March 17, 2014

SCA Family Stories: Danny Abrahms

The showrunner of Self-Help sits down with SCA

Self-Help is a new comedy web series where Trojan Danny Abrahms plays both patient and therapist in psychiatric self-diagnosis. The series started as a sketch Abrahms filmed for fun with a friend from USC but slowly turned into something that got the attention of the New York Television Festival. From there, the project was developed for the web by My Damn Channel and will debut on March 18th.

Abrahms recently sat down with SCA Family Stories to talk about his transition from being an actor to being a content creator, the importance of having several skillsets and how sometimes Facebook can be your best guide to which projects to pursue.

To watch Self-Help, which debuts the 18th, please visit : mydamnchannel.com/selfhelp

Let’s start with your name and graduation year: My name is Danny Abrams and I graduated in 2011.

Tell me about the show. It’s called Self-Help. It’s about inner dialogue brought to life. I play the patient and the therapist of my mind as I make the transition to independence and adulthood.

This came through the New York Television Festival? Did you conceive it as a project for that? No, it wasn’t even a series when I started. I was near the end of 2012, I was just shooting random sketches with improv friends. The first episode of Self-Help was really just a sketch but, when I put it on Facebook, it got a lot of attention.

A couple of the people that saw it approached me and told me to turn it into a series and do more episodes. I took their advice and made more in 2013. I heard about the NYTVF and I thought it would be a good platform for the series if I submitted it so I did that and got accepted. That’s where I went in October of 2013 and where I met theMy Damn Channel guys.

What were some of the challenges that you faced going from a sketch to a series?Self-Help makes sense as a series. It’s a natural idea that generates funny sketches. From a production standpoint, I’m the whole cast. I wrote it. I directed it. I edited it. It’s very self contained.

All I really needed was someone to handle the camera, lighting and sound and I was able to find one person that could cover all of the technical aspects. I took it from there.

It seems like a heavier workload for you. As the producer I like having creative control from start to finish. I like the writing aspects. I like the acting aspects. I like the editing aspects.

Editing is probably the most far off skillset from me as a performer but I find editing can be an extremely creative process. That’s where a lot of the final look of the series and the comedy comes from. I liked being involved in that process.

It is a lot of work. I hope, in the future, to do more collaborating. Because of the nature of Self-Help, it’s pretty much a one man show.

How is working with My Damn Channel? I really like it. We’ve been working together for a couple of months getting ready for the launch. They’ve been really supportive and collaborative. I’m a pretty new content creator so I feel like it’s a privilege to have their trust. I’m trying to learn.

You know, as a content creator, I like being able to just focus on the content and then use My Damn Channel as a platform to launch the series. They do the marketing. They do the distribution.

It’s been my job to just be creative, which I love.

Do you have any plans of expanding the scope of Self-Help or are you happy doing all the roles? Right now, the foundation of the series is my character’s relationship with himself. I know that sounds weird.

I’ve shot seven episodes so far and I feel like there’s plenty to explore. I feel like, once that’s covered, I can see the series opening up. Maybe that would be a season or two down the line.

Where can people find the show and what can they do to support a fellow Trojan? They can find it at mydamnchannel.com/selfhelp. If they want to support, they can watch the show and reach out on social media. I’m at twitter.com/dannyabrahms and facebook.com/dannyabrahms. Share episodes with your friends if you like them.

Danny Abrahms '11

Is there a lesson that you learnded at USC that you find yourself going to over and over over in your professional career? Well, I’ll tell you what USC did for me. Maybe it has some wisdom. It’s not a singular lesson but when I started at USC, I was an actor in Dramatic Arts.

I ended up switching to Cinematic Arts and, when I did that, it really opened me up to all aspects of development and production. Filmmaking. Outside of my one skillset, which was acting, I learned about writing, producing, developing, editing and distributing. The industry.

I became more rounded as an artist and a professional. Having this experience was great. I recommend that, no matter what you skillset you think you have, try to get a well rounded understanding of all elements of filmmaking.

Also, it’s important to think as an artist and a businessperson. You can make your own way if you have both.

You can start making content independant from classes whenever you want. Lots of people have equipment. Get friends together. Shoot stuff. The earlier the better. The more practice you have, the better.