Thursday, February 19, 2015

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Joseph Ausanio Shares His Story and What Inspired 'Troy's Big Break,' His Comedy Web Series Featuring a Deaf Cast & Crew

Troy's Big Break creator and star Joseph Ausanio. Photo by Tamme Stitt - © 2013
The countdown is on to the 6th Annual Indie Series Awards on April 1st and Serial Scoop has been featuring some of the nominated series and performers and will continue to do so over the next six weeks. There were other terrific independently produced web series in contention that also deserve special recognition, not only for their entertaining stories and remarkable talent in front of and behind the camera, but because of the originality they present and the impact they are having on the world. One such show is the comedy Troy's Big Break, which features a Deaf cast and crew, and tells the story of Troy Lawrence, an aspiring theatre director who faces obstacles in life while he searches for a star for his upcoming production. The series was created by Joseph Ausanio, who produced with series director Taylor Repetski. Ausanio also stars as Troy in the talented cast which includes Fallon Baue (Trixie), Frances Sorrentino (Flo), Meagan Zdep (Diane) and Samantha Shupe (Vivian).

Serial Scoop asked Ausanio to share his story with our readers and tell us how Troy's Big Break came to be. Read our exclusive interview with the multi-talented charming young artist below.

SERIAL SCOOP: Can you tell us about your background leading up to now. Have you always wanted to be a writer and/or producer?
JOSEPH AUSIANO: Yes, I was born in Kingston, NY. Over a week after I was born, I became ill with bacterial meningitis. I lost my hearing due to that, and my parents were devastated, but remained optimistic. They taught me sign language. My father used to pitch for the New York Yankees and now is a softball coach at Marist College and my mother works in Human Resources. When I was four years old, I had a cochlear implant surgery and was put in a mainstream school with an interpreter. I graduated with a BFA degree in Film/Theatre from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY, and currently, I’m back at RIT, working towards a Master’s in Deaf education. For as long as I can remember, back to my early childhood, I’ve always wanted to write, produce and perform in films and on stage.

Joseph Ausanio and producer/director Taylor Repetski
SERIAL SCOOP: What inspired you to create Troy's Big Break?
JOSEPH AUSIANO: I wrote this script back in 2012 while I was staying in Los Angeles during the summer. I stayed with Jules Dameron, who is a brilliant Deaf filmmaker. I helped work on her comedy short film, It’s My Role!, starring 3 gifted Deaf actresses Amber Zion, Ipek Mehlum, and Lexi Marman. Jules was one of my inspirations and she was a wonderful mentor. I showed her the script for the pilot episode and she loved it. Somehow, I put the script aside when I returned to Rochester to focus on my studies and eventually graduated from RIT a year later. I returned home after graduation to work.

In December 2013, I came across a Norwegian drama series Jules directed called MØKKAKAFFE, with a cast mixed with Deaf and hearing actors and all of the episodes were posted online. I thought the series was outstanding. After watching all of the episodes, I retrieved the script of Troy’s Big Break and I knew from that moment it was time to bring it to life. I moved back to Rochester last March and started filming the pilot in April.



SERIAL SCOOP: How much of the series is based on real-life situations that have happened to you or someone you know?
JOSEPH AUSIANO: Several, but one real-life situation that many Deaf people can relate with is in the fifth episode titled, “Three Simple Words”, Troy was in the coffee shop, but was cut in line while he was writing down his order. Troy blew up at the barista. I felt that the scene was crucial for hearing people to understand, because you just can’t cut a Deaf person in line while they are writing down their order. I’ve seen Facebook statuses from Deaf people about their terrible experiences about being cut in line in coffee shops and other places, and it happened to me at a rest stop. I stood up to the barista at Starbucks when she attempted to take a next person’s order while I was writing down my order, she apologized and I kindly accepted it, because she told me that she would never do that to a Deaf person again. I knew I had to put that kind of situation in the show somewhere. Taylor Repetski (the director of the show and who played Betty the barista) and I had so much fun filming that scene.

SERIAL SCOOP: For viewers who may not have watched the show yet, why should they check out Troy's Big Break?
JOSEPH AUSIANO: I feel that the show itself is so unique, because it has so many cast members who are Deaf. The viewers who do not know American Sign Language shouldn’t worry, because the show is captioned, too. (You can click the “CC” icon on the bottom right corner of the video on YouTube.) I wanted to do something different and interesting. People should check this out because we want to highlight and showcase that Deaf filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, and all can DO anything.

SERIAL SCOOP: Are there TV shows, films or other web series you would recommend for viewers who want to see more deaf talent in action?
JOSEPH AUSIANO: There are many that I can think of. There’s actually a terrific and powerful film called Children of a Lesser God starring Marlee Matlin, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for this film. There are other films, Beyond Silence with Howie Seago, The Family Stone with Diane Keaton, Tyrone Giordano and Rachel McAdams, The Hammer with Russell Harvard, Shoshannah Stern and many other Deaf talents, Bridge to Silence with Marlee Matlin, Lee Remick, and Phyllis Frelich, and Mr. Holland’s Opus with Richard Dreyfuss, Glenne Headly and Anthony Natale. You should check out Jules Dameron’s YouTube channel, which includes her short films and music videos with many Deaf talents. There are several great Deaf talents on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth. I haven’t seen the film Plemya (“The Tribe”), a foreign film about a Deaf teenager who attends a boarding school, but I heard excellent things about the film.

EDITOR'S NOTE: To find out more about Troy's Break Break and to catch up on on Season 1, visit the show's official YouTube channel. You can find the series on social media here: TwitterFacebook. Be sure to follow Ausiano on Twitter at @JosephAusanio.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Joseph, I enjoyed finding out more about you, and watching Troy's Big Break.

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