Kathleen Grace and Shawn Dempewolff Discuss Their New Series, 'RePlay'

Kathleen Grace and Shawn Dempewolff Discuss Their New Series, 'RePlay'
RePlay is a brand new series from New Form Digital premiering on go90 mobile app. The series follows Allison, an aspiring DJ who is throwing a huge party for her 25th birthday in order to impress some big time club promoters. But when the night ends in failure, all she wants is the chance to redo everything. As it turns out, she'll get 25.
Shakefire sat down with RePlay creators Kathleen Grace and Shawn Dempewolff to talk about the series, its Groundhog's Day influences, and this world of a single, repeating day. 
Shakefire (SF): What is RePlay about? From the description, it sounds a lot like Groundhog’s Day almost.
Shawn Dempewolff (SD): It shares some stuff with Groundhog’s Day, for sure. There have been a number of time loop movies and that subject has been pretty well explored. Most of those movies, people get stuck in a time loop and they are like, “How do I get out of it?” What we’re doing differently with RePlay is she’s getting second chances. She’s getting 25 chances to do this day right because she’s turning 25. She made a wish on her birthday cake. She knows how many she has, and now she just needs to see if she can solve all of the problems that she’s caused in those days. It raises the stakes a little.
Kathleen Grace (KG): It’s fun for her to have an agency in it. You watch those movies and the person’s a little bit out of control, which is fun, but it’s kinda comedic to see someone say, “Oh, here are all these things I can fix.” Some of this came out of us talking about what if you could resend that text to someone but differently and fix things? Especially in dating in your 20’s and 30’s when you’re first learning how to be a person. Like what if you could fix all those little dumb you did, and would they add up to something bigger? In her case, she ruins her own birthday party with her ambition to some extent, and she wants to make a better impression on these promoters who come to her party. She’s an aspiring DJ. It’s also about getting second chances to make first impressions.
SD: It’s also about those moments you have in your early and mid 20’s where you’re like my whole life hinges upon this night. It often doesn’t but you really feel like it does.
KG: At the time it kinda does. In retrospect, you’re like “eh, not really,” but it sure felt that way. And that’s a really fun thing for us to explore.
SD: And this is one of those nights, for sure.
SF: And I think we’ve all had those moments where we wish we could have done something differently.
KG: Oh yeah, totally. So many moments.
SF: Is there a butterfly effect in the show where one change can impact everything else?
KG: Yes. She figures that out after a couple of episodes. First she figures out that she’s repeating and then figures out how many. Then if you pull one thread what happens to the other part of the day and how do they all add up and what are the right permutations of actions she can take to make this the best day ever. And then ultimately what makes it the best day ever. Is it impressing these promoters or is it something else?
SF: Is each episode going to focus on an individual day or attempt?
KG: No, some repeats spread over multiple episodes and some episodes have multiple repeats depending on what she’s trying to fix. I think that was really fun for us to explore. When we first started developing it we thought it’d be 25 episodes. It’s 12 episodes, and I think it’s been more fun to have that fluidity of repeating. One episode has eight repeats, maybe?
SD: Episode 8 has like five or six I think. It’s just fun. That’s where you get a lot of the comedy fun, too.
KG: In Groundhog’s Day there’s the cut with the montage of Bill Murray trying all the different things. It’s fun to use that for comedy instead of drama.
SD: Yeah, and what ends up happening is the characters end up learning a lot about themselves by getting the drill down into the layers of the effects that their actions have caused. You don’t get to examine a day that deeply.
SF: What kind of ground rules have you set for this world?
KG: The number of repetitions is dictated by how many years you’re turning so she has 25 repetitions. When she’s touching someone at the end of the night and when the repetition turns over, that person comes with her into the next day’s repeat. That adds another layer of fun. And when that person comes through they’re wearing the same clothes they were wearing the night before the party. But she always resets to her PJs that she woke up in.
SD: She gets to bring her friends along, and they help her out. But also maybe she brings some people along that she maybe shouldn’t. If she want to bring them through again she has to touch them at the end of the night. She sometimes has a choice of whether or not she wants to bring this person through again or do I want to reset them? There’s a fair amount of rules, and we definitely had to be very judicious about how we explained them and where we explained them and how they get laid out. We don’t want people to be confused.
KG: Especially with the shorter format of the show.
SD: The ideal is you explain it succinctly, clearly, and with a joke. And I think we managed to do that with the character who explains the rules to her.
SF: What was it like keeping the continuity in check? Did it drive you crazy?
KG: Oh, we have a wonderful script supervisor. In the writing, that was hard.
SD: I think the hardest thing about the writing process was that the seeds of every episode appear in the pilot. So as we’re breaking the whole season if we would change Episode 9 that means that that thing that happened in the pilot that led to Episode 9 had to change too. That was the most challenging part of it I think. It’s not normal episodic where something happens and it leads to something else. If we change the dialogue in one scene we got to change the dialogue in all the scenes. We always go back and forth like the chicken or the egg. Do we want to set this first and then figure that out or set that first and then figure this out? It took a while.
KG: And then how much do you want to see her repeat the same things, and how much to tweak it to make it more fun or more of an adventure.
SD: Totally, and as we go along the thing we plan on communicating with the audience is that when she figures how to do one thing right we’re just going to assume she does that everyday. You don’t want to see it again. You saw it once. It’s not going to be that interesting to see her do the same thing right again.
SF: You don’t want to get repetitive.
Exactly. You don’t want to get repetitive in a day about a repeating day, haha.
Episode 1 titled "Play the Hits" is now availble to watch for free on YouTube and Episode 2 is available exclusively on the go90 app. For more information on RePlay, visit the official website.
Matt Rodriguez
Interview by Matt Rodriguez
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