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‘The Food Ditty’ Is Basically All Your Summer Diet Struggles In Song Form [INTERVIEW]

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Ellen Wroe and Emma Bell have set the standard for musical food parodies. It’s been over a year since we last sat down with the two young LA-based actresses to discuss their video project The Food Ditty – a “spoof Rap/Jazz/R&B parody mocking the dichotomous viewpoints of the American health food craze,” which is every bit as hilariously absurd as it sounds – (Think Lonely Island meets the Monsanto debate and Super Size Me.) And, after months of brushing up their dance moves, almost spoiling a whole food truck and finally, nabbing a feature relationship with the comedy video website Funny or Die, the misses E-Wroe and Emma Bee are finally ready to torment farmer’s market and county fair-goers everywhere with – what else? – song.

The Food Ditty is largely influenced by the girls’ Los Angeleno surroundings and sketches a world plagued by overzealous vegan hippie chicks vs. junk food rappers on food trucks, but no matter what side you fall on, you have to admit, the ditty’s catchy as f@#k.

Check out the full interview plus the whole video for The Food Ditty and behind-the-scenes below:

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How do you feel having finally released your baby out into the world? Scared? Excited?

Ellen: Relieved!!!

Emma: Absolutely.

What would you say the Food Ditty is actually “about”?

Ellen: The Food Ditty is basically one big rant in which Emma and I make fun of our respective upbringings: my stereotypical Texan family that scoffs at any item marked “Organic” or “All Natural” versus Emma’s equally passionate family that wouldn’t ever think of even looking at much less stepping foot inside a McDonald’s.

Emma: It’s looking at the world’s current food war through a humorous lens. What kinds of foods we buy and eat has become as political as a presidential election. We are bombarded with anti GMO seed petitions, vegan crazes, McDonald’s ‘healthy’ food menu and 24 hour all you can eat buffets. Obviously, through our characters, Emma Bee and EWroe, we take this argument to the extreme, but that’s the point: To poke fun at it all. It’s food! Something that shouldn’t be at the center of so much debate. Eat delicious and healthy foods that make you happy but don’t make you ill, that’s all. We as a society have made food preferences a divisive issue, and Ellen and I thought that was pretty comical.

Do you have any funny/scary behind the scenes stories you can share? Any ravenous trips to Dairy Queen?

Ellen: Nearly spoiling an entire food truck full of food, that was scary. Our power outlet adapter for the food truck turned out to be incompatible. After two failed trips to Home Depot (one after closing hours as I banged [cried] ferociously on the door until they caved), our gaffer was able to successfully “jimmy” the outlet. PHEWPH.

Emma: That pretty much took the cake.

I’ve got to ask about the rolling ETA – first October, then February, now you’re finally done, May 2013. What happened exactly?

Ellen: Long Answer: There are hundreds of pieces to the puzzle that is film production. And when many of the pieces are fixed (budget, location, talent, crew) the piece that ends up being compromised is often the schedule. There were so many talented members of our crew that we simply weren’t willing to give up. So we often changed the schedule to ensure that everyone we wanted would be available.

Short Answer: I’m the eternal optimist and I never think things will take as long as they do.

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Can you walk me through the general post-production process? How long did everything take?

Ellen: Our post production process consisted of three elements: Editing, Visual Effects, and Color Correction (to be completed in that order). We could not start the second step without the finishing the first, so multi-tasking was not an option. Music videos are born and killed in the editing room, so we took our time draft after draft to ensure we had every cut, split screen, and font choice exactly right. Once we had a picture lock, we began tackling the VFX debacle which proved much more difficult than imagined. Color correction was actually the easiest and quickest step taking only two days!

Are you happy with the finished product? Is there anything you would change? Anything that turned out better than you’d hoped?

Ellen: I could not be happier with the final product. It’s exceeded even my highest expectations.

Emma: We are both so proud of all the work that went into this project from every facet of its creation. The final product is amazing!

Do you think the food scene has changed at all since you first started planning this video? Or do you find the themes are still pretty relevant? How so?

Ellen: Mmm this is probably an Emma question…

Emma: The Food debate just continues to rise. With the Monsanto Protection Act being signed, to huge protests against GE foods and in support of GMO labeling, coupled with a rise of obesity and health issues, I’d say it’s even more so.

How does a personal project like this feed into your professional lives? Or does it not really?

Ellen: Work begets work. No matter what the work. Over the past decade the entertainment industry with its formally strict gateway to distributing content (via a major studio or production company) has made way for a vast world of online avenues for Do-It-Yourself-Media. And what’s great about these avenues, is that good content (or content filled with cats) will be watched! So why not do it yourself and see what opportunities may arise?

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How did you get in touch with Funny or Die?

Ellen: Friend of a friend of a friend . . . and a lot of persistence on our end 🙂

Why decide to run with the Funny or Die link instead of your personal Youtube pages?

Ellen: Funny or Die has a much better filter for good, comedic content. YouTube…well, not so much.

How has feedback on the video been so far?

Ellen: Most of the feedback follows this sequence, “wow those sets were incredible. And so was Emma’s voice! . . . oh and Ellen . . .you really have a lot of energy.”

Emma: Don’t be so modest! Ellen has the most fantastically hilarious raps I’ve ever heard. And to think it’s all around Food? That’s a feat!

Do you plan on doing any follow up videos in the future? Perhaps with a different subject matter but using the same characters? (Ellen got the Gatorade Rap; can we expect a kale ballad from Emma any time soon?)

Ellen: We’re cookin’ up a few ideas . . .

You mentioned Emma was in New York checking out the theatre scene. How have misses Emma Bee and E-Wroe been spending their time since last we spoke?

Emma: I co- run a Philanthropic urban farming organization called Unitepeople. We are launching a summer campaign entitled, ‘Organic is Light’ which is all about how living sustainably and organically benefits ourselves and the world around us. It’s been incredibly fulfilling!

What’s next for the both of you?

Ellen: Emma’s returning to Dallas for Season 3 of the TNT show. And for me . . . who knows!
Emma: I’d say total world domination.

Images via Ellen Wroe

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Hit-Or-Miss

Sitting Down with Final Destination 5 Stars Emma Bell and Ellen Wroe to Talk Life, Work and Their Silly Little Food Music Video

(Reapers, Rednecks and Hippies: The Food Ditty is what happens when you take two up-and-coming actresses and let them sing about bacon and kale — that is, pure comedic genius.)

It’s 4:30 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon and everything around feels so ridiculously “Los Angeles.” For starters, it’s just the second week of August and already we’ve had not one, not two, but four not-insignificant earthquakes in the past three days. I had to beast it through at least an hour of traffic just to get here. And the weather outside has settled down to a cool 95 in the shade. Sitting across from me at the Intelligentsia Café in Silverlake — Macbooks and Chihuahuas in tow — are Emma Bell and Ellen Wroe, stars in such little things as the Walking Dead and Gary Unmarried and most recently, costars in the latest installment of the Final Destination franchise, Final Destination 5. Bell’s blonde-framed, Irish-skinned face is practically melting off as she describes to me her personal food philosophy. To her left, Wroe (or as her rapper alter-ego is known, E-Wroe) is laughing.

“My take on food is a little more extreme than ‘Everything in moderation,’ Bell (AKA Emma Bee, a self-proclaimed hippie-vegan-fairy-princess) explains, “I love food, very very much. I think food most importantly is there to nurture us, and — and now she’s laughing at me.”

I don’t even have to turn to hear it, which helps provide an early glimpse into the girls’ ribbing, sisterly relationship — though who exactly is the big sis and who’s the little is hard to tell at this point. Maybe they alternate, maybe they’re both at the same time or actually neither one at all. But that might be getting ahead of things. It could also just be the heat talking. So let’s backtrack.

Right, so, it’s L.A. We’ve got that. It’s summer—got that too. Now, why, exactly, are we here? Could it be the fact that two young, attractive up-and-coming actresses want to spend their free time singing about food and somehow that’s kind of awesome? Or the fact that the Kickstarter campaign for their aforementioned food symphony ends in less than a week and could very well benefit from a few well-placed journalism plugs?

It might be a little bit of both.

The Food Ditty, our transitory raison d’etre, can be best described as a parody Jazz and Rap and song and dance battle between junk food rapper E-Wroe and vegan singer Emma Bee, and is also, incidentally, Wroe and Bell and director Brent McHenry’s summer video project — who’d have thunk.

Set to include puppets and food trucks and magic carpet rides, the Food Ditty aims to mock the “dichotomous viewpoints of the American health food craze” and do so in something along the vein of the Lonely Island—that is, with music. And sexy people. And puppets.

A quick once-over and you can tell Wroe and Bell both strangely are and aren’t their characters. Wroe, the 24 year old, Texas-born brunette/gymnast/USC-ADPi alum, plays E-Wroe, former star of the popular Gatorade Rap and current hater and tormentor of farmer’s markets worldwide. Bell, the Jersey-born, 26 year old blonde, plays Emma Bee, whose own character belts out the wonders of kale and flowing armpit hair and having regular bowel moments three times a day. Neither of them is the “hero,” and — spoilers — neither of them really wins, but the two friends first met while filming Final Destination 5 and it was on that set in Vancouver two years ago that the smallest kernels of the Food Ditty first began to take root.

They tell the story of Wroe’s lowest food moment:

“It was on Final Destination 5,” Wroe says, “I play the gymnast in the movie. So then a day of training was particularly rough. I was hurt, I had all these bruises, my hands were ripping, and I was just not doing well. I was so mad and I decided I needed ice cream, so I left, and I went walking to find a Dairy Queen. Took me 40 minutes and I finally found one—”

“And on the side of a highway,” Bell interrupts, “It’s not like we’re in a city center. We’re like in the suburbs.”

“— Like the suburbs. Anyway, I knew what I was doing going into it,” Wroe continues, grinning, “I ordered a waffle cone and a Blizzard and I ate it. And then I ordered another Blizzard… ”

Bell breaks out the finger quotes: “—for a ‘friend.’”

Wroe laughs. “I said, ’Can I get a Blizzard for my friend outside?’ and they knew I was by myself. Anyway, I took it out and then I walked next door to a McDonald’s and got this really cool Oreo Caramel McFlurry they don’t have in America. And I felt fine.”

Watching the two of them go at it is a bit like watching another “Dis B*tch” .gif, except with more residual heat and more background traffic noises. “After that, I was like, ‘someone needs to reign this child in,’” Bell says, “and I tried to put her on an all-healthy, you know, vegetable, lean meat thing, just to cleanse her system. And I remember one day she’s like, ‘yeah, my stomach hurts again. I think it’s the apple. And I’m like, ‘yeah, I don’t think it’s the apple.’”

Both raised in homes with firm eating dogmas, Bell and Wroe also incidentally both have parents who dealt with cancer in their youth. When her mother was diagnosed with leukemia when she was seven, Bell explains, she completely overhauled their family’s diet, switched to vegetables, raw and healthy eating, and is currently alive and well after originally having only two years left to live. When Wroe’s father was diagnosed with lymphoma at age eight, on the other hand, he decided to have a milkshake “every day” (but is, incredibly, also still alive).

And maybe deep down, the Food Ditty can be read as a response to all that, some long-a-coming, Jungian result of years of childhood stigmas bubbling to the surface — or, as Bell jokes in the Kickstarter promo, maybe it’s just a testament to the girls’ undying commitment to being popular. In any case, both girls admit their end goals are to just do good, be good, and have a good time:

“I tend to play really sad, dramatic, crying characters, or I die,” Bell says, “so I thought it would be fun to do just a fun, light-hearted thing.”

Wroe, who started acting playing mostly male or androgynous characters in her high school plays, takes part of her inspiration from the young miss Rebecca Black: ““I saw her [video, ‘Friday’] and was like, ‘seriously? This is terrible. If she can do it, so can I.’”

When I ask, they tell me that almost everything is done. The song is recorded. The director is set. L.A.’s The Bun Truck will make a cameo, and the two of them are most excited about shooting the film’s final dance off sequence in the middle of a split-screen county fair/farmer’s market.

All they need left is the money to do it. For now though, as the sun goes down and the temperature keeps rising, the fair-skinned Bell has retreated to the shady part of the table, and the group of us has barely enough energy for a quick word association game (Subway: Gross; Foodbeast: Brilliant) before we just have to get up and go — E-Wroe, Emma Bee and Whimsy (Emma’s dog) to film a JBeibs spoof, and me to the sanctuary of my car for the two hour long drive home.

The Food Ditty Kickstarter campaign ends this Thursday, August 23rd, with filming set to begin in September.

And for an idea of what to expect, check out Ellen’s previous food music video project, The Gatorade Rap:

[Pics thnx to Ellen Wroe]