Who’s that girl? It’s Ari Berkowitz, the aspiring television writer who takes celebrity stalking to a whole new level –one that’s more creative than crazy. The creator and star of Me & Zooey D., the LA transplant plays Alex, a young woman who is determined to befriend adorkable New Girl star Zooey Deschanel. The Kickstarter-funded project just released its first six-episode first season, which can be viewed here.
Alex’s mishaps around town –which are then compounded into two-four minute episodes—include a comical stake-out of Sprinkles Cupcakes. To top it off, Me & Zooey D. fans have quirky-chic outfits to look forward to, along with a guest appearance from Satya Bhabha a.k.a. New Girl season 2’s Shivrang.
We chatted with Berkowitz about her artistic process and what she’d do if she actually, you know, met Ms. Deschanel.
Betty Confidential: Why Zooey?
Ari Berkowitz: I got my glasses before Zooey did, but my bangs after her. I was really into that look for a while, but eventually I got annoyed by everyone asking me if I was trying to be Zooey Deschanel. I decided I either needed to get super psyched about my bangs, or just get rid of them.
Writing a character who LOVED Zooey was the best way to get psyched. Most of my stories come out of internal struggles. This one just happened to be a hair struggle.
BC: What do you do when you’re not on a mission to become Zooey’s BFF?
AB: I’m an assistant to the creators of ABC’s new show, Trophy Wife. I want to be a TV writer someday, and this is an awesome show to learn from. Trophy Wife‘s stories are not only really engaging, but they’re also hilarious. Other than that, I do a lot of improv, and I also really like to sneak around places. I recently realized that sneaking is my favorite thing, so I’m investing more time in it. I’m guessing my next project will be about a P.I.
BC: Where do you get the adorable clothes your character wears in the series?
AB: We partnered with a couple awesome brands. Hello Holiday, a super cute clothing/accessories store based in Omaha (but with a great site), helped us out. We also got some great shoes from Loly in the Sky –which I still wear obsessively. They get more compliments than anything else in my closet.
Scratch Nails donated a ton of nail wraps which were AMAZING for production –they looked awesome and took about five minutes to get off and on (which was big because we filmed it all in two weekends).
Other than that we got a few dresses from Mink Pink, Fred Flare, and Mod Cloth. I still wear most of them –so I definitely haven’t ditched that Zooey Deschanel image yet.
BC: How long did it take you to develop the idea, raise money, shoot, etc? What was the process like?
AB: I developed the concept pretty quickly, but it took me about 2 months to write all the scripts. That was probably the calmest time in the whole production. Our director, Hunter Wolk, started getting really involved about a month before we started shooting. We held auditions, raised all our money, got our crew, and had a table read with the actors (where we read the scripts and took notes for edits), all in about 3 weeks. This was insane! And probably ill-advised. I remember driving on the highway to pick up lighting equipment while cradling a script in my lap, trying to learn lines. Thank goodness there’s usually traffic in LA!
We shot it all over two weekends in April. This would’ve been impossible if not for our awesome first AD, Devin Law. And then the next four months we were in post-production! It took a loooong time to edit. Hunter and I ended up doing a lot of the editing before we found a great editor, Charley Rivkin, and it’s possible to never feel done with it. At some point we just decided we had to put it out there!
BC: What do you think you’d do if you met Zooey?
AB: I’d probably get arrested! If she wanted to meet me I’d be VERY EXCITED! But if I bumped into her on the street, I think she might actually think I’m stalking her. And I’m not a stalker, I just play one online.
Diana Denza is BettyConfidential’s contributing editor.