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Episode 18: Behind the Scenes with Executive Producer Matt Groesch

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by Katherine Beck in The All American Biz
02/03/2021

Episode 18: Behind the Scenes with Executive Producer Matt Groesch

In this week’s episode I’m talking with Executive Producer, Matt Groesch.

He’ll be taking us behind the scenes of his new TV series on Peacock TV, One Of Us Is Lying.

 


Learn all about how the casting process works and what it’s like to be on set of a new show.

By the time you finish listening, you’ll find out:

    • How Matt Groesch casted his new show, One of Us Is Lying
    • Why one Actor may book the role over another Actor
    • A behind the scenes perspective of creating a new TV series

If this episode inspires you then I’d love to hear from you! Take a screenshot of you listening on your device, post it to your Instagram stories and tag me @katherine_beck_ !

Then follow me on Instagram to go ‘behind the scenes’ with me and my own journey as an American accent coach and Voiceover Actor.


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When you leave us a 5 Star Review you may even get featured as our start listener of the week and get a special shout out on the show.

All you need to do is click here to review. Choose ‘Ratings and Reviews’ and then ‘Write a Review’. Let me know what you loved about this episode! Your reviews help other listeners find this show and it’s always great to hear from you.

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

You’re listening to the All American actors podcast, Episode 18. In today’s episode, we’re talking with executive producer Matt Groesch . That’s coming up next. Ready to go behind the scenes and learn what it really takes to build a sustainable career as a working actor in the US film and TV industry? Join me Katherine Beck, your all American Accent coach, as I give you the insight and inspiration to take action on your career, learn my best tips and tricks to performing with an American Accent and hear from working actors and other industry professionals. To give you a comprehensive overview of this biz we call show. This is the all American Actors Podcast. We’re gonna jump into today’s episode in just a minute. But first, I want to share this five star review I got from Phoebe Rose who says: “For someone who always feels disheartened and self conscious about the American Accent, this podcast is really motivating. To hear William Mosley go through the same mental demons I have about the accent and how he rose to the challenge overcoming the accent has inspired me to keep going. For those who feel like they will never achieve the accent, listen to this podcast for motivation.” This review really warms my heart. Thank you, Phoebe, one of the reasons I started this podcast was to inspire actors to keep it up. Because I know the industry is hard and it gets set us at some times, right. And if you love acting, and this is what your heart calls for you to do, then you’ve got to just keep on going. And Episode Two with William Mosley really is a great resource of inspiration as he talks about his process and how he overcame some issues that he had about the accent, and really took his career to the next level. Make sure you check that out. If you haven’t yet. It’s Episode Two. It’s a good one. And if you want to be featured as our star listener of the week, just go ahead and leave us a five star review for this podcast a nd I’ll give you a shout out right here on the show. So if you like this episode, go ahead and leave us a review. All right, today I have a very special interview that I have been so looking forward to sharing with you. It’s with executive producer, Matt Groesh. He originally worked over at Lionsgate in film production and development over there and since then he is opened up his own production company and is about to go into production for his new show “One of us is lying”. I am beyond excited for this interview. So let’s just jump right in. Alright, welcome back, everyone. I have a very special guest with me here today on the podcast, we are going to be speaking with Matt Groesch, who is a producer in Hollywood and is going to be talking to us about his new show coming up. Welcome, Matt.

Hi, thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

I’m so excited for you to be here. And it’s so funny that it is such a small world because as soon as you popped up on my screen, I was instantly drawn to your baseball cap, because you are also a fan of my very favorite baseball team.

Yes, I know, I know. It throws people off since it’s black and white. So it’s not immediately a Chicago Cubs hat. But yes, all of my hats are cubs hats. So yeah, no, I know. It’s so crazy. I can’t believe that you are from just right, the next town over so close by.

The next town over and even though I’m halfway around the world from you right now we were at one stage neighbors, which is really good.

Oh my gosh!

So tell me how did you become a producer?

Yeah, so it has been a little bit of a long journey where I had originally thought I was going to be in representation. When I first came out to LA I worked as an intern originally at a management company every summer in college. And then after that, I was convinced I was going to go work at CAA and just go become an agent. And it ended up just working out I think in the best way where I ended up not getting the job at the agency and then was interviewing for a bunch of jobs and ended up getting in interview with Lionsgate never thinking I would get the job because I had no experience outside of basically being an intern and ended up actually getting the job for one of the executives there on the film side over film production and development and just sort of worked my way through the studio there where worked as an assistant who I am now actually a producing partner with at the new company and it just sort of evolved from there. Lionsgate is great home to where it was small enough to learn everything, it wasn’t so big, that you were sort of siloed from different sides of the business where it was this still small and nimble studio that you know, you were involved in everything from the weekend read meetings, all the way through marketing and everything in between. So it was just a great place to learn every facet of the business and just a great introduction to people around town that then gave leeway to let me become a producer from there, where basically I left with the guy who was my boss, and we decided to start a company together. I was going to be leaving to go find a job as a junior executive somewhere else and he basically was saying he was going to be leaving as well and we decided to start the company together from there. I thought, you know, I don’t have a family, I was still young. So I was like, let’s, if I’m going to take this jump and bet on myself, it felt like the best time and the world was changing so much when we first left, which was four years ago now, that it was just like the writing on the wall was kind of “what is my job going to be if I stay at a studio”? And if I’m not at Disney or Marvel or somewhere, what is the film executives job going to be five years from then. I think just because of the emergence of streamers, it has made the film business more interesting for smaller companies and for producers, because it’s given this big resurgence to independent films basically now that was always kind of there, you know, you would go take a movie to Sundance and your buyers are basically , Lionsgate Weinstein, Sony classics, you had a lot focused a lot of the usual places. But I think now it’s just given leeway to a lot more small films and independent financing. And I sort of saw that a lot of the films that were being produced at Lionsgate, because it was a big distribution studio as well were going and getting all of their creatives, all the elements, everything was sort of happening outside of the studio system now, and was then packaged and then brought into studios at the last second just for distribution. So like when I was there, that was how John Wick originally happened. They were selling for and on the movie. So they saw the movie early, Sicario, Hell or High Water was another distribution project. A lot of these great movies were getting done independently because they didn’t have to go through a studio system where you have like 10 different department heads, signing off on your greenlight form to get a movie made. So it definitely helped, I feel like, ease the process for these great creative voices to come through. And it’s yielded a lot of great films over the last few years, especially with Netflix movies, a lot of the best Netflix movies have come out of Sundance, same with Amazon movies. A lot of them had been acquisitions that most people don’t realize were done independently and then bought, most likely at a festival or outside of a festival, elsewhere. That really pushed us forward into wanting to leave the studio and then also just looking at TV as well, like the TV landscape was getting so robust at the time, when I started at Lionsgate, it was basically just like house of cards on Netflix and Lionsgate was doing Orange is The New Black there. So you sort of saw this big push of like high-end talent going to these streamers. It sort of felt like TV was getting so robust that if you did not get there soon enough that you would then be sort of on the outside looking in. So, yeah, it was just sort of something where we decided to just sort of bet on ourselves. We had a project that was going to be going into production right as we left that was supposed to be our exit deal kind of project and from there it was, you know, we had production offices in Vancouver or casting was going on, we were getting ready to go and then Lionsgate decided to pull the plug on the movie, just out of shooting. So from there it kind of then became figuring out what the next step is for us. So it was very much learning on your feet from there. So I know that was probably a very long winded answer to what was a much faster question. So I promise I’ll do better on future questions.

No, but that’s so fascinating because I think for a lot of my listeners who are actors, we don’t know about the behind the scenes sort of stuff that happens and the progression of the industry. Like you said, in the past four years, so much has changed and so much is still continuing to change. I’d be curious to know, in terms of what’s happened in the last year, obviously, things are different. Where do you foresee the shift now happening with television, for example,

I think television is getting a lot stronger going forward, there is such a demand for content for these streamers, the need, you know, as great as movies are, and I love movies, I started in movies, it’ll always have a special place in my heart, but the thing is, an event ties movie only lasts so long and a serialized show just can keep going and going. I think you see that the success of shows like Stranger Things, or The Crown, like these these big event ties shows that streamers are doing continues to, you know, keep people on the streamers year after year, in a way that you know, a film franchise can do, but there’s usually a finite amount of films that can be done. I mean, beyond a trilogy, there’s so only so many franchises that are like a Fast and The Furious, that can give you eight, nine or ten films. So in terms of you know, content to watch, TV feels like a big, big push for for streamers and just with everyone focusing on streamers now I think it’s gonna only make TV stronger and better, because there’s better talent coming there, there’s better writing going to television than there was before and actors are going there and talent in general. Is just realizing that they can go do these event ties television shows that are limited series that, you know, that’s a break in between they’re in their hiatus between these films, so it’s definitely getting a lot stronger, I think.

And so with the talent, do you find that it’s easier for you now to cast a show and get some of these bigger names that perhaps you may have not been able to get years ago, on a show?

That’s a tough one, I almost feel like it could be harder to get talent on some of these shows, just because now there are so many high-end writers going into television and there’s just so many people to sort of work with for them that it’s it’s tough to get their attention for for a show, just because, you know, to get a limited series together is so difficult, like they will happen, they get made clearly, and they usually have great talent attached, but to get those shows made, you need to get that marquee talent because most networks don’t want to invest that much money into a limited series unless it’s with these undeniable actors to really, you know, put that money in because if they have a successful show, they want to be stringing it out year after year after year. They don’t want something that will end after one season, unless it is something that they absolutely have to have and it is like undeniable to them.

So when you say marquee talent, what does that mean? Exactly?

I mean, every network will give different things and I’m sure they would all disagree depending on who the streamer is, but I think it just is sort of like, you see Reese Witherspoon have a number of shows, you see Nicole Kidman… it’s though it’s a lot of those names that are big film names as well to go take on in television. But I think they’re also some great names in television, too, like you see that with Perry Mason with with Matthew Reese and I think there are some great names that have been in television for a number of years that also can fit that bill, but it’s just about getting those very recognizable above the line names. But I think that’s also very limited for you know, for those kinds of shows. And it also depends on how it’s getting made and who it’s going to. So a lot of Independent television is starting to get made as well, so that’s giving range to new talent and new voices and television that you might not have gotten before. So there are great shows that if you can find this independent financing to piece television together, which is also a place where I think television is going to go in the future with how global it’s getting that you can get these great voices, and great actors who no one really knows, and you can have these great shows come through. I think that’s the exciting part. I look at our show there is, I mean, they, they might get mad at me for saying this, but until this year, none of our cast was really recognizable.

Yeah, so that’s what I was wondering. So you’ve got a new show that you’re gonna start shooting very soon, if you want to tell our listeners about that, but in looking at the cast, like you said, great talent there, but maybe not the most recognizable names. So it’s really fascinating to talk about the marquee talent and then a show like this and how it’s evolved and the casting where I’m sure that they’re going to be big names, but right now, you know, they’re not necessarily at that same level as a Reese Witherspoon or a Nicole Kidman. And that’s totally fine.

No, and I have to give credit to our network in studio universal and peacock for trusting that because not everywhere will let you to that, there’s always a lot of demand to get the stunt casting in there and there was a lot of pitching from from agencies and people to put these bigger name, not like the Nicole’s and Reese’s, but like some more notable younger actors in there. And I think for us, we had to make the decision early on to whether we were going to figure out whether there’s going to be like one lead of the show, and that person is going to be more marquee name, or if we really cast a lot of people who aren’t as known right now, and get a lot of younger actors who haven’t had their shot yet to lead a show and, you know, let them go carry an ensemble series together. And I think that ended up actually being the best choice and I really credit the studio network for backing that because I know that is a scary place to be when you’re investing a lot of money in a new series, but yeah, the cast who we found was fantastic, and it was it was interesting. To your point of doing this podcast, our cast is from all over the world. It’s interesting, there are very few Americans in the show and in a lot of the lead roles, there are, I’m trying to think there might be two that I can think of off the top of my head right now, or maybe three in the series regulars that are American. There’s people from Ireland, the Dominican Republic, a lot of Australians, Canada, so it’s definitely like a very global way to pull talent and there’s a lot of great talent everywhere in the world. So it’s a great opportunity, I think to be working with some talented young actors.

That is really cool. And it does, it shows that, you know, a show isn’t just local, it’s International. And it’s incredible to see that in terms of the casting with actors, that it is international, that there’s actors all over the world working on these shows, which is really exciting. And the fact that you’re going to be shooting in New Zealand, is that right? So I’m sure you’ll be hiring local talent there as well, for the show, too.

Yes, yes. So we shot the pilot in Vancouver, but just through a number of decisions and the way the world has sort of evolved in the last year, we decided to move the show to New Zealand. I’m so excited to go there. I’m very excited to work with the talent that is there as well. It’s always been somewhere where I’ve wanted to go and shoot and work. So I can’t wait to work with the crews and actors down there.

Yeah, you’ll love it. I mean, the caliber of talent, both in New Zealand and Australia is amazing, such dedicated actors and people in the crew as well, so you’re going to have a great time. So in terms of the casting process, how did that go? Because I think a lot of actors are really curious about that, like when you get down to, let’s say, the final two or three for a role, especially like when you’re talking about the pressure of you know, thinking about having a big name and then deciding to go with, you know, a new talent, let’s say, that’s not as recognizable, what goes into that final decision between the last couple of actors? I think actors are always wondering like when they get to that point, why they didn’t book the role. Why that other person got it.

Oh, oh, that is tough. I would say it’s not a unilateral decision, there are a lot of great partners and there are other EPs on the show with me as well and it was a very collective choice. So it’s not like one person really hating someone, but it comes down a lot I would say to… I mean, unfortunately, there are a lot of arbitrary things that go through people’s mind when you’re casting where it’s just very much like, something I do not envy actors forward, just like half the time there is a feeling of they did not see that person in their mind as the role. At times, though there are also people who who surprise you where it is not at all what you thought for the role, but you absolutely love it, what they did, and the choices that they made, where it gives you pause, and it makes you actually rethink the role entirely, which happened with one of our actresses who audition. She’s self taped from Canada, when we were still casting in LA and it was I remember is the first because Canada went first, because it was not one of the main four within the show, it’s still a series regular. But yeah, she was the first audition that we had seen and we ended up looking through quite a few others, but she was just so interesting and she took the character in a way that we had never expected taking her and we absolutely loved it and it ended up changing the script. Our writer went back and redid a few things to like, have her fit the role, because we just loved what she did with it so much. Yeah, a great actor can definitely inspire a lot of creativity. So it’s definitely like that double edged sword of like, at times, you know, you just feel like that person might not be right, or at times when you get down to it for one of the people who we had set who we absolutely knew who was going to be one cast member, we ended up bringing in two girls to audition and you sort of saw them the chemistry reads, which was a big factor for us just to see, like, if they were going to be having a relationship down the road for the series, you know, who do we really want to see on screen together, and it becomes almost a more in tandem decision where it’s like, you know, this one actor might have been hired if it was just that person getting cast alone. But when you put them within this ensemble, you have to sort of figure out who makes the most sense and sort of that bigger scale. So it was it was a little bit tougher with that respect for the show, because it is this big ensemble of a lot of young actors, you sort of need to see who all can fit together within that puzzle. It is tough, but there is I would say, there is a little bit of a personality factor in there as well in terms of like, if there were some people who we were more put off by who were a bit more standoffish and felt a little bit more entitled and that happened to be like a few of the names who were not marquee names, but there were people who had done shows before and a few people who had led shows before who definitely had this this arrogance to them that I would say was also like, when you’re doing a show, especially a show over a film where you’re like I could be dealing with this person for years, the cast is gonna have to be dealing with this person for years. For a film we’ve worked with difficult people before but it’s like, look you get in you do the project and you’re out of there like it’s within a few months that you deal with that actor and it’s and it’s done, but for series, it was such a bigger consideration to think like in success, this person is going to be a part of my life for years to come. So it’s also something where you think about with so many young actors leading the show, is that going to become an issue on set with someone? Is it going to then create tension on set, and what is it going to be like when the camera’s not rolling also comes into the conversation as well. So there is a little bit of that as well and I know it is tough to sort of get that but it is something that you unfortunately have to make a quick decision on based on like you know, you’ll do callbacks you’ll do you’ll see them a few times but you don’t get to know them and you could be wrong about that, but you only have such a finite time to make that decision and you You just have to make the best decision you can with the information you have. You can you can talk to other people who’ve worked with them and that is something that can help you but at the end of the day, you just know, especially for shows, you’re going to be with those people for for a while and you want to like what you’re doing.

That is so fascinating. I can’t even tell you and I’m sure the listeners are loving that Thank you for sharing that with us.

Yeah, hopefully it was helpful.

Yeah, no, it is. Because I think as actors, we always wonder about what goes into the final casting of why one actor gets it over the other. And so I think it’s really interesting just to hear your perspective, your take on that. As we wrap this up, this has been really great spending this time with you, I’m just curious, you know, I know from your end, in just talking about what you were just talking about, is there any advice you could give actors in terms of the whole process of the casting or working on set, you know, just the whole process of production, if there was any sort of advice you had for, let’s say, new actors up and coming actors that are just starting out?

I would say, a few of the biggest things would be if you have the job we can go with first in terms of like, if you already have the job and you’re coming to set for the first time, I’d say one of the biggest things is to be on time, there is definitely an issue at times with people being late and that gets known very quickly. And the thing is, we do talk to other people, like it’s a very small business. So you know a lot of other producers, you know a lot of other studio executives, so when you are talking about casting someone, you will go get references for those people, especially for those bigger roles, you will go around and you’ll say, hey, how was it working with this person, and you’ll get that feedback. So if you have a bad reputation for late is one of the easiest things that I’ve found can really kill someone’s reputation, but also just sort of their attitude on set and how they treat the crew. There are people who are who are great to directors and producers and studio executives when you come by, but they say terrible to to your camera operator, or, you know, the the grips or whoever it is, and that will come back through like the grips, like we’ll talk to the department heads, the department heads will talk to us, you get that around, and you just know that if crew is unhappy, it’s just such a big thing, like there is no show or film that’s really an island that gets made. So there is so much that goes into it, and that will definitely come back to people pretty quickly. So in terms of like, if you are if you’re young and just starting off, definitely put the best foot forward, come prepared, definitely know, know your lines, because if a show, especially now with shows getting a lot more technical within their camera work, when you look at shows like Euphoria, which I think has had a ripple effect through a number of other shows, these these very high end DPS and these equipment is just getting so much better, and so much cheaper that you are doing these very intricate shots at times, and you are trying to get it right with the equipment, and it can really mess up the take if someone is not prepared, and you are just going to be spending so much time, you’re going to be wasting your day, and if someone is not ready for a scene, you’ll definitely feel that and especially for a young actor, that will come back tenfold and be known by everyone, because if you’re pushing your day because someone is not prepared that will get said to everyone. But yeah, I would say that also, if you’re auditioning or you’re still trying to get the job, I mean, I would guess the preparedness goes the same way. I have not been an actor, so I cannot explicitly give advice on preparing for a role the best way, so I will leave that to much smarter people. But I mean, I would just say the biggest advice I would give and it’s something that I try and talk to all of our actors about is like, the thing about acting, it kind of feels like is and you can correct me if I’m wrong here, but I do feel like a lot of actors are just waiting to get their job and they’re waiting to get their chance, and I think the thing I’ve seen with a lot of younger actors who have been successful are actors who will go out and write or direct or like, even if it’s not great material, they’re meeting with these people on set. So like if you are lucky enough to get a job and you are on set, you should go around and talk to all the crew you should go around and get to know what these people do on set, because if you want to go shoot something in your own time, you can call in these favors like people crew or get so bored in their downtime, so people will go work for free and you can go shoot your own thing, and you can go start building up your resume so much more when you need materials and for people to watch things that you’ve been in to just show your acting chops and to get better at acting. And I think just writing as an actor, even if it’s not good at first, it just shows you, you get an understanding of what goes into making, what you’re reading for, and just what the writers go through. And I think it can only help your your acting as well. So that would be the biggest thing I would say to younger actors, it’s like, just don’t wait for someone to let you act like go out and do it, even if it’s terrible at first, like it’ll get better over time.

I 100% agree with you, you know, this is such an exciting age for actors and all creatives really is that you have the capability to create your own work and to get it seen by millions of people very easily these days where it wasn’t that way, you know, back in my day when I was starting out, it was definitely not like that. So why not take advantage of the time and use it, you know, to your advantage? I think that’s amazing advice. Matt, thank you so much for joining us today. So tell us where and when will we be able to see your new show One of us is Lying?

Oh, you will be able to see it on peacock, which is the new NBC Universal streaming service, which just got the office and is having the Olympics on it this summer, so you will be seeing it a lot more within the upcoming months. But the date is still to be determined. We’re going to be shooting very soon, so we wrap in August, and hopefully it will be ready, you know, in October to be seen on peacock.

Well, I know I will definitely be very excited to see this as well, my listeners, I think this sounds like a fantastic show. Once again, thank you so much for joining us today.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you for being so generous with your time, Matt. And I always love speaking to a fellow Chicagoan. I cannot wait to watch your new show as soon as it goes to air. And if you are listening to this episode, and you’re thinking, you know, I want to start my own podcast or I’m really curious about podcasts. Well, so was I before I started and you know what, it’s a whole lot easier than you think. I learned from my friend Courtney Elmer, and she is opening the doors to her program, the same program I took where I learned how to start a podcast. So if it’s something that you’re interested in doing, just head over to katherinebeck.com/podcast to get all the information on how to sign up to her program and if you sign up for it, you’re going to get a special bonus from me as well, which is the script to performance bonus, where I’m going to teach you how to bring your script to life. All the details are on katherinebeck.com/podcast, so make sure you go check it out. And if you love this episode, go ahead take a screenshot of the show, share it on Instagram, tag me in it, @katherine_beck_ , you can find me there.You can also send me a DM and let’s chat. Coming up next week on the show we are going to be talking about why you do not need a good ear to master the American Accent. Yep, that’s right there is more than having a good ear to truly master the American Accent, and that’s coming up next week. Now make sure to share the show with all your actor friends. Let them know what’s coming up next week and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become an all American Actor, so you can be the working actor you dream to be. Until then go practice your American Accent and I’ll see you back here next time.

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