Published on December 2nd, 2019 | by Marilyn Reles0
The Women Behind One Of The First Shoppable Digital Series – Adulting With Jane
Adulting with Jane is a new short shoppable DIY Comedy series– think sitcom meets how-to video with a different expert appearing in each episode to teach Jane how to adult. In addition to being a palatable way to learn new skills, Adulting with Jane is one of the first narrative series’ ever to feature shoppable video technology. When you see and like a featured product in the show, you can click on it, buy it on the spot, and easily return to the episode!
I had the pleasure of sitting down with the shows Executive Producer Jenny Paul as well as its Director Samantha Saltzman to discuss the creative process, their extensive experience in the film and theater world, as well as their opinion on today’s industry landscape.
Watch the first episode of Adulting With Jane here.
Each episode of your show teaches your audience how to ‘adult’ in some way. Are these skills or tasks that you struggled with when graduating to your 20’s as well? How did you come up with the ideas per episode?
Jenny: Oh yes– And even into my 30’s. I actually didn’t learn to change a tire until we were literally on set for Adulting with Jane filming the “Changing a Tire” episode! On the flip side, I’m well versed in home organization techniques and extremely well versed in theater etiquette. (The topics of our first three episodes). I think everyone is going to know some skills well and know others not at all, but that’s the beauty of a show like this. Everyone is bound to learn something, and even if you already know how to do something, you’ll have a good time watching. As for the ideas, I came up with some myself, the writers came up with some, the team came up with some, and even a corporate partner came up with one! Email us at [email protected] if you have a great idea—we might just produce it.
Samantha: Oh goodness. Lol. I think I still struggle with plenty of adulting. I think the biggest hurdle in learning to pick up a skill you don’t have is sometimes getting over the “I should know this!” feeling. It creates a shame spiral that can be hard to break out of. Part of the impulse with the episodes we’re doing was to take the blame away and show that these are skills that plenty of people struggle with. As for specific skills? The organizational episode is definitely one I needed personally. And the other day when trying to tackle my own mess of a room, I thought to myself “Clean. Categorize. Contain.” So thanks AWJ!
We’d love to know more about your background in acting, directing and producing. What are some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on and how do those experiences apply to what you’re doing now with ‘Adulting With Jane’?
Jenny: I’ve directed a few film and new media projects here and there, but by and large, I act and produce. I have been a working actor in New York City since I graduated from Brandeis in ’07, and I started producing film and tv about seven years ago when I came to the realization that it was possible to be a successful actor and producer at the same time. Since then, I’ve been doing both pretty regularly. Some of the highlights of my career have been a recurring role as an actor on Hulu’s The Looming Tower and as Executive Producer/ “Janie” in webseries That Reminds Me…each and every person that I met that worked on The Looming Tower was a consummate professional. I learned, almost entirely by osmosis, what it means to collaborate with a fantastic team that always brings their ‘A’ game to bring a story to life. That Reminds Me… was the ultimate test in learning to be assertive and resourceful. It taught me how to ask for what I need and to find a way to ‘make it work’ when necessary. It was, and still is, to this day, one of my very proudest achievements. The seven episode series took a small village to produce, but was a great indie success!
Samantha: I actually come from more of a theatrical directing background as opposed to a film one. I’ve worked on a bunch of Off-Broadway and Broadway shows. I think because of that I tend to come from the acting and character driven place first and then I build out from there. What is the point of the episode? What does Jane need to learn? What does the episode feel like? And then I try to translate those answers and feelings to the rest of the team.
How has your experience been connecting with influencers? Do you find the influencers yourself?
Jenny: Actually, one of our producers, Mindee Aviva, was our influencer coordinator, so she (brilliantly) handled most of it! My personal experience has been that they have been wonderfully open and willing to work on something that they believe in. And our director, Sami Saltzman is fantastic at getting them comfortable performing on camera, whether they’ve had any formal acting experience or not!
Samantha: The influencers have been awesome. I haven’t found the influencers that we’ve shot with so far, but there are a few coming down the pipeline that I brought on board. Once an influencer is a part of the team, we have them meet with the writer of an episode to make sure their voice and message are a part of the episode, and in addition I have a conversation with them to talk about their acting and film experience levels. It’s really important to us that they feel like we’re representing them and what they do accurately, and for AWJ we always try to distill what they do into a small digestible nugget for our audience to take away in a 3 minute episode.
Can you describe both a negative and positive experience you’ve had as a woman in entertainment? Is there any advice you’d give other women who are looking to get into the biz?
Jenny: Interestingly enough, the handful of negative experiences I’ve had in the business have been because of other women. But also the most positive ones! At Intent Entertainment, we have an understood “best person for the job gets the job” policy, and therefore have representation from all walks of life on our team. My advice to other women is be good to each other. Life is hard enough as it is without making life harder for one another. But honestly, that would be my advice to anyone. Also, if you’re an apologizer, try replacing “I’m sorry” with “thank you” when applicable. That’s probably what you meant in the first place — “thank you for your patience with the situation” rather than “I’m sorry to have inconvenienced you”. People naturally respond much more positively to a shared moment of understanding and appreciation than to an expression of a guilty feeling that they really can’t do anything to help with. I’ve been there. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but this tiny shift in verbiage when applicable has changed my life.
Samantha: This is such a hard question to answer, because who knows what jobs or opportunities I didn’t get not because of what I’m capable of but who I am? I try not to think that way. I go into the room and interview as best I can, and always give my all. That’s all anyone can do really. And you either do like me and what I do, or you don’t. Not much I can do beyond that. I’ve been fortunate to work with incredible artists of all genders.
When was the first time you discovered shoppable video technology? And what made you want to incorporate it into your show? Are you an online shopper yourself?
Jenny: Our Associate Producer, Mark Montague brought the idea up to me over lunch when I mentioned the concept of Adulting with Jane. I thought it was absolutely brilliant tie-in— a perfect way to complete the teaching element of the show. Learn the thing, get the right tools right then and there, do the thing. Am I an online shopper? Of course! What millennial isn’t? I’m pretty thorough about my quality standards and do a lot of research before I buy, but I do buy. All the time.
Samantha: That definitely came from the other producers on AWJ. I had very little to do with the shoppable tech other than making sure the products we are linking to have a good shot at being seen in the video. But I do shop online all the time!
What is one thing in modern media that you would change? Obviously the landscape is ever changing but, if you had your choice of one thing that you find would do better with your idea, what would that be?
Jenny: Millennials as a whole are a reasonably smart audience. We grew up having hundreds if not thousands of choices in television and internet media content, so we have a very finely tuned sense of what we do and don’t like. Most of us could successfully curate our own channels. That being said, if brands and advertisers want us to open our wallets, in addition to creating high quality, reliable, and convenient products and services, they need to work a little harder/more intelligently to create and place ads and media that we’re going to appreciate as an audience rather than roll our eyes at. Easier said than done, I know, but that’s how people are going to get us to part with the dollars that we can spare after Sally Mae.
Samantha: I wish it was easier and cheaper to produce quality content. I think there are tons of wonderful artists out there who are having trouble being produced and making money with their art.
Where do you envision Adulting With Jane being in 5 years? Even 10? We’d love to know more about your long term vision for this project.
Jenny: We would love to see Adulting with Jane be the first of many shoppable shows that Intent Entertainment incubates. We want to help artists, creators, and media makers get their work out there the same way we are already helping small, quality, businesses get their products out there. We want to be a go to platform for high quality artistic work and products!
Samantha: I think I’d like to see us engage with our audience in a meaningful way. I’d love to have them suggest episodes, or influencers, or let us know what else they want to know. I think we’re going to start rolling out some new content and ways to get involved with the show soon actually, so stay tuned…
Do you have a stand-out story that happened on-set that really confirmed your choice to be a producer or director? Something that inspired you?
Jenny: I am thrilled to be collaborating on this project with pretty much my dream team—lead producers Elvin Roytman, Jonathan Paul (my brother), and Samantha Saltzman and a killer team of associate producers as well as creatives and technicians that I have worked with over the years on many different projects. Each and every time I’m in a meeting or on set with these brilliant people reaffirms that I’m where I’m supposed to be. People are the reason I get up in the morning. These people are one of the main reasons I’m excited to get up in the morning.
Samantha: I have those moments all the time. I love directing. My favorite moments are the ones where I get to really connect with an actor and find a line that I can provide clarity on, or make funnier, or find a better connection to. I live for those moments.
If you were to pursue a career outside of entertainment, what would you do and why?
Jenny: I would teach high school. I love teaching and I particularly love that age group (I’ve been a high school level tutor for almost as long as I’ve been an actor). I would probably teach theater or English (even though my favorite subjects in school were science and history).
Samantha: Lol. Another question I try not to think about. I really don’t know. If I did, I might have done it…maybe I’d go back into marketing or event planning and management? I work on a lot of events now, but I guess that’s still kind of entertainment…
Your project is geared toward millenials and gen z’ers. What piece of advice do you find would help people of this generation most when coping with ‘adulting’ or fitting into this crazy world we live in?
Jenny: If you don’t want to learn to do something, own up to the fact that you don’t want to. ‘I can’t’ is rarely the truth and people know that. However, if you do want to (or have to) learn to do something, don’t be afraid to make the time and try. You’ll probably screw it up the first time or two, but then you’ll get it. The only way to learn to do anything successfully is to legitimately try. And as far as fitting in, do you. Within reason. And put as much good out there as you can. If you don’t do it, who will?
Samantha: It’s ok to not know something. It’s normal to not know how to adult. EVERYONE struggles. Everyone thinks they should know more than they do. Some of us just fake it better than others. Never be afraid to ask for help. Your strength is someone else’s weakness, and vice versa.
More About Jenny Paul:
Ms. Paul is best known for her role in Hulu’s 9-11 Drama The Looming Tower, her cameo in Netflix/Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and as the lead actress and producing force behind the internationally acclaimed web series, That Reminds Me…
More About Samantha Saltzman:
Adulting with Jane is directed by Samantha Saltzman, whose has worked on multiple Broadway productions and tours as an Associate and Resident Director, including The Color Purple, Matilda the Musical, The King & I, and Sarah Brightman’s Dreamchaser World Tour. She has also directed the Bryant ParkChristmas Tree Lighting Spectacular, the Drama League Gala honoring Steve Martin, and award winning films Idle Worship and Parent Teacher Conference; she has directed hundreds of fantastic performers from Jane Krakowski to Kevin Kline to Kermit the Frog in her many years as a theatrical and tv/film director in NYC.Tweet