Bri Castellini: Needlessly Mooney – @brisownworld

EDITOR’S NOTE: Did you know that even award-winning indie filmmakers and web series creators have personal lives? Well, you do now:

by Bri Castellini


Bri: Can I interview you for my blog?

Quinn: Sure.

Bri: It felt less self indulgent than asking you to do a podcast with me.

Quinn: Fair. What do you want to interview me about?

Bri: Our relationship.

Quinn: Oh jesus. [sees me typing] Taking this all down? Ok. [sound of trepidation]

Bri: Are you happy?

Quinn: Meh. Is anyone happy in 2016? I mean since 2016. Edit that.

Bri: No. [beat] I mean in our relationship, obviously.

Quinn: Yeah, of course.

Bri: Why of course?

Quinn: Because you’re great and I love you.

Bri: That’s not a reason.

Quinn: Yes it is. [beat] You shouldn’t do this right after I woke up. I’m needlessly mooney.

Bri: Expand.

Quinn: Uuuuuuuuuhhh….. [pained look]

Bri: What would make you unhappy in our relationship? What would have to change for your feeling to change?

Quinn: I think if, um…. [long pause] I think if either of us were more inflexible it wouldn’t work as well. But as it is I think we both… we don’t take a lot too seriously. And if one of us is being silly usually the other one of us has the good humor to play along.

Bri: Give me an example.

Quinn: When I tell you to go fuck yourself, you laugh.

Bri: [laughs]

Quinn: Cuz you see it for what it is- me being a butt.

Bri: Can you give me a more real example?

Quinn: That is a lot of pressure.

Bri: Why?

Quinn: Cuz all the weirdos are gonna read this.

Bri: Like who?

Quinn: I dunno. Janine.

Bri: Tell them about Janine.

Quinn: [laughs] Janine is my other wife. Or, my other significant other. I can’t remember if we’re married-

Bri: You are.

Quinn: Ok.

Bri: Tell that story as you remember it.

Quinn: I don’t remember it! I hate this.

[fact check: Janine Janine is Quinn’s wife, the mother of his daughter Melissa Janine and currently pregnant with his unborn son Jean Janine.]

Bri: Tell me what you like about the stage we’re in in our relationship.

Quinn: Do we have to do this? If I was just telling you that’d be one thing. I don’t want to be on a blog.

Bri: Too bad. What’s one piece of advice you’d give another couple based on our relationship?

Quinn: I mean “communicate” is such a trope, but… Have a level of trust with that person that enables you to… how do I say this? [stressed out sigh] I’m trying to find a long-winded way of saying “don’t be an asshole to them. And if you are gonna be an asshole to them, make sure they know you’re joking and you’re willing to give it back.” That’s what I like about us, that we have a back and forth and I’ll never be as good at it as you but we both try.

Bri: I like that.

Quinn: I guess if I had to make it short- have good banter but also be excellent to one another…. you’re not actually gonna publish this are you? It’s absolute fucking drivel. It’s basically Ambien blogging.

[editor’s note: Ambien blogging is a reference to Rosanne Barr’s Ambien tweeting]

Bri: My advice is that you should be able to fart in front of each other.

Quinn: You know, in not so many words that’s what I was saying too. You gotta keep it cool and not hold your significant other to an unreasonable standard. People fart. They do gross shit. That’s just how it is. And they can do that and still be beautiful flowers of humankind also.

Bri: What’s the worst thing about dating me?

Quinn: I mean, you asking me to do this takes the cake 100%.

Bri: That feels like a good place to end this blog. I love you.

Quinn: Why do you do these things?

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.

Peggy Bechko: 3 Ways to Make Your TV or Film Script Stand Out

by Peggy Bechko

Let’s face it, the stories have all been told.

Truly original stories are tough to come by. We all have to get really creative. The screenwriting market is completely saturated.

Believe it or don’t. Like it or not. That’s the truth. The slush pile is deep. We may all think, “yeah, but” my script is one of those “truly great scripts” that “always get noticed and find their audience”.


Think of it this way. Have you seen a herd of cattle? Sheep? Well, that’s the slush pile and the script we want to sell is in there… somewhere…one cow.

Now maybe you could teach that cow to tap-dance or you could try some other methods of getting noticed, so let’s talk, and I don’t mean about how to teach that cow to tap-dance.

Let’s all consider how to avoid the ‘thanks for the read, but not for me’ rejection we all dread.

First things first – imagination followed by fantastic execution. If the idea isn’t imaginative enough then no amount of polished, amazing execution and presentation is gonna help.

The writer NEVER wants his/her script to feel like just one of the herd. As a writer you’ll have to dig deep and force that creativity to the surface.

It’s not like you don’t have it, you know you do. And, you can write your own version of pretty much anything, but you’re going to have to come up with that new twist the audience hasn’t seen before or a new character no one has seen brought to the forefront in the past.

Creativity is a skill. Work on it. Develop it, and never stop working on it. Creativity isn’t something that you have or you don’t. It’s something you work at and develop, like public speaking skills or woodworking.

THEN apply the fantastic execution so the producer sees that film in his/her head when they read.

Another thing. Do you know your world, the one you created, down to the last blade of grass?

You’ve given your story a setting, Africa somewhere, Brazil, New York City. The goal is to make your setting a character in the story you write. It’s not a cardboard cut-out backdrop, it’s integral to the story being told. If not, why not? It must feel real and present and most important, original.

There are a lot of writers out there and you don’t want to get lost in that crowd. The writer has to know the characters in the story down to the bone as well – and create fully fleshed out characters.

The characters have to be ones the audience can identify with. Not necessarily like, but care about. Give them real lives, know them well. Everything YOU know about your characters won’t literally be up on the screen, but if you’ve created the characters well, it will shine through.

Create characters with depth the audience can bond with emotionally and you’re going to grip them through to the end. The combination of setting and character, both done to perfection is something that can’t be ignored.

And, lastly, take some time to invest in the genre you’re writing in. I

f you want to write mystery, watch mysteries, old and new. Science Fiction? Watch lots of it. And on and on.

Check out the classics, the recent hits and the ones that bombed. Why, why and why? Learn from the best. Really know about the genre you want to write in.

And, on that note, know how to take criticism because you’re going to get a lot of it, no matter what genre you’re writing in.

Very few scripts are great from the get-go. BUT, there are lots of scripts with potential if you, as writer, can examine your own work critically, listen to valid criticisms and be ready always to ‘kill your darlings’.

Listen to the feedback of others. They might not always be right, but they most certainly possess another perspective. And, if it’s a producer odds are pretty high they’re right at least in many of their notes – this is, after all what they do.

If you can’t take criticism because you’re unable to listen to it or unwilling to take action on it you might reconsider what your professional goals are.

Imagination. Stoke your creativity. Listen to criticism. Don’t settle and the skills you need will be refined until your script does stand out from the herd and that cow tap-dances.

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: It’s Not About Belief – @brisownworld

by Bri Castellini

I think as liberals, especially liberals who are well-educated about discourse and rhetoric and identity who could be considered the “intellectual elite”, we often get the idea into our heads that if we just won the argument, those who disagree with us will finally come around. I can cite endless clips from comedy and straightforward news programs alike where a liberal reporter or correspondent interviews people on the street with simple questions designed to make them think about their preconceived notions differently. Like most viewers of these programs, I held my breath waiting for just one interview subject to notice how absurd they’re being. Spoiler alert: it neverever works. And so we all feel superior and smug and work on new thought experiments to try again. But in watching the endless and yet also far too brief Supreme Court hearings these past few weeks, I remembered that that’s not how it works. It’s not that these powerful men don’t believe Dr. Ford. Even if the FBI investigation had been allowed to run its full course, the decision makers wouldn’t be any more or less convinced. It’s not about belief. They just don’t care.

People who voted for Trump were not unaware of his history, or his hateful rhetoric, or the disgusting way he speaks to and about women. They didn’t care. There are lots of other reasons they voted for him, but it comes down to the fact that they cared about someone with enough boxes checked in favor of their beliefs being in power. And yet during the election liberals pretended that if we could just show those voters what an awful man he was, we could swing them back to reality. But it wasn’t that we just hadn’t showed them the right news clip or the right audio clip or the right densely-cited thesis on all the ways Donald Trump being in power is the most toxic thing we could do to ourselves. They. Don’t. Care.

And that’s terrifying. And makes me, clutching my degrees and my 6 years in competitive public speaking, feel absolutely powerless and unprepared. How do you combat hate if not with logic? How do you convince the hearts and minds of half the voting public that Russia influencing our elections and perpetuating hate crimes at the Mexican border are not “better than having a Democrat in the presidency” without a well reasoned argument?

One of the most interesting and alternatively most upsetting articles I’ve ever read and then kept bookmarked for occasions such as these is the one about Derek Black, a boy raised in white supremacy who over the course of several years was convinced that maybe people of other colors and backgrounds weren’t so bad after all. That article details how a group of Black’s college peers took him under their wing to slowly but surely get him to a place where he wasn’t just convinced that white people weren’t inherently better, but he cared that they weren’t. That’s the interesting part. The upsetting part is that obviously that’s not a replicable strategy for half the voting public. And it’s all well and good to feel like changing one person’s mind is something we should all strive for, that means nothing when half the voting public elected a man who in public stated an alleged child molestor was better for public office than a Democrat.

I don’t have a nuanced take on all this. I don’t have a solution. I do think it’s worth us all recognizing that the better argument doesn’t win. Power does. And I don’t know how to change that. I don’t know how to look someone who doesn’t care about rape culture in the eyes and say anything that will change his (of course it’s a “his”) mind. I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People. I don’t know how to do anything but argue and present arguments and do research and present thought experiments with obvious answers that apparently don’t mean anything.

For whatever it’s worth, the image on this post is one I took when I attended a McCain/Palin rally with a press pass for my High School newspaper. Palin mentioned “Joe The Plumber” 11 more times than she did the economy. What a thing to be nostalgic for.

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.

John Ostrander: The Doctor and the Judge

by John Ostrander

Two big events occurred last weekend: Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court judge and the first woman to play Doctor Who (Jodie Whitaker) debuted. One event delighted me and the other appalled me. Can you guess which was which?

There is something that connects the two. Bear with me.

I’m a LONG time fan of the British SF show and this weekend the new season debuted on BBC America (and, indeed, around the globe). Lots of new things – new companions, new composer, new showrunner and chief writer (Chris Chibnall) and, most importantly, a new Doctor. Now, for those of you benighted souls who may not be aware, the show has had a very long run because of a very clever concept. The main character, the Doctor, is an alien, and every so often the Doctor’s body regenerates into a wholly new one with a completely different persona and this has kept the show fresh. This time, the Doctor also changed sex and became a woman, played delightfully by Jodie Whittaker.

Capsule review: I was very pleased. The show had mystery, suspense, humor, darkness, death and a sense of freshness. Mr. Chibnall’s script had a different feel than former showrunner Stephen Moffat that was very welcome and Ms. Whitaker makes a wonderful Doctor.

Not everyone will agree. How do I know? Because some fans were opposed from the moment she was announced, some going so far as to say they will never watch it. This is not altogether unusual; every time someone new steps into the TARDIS, a certain percentage of the fans voice their displeasure and/or anger and vow never to watch it again (their loss).

There was an undercurrent, however, to Ms. Whitaker’s selection and sometimes that current was not so under. It came down to her gender. A certain percentage of that certain percentage of fans said that the Doctor couldn’t be a GIRL. Eeeeuuuhhh! 

This despite the fact that the Doctor is an alien, has two hearts, travels in time and space, is about 2000 years old, and regenerates. No, having him become her is just not acceptable.

I won’t say that every fan who opposes Ms. Whitaker as the Doctor is a misogynist. Some are, themselves, women. However, in many of the comments there is a strong streak of misogyny, a streak that runs through male fandom. Again, not all but a significant and vocal group.

That also underlies the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh as a member of SCOTUS. It was on display especially by the GOP during the confirmation hearings for Judge Kavanaugh. There were credible questions about past sexual misconduct raised by several women, principally by Christine Blasey Ford who, in turn endured attacks by the GOP and mocking by President Trump. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska described women who opposed Kavanaugh’s appointment as “hysterical”, a statement that in itself I find somewhat hysterical.

This misogyny extends beyond Dr. Who Fandom and the political arena. There’s the Comicsgate crowd, a group of comics fans and professionals, who are not pleased with the (as they see it) liberal slant of comics and what they perceive as “forced diversity”. A principal leader in the group, Richard Meyer, referred to a female Marvel editor as a “cum dumpster” and claimed that several female professionals in the industry had sucked their way into comics, among other repulsive comments. To call the man a piece of shit demeans shit.

Misogyny is defined by Merriam-Webster as a “hatred of women”. I think it goes beyond that in all three of these cases; I sense a feeling of anger and fear, a part of the far(alt) right’s fear of not only women but all minorities, of gays, of trans people, of anyone who is not THEM. For too many, it’s a zero sum game – the more power you have, the less I have. For me to win, you have to lose. Because if YOU win, I lose, I have less power, I am less. And that is unacceptable.

I’m not anti-conservative. I was raised a conservative, I have many family members and some friends who are conservative, there are traits in myself that I identify as conservative. I see a need for real conservatism to balance out possible liberal excesses (and, my lib brethren, they do exist). What we don’t need is this knee jerk, black and white, FoxTV talking point, zero sum brand of conservatism. Neither liberals or conservatives are all right or all wrong.

Well, some things are all wrong.

The ramming through of Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to SCOTUS was wrong and, for a variety of reasons, including the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, he should not have made it to the Highest Court in the land. It disregarded a good woman’s honest testimony and was a slap in the face to all women.

It made my enjoyment of Jodie Whitaker’s debut as The Doctor all the greater. Not simply because a woman is now playing the part; it’s because she is a really good actor, not because of her gender, but because of who she is. She was given the chance and she ran with it. I’m looking forward to that run.

Justice Kavanaugh’s run on the bench? Not so much. Prove me wrong, broh.

John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. It’s been awhile since he’s been here, but now John’s back with a new column at a new blog, PopCultureSquad, where this piece first appeared. You can learn more about John and his many masterworks HERE

Bri Castellini: In September, I did nothing – @brisownworld

by Bri Castellini

Been a pretty piss-poor month as far as productivity goes. And that includes no blogging! I’m the worst.

This is a housekeeping blog because I haven’t done a cop out housekeeping blog in a while. Here are all the things I have to do that I’m currently avoiding doing:

  • Editing Sam and Pat Are Depressed season 2
  • Finishing editing Buy In, a short film we shot in January
  • Editing Bri And Chris Are Depressed, a podcast
  • Writing blogs for this website
  • Paying an invoice for a medical expense because they sent me a physical piece of mail, like I’m an OLD PERSON
  • Cleaning my room
  • Cleaning my bathroom
  • Cleaning my whole apartment
  • Grocery shopping
  • Writing new scripts
  • Finishing old scripts
  • Organizing my budget again
  • Planning an upcoming trip
  • Finishing THIS blog (just took an hour break)

And probably more. Talked to my therapist last night about my tendency to only have two phases: so busy I never take a break or sleep or so unbusy I can barely get out of bed. No middle ground. Should probably work on that.

(better blog coming this weekend. Probably)

(read a better one from August here)

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.