Bri Castellini: Sam and Pat Have Many More Friends Now – @brisownworld

by Bri Castellini

[Last week we] wrapped principal production on Sam and Pat Are Depressed season 2 today, almost exactly a year after we wrapped production on season 1, and I can’t quite wrap my head around that feat. We shot 48 pages of script in 4 days, which, for those of you outside the film industry, is “bananas,” to quote my DP Conor.

We hit 100% on our little Seed&Spark campaign in 15 hours, then eventually hit 253%, which allowed us to splurge on things like more food for cast/crew on shoot dates, production design, wardrobe, and more. This season looks fricking incredible, and it’s because of this little community we’ve built, of friends new and old, and I’m so beyond grateful. As is common when I finish productions, this is a thank you blog.

Chris Cherry really stepped up this season, writing two episodes (episode 5 and 7!) and joining me as an Executive Producer, in spite of the fact that I wrote him WAY more complicated prop gags and he hates doing that many things at once. He’s a good egg (spoiler for season 2, episode 7) and I couldn’t be more honored to have him as a creative partner in this process. Thank you for making my script funnier and better, and sweating on camera through a heat wave to bring more of this story to life.

Andrew Williams is an incredible comedy director, but it was his ability to help Chris and I “find the pain” that truly sets him apart and makes him the perfect fit for this project yet again. We didn’t make it easy on him this season, with double the pages and significantly higher expectations, but he came through and THEN some. This season looks so, so, so cool, and it’s almost entirely because Andrew refuses to settle for “good enough.” Thank you for not letting my efficiency brain overrule your creative one.

Michele Austin Rodriguez stepped into the position of Associate Producer, Script Supervisor, and, at the absolute last minute, Sound Recordist, and I absolutely trusted her with every single one of those roles because Michele is a BAMF. She also heralded all of the cute little promo videos from the Seed&Spark campaign into existence, played a new character in season 2 with an absolutely delightful energy, and knowing she’s on my team always makes me calmer. She also provided much needed Girl Power energy on a big set o’ boys, and I love her for it.

Kris Keochinda was also a new teammate, and immediately stepped into the roles of Associate Producer and Assistant Director, and I already have the paperwork filled out to adopt him, because he was unbelievable. He was behind most of the Seed&Spark updates, pre-writing a bunch of social media posts and pitching ideas that boosted our contributions when we sorely needed them boosted. On set, Kris was a powerhouse, keeping the rest of us idiots on task despite the heat, the insane page counts we were aiming for, and how exhausted every single one of us was. Behind every great set is a Kris Keochinda, otherwise it’s not actually a great set.

Conor Phillips joined us in the last week of pre-production after we lost our original DP (Brandon Smalls) and then our other DP (Kelly Robinson), and he didn’t just deliver. He completely transformed both the project and our set for the better. Conor is a big weirdo who fit right in and whose sense of humor tethered us to reality when all we wanted to do was stick our heads in ice buckets and give up on the whole thing. He was also an incredibly hard worker who, despite being as burnt out as the rest of us, traveled the furthest to set, did the most physically demanding things, and still captured Sam and Pat gorgeously for all of you to soon enjoy.

Colin Hinckley is a special guest star in episode 2, and was forced to wear long sleeves on our first morning of production at the beginning of a truly horrifying NYC heat wave. He was also absolutely hysterical in spite of the how uncomfortable our circumstances were, and I’m humbled to have gotten to work with him on 2 of the 4 projects I’ve been on this year.

Rebecca McDonald doesn’t even live in New York City anymore and still managed to help us coordinate new wardrobe for season 2, bringing us beer from the brewery she works at in CT with her to our final meeting. Rebecca is the wind beneath my wings, and I can’t quite believe that an angel of her stature continues to bless us with her fabulous self.

Page Schumacher is the reason Alison Sumner’s bedroom is perfect, and after being away from NYC for a few years, is back and the reason Sam and Pat’s new apartment looks exactly as you would imagine two partially functional depressed people would have. She incorporated all our weird set dressing requirements into a space that we weren’t just excited to film in, but I’m now excited to continue living in.

Jay Cowan is someone I’ve heard a lot about from Chris since they’re coworkers, but we never had the pleasure of meeting until he got involved in season 2 as a special guest star in an episode I’m absolutely not revealing to you until it happens. Jay has been a fan and supporter of Sam and Pat’s from the beginning, and we’re thrilled we got to physically involve him this season. In a way, again, that I refuse to divulge. Because it’s funner that way.

Kelly Robinson was almost our DP, then had to back out at the last minute because of some unfortunate scheduling stuff with another project she’s on. Successful and talented people are the worst, amirite? We couldn’t have done this without Kelly, because even though she was only at one meeting with us, we used the shooting schedule she helped us devise in the eventual production and developed some of our favorite shots as a result of conversations with her. She was with us in spirit and we are so, so grateful for it.

Brandon Smalls was also almost our DP again, but due to his commitments at Columbia wasn’t able to join us on set this time. It’s actually the first of my projects Brandon hasn’t been on since Brains season 2, sadly. However, Brandon still loaned us all of his equipment so we could make the best season possible, which he absolutely did not have to do. Thank you, Brandon, for being with us even when you couldn’t physically be with us.

Grady Christopher was almost our sound recordist, but again, scheduling was not our friend. In spite of this, he graciously loaned us some excellent sound equipment for the first weekend and helped us find a great deal on equipment for the second, completely for free because he believed in what we were doing and because he’s distinctly delightful. I met him on my second production of the year, hired him for the third, and getting to involve him in any capacity for this fourth one is a testament to how amazing he is. I can’t wait for whatever the fifth and sixth and 100th end up being.

Quinn Ramsay is not only everyone’s favorite Sitting Man (who you may or may not see again in season 2), but also the chef behind the final shot of this season AND my ever-excellent life partner. He dealt with his home being overrun for two weekends in a row, confined in our bedroom and not allowed to make noise or go to the bathroom without permission. And he still kept a smile on his face and made me dinner afterwards and made sure that I was taking care of myself. I absolutely do not deserve this human being in my life, but I will spend whatever time I have left on this Earth trying to.

And finally, a huge big thank you to all our Seed&Spark pledges. Sam and Pat season 1 was written to be the simplest possible production, and in many ways it was, but Sam and Pat season 2 needed to escalate in more ways than one.

Our script was double the pages, quadruple the work, and at least eight times more expensive, and to offset that, we decided to do a small (initial goal of $700) Seed&Spark campaign to help pay for some props and some food.

As mentioned, our pledges then went above and beyond and we got to splurge on better stuff and on more food and on a podcast we’ll be releasing to lead up to the new season.

We also were able to reach way more people than we would have before the Seed&Spark, making it the first thing we’ve crowdfunded where we legitimately reached outside our own personal networks to find folks on the internet interested and invested in seeing more content like ours.

That’s a feeling you can’t buy, and I will never be done saying thank you. Thank you to everyone who gave any amount of support to us, because we truly believe in this weird little thing we’ve made and we could not have done it without you.

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.