Spooked Stars Derek Mio and Shyloh Oostwald Talk Sci-Fi and Their Own Paranormal Experiences
Geek & Sundry’s ghost hunting horror-comedy Spooked premiered online on June 4th and gave geeks another great new web series to get hooked on this summer. Co-stars Derek Mio (Greek) and Shyloh Oostwald (In Time), who play Elliot and Piper respectively, took the time to sit down with The Mary Sue and talk ghost hunting and the endless possibilities of online-only TV distribution.
Rachel Kolb (TMS): How did you get into acting, and how did you first get involved with Geek & Sundry?
Derek Mio (DM): While attending USC film school I applied for internships to every entertainment company I could. The only place that responded to me was a commercial agency that decided to send me out as a client. Then my aunt sent me a newspaper clipping for a short film open casting and I booked the lead role. That took me to a film festival where I met my manager, who got me my agent. Subsequently, I got involved with Geek & Sundry when I booked the role of Elliot for the digital series Spooked.
Shyloh Oostwald (SO): For as long as I can remember, I have always loved dressing up and pretending to be other people. I use to run around wearing wigs. When I was three, I asked my mom if I could be in movies, and she said to put it out in the universe and if it’s meant to happen, it will come to me. When I was six, we moved to a new city, and my mom happen to see an ad for an acting class. I got involved with Geek & Sundry after getting hired to play Piper on Spooked!
TMS: What do you look for when you are picking your roles?
DM: I’m always looking to just grow my body of work and to work with people who I admire or intrigue me. It was a no brainer to go after Spooked with names like Bryan Singer and Felicia Day attached, but what really sold me on this project was seeing Ashley Johnson in the waiting room at the audition. That was when I was like, “Okay, this is legit. That’s the girl from Lionheart.”
SO: The thing that most attracts me to roles are the great scripts. The writing of Spooked by Michael Conti and Felicia Day is one of the most amazing scripts I have read. I was dying to get the role of Piper.
TMS: You have both been a part of films, television shows, and other creative projects. What attracts you about these kind of projects, and as actors, what does sci-fi uniquely offer you as an actor when compared to other genres?
SO: I just love being on set, because I’m around amazing people that love the things I love. I can just find so many common interests with all the other actors. What I love about sci-fi is that the stories are so out of the box, you can create any type of character you want. Even though ghosts and aliens don’t seem reality-based in science fiction stories, you can create these characters, you can make these characters so real and make stories about them.
DM: I love the idea of being a part of a mythology and contributing to it whether it be a film or a series. These mediums are a snapshot of a particular time in history and I think everyone wants to leave his or her mark. Even if it’s a small role; sometimes those roles have the biggest impact on a viewer’s impression. What’s great about sci-fi is that it opens up that possibility, that world or dimension or realm that you grew up fantasizing about or were terrified of and you’re completely free to play and create it for yourself.
TMS: Can you give a sum-up of Spooked for our readers and where your characters fit into the story?
SO: Piper is the only character who can actually communicate with spirits, so without her, the team wouldn’t be able to help them or understand what the spirit wants.
DM: Spooked is about a dysfunctional paranormal investigation team and the cases they take on. The team was formed by Connor to help his clairvoyant, mute little sister Piper deal with the death of their parents. I play Elliot, Connor’s fan-boy enthusiast best friend, who propels the team forward with case theories stolen from pop cultural references. He also gets caught up in a love triangle within the team.
TMS: What makes Spooked different from the myriad of other supernatural shows and comedies available on TV or online?
DM: Our show has a little bit of everything—humor, drama, suspense, and heart. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at the same time the writing and performances deliver a quality product that rivals network shows.
SO: Unlike other ghost hunting shows, Spooked has heart and feeling in it. We have drama, love, and a real story like for each character. It isn’t just about the ghost hunting.
TMS: Are you a fan of ghost hunting shows, and did you watch any ghost hunting shows or read up on ghost hunters to prepare for the role?
DM: I don’t know if you can say I’m a ‘fan’ of ghost hunting shows because I went and saw The Blair Witch Project in the theater and that was quite a terrifying experience—but, I’ll admit, a special one. I remember afterwards all the theater-goers discussing whether it was real or not. For Spooked, I believe I did go on YouTube and looked up “ghost hunters” to dive into that world.
SO: My grandma watches a lot of ghost shows and scary movies, so whenever I’m over at her house I get to watch them with her. I wouldn’t watch them alone because they are sometimes too scary. Piper’s character was actually very natural for me. I just had to think about my own supernatural experiences while preparing for the role.
TMS: Do you personally believe in the supernatural, or do you think that all ghostly appearances can be explained with science?
DM: Although I, myself, have not witnessed anything supernatural, I do believe they exist. The really scary idea would be if spirits and ghostly anomalies were based in science.
SO: Yes, of course I do! I’ve had plenty of spooky experiences. I’ve witnessed a few things like, a clock flying out of the cabinet, lids being tossed off of jars at my mom, there’s really no other explanation for the things I’ve seen.
TMS: What can viewers expect in season 1 of Spooked?
SO: Expect to get the chills at night and prepare to turn on a light at every single noise you hear. Other than ghosts, aliens, and possession, viewers can expect to get chills and laughs, and heartfelt stories. The first one is my favorite!
DM: You’re going to get introduced to all of the specialties and eccentricities of each member of the team while investigating particular cases with very colorful characters. We’re gonna give you a taste of this very entertaining premise and then soak up all the supply until your fingers turn numb from demanding more via social media networks.
TMS: Spooked is airing on Geek & Sundry’s YouTube channel instead of network or cable TV. Why do you think Spooked is well-suited for online distribution on YouTube, and what advantages does YouTube have over more traditional distribution methods?
DM: These days almost everyone can access YouTube on their smartphones which gives the viewer access to our show practically anytime anywhere. What is also great is that we have released additional bonus content to supplement our characters’ backstories or outlooks which creates more of an interactive online experience that expands the world of the show rather than just presenting a one-off airing like traditional television. It also allows very gracious fans to publicly express their admiration for the show….and those other people to say other things.
SO: Most of the world’s population is using their phones, computers, and other types of devices to access the internet and watch shows, like Spooked. This makes viewing so much easier to get to than on television. The cast and crew of Spooked are all talking about the show on Twitter and Instagram and other media outlets. Just doing interviews like this gives people all over the world a chance to hear about the shows they can watch on those sites.
TMS: Do you think that tools like YouTube are changing the way that actors are breaking into the industry, and if so, how?
DM: What’s crazy is YouTube has become its own industry. People are already making money on this new platform right now! But in terms of the bigger Hollywood industry, absolutely. It seems like every week I’m reading about a ‘YouTuber’ signing a deal with a major studio for a series or a feature film. Money people love numbers, and if you have a large following, then that can open doors for you. I guess time will tell if those web personalities can crossover and produce for mainstream media. YouTube is just completely new animal. My 3-year-old nephew watches trains on it.
SO: Yes, because anyone can access from a phone or tablet or computer and carrying these devices with you everywhere you go means looking stuff up every time you have a free moment.
TMS: If you could swap characters with any of your fellow cast members for one episode, who would you pick and why?
DM: PIPER! I don’t know if it’s because she’s so amazing in her performance or if it’s because she doesn’t have to memorize as many lines or if it’s because she talks to ghosts! She’s the lynchpin of the group—and the scene-stealer of the show!
SO: Lindsay! He gets all the cool stuff! For the alien episode, he had the keyboard that summoned the aliens, and for the ghosts, he has that device that lights up when there’s a presence of a spirit. I just think it would be awesome to have those devices.
Season 1 of Spooked is available now on YouTube, Hulu, and Hulu Plus. Derek Miocan be found on Instagram @dtdblock, on Twitter @derekzmio, on Vine, and on his personal YouTube channel. Shyloh Oostwald can be found on Twitter @shylohoostwald. For more Geek & Sundry shows, subscribe to Geek & Sundry on YouTube.
Rachel Kolb is a Disney fangirl, Swan Queen shipper, and life-long Broadway nerd with an encyclopedic knowledge of original Broadway cast recordings. She is currently a staff writer at JustPressPlay.net and a contributor to Sound on Sight. She is also the creator of LudusNYC.com, a website celebrating Broadway theater that offers tips on making theater-going more affordable. Since the fall of 2013 she has been a regular co-host on The Disney Film Project podcast, a show dedicated to reviewing every film released by the Walt Disney Company, from the classic animated features to Pixar and LucasFilm. She can be found on Twitter @rachelekolb and @LudusNYC.
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