There are a lot of ways to win an Emmy, and Megan Amram is ready to try any of them to emerge victorious. She’s an underdog, but she’s also the people’s favorite. She’s one of the snubbed, but she’s still a three-time nominee. She’s the victim of a grand conspiracy to keep her off the Emmy stage, and yet “An Emmy For Megan” is Emmy-nominated once again in 2019.
Most nominees pick one narrative and build an FYC campaign to support it. Some series are important. Others are undeniable. Once an angle is chosen, money is tossed around on screenings, parties, and corporate tie-ins. Upcoming seasons are teased in order to build excitement. Nominees implement new tricks and tactics all the time to hammer home their position and secure those precious votes.
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Amram is ready to do the same, only more. Following her crushing defeats last year when “An Emmy for Megan” went zero-for-two at the 2018 Emmys, Amram returned to the race with a vengeance. A year wiser, she set up a savvy Phase One campaign that matched Season 1’s haul: “An Emmy for Megan” is again competing for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series, and this year Patton Oswalt is up for Best Actor in the category.
But the road to the Emmys wasn’t easy. Hardships cast a cloud over her 2019 prospects, including an acting snub for Amram’s performance, and a targeted rule change that mandated a minimum run time for short-form episodes. So what can Amram do to gain momentum during Phase Two? How will Amram build a winning narrative around “An Emmy For Megan”? What can she do to make her show more accessible? Who does she know who could help build buzz? Where will she be able to connect with voters, and is there a line she won’t cross in order to win? IndieWire spoke with the three-time Emmy nominee during her early planning stages, and, I must say, it’s impressive.
Congratulations on the Emmy nominations for “An Emmy for Megan,” and I’m so sorry you weren’t nominated for Best Actress.
Thank you so much for the well wishes, but I would say overall it’s a bad thing.
That was my main takeaway from the tweets so far.
I’ve been wearing black in mourning for my acting career.
Well, in terms of the campaign you’ve got left, framing is very important, and that snub could work in the show’s favor — especially after losing last year. Do you see “An Emmy For Megan” as an underdog?
Oh, absolutely. I tend to go into everything I do as an underdog and then get really upset if it doesn’t work out for me. “An Emmy For Megan” really found its stride this year, which is part of the reason why I was so upset for not getting nominated for acting — I really pushed myself. This year, I acted in front of a green screen in the show, and I don’t know if you’ve ever done that…
I have not.
[not stopping] …but it’s very hard. It’s not real. You have to make up what you’re acting in front of, and that’s a very advanced thing to do. I’m just really honored that people have been on this journey with me for over a year now. I know there’s a lot of really hardcore “Emmy for Megan”-heads who will be really devastated if I lose, so I just want to get this out there: Last year was for me. This year, “An Emmy for Megan” is not just for me, it’s for all the fans. We all have a lot riding on this.
It’s very kind of you to share that with them, and I think the voters will really respond to that gesture. But another thing I’m worried about this year: There was the block voting scandal, and prior to that there were rule changes, which seemed targeted at your show — is there some sort of conspiracy within the Academy that’s trying to keep you from winning an Emmy?
You know, I would’ve said that a few weeks ago, and yes, I would still say that now. There is a conspiracy. But I adhered very closely to the rules, to the point that 90 percent of “An Emmy for Megan” is just reading the rules. I wanted to make sure there was no way they could disqualify me.
Another important aspect of this year’s race is accessibility — voters backing what they’ve seen, what they’re aware of. Your show is streaming, it’s online for free, but do you feel like it’s as accessible as possible?
I do. It’s free for everybody. It’s on Vimeo, which I think of as a cool platform for real filmmakers. But now that you’re mentioning it, I feel like if I put it behind a paywall it might be better and cooler? So if I do a Season 3 — and hopefully I win this year and I don’t have to make this again — but maybe I should make it a subscription service that’s, like, $40 a month.
That would be… very prestigious. That’s more than twice what HBO charges for all its shows.
But HBO has really extended its brand at this point, whereas “An Emmy for Megan” has a very clear, prestigious brand. I also think people think things are better if they have to pay a lot of money for them. That’s, like, human psychology. So the higher I charge for a monthly subscription to AnEmmyForMegan.com, probably the more Emmys I’ll get.
Another campaign tactic is building hype for the next season to keep the series front-of-mind. Are you willing to commit to a Season 3 and try to get some extra buzz that way?
I feel like my version of this [strategy] is telling people who don’t like “An Emmy for Megan” that if I win, then I won’t make another one. So, the publicity would be, yes, I’ll stop tweeting about it. I’ll stop flooding your timelines if you just finish me off, and give me an Emmy.
I had some plans in the coming months for publicity and For Your Consideration events, but maybe I should have people sign up to become producers on the next season, so if I win, then hundreds of other people would win. That might be a good tactic. […] And I want you to know, you’re already guaranteed a producer credit. You’ve been very supportive.
Well, now I’m conflicted. I want you to win the Emmy, but maybe I’d rather see Season 3 happen so I can share in the glory.
You’re right. I’m mixing the incentives here. I should say, if I win this year, then you can take a picture with my Emmy — for like, $70 or whatever.
Contenders have also toyed with the retirement strategy. Daniel Day-Lewis notably announced his retirement from acting prior to “Phantom Thread’s” awards run, Robert Redford dabbled with it before “The Old Man and the Gun.” Is that an angle you’d take in order to win?
I think that’s such a great point you’re making. I should say, now, this is also Robert Redford’s last movie. If you don’t give “An Emmy for Megan” an Emmy this year, you’re never going to see Robert Redford again. So, really, get it in there before it’s too late.
[But] we had a lot of celebrities in the show this year, so I’m really just wondering how much more famous do I have to get? If I don’t win an Emmy this year, basically what the Academy is saying is that James Corden is not famous enough. And he hosts his own series. So it might have to become a year-round process of me infiltrating the higher echelon of celebrity, pretending to be friends with them — because I respect them, but secretly, just to get them on the show.
Well, getting last year’s winner to be on your show seemed like a great strategy to get viewers to recognize, “Hey, James Corden won last year, now he’s endorsing Megan.”
Totally. I wanted people to know he was really passing the torch. These are my words, not his, but I’m just going to assume he’d say them too: He’s not in the category this year, which I was overjoyed by because I don’t want to go up against someone who has such history and I really think it was like, “I had my time, Megan. Now it’s your time.”
One more note on James Corden: A little Easter egg in “An Emmy for Megan” is I’m wearing a “Cats” shirt because I knew how amazing he was going to be in “Cats” before the trailer even came out. Now that everyone’s seen the “Cats” trailer, I just want everyone to know that I was the first fan.
Also, I’ve hesitated to talk about this because me not getting nominated for acting was so devastating, but Patton Oswalt — nominated for acting in “An Emmy for Megan” — he shines so much in the show. I’m so supportive of him, even though I’m also very jealous of him, and I think he could be the next James Corden.
I’m sure Patton would be thrilled to hear you believe in him so much. As far as Phase Two plans, can you share anything as we approach the voting period?
I just want to say I’m going to be using more parts of Los Angeles. Last year, we stayed on the ground with lawn signs, and the billboard was maybe 10 feet in the air, but I’m going to be trying to use more aspects of the city… if that… makes sense…
It sounds like you’re talking about an… aerial campaign?
I mean, we’ll see. But I am looking into IMAX screenings since that’s how “An Emmy for Megan” should really be seen. I’m also thinking of reaching out to some of my favorite chain restaurants to see if they want to have any sort of meet-and-greet, but at, like, a Cheesecake Factory or something. I’m really trying to think out of the box — which reminds me, I should also probably get an award for being the publicist in Los Angeles. No one’s doing this for me.
For your screening, have you considered implementing any sort of celebrity moderator? That worked out well for shows like “Barry,” which had Conan O’Brien host its FYC panel to broaden the event’s appeal.
I’d love a famous director like Paul Thomas Anderson — someone who’s made really good films. That would be a really fun conversation, I think, but I’ve also been in touch with some people from Season 1, and I want to talk to the people who might have killed me in the episode. Let’s talk through what went on. But if you know any celebrities, you can give them my phone number, which you don’t need to put in this piece.
I will alert my celebrity network, but would you be willing to answer the Season 2 cliffhanger during the campaign — to tell people who your killer was — in order to build a little buzz?
To be honest, part of that cliffhanger was because we wanted to submit it in the Interactive Category against stuff like “Bandersnatch,” and you know what, that was a more complicated category than we assumed. But interactive is the operative phrase for “An Emmy for Megan” as a whole. I want viewers to feel like they’re a part of the story. So maybe we set up a booth — again, at the Cheesecake Factor, probably — where people can take a picture with me when I look dead, and it can be like, “I killed Megan.” Really, I want everyone to think that they killed me, like “Spartacus.”
Last thing: I was very excited to see that “The Good Place” held its last table read, which means you know the ending of the show — would you share that ending with voters if it meant you could win an Emmy?
This has literally been discussed in “The Good Place” writers’ room, and they’re all very supportive of my journey. I think they all know where my allegiances lie, and that I’m capable of anything. But I will say that while “An Emmy for Megan” is probably the best show ever made, “The Good Place” is, like, second best, and it was very emotional to finish the show, so I’m not feeling super angry at them or anything. But if it comes into conflict, I’m a tiger and willing to look out for No. 1.
This interview has been edited for clarity and content.
Final-round Emmy voting is open from Thursday, Aug. 15 through Thursday, Aug. 29 at 10 p.m. PT. Winners for the 71st Primetime Emmys Creative Arts Awards will be announced the weekend of Sept. 14 and 15, with the Primetime Emmys ceremony broadcast live on Fox on Sunday, Sept. 22.