Bri Castellini: 2019, Noticed – @brisownworld

by Bri Castellini

Been a while! I foresee a handful of New Years Resolutions not being fulfilled this year, because this year has been… unexpected.

Last year was insane for me, one of the busiest years I’ve ever had, one of the most creatively rewarding, and one that I felt very strongly about not repeating right away. “2019 will hopefully be defined by boundaries and balance,” I stated in a blog at the end of last year. I even made my work Slack status “Boundaries and Balance 2k19” for a while, because branding is important.

And then 2019 actually started and I remembered that I’m me and that’s not how things tend to go in my life.

Work/Life Imbalance

First off, I really stepped up the #WorkTripLyfe, traveling out of state twice a month for all but one of the first few months of the year. I started my year in LA and went to DC for a week in January, traveled to LA again and Oregon for the first time in 5 years in March, headed to Massachusetts and DC again in April, spent two weeks in Utah in May, and spent a long weekend in Denver in June.

And that’s far from the end of my traveling year- I’m likely heading back to LA in August and I’ll be in Colorado for a few weeks at the end of September and beginning of October. Then my cousin is getting married in San Diego in November and I’ll be heading back to Colorado for Christmas in December. Like, damn. So already, my balanced year of relaxation and writing has gone a bit awry.

Then, some work things happened that put me in a new financial freakout (I have one of these every two years, apparently), resulting in some shifts in expectations for what my employment situation will be moving forward. I’m still working with Stareable but on a more freelance, remote basis, and am filling in my work week with a new part-time gig with Seed&Spark and potentially a new teaching position, both also remote and freelance.

Stareable no longer has a physical office space, at least for the time being, and as a result I’m now 100% working from home (outside of traveling for events or being on hand for local events, like Stareable Fest that’s happening NEXT WEEK!). This has been a strange but unexpectedly welcome change to my routine- as much as I liked going into an office and building a day-to-day around picking podcasts for my commute and a new regular coffee spot, I didn’t realize how much of my day I was losing as a result.

I now have more time to work out in the morning without worrying I’ll miss my train, I spend less on transportation and coffee, I have more energy and time at home to help with chores and cooking, and I get to fully control and customize my work weeks without worrying where I am physically, which is useful particularly because Quinn and I plan on moving in the next year or two and it’d be great to be able to not have to job hunt.

Adjusting to life as a fully remote freelancer has been a full time job in and of itself- I have to find ways to motivate myself despite my new desk being in my bedroom, aka the room with my bed that I use to watch old Fallout 4 playthroughs. I also have to force myself to get up at the same time I used to, because I’m trying to swap the time I used to commute for working out. It’s not an understatement to say that I’m dangerously unhealthy, and I’m running out of good excuses to stick with that status quo.

Creative Successes

Creatively, this year has been amazing, if busier than anticipated. In January I accepted a job directing a web series for a female-led production company out of Utah run by two long-distance friends, Amanda and Kailee.

In May, they flew me out and put me up and we shot 7 episodes of a show called Better With You, a Halloween rom com that will be the most ambitious and beautiful thing I’ve gotten to be a part of. It’s the first project I’ve directed without also writing, the first full web series I’ve gotten to direct, and the first time working with a crew larger than three people. It was the best.

We also launched Sam and Pat season 2 this year, alongside two seasons of the Bri and Chris Are Depressed companion podcast, both receiving small but dedicated audiences. The Bri and Chris podcast has two more weeks of episodes to go up, and then…

Burn, Noticed

I made a joke on Twitter back in February about starting a podcast called Burn, Noticed, and then couldn’t stop thinking about how stupid and funny that would be, and then bullied Chris Cherry into co-hosting it with me.

I’m glad it worked out, because we’ve now recorded five episodes and I’m genuinely enjoying revisiting one of my favorite procedurals as well as deconstructing television on a regular basis with my most frequent writing collaborator. Plus, Chris is moving to LA in late August and this is a good excuse to keep in touch and continue creating together.

Burn, Noticed will launch the day Bri and Chris Are Depressed season 2 ends, meaning that I’ll have been releasing new creative content at least once a week since the beginning of March, which is a first. There was nearly a year between Brains seasons 1 and 2, then a few months after season 2 before Ace and Anxious was released, then another few months before the extended universe projects premiered, then nearly another year before Sam and Pat and ANOTHER year before Sam and Pat season 2.

I like podcasting because it’s a significantly lower-budget and lower-effort way to continue to be creative on a sustainable basis, which is important because if it’s going to be a while in between major film projects, I need something to keep my brain creative and my audience aware of my existence. I have over 1,000 Twitter followers after all. I have a RESPONSIBILITY.

Jokes aside, Burn, Noticed has genuinely been a thing I look forward to every week, and has been surprisingly useful in keeping my storytelling muscles toned. I hope people listen to it, because it’s also a pretty good show outside of a good thing for me as a person and creator to work on.

Bri, Burned Out

As you might imagine, a second year of rushing at breakneck speed to do as many things as possible is starting to wear on me. I’d like to think post-Stareable-Fest will be more chill, but I’d like to think a lot of things that aren’t realistic.

I’m staring down the barrel of four part time jobs in the fall, plus more traveling and work events and Better With You premiering in September and Burn, Noticed needing to go up every week and Buy In continuing its festival run.

The only solution I have currently is a highly specific weekly schedule I’ve made for myself that creates structure and uses my new working-from-home existence to reprioritize my health and the boundaries that will keep me sane and productive.

Will it work? Time will tell. But I’m really excited for all these new projects and work opportunities and now that living in New York has an end in sight (either mid-2019 or early 2020), I have hope that this unexpected non-break of a year might go my way after all.

Or I might have a massive breakdown like I did last year! Time will tell.

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Director at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Watch the remarkable Ms. Castellini’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE. See Sam And Pat Are Depressed HERE. This post first appeared on Bri’s wonderfully refreshing blog.