Bri Castellini: Fame, Branding, and Chubby Women – @brisownworld

Image credit goes to Marshall Taylor Thurman, who has the unique ability to get incredibly unflattering photos of my giant arms.

by Bri Castellini

Been thinking a lot about branding recently. It’s a topic that comes up a lot in indie filmmaking, because it’s important that all of your projects’ assets follow similar themes, colors, etc so that people can easily tell what accounts and posts are yours. It’s also something pretty integral to my ambitions in the media and entertainment world, because online, personal brand is everything.

I know how much me and my personal identity entangles with my work and the promotion of it. I know I’m one of the most Google-able (if not THE most Google-able) person in my casts and crews. I’m the only Bri Castellini on the internet, baby, and you can basically find my entire life story in the first few pages of search results. Plus I literally run all the social media and email accounts associated with my projects (as well as the social media for one of my friends) and at this point people are wise to that.

I’m also not ashamed to type here in my decade-old personal blog that I want to be famous. Whenever anyone asks what my plans for the future are, I say “get very famous,” and I’m only a little bit kidding (because my actual plans are to get MASSIVELY famous). With fame comes power, and with power comes the ability to be creative full time and pay my collaborators the crazy amount of money they’re absolutely worth.

I want to be famous, and therefore I spend a lot of time thinking about my brand. I can’t just be “Bri Castellini, person.” I have to be “Bri Castellini, pre-famous filmmaker and writer,” and that’s distinct, even if only subtly. This means I also have to be conscious of the kinds of projects I’m developing, because if I make things that are too dissimilar from each other, it’ll be hard to leverage my existing audience that I fought so hard to attract. Granted, that audience is pretty tiny right now, but it’s not nothing.

I’m very curious to hear what y’all think my “brand” is, so leave thoughts in the comments if you have them. In my mind, based on the projects that have been successful/gotten me my teensy audience, these are the Bri Castellini keywords I’ve come up with:

  • Millennial woman
  • Comedy
  • Profanity
  • Asexuality
  • Mental illness/anxiety/depression
  • Zombies

Looking at this list, struck me today that despite it being a pretty obvious option, I haven’t really leaned into the chubby facet of my identity. While I use my struggles with mental illness and my asexuality a lot in my work, further strengthening the “authenticity” of my brand as it relates to my creative endeavors, I haven’t really explored weight. Both Alison Sumner and Sam from ‘Sam and Pat’ are chubby because they’re me, but their weight literally never comes up in their stories. I have often wondered if this is a mistake.

You don’t see chubby women on screen very often, especially not as “women.” Chubby women are reduced (hah) to their weight, or to the undesirable comic relief character, and rarely find opportunities for lead roles or roles more complex than “fat lady trying to lose weight.” So even though it wasn’t really my intention or a part of my development process, the fact that Alison Sumner is a chubby girl with a voracious sexual appetite and a romantic arc never once mentioning her weight is kind of amazing. The only example coming immediately to mind of a chubby women on film getting a romantic arc without her weight being mentioned is Sookie from Gilmore Girls, although that show (and it’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s writing in general) has its own weird issues with weight and fat people.

It’s weird that such a massive (hah) part of my own identity literally never occurs to me when writing. Maybe it’s internalized fat-phobia from having never seen fat female protagonists on screen. Who can say?

I guess the question is… is that bad? Am I doing my chubby sisters a disservice by not mentioning the weight of characters I play? Or by explicitly writing characters with a little more junk in the trunk? Or is not mentioning the weight of chubbier characters the more nuanced way to approach this and promote further positive representation? Is this a part of my brand I should be leaning into to reach my full (HAH) potential as an independent artist, or is “loud depressed asexual feminist” enough?  Am I missing out on a significant potential audience? DOES ANY OF THIS REALLY MATTER? (probably not)

I don’t know the right answer here. Boiling myself down to my base keywords is a weird way to spend an afternoon, and a weird way to think about my online activities as they service my overall ambition of incredible fame and fortune. For the record, this isn’t an invitation to weigh in (HAAAAAH ok I’m done), especially if you’re of the male persuasion, but if other similarly sized ladies have thoughts, I’d love to hear them.


Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE This post first appeared on her seriously cool blog.

InkTip.Com is More Than Just a Catchy Name

EDITOR’S NOTE: InkTip.Com and TVWriter™ have been associated for almost 20 years, but this is the first time the site has been reviewed here in over a decade. How’s the place holding up? Dawn McElligott tells us all about it:

by Dawn McElligott

From the “About” section at InkTip.Com:

InkTip was born in 2000 after witnessing the difficulties associates and friends in the industry have had in getting exposure for their works, let alone getting their scripts sold. The mission of InkTip.com is threefold:

  • Help the producer easily find a good script
  • Save time for the agent and manager in locating the right people for their clients’ scripts, or new clients
  • Greatly increase exposure for the screenwriter

InkTip seems more to this writer like Q-Tip, since it has a soft touch. Wary of scams but compelled to try a service that connects writers and producers, I registered two screenplays with InkTip at the end of February. As of this writing, the loglines for my works have been viewed 50 times by producers.

To register a script, the writer completes a questionnaire so that InkTip can categorize it for prospective producers. The survey asks about the genre, possible sub-genre, locations, etc. The writer must also be able to supply proof of prior registration with a creative works protection organization such as the Writers Guild of America, in order to list a script or a book on their website, https://www.inktip.com/.

After registering a script, I received an email from InkTip about loglines. The web service has a logline lab that gives practical guidance for a crucial ingredient in marketing: the logline. Writers can easily revise their loglines, synopses and scripts at no extra charge from InkTip.

After eight production companies read my loglines and went no further, I consulted the website’s loglines lab. Revising the logline caused me to re-think the essence of my work. The experience made me feel better prepared for an eventual sales pitch.

If I had a question, I was advised to email the company’s President, Jerrol LeBaron, at jerrol@inktip.com. Within 24 hours, either Jerrol or one of his employees would politely respond to my question. The website does publish a Writers’ Protocol, admonishing writers to first, wait three to six weeks before contacting production companies who’ve viewed their scripts and to do so only by snail-mail letters.

The company also advises writers to contact only those producers who have viewed their books, treatments or scripts. Contacting producers or production companies after a view limited to the logline and/or synopsis, is prohibited.

A non-refunded removal from the website is a published consequence of breaking these rules so writers are encouraged to play nice. As of this writing, at least one producer has assigned my script to a reader. InkTip notified me by email and the producer’s physical address was given.

The website states that viewing scripts is limited to members only and producers hoping to join are thoroughly scrutinized. Two of the criteria for membership as a producer are proof of funds and a perceived ability to make a film.

The website boasts that since its establishment in 2000, over 350 movies have been made through its services. The cost for listing a script is $60 for four months with discounts for multiple listings. The website also offers many other goodies, such as listings of networking events.

Receiving worldwide exposure from vetted producers makes InkTip.com a sound investment. Being treated politely and fairly will keep me coming back.


Dawn McElligott is a an award-winning writer and filmmaker in Los Angeles by way of Philadelphia and other points East. You can learn more about her HERE

Peggy Bechko on Writing: To Backstory or Not to Backstory

by Peggy Bechko

Okay folks, this time around we’re going to talk about Backstory…or not, your choice. If you’re not

A nice, simple backstory to put things into perspective, yeah?

interested you can skip away, and I know you will.

But, for the interested, here’s the facts. First, we, as writers, love to get into the story, we love the detail in our heads and all the little things that make our characters tick and the story move. And, we’re often told as we learn writing that backstory is vital.

Well, sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s not.

Basically here’s what backstory is: “As a literary device backstory is often employed to lend depth or believability to the main story. The usefulness of having a dramatic revelation was recognized by Aristotle, in Poetics.

Backstories are usually revealed, partially or in full, chronologically or otherwise, as the main narrative unfolds. However, a story creator may also create portions of a backstory or even an entire backstory that is solely for their own use.

Backstory may be revealed by various means, including flashbacks, dialogue, direct narration, summary, recollection, and exposition.”

Got all that? Okay so what does that mean, really? In plain speak backstory is that vital information that lends oomph to the main story.

So, how do we determine whether to include it or not. Seems like it should always be included, right? Wrong. Backstory information can be overwhelming to the point of smothering the main story if the writer isn’t adept.

Think about this. Whatever scene you’re writing, whether in novel or script – does that backstory tie directly into the action of the scene you’re creating? Backstory is everything that happened to the characters and world in your story before you brought the readers in to experience that world.

But, if your readers (or watchers) don’t need the information to go deeper into the tale and experience what is truly at stake, then it’s not needed. At least not in that scene.

There are basically two main ways to plug some backstory into your tale. It can be slipped in, little by little, revealed as the story moves on. It can also be simply explained outright leaving no doubt you’re plugging in some backstory to enlighten the movie goer or the novel reader.

These two main methods are very different and create very different effects in a story. As in a movie, if the watcher learns gradually about what’s happened to the characters before, it adds to a slow understanding of what underlies the characters motives for doing what he does.

If the backstory is laid out as so much information, telling the reader (if in a novel) what happened and how the character was effected by it or the world changed, it can jerk the reader out of his reader’s trance (the same in a movie).

Even so, both methods can, and have been used effectively. It’s up to us as writers to determine the best way of delivering backstory…and deciding if it’s appropriate and where.

And that brings us to another ‘qualifier’. Ask yourself, if the information is left out, will this particular scene be much less. Will it leave your reader or movie goer wondering just why the heck someone did or did not do something and why the world you’ve created is what it is?

Tricky.

True.

But considering backstory in your novel or script, and taking time to decide how to use it wisely will result in a gripping tale not to be forgotten. It’s one of those ‘underpinning thing’ that simply can’t be ignored.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Bri Castellini: I Don’t Have Hobbies – @brisownworld

Who is this strangely masked, erm, being?

by Bri Castellini

In an attempt to make the laziest possible vlog, I asked Twitter for questions I could answer. 

One question I wanted to expand on was from my pal Amanda Taylor, who asked if I had any hobbies that I do strictly for fun, referencing the fact that for most people making movies/videos/writing weren’t a part of a larger scheme to get wildly famous and do them full time for lots of money. It legitimately took me a while to answer that question, because on the surface it really doesn’t seem like I have any “real” hobbies. I am, as you’ve likely discovered, very boring.

I couldn’t even consider watching TV shows a hobby, because even though I do it a lot and technically I’ll never be paid to do that, I’m always analyzing shows I watch for structure and themes and seeing what they’re doing that I could be doing better in my own work. To be honest, watching TV has gotten a little exhausting because I can’t turn that part of my brain off anymore. I’m always scanning for continuity issues, for where cuts take place and why they take place where they do, and if the writing or characters are problematic in any way. Becoming a filmmaker and a feminist have ruined my ability to casually enjoy watching things and there are times when I very much wish I was still ignorant.

I don’t consider “hanging out with friends” a hobby and besides, I rarely do it outside of work or networking anymore. Half the reason I’m always scheduling shoots is to see the people I love because otherwise we’re all too busy with OTHER shoots and projects and work. If I didn’t live with Quinn, I’d barely see him at all, and even now we often miss each other due to my work and creative schedule.

Crafting/crocheting could count, but I only really do that when it’s wintertime and Christmas and birthday season is upon me, because I have like ten years worth of yarn built up I can make hats and crocheted trinkets as gifts. That’s not for fun, but function, so crocheting is out as well.

That leaves the only real hobby I have left…

Video games.

It’s weird- though my brother and I played a lot of video games as kids, I never really considered myself a gamer. I considered myself a misanthrope. We used to play the podracer and Harry Potter PC games together, and then later Super Smash Bros on the Game Cube, and I had a Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advanced mostly for car trips, and for a while I had a flirtation with Runescape, but none of those things ever felt central to my relaxation or identity. They were just things I did to pass the time outside of reading and writing and playing sports and going to school.

Now, video games are truly the only time I’m not multitasking. Since I don’t have cable, I watch TV/movies on my laptop, which means I can leave the tab playing while I browse Twitter or Tumblr or check emails or send out press releases. Even while I’m crocheting and watching something I take breaks for email and social media, all of which are not for personal reasons but to keep up with my creative projects.

Playing video games doesn’t allow me to do that, because my hands are busy with the controller and my eyes and mind are busy with the screen, anticipating enemy movement or building a dope homestead on an island west of post-apocalyptic Boston. Depending on how familiar I am with the game, I might also be listening to a podcast, but usually it’s just me and the adventure.

I almost exclusively play open world games, because I’m easily frustrated by not being allowed to forge my own paths to my destination and having to follow a single storyline. I like being able to peel off from the plot to massacre some raiders or spend twelve hours building a mansion for myself and my twelve dogs. My favorite game of all time is Fallout 4, which Quinn got me for my birthday back in 2015, but close behind are Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed: Origins. I played all the way through Dishonored, another Bethesda game (the developer behind Fallout and Skyrim), but it’s not as open as the other games and being stuck in a single quest was really annoying. It was a shorter game which helped me complete it, but overall it’s not an experience I’m likely to repeat.

I like that I can’t multitask during games- it keeps me present and actually allows me to relax (even if the game itself is tense). Never thought I’d end up being someone who plays video games as much as I do, but I’m grateful for the role it plays in my life.

Now, Bethesda, for the love of GOD stop coming out with crappy VR versions of 7 year old games and just give us a new Elder Scrolls already.


Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE This post first appeared on her seriously cool blog.

TV Writers: How To Navigate Staffing Season

Photo Courtesy of the Writers Guild Foundation

By Kelly Jo Brick

Television staffing has become a year round opportunity for writers, but how does a new writer maneuver his or her way through the process of getting hired on a show?

The Writers Guild Foundation brought together a group of TV writers including:

Elias Benavidez  (BEYOND)

Niceole Levy  (SHADES OF BLUE, THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA)

Joe Lawson  (THIS IS US, JANE THE VIRGIN)

Shernold Edwards (HAND OF GOD, SLEEPY HOLLOW)

Moises Zamora (AMERICAN CRIME)

And moderator Brandon Easton (MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER) to share their own struggles with breaking in, writing the scripts that got them hired, what to expect when meeting with executives and showrunners and how the staffing landscape has been changing.

GETTING STAFFED IF YOU DON’T HAVE REPRESENTATION.

  • Apply for the television fellowships. Those programs can get you meetings and help put you up for a show before you ever have representation.
  • Talk to everyone you possibly can in the industry, but don’t be annoying. If an executive or other writer offers to stay in touch, believe it.
  • Representation sometimes does find you. Take workshops like UCLA classes. Referrals are often what lead to getting someone to rep you. Agents generally come in after you have a job.
  • Always keep writing. That’s what’s going to get you in the room.

SHOULD YOU WRITE SPECS OF CURRENT SHOWS?

  • Writing a spec will help you build a muscle that you will need. Good writing is good writing and that will help you no matter what.
  • Some execs won’t submit a writer who doesn’t have a spec in their portfolio. Have at least one that you love, to show you can write in the voice of someone else, because that’s the job.
  • Original voice is very important. Have an original pilot and a spec. It has you prepared for whichever an executive or showrunner will want.
  • Reading and writing specs are a good way to train you mind to look beyond the pilot.

HOW MUCH DOES IT MATTER TO WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW?

  • Write what you are passionate about. If it’s interesting to you, it’s interesting to them.
  • Think about how you want to market yourself.
  • Have something you want to say, channel your experiences and feelings into your characters and story.
  • Agents and managers have a passion barometer. They can tell if you care about what you’re working on. When you put your whole being into a script, people can tell.

STAFFING IS ALL YEAR LONG. HOW HAS THAT CHANGED THE HIRING ENVIRONMENT FOR NEWER WRITERS?

  • There aren’t a lot of network, 20 plus episode a season jobs anymore.
  • Shows are top heavy, but there are a few lower level positions.
  • Executives change jobs all the time. They also share with other people when they meet a writer they like, so if that one job doesn’t hit, still keep that relationship going. You never know where it can lead.
  • Part of getting a lower level staff job is building a fan club of people who want to help you succeed. There’s nothing that will endear you more to someone than genuine enthusiasm.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN MEETINGS WITH EXECUTIVES AND SHOWRUNNERS.

  • Know your personal story and be ready to share it. Also be able to tell them what shows you’re watching.
  • Do your research on who you’re meeting with, but don’t get too personal.
  • Be able to talk about what you like from their pilots, what you’re excited to write about and don’t be afraid to be wrong. Just be passionate about what you love about the show.
  • Try to find a personal connection to a character in the showrunner’s script. That can build conversation.
  • Know what they read of yours so you’re prepared to answer any questions they have about it.
  • Sometimes people will ask what you don’t like about a show. Prep a positive way to talk about it.
  • Some executives bait you into crapping on other shows. Don’t do it.

TIPS ON SURVIVING UNTIL YOU GET THAT FIRST JOB.

  • If you’re worried about money, you can’t write. It’s too scary. Do whatever you need to in order to keep yourself alive and comfortable. If you have to, sacrifice sleep or other things, but keep writing.
  • Build a routine around your day job to make sure you’re still leaving time for writing and networking.
  • Don’t get tunnel vision. If you don’t live life, you won’t have anything to write about. Do other things.
  • Be prepared for a lot of uncertainty. Am I going to get the agent? Am I going to get the manager? Am I going to get this job? Am I going to keep this job? What if the show gets cancelled? It never ends. You have to find a way to manage it.
  • You have to ask for stuff, because nobody will offer to introduce you to his or her agent. You have that one shot you can ask. They’ll either say yes or no. You can’t be afraid to ask.

WHAT ARE THE EXPECTATIONS FOR A FIRST TIMER IN THE ROOM?

  • If you can say one thing of value before lunch and one in the afternoon, that’s good. Don’t force stuff out of your mouth because you want to be heard.
  • Read the room. See, hear, listen. See what the room needs. If everyone talks, you don’t need to. Build that skill of understanding for what the room does and doesn’t need.
  • Watch who is successful at pitching in the room and model their behavior.
  • It’s not your job to challenge the boss. Do whatever you can do to add to your showrunner’s idea.
  • Remember, just because you’re not talking, doesn’t mean you’re not working.

The Writers Guild Foundation regularly hosts events that celebrate the craft and voices of film and television writers. To find out more about upcoming events, go to wgfoundation.org.


Kelly Jo Brick is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.