Super Geeked Up is following in the path of podcasts before it that have taken nerd culture and embraced it as the fun art form that it is. Ranging from the more classic high fantasy to current day comic books, this sect of entertainment is just as varied and nuanced as every other topic that one can find themselves wrapped up in. Created by Jeff Burns following his success with Super Knocked Up, the show involves two other hosts, Tonya Dodds and Nicole Wright, as the three take on guests, culture and anything geek.
While a project born from the mind of Burns, Wright brings in a unique perspective. While sometimes it seems like the majority of nerds are sitting on the sidelines consuming the media made for them, Wright wasn’t content with just waiting for nerd culture to come to her. Instead, she now works on creating said content for the world she grew up in through the visual medium.
Like many nerds of her generation, it was Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers that served as the spark of a lifelong love of all things cool. Enamored by the power of the Yellow Ranger, Wright fell in love with martial arts, though she is always the first to admit that she’s never taken a class. Even so, this love of hand-to-hand combat eventually branched out into a love of the Mortal Kombat series. From there, the next big geeky moment happened when The Matrix took the world by storm. A mix of kung-fu and stylistic storytelling that transformed cinema for a few generations, it was this movie that influenced Wright’s dream to become a modern day storyteller in the form of a filmmaker.
For college, Wright headed to Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in Orange, California. Now immersed in the genre she loved, she began producing and directing a myriad of films. Of the titles she worked on, many went on to be rather successful. The Big Toe, a fantasy horror about the repercussions of taking home a toe found on the beach, sits with a 7.6 out of 10 stars on IMDb while the documentary she associate produced, The Philosopher Kings, a search for wisdom in America, earned a 7.2. Beyond the production and direction of these films, she’s also tried her hand at acting in more recent years, even appearing in one of her own series.
With the films serving as a great start to her overall career, the biggest growth came with her producing a web series known as Progress back in 2013. This three episode mini-series was built on a now-famous analogy stated by the then-Senatory of Alaska, Ted Stevens. During his criticizing of an amendment that would have prevented further monopolization of the internet by larger corporations, such as Time Warner and Comcast, he referred to the internet as a series of tubes that can be clogged by data. The internet jumped on the clearly confused Senator’s words and the internet being a series of tubes became one of the first memes.
Going off of this, Progress follows a steampunk Victorian England where internet is powered by steam through a series of tubes. Including jokes about the Victorian period’s obsession with pornography and Jack the Ripper hurting the business of the cam harlots, Wright directed the series that would go on to be nominated for a number of awards, including two IAWTV (International Academy of Web Television) Awards.
Immediately following the series’ premier, the team created a spin-off, Progress: Ask a Cam Harlot. In this series, Wright further directed the show, alongside her good friend Berna Roberts, as it followed the many misadventures of Lila DeClide and her work as a Victorian internet harlot. Unlike Progress, this show went on to run for a total of 20 episodes, vastly expanding on the world established in the first series. The show was first released exclusively with JTS.TV, and the episodes were combined to create 10 double features with hilarious original commercials in between the two episodes.
Progress’ IAWTV nominations led to her discovery by Burns. Invited to produce as well as host the Super Geeked Up podcast, she now spends most of her time there, reveling in all things geek. Already holding two awards, one for Best Live Host as well as an honorable mention as a Humorist in 2008’s short Greg and Emilia, it can be safely said that of all things to happen to Wright, it won’t be slowing down.
I recently interviewed Nicole and there was such wealth in her responses on how to develop your brand in an online mostly environment.
How did you get started in what you’re doing now?
Nicole: I’ve always had a passion for entertainment ever since I can remember. When I was just a little kid I took part in church and school plays and put on some of my own for my family friends. When I was a little older I gathered up the kids in my neighborhood and produced three annual back-to-school fashion shows complete with routines and behind the scenes videos. I was extremely inspired by Lucille Ball and I Love Lucy. I would stay up late watching old re-runs and finding ways to create slapstick comedy in my daily life. Which is probably why I was so hyper! Before I entered high school I saw The Matrix with my dad and was blown away. I watched all the behind the scenes footage and interviews I could find and was wondering if I could do something like that. When I was in high school I was involved with drama and participated in quite a few of the school plays. One of the original sketches I wrote also got me notice for a scholarship. The crazy thing about all of this is I never actually considered that I could be doing something like this as a career. I knew I enjoyed entertaining but I guess I just thought that people don’t have careers doing that. So when I entered college at Chapman University, I was undecided and was seriously considering majoring in English with a minor in Spanish. In my second semester of freshman year I took a film class and was obsessed. As cliche as this might sound, I could not imagine myself never walking the halls of the film school again. At the end of year I applied to Chapman’s film school, was accepted and transferred into the film program at the beginning of my sophomore year. I think this particular moment was when I absolutely understood that this could be a career and I threw myself into filmmaking and entertainment. The other really important thing that helped me down this path was the support of my family and friends.
Which do you like best – acting or directing?
Nicole: I really love both but I think I’m a better director than I am actor. If there was ever a chance to play a character that was basically an exaggerated version of myself, I know I could do that well! I will say though, that it took quite a few years for me to have confidence in my abilities as a Director. It definitely was an insecurity thing that I had. However, once I really believed in myself and saw myself in the same way others did, I developed confidence to really go out there and achieve my goals as a filmmaker and person!
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would you share?
Nicole: I would tell myself not to be so hard on myself and to be confident and really believe in myself. I would tell myself that I can do anything I set my mind to and not let anyone else make me feel that I can’t. I would remind myself that actions speak louder than words. I would teach myself that it’s ok if there are people who don’t understand or connect with your work.
The crazy thing is that I’ve definitely been judged and overlooked and treated like I was dumb by others. I think a lot of it, unfortunately, has to do with how I look. I have that blonde hair, blue eyed, super young innocent looking thing going on and some people are quick to judge without really getting to know me and don’t understand what I’m capable of. However, I’ve learned to let it go. I know who I am and I know what I’m capable of. I know that my actions will prove my abilities.
The other really important thing I’ve learned is that it is extremely important not to take criticism personally. As an artist I think we are left vulnerable when we put our heart and soul into our work but what I’ve learned is that when you put your art on display it now becomes something that other people will connect with. And not everyone will interpret your art in the same way and maybe some people will not be able to connect with it at all. And that’s ok. I know that I don’t connect with every song on the radio, every movie in the theater or every piece of art in a museum because we all experience art and entertainment in a way that is unique to us. Just remember that if you believe in what you did and are proud of your work, that’s what really matters.
How did you become introduced to the IAWTV?
Nicole: I first became introduced to the IAWTV through their awards show. in 2013 we submitted our show for consideration and attended the show in early 2014. What I discovered is that IAWTV was not just an awards show, but an organization and community that is dedicated to supporting web series creators and shining a positive light on independent content. I have met so many amazing people through the IAWTV.
I recently was elected as a board member for the IAWTV which was so humbling and exciting. At the first board meeting I was voted in as Treasurer and my main focus at the moment will be to develop new revenue opportunities. I also am extremely passionate about social media and will be working with another board member on some social media strategies that will allow us to make deeper connections with our members. I also want to develop relationships with production resource partners so that we can offer amazing discounts to our members. Currently I’m working on finding a great production insurance partner and then will focus on securing equipment and stage rental partners.
If someone was considering creating a web series, what would you advise them to do first?
Nicole: I think the most important thing is to find a really supportive and hard working group of people to work with. Web Series is an amazingly welcoming and supportive community but extremely under funded. Most web series creators, myself included, work a day job (or several) to support our craft and we also volunteer hundreds of hours working on not only our projects but other web series projects too. Once you have a supportive team in place you really need to create a solid story. For me, I can come up with concepts, but have a really hard time executing the idea into a script. That’s why I will always need to elicit the help of experience writers to help! And that’s a good thing. We all have weaknesses so it’s important to surround yourself with others who have strengths in those areas. That’s how you create the perfect team!