There’s a lot about teen dramas you can debate: favorite characters, worst couples, best quotes. Few would argue against this: hiatuses suck. They are long, torturous and boring. Luckily for us, the folks behind One Tree Hill have made a seemingly unprecedented move by filling the show’s current 2-month hiatus with daily videos and other content shared via their official Twitter account.
One of the people to thank for all the OTH goodness is associate producer Steve Goldfried. In an exclusive interview, Goldfried discusses the show’s use of social media, thanks the fans for their devotion and comments on where things stand regarding an eighth season.
TeenDramaWhore: How did you first get hooked up with the show?
Steve Goldfried: I was an office production assistant at Tollin/Robinns Productions, which was the production company that One Tree Hill started at. Joe Davola, who is the executive producer, was the president of television there. I actually started by working for Mike Tollin in his office there as the production assistant, which meant I ran scripts around town, made coffee, made copies. Stuff like that. One Tree Hill came about, and I had been there for about 6 months, and Mike Tollin said he wanted to send someone out there to document. Joe Davola had made a deal, I think with MTV, that they would have video cameras shooting behind-the-scenes footage there from the beginning, since Joe’s roots were at MTV and Hilarie [Burton, Peyton], of course, was coming from MTV to be on the show at the time. So they wanted some behind-the-scenes footage and someone there documenting it and they sent me out there to be a set a production assistant but I also carried a video camera around with me while I was doing that. That’s how I got hooked up originally.
TDW: Since then, your role has changed over the years.
Goldfried: It has and it hasn’t. I still carry a video camera around with me all the time on the set, which is cool in a way. Almost all of the behind-the-scenes footage you’ve ever seen of One Tree Hill was shot by me. There’s rare occassions where other crews came in and shot some stuff but most everything is shot by me. Almost all the videos, little behind-the-scenes, the vingettes and the featurettes on the DVDs are produced and edited and shot by me. So it hasn’t changed in that sense but I’ve had an expanded responsibility in other aspects, too, like in actually getting that footage out there. The viral marketing, the social networking side has expanded over the years. When we had more product placement in the show, I worked with the distributor and the network on those deals, and I work on the contests and promotions that we have.
TDW: So your title right now is associate producer but that doesn’t mean the same for everyone that’s an associate producer.
Goldfried: No. I’m probably sort of unique in that, though “producer” can mean a hundred different things in Hollywood. But there are other associate producers and other producers that do I what I do, which is more marketing and promotions.
TDW: The quickest way that you get content to the fans now is through the One Tree Hill Twitter account. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that started during this past summer, right?
Goldfried: Season 7 was when we first got it out there. When we started filming the season, I was taking pictures and tweeting those and sending little updates from the set. Then, just recently, since the Utah trip, we’ve started updating daily with video. At the moment, that’s definitely the quickest way to get stuff out there. The Facebook page has 1.3 million fans so that’s a good way as well.
TDW: What do you think the value is of these social media tools? You didn’t have them when the show started in 2003.
Goldfried: It’s great, although One Tree Hill has always been on the forefront of online viral marketing and social networking. I started a MySpace page for Peyton, when MySpace was kind of hot. Even before that, when I was just a set PA and working on set, [creator] Mark Schwahn was back in L.A. really fostering a relationship with the fans online and doing live chats, listening to the fans and interacting with them. I think that’s one reason why One Tree Hill has such a loyal following. The fans are so passionate about the show because we’ve always tried to connect with them and bring them in. It’s our show–ours and the fans together.
TDW: How is it decided what’s tweeted?
Goldfried: It’s decided based on what we think the fans will enjoy that day and every day that we tweet. If there’s a cool article that we see online or, like right now, putting new video up each day because we’re on this long hiatus, we feel like we’re getting the fans fresh One Tree Hill-related content each day. That’s something we feel like they want and we’ve seen the responses. They do want it and they’re enjoying it. So it’s based on what we think they’ll like and the response that we’re getting on Twitter and Facebook.
TDW: It’s almost seven years since you guys started production. That’s a lot of time to spend on one set. What has been the most surprising thing to you about working on the show?
Goldfried: It’s a tough question to answer because TV is so fast-paced. When you’re working on a TV show, you’re really immersed in it. I don’t know that I’ve really stopped and thought about what the most surprising thing is. It’s all be pretty amazing. It’s been an amazing journey and you have to try to enjoy it as much as possible while you’re doing it and I have. The easy answer is just that it’s lasted this long. As fans of the show know, there’s been a lot of times throughout the seven years, where people thought we were thought getting canceled or it looked like that might happen and then we kept getting picked up. So that’s surprising in a way. The fans are pretty surprising, just how passionate and hardcore they are.
TDW: I think you have one of the strongest fanbases around.
Goldfried: Definitely. We see that. We recognize it and we love it. It’s definitely what has helped keep us on the air so long. We couldn’t have been on for those seven years without the fans.
TDW: You’re obviously very familiar with what the storylines are and what’s being shot on set. Do you have any favorites?
Goldfried: The episode in season 2 where we went to the race track in Charlotte [Episode 2.19, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning]. That was really fun, crashing cars, being on that track and seeing the stunt cars going around. We actually got to drive the cars around. It had rained the day before and to dry the track out, you actually go and drive on the track to soak up some of the wetness. So the crew got to take the cars out and we each got to take our own and go around the racetrack. That was pretty fun. That was one of my favorite episodes [to work on]. Just recently, this season, I really like the Gubbs storyline. Mike Grubbs is a great guy. Wakey!Wakey! is an awesome band and he’s awesome. I had the chance to see him play a few times live in Wilmington and around and on set. We had this little intimate cast and crew wrap party and he played for everyone. That was pretty incredible. I like all those storylines with the musicians especially. The show itself has such heart. It’s hard to pick [favorites]. I don’t have one ship or anything. It’s all just the heart of it.
TDW: Speaking of the music, the sheer volume of bands you’ve introduced viewers to is overwhelming.
Goldfried: Music is its own character on the show. That’s something Mark and Joe have consciously done from the beginning and done an incredible job with it. It plays a huge role. That’s been fun to be around. Being around all these awesome musicians and seeing them perform live, it’s a really cool thing.
TDW: You and the cast and crew just went to Utah.
Goldfried: Yes, Park City.
TDW: You had tons of fans come out. Was it surprising that so many people came when you’re so far from Wilmington or not a surprise given how fervent the fanbase is?
Goldfried: It was not a surprise. It’s not a surprise anymore. It was for a while. After seven years, and all the mall tours, and the One Tree Hill music tour–back then maybe it was a little surprising but now we know they’re that fervent and they’re going to show up wherever we are, which is great. I think our cast is always very receptive to them, going over to take pictures and sign autographs. They get to interact a little bit.
TDW: There’s a massive fan campaign going on right now to show The CW how much they want the show to continue. From what I’ve heard, that’s gotten back to you guys and you know it’s going on. I’m curious to know the reaction you guys have had to it.
Goldfried: We have heard about that and our reaction is gratitude. It’s awesome. It’s amazing to know that the fans took their own initiative to do that. They’ve done that in past years, too, and we continue to be thankful for it.
TDW: Fans are on the edge of their seats, so anxious to find out what’s going to be.
Goldfried: So are we!
TDW: It seems that various places are reporting that it’s going to be a while. I feel like you guys are in this no man’s land. You can’t go back, you can’t go forward.
Goldfried: That’s sort of the nature of TV. It’s always been that way. It won’t be that much longer. We’ll know soon. But we are in no man’s land. We don’t know when. There’s no hard date or anything that we’ve heard of. The upfronts are in mid-May, as you know I’m sure. So we’ll know by then.
TDW: If this turns out to be the last season or even whenever the last season of the show is, how would you like One Tree Hill to be remembered?
Goldfried: Mark has always said they wanted to make somebody’s favorite show. We were never necessarily the biggest show and we’re certainly not the most promoted show. They just wanted to always make sure it was somebody’s favorite show and I think it ended up being a lot of somebody’s favorite show. I’d like it to be remembered that way, too.
TDW: Any last message for the fans?
Goldfried: We’re really happy that everyone is sending in their messages to The CW. That’s awesome. We really appreciate it. Our new episodes return April 26th, the last four of the season, so everyone make sure you tune in for those because they’re going to be great episodes. Thanks for watching and thank you for the interview.
It’s a double-interview week! Come back Tuesday at noon for another exclusive interview!