by Bri Castellini
Last year, I:
- Lost my job at MTV, a job I loved
- Moved apartments
- Released my short film and the second Brains Extended Universe project
- Attempted to film and release a new web series, called “Why Isn’t Bri Making A New Web Series?”
- Failed at that
- Went broke
- Wallowed in self pity
- Started working for Stareable, first for free, then part time, then full time
- Crowdfunded for two projects in one month
- Wallowed some more
- Shot and released Sam and Pat Are Depressed season 1
This year, I:
- Shot and edited a brand new short film (January)
- Spoke at a web series panel/screening in New Jersey (February)
- Moved apartments, unplanned (February)
- Produced the web series The Mother Lode (February-April)
- Produced the web series Stray (February-July)
- Organized a film festival from scratch (January-July)
- Spoke at a film festival in Toronto (May)
- Launched a podcast with Stareable (June)
- Crowdfunded for Sam and Pat season 2 (June-July)
- Produced and shot Sam and Pat season 2 (May-August)
- Started a podcast for Sam and Pat (July)
- Spoke on a panel at FlameCon (August)
- Hired as the digital media professor for my old grad program (August)
- Spoke at a film festival in New Jersey (September)
- Starred in a one-act play (October-November)
- Started a DnD podcast (October)
- Started planning another film festival from scratch (November)
- Hit 1000 followers on Twitter (December)
“I am dedicated to making this year my most creatively fulfilling one yet, and so far, I’m as on track as possible.” -Bri, January 2018
Last year, the only new thing I created was Sam and Pat, a show I love and that continues to bring me joy. But I made it late in the year, after a year of professional and financial setbacks that nearly overtook me. Yes, my short film and a Brains EU project came out last year, but both were already completed and just needed releasing, so they don’t count as “new.”
Last year, I was miserable. Trump was newly elected, I was newly laid off, and I was floundering. I wasn’t creating, I didn’t feel productive, and everything sucked.
This year, whatever the opposite of that happened. As you can see from that list, I was building something every month, whether it was a film project for me, a film project for someone else, a podcast, or a major work event. I traveled all over to speak at festivals and film schools, was hired as an adjunct, and despite that, I still only completed half of my New Years Resolutions. I wanted a busy 2018, and I got it, but I’m looking forward to calming the hell down next year.
I’ve never been great at balance. Some (much) of this years’ busy schedule was out of my control, but plenty came from choices I made. I am… exhausted. Yes, I feel better about this year than last year, but I am so, so tired. I need a break. I need a vacation! I haven’t had a vacation all year- every day I took off of work was spent working on something else. Half my weekends (probably more) were overtaken by meetings, being on set, traveling to speak somewhere, or post production. Not again.
Since Brains came out in 2015, I like to think I’ve proven myself in the indie production arena. I’ve made two seasons of Brains, two extended universe projects, two seasons of Sam and Pat, and two short films, all in three years. And that’s not counting the projects I’ve personally produced (Relativity, the first two episodes of Vloggers, History, The Mother Lode, Stray). But I think that that phase of my life is coming rapidly to an end, for two reasons:
- My means haven’t changed. While every project has of course improved in production value and marketing strategy, I still have no real, sustainable way of paying my cast and crew, let alone myself. And I’m past the point of the “passion project” defense. I’ve got plenty of no-budget work that I’m proud of on my resume, but unless my means change, every subsequent project is going to be more of the same.
- I don’t want to be a producer. I really, really don’t enjoy logistics, particularly when it’s not my project. I love the work I’ve gotten to do, and the people I’ve gotten to help, but I do not love producing, and continuing to produce will only make it harder to do the work I actually want to do: write and direct.
I don’t want to continue to make no-budget work, begging friends to volunteer their services, and go further into debt every time I do. That’s not getting me to the next stage of my career, and makes me a shitty friend. With very few exceptions, unless my means to pay people (including marketing people) increase, I’m taking off my producer hat for a while.
So what does this mean for 2019? You’ll see in more detail when I publish my new New Years Resolutions on the 1st, but as a teaser:
- More writing. Like, by a lot
- More table reads, to keep in touch with actor friends despite likely not seeing them on set
- Releasing two projects (Buy In and Sam and Pat season 2) and giving them a real shot at success with all that I’ve learned about marketing, film festivals, and more
- Even more writing. I’m a writer, I should be writing, and not just how-to blogs for work
- Vacations. I didn’t take any time off in 2018 that wasn’t explicitly for an indie production, and I can’t do that again. I need to actually take non-work time because being this tired all the time isn’t healthy
2019 will hopefully be defined by boundaries and balance, two things I’m The Worst At. Since there is no finish line in sight, I’m going to try not to put so much pressure on myself to become a household name by 30. I am enough as I am right now, and killing myself to hit a “more impressive” level of success by a “more impressive” age is short-sighted and dangerous.
I’m an adult. And I need to start acting like one.