fun to Skype with because she has cool masks, a million pairs of sunglasses, a PEZ dispenser, a crown and a brand new puppy.

That’s awesome. Moving away from the silver screen and onto our computer screens, is UNICORN PLAN-IT similar to any of the past projects that you’ve worked on? What are the similarities and differences?

UNICORN PLAN-IT is not [similar to any past project]. What works with the show is bringing in an element of reality – you’ll see this season has more reality-style shooting and editing. We are also introducing something new: The Confessional. You’ll be able to see more into the minds of some of the characters, and that creates some comedy. There’s also Flashbacks, which also create some comedy.

Okay, this is a tough one. Of all of the UNICORN PLAN-IT characters, who do you identify with the most?

Oh, you know, I can’t play favorites, I just can’t. But I do love Ashley’s character because she is such a natural comedian. Some of the stuff she says, she had a random humor that I just love, so I really embrace all of her improv and her randomness, through and through. But I also love the kindness of Haviland’s character, and the bro-ness of Croce’s character, so it’s hard for me to pick a fave. I also love Bruce Dern’s character.

And if you had to go on a date with one of the characters in UNICORN PLAN-IT, who would it be?

Let me look at my character list so I can give you an offbeat character for this. Hold on . . . I’m looking at all their pretty faces right now. [Pause.] I’ll have to say Pitch, Bruce Dern’s character.

Yeah? Now I really want to see Season 2.

It was really exciting to work with him, and we could share some war stories.

Do you have a favorite moment from Season 1?

Oh my gosh. [Pause.] I can’t give you a favorite. Just all of them, you know, giving it their all. I think they did a great job in the first season. Also, I would like to change my last answer. I would double up with Pitch and Harmony. We’ll go on a threesome date . . . and then we would go make music together.

Badass. Okay, so this is a Very Important Question that I actually ask everyone I ever meet: do you like brunch, and what is your favorite brunch food?

Yes, love it. Eggs Benedict.

Same! Yay!

Eggs Benedict or a derivative of Eggs Benedict.

I usually go for the salmon option.

Yeah, that’s a little healthier than the pork.

Let me close by asking about spoilers for Season 2. Are you allowed to tell us any insider secrets?

Get ready for dance sequences, get ready for musical numbers, get ready for digging dirt, get ready for crazy sexual tension between a lot of characters. Get ready for transformation and transcendence . . . and that’s what I will tell you.

photo by Sabrina Bringuier

Profile photo of Vanessa

Vanessa is a queer feminist writer, NYU grad, crush monster, and Jewish Grandma In Training. She has a radical brain, a mushy heart, and a million floral print dresses. She's currently on a big adventure but she'll be back one day, pinky swear. In the meantime, she can sometimes be found on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 198 articles for us.

19 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

    Please log in to vote

    I literally cannot tell you anything about UNICORN PLAN-IT beyond this just-read interview, and even with that, I’m very excited to start watching. What’s the best way to catch up on season 1?

    Also, the “Love is All You Need?” film sounds fascinating. I hope, with it, people will realize how easily and casually gay people are bullied in school.

  2. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I love this show! I’m pretty excited about season 2, and sincerely hoping for more episodes than the last round. Either way, I’m there! This interview was great. I’ve heard mention of “Love is All You Need?” and I am really looking forward to the feature because it sounds like the type of film that can spark a necessary and serious dialogue on the topic.

    Also, can we talk about how awesome Rocco’s hair is?!?

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.