A few weeks ago, I got an email from Alexia, an American living in Rome with her Sicilian husband, two children, and dog Amleto (Hamlet). Alexia directed me to their website, 2 Kids and a Dog, which features family videos.
But wait! Not *those* kind of family videos! These are hilarious and real, but tightly edited so that you’re getting all the good stuff. No, great stuff.
Bottom line: I fell in love with this family immediately.
The videos are absolutely entertaining, but two other important things come across as well: passion and love. This family has a shared passion for the theatrical and man do they *go* for it. I love that!
And speaking of love, the love they share as a family simply saturates the entire experience, so you can’t help but come away with warm fuzzies.
I told you I fell in love.
So today I’m featuring Alexia and her family here on Bleeding Espresso to let the rest of you in on what is sure to become one of the most popular corners of the Interwebs very shortly.
I asked Alexia some questions so you can get to know the family better; after reading, do head over and check out 2 Kids and a Dog; there are introductory videos of family members as well as current and past episodes. *All* worth a look, I promise.
1. First, can you please introduce your family and tell us a bit more about yourselves?
We are a family of five if you count our dog, Hamlet, or Amleto as they call him in Italy. I’m American born, to a Dad from Memphis and Mom from Rome, Italy. My husband, Nick, is Italian, but he likes to underline that he is actually Sicilian (which according to him is different).
Nick and I are both actors (Nick is also a musician and I am also a writer), and we met in Rome at an acting workshop what seems like decades ago. We were friends for quite a few years, and cried on each other’s shoulders about our respective romantic failures, before Nick convinced me he was my one and only.
This year marks the fourth edition of our wacky family calendar. In fact, it all started four years ago when Nick and I decided to create a Christmas gift for our close friends and family. We came up with the idea of dressing up as a different family for each photo, and taking self portraits (I mean, we are actors after all).
People found the calendar so funny and intriguing that friends of friends began asking us for copies. The calendar sparked everyone’s imagination, people often asked us things like “How do you get the dog to stay still?” or “How do you get the kids to wear their wigs?” The project snowballed over the years and we’ve had to print more and more copies each year.
This year, to satisfy our fans’ curiosity, we’ve decided to add a new dimension to our calendar. Using video to document our photo sessions, we’ve created a “back stage” of how we make our calendar. Each month has about 12 short videos (about two minutes each) that tell the story of what happened when we shot that particular photo. We air the “webisodes” on our website throughout the month…that comes out to 3 webisodes a week, about 150 a year. (Yikes!)
3. How did you end up in Italy?
I was living in New York, working in a repertory theatre…and I was contemplating making “the move” to the west coast. I went to LA for a recon mission and was hit hard by the fact that every one and their brother, sister, mother and friend was an actor. My move to LA was scheduled to take place in September. That summer I came to Rome (as I often did to visit my mother’s family) and I met an agent by chance. She convinced me to come to Rome…and the rest is history.
As it is a work in progress, we’ve only edited three month’s worth of material, but so far, my favourite videos are January ep 10 “Anger Management“, February ep 4 “There is Something in my Stomach” and “We do it ‘Cause it’s Fun” (our first trailer). I think Anger Management is really funny. Seeing a really cranky, grumpy clown just cracks me up…especially since that clown happens to be my husband.
I particularly love “There is Something in my Stomach” because it shows Nick at his worst…he comes across as a REALLY disgusting pig. I mean, he is a pig (he’s a man) but he’s not sooo bad. The editing has exaggerated his bad habits and made them more extreme. I think most women can identify with me in this video.
I also really enjoy watching our first trailer, “We do it ‘Cause it’s Fun” because it takes all the most dramatic incidents of our calendar making experience and condenses them into 2 minutes. The most painful, the most uncomfortable, the most difficult moments are edited back to back and in hindsight they crack me up (the alternative is to have a good cry). I also find it very entertaining to watch the family in such varied costumes and situations, and have all those different moments concentrated together.
I’ll bet that most people watching the trailer think that we’re a very weird family. However weird, we’ve had a few grown people asking us to adopt them. So I guess we’re weird but fun.
[Ed: I concur with these three, and note this interview was conducted before March episodes were up. From this month so far, I particularly enjoy “Nick’s Late Night.”]
5. How do you come up with ideas/themes for videos? Or put another way, what is your creative process?
We usually start off with a couple of ideas, like “Hey, let’s do a photo as a clown family, and also a rapper family.” Then we look around the house for costumes, if we don’t have what we need we call our friends.
For instance, for the “hospital” photo (April) we put out a message on FB searching for any casts, braces, or crutches. Some of our friends freaked out and phoned us immediately wanting to know what had happened. They wanted to know if we were OK and if we needed any help. When we explained it was for our calendar, the were relieved.
But anyway, we were able to get all our “hospital” props that, unfortunately we scared our friends along the way. If we really have trouble finding costumes/props, we go to used clothes stores and scrounge around in the “sale” bins. Once we take a few photos, the creative juices start flowing and we start coming up with other ideas…one photo leads to another.
On the particular day of shooting Nick and I go about our business of dressing the kids in their costumes, putting on make-up, building the set, and whatever happens, we go with it. Then, after the shoot (usually a couple of weeks later so that I can be a bit detached from the material) I look at the footage and “write” the story to each video, based on what happened that day. Then we edit it up and we got ourselves a webisode!
6. Anything else you’d like to add or want readers to know?
This is a real grass roots experiment for us, it’s all home-made and self-produced. Initially, I thought the Herculean task was the photo sessions and the video creation, but now I’m beginning to realize that we’ve entered an intricate world that I have no real knowledge about…Internet! I’m an average Internet user, not a die-hard web-savvy gal. So, I’m learning the lingo, and trying to feel my way around. Hopefully we won’t get lost along the way!
Well from where I’m sitting, everything looks great, Alexia! Thanks so much for getting in touch and answering some questions.
To the rest of you, I do hope you’ll head over to 2 Kids and a Dog, watch some videos, and get to know the family. Other ways to keep up with the family:
Enjoy, and be sure to tell Alexia and the gang that I sent you!