Jenni Ruiza & Jesenia: BECOMING RICARDO

The Editing Room
by Jenni Ruiza & Jesenia

One of the most exciting things that can happen to a writer – is to be involved in the video editing process. Why? Because you get to see the magic of your words come to life right before your eyes! It’s like witnessing childbirth each and every time you sit in that editing chair.

It’s hard work with long hours – but in the end, you get to see your idea flourish and become exactly what you envisioned from the beginning, when you were putting that pen to paper! Fortunately, as the Becoming Ricardo writers and producers, we are heavily involved in the cutting room floor. This means we have full control over what stays and what goes – but that is no easy task.

So, what really goes into editing a webseries? First of all, keep in mind “Becoming Ricardo” does not have a traditional web-series run-time, as each episode averages 16 minutes. Why is that? Because we’re aiming for Television distribution, so we’re producing a package that is “Made-for-TV”. This is why we call it a WebTV Sitcom.

We use Final Cut Pro X (FCPX). We switched from using Final Cut 7, after having so many bad experiences last year while editing our pilot episode, which included: dealing with the colorful wheel of death after forgetting to save our work every 5 seconds, forcing us to re-edit the pilot at least 4 times – in addition to the painfully long exporting process (close to a full day). All of that in mind, it was clear that we needed to upgrade our software to the FCPX.

While we’ve been excited to work with the time-saving FCPX, not every rainbow has a happy ending! Recently, we experienced a major crash on the FCPX software, which corrupted our entire Episode 2 file – forcing us to re-edit the entire episode again!!! YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT – IT HAPPENED AGAIN!!! One would think we’re cursed – but DO NOT WORRY – WE ARE DETERMINED and realize there is a reason for everything.

So, we are pushing back the release date of that episode – making it a Labor Day Weekend release and we are moving on! Does this frustrate us? ABSOLUTELY! Did we want to take the entire computer and external drives and “Office Space” them in an open field, old-school gangsta style? OF COURSE! But we didn’t. Instead, we learned from our mistakes and will now back up every freggin time we complete an editing session.

TIP: You need to duplicate your project and make sure there’s a separate reflective file with a timeline in FCPX just in case you lose one file.

ANOTHER EDITING TIP FOR THE WRITER/PRODUCER WHO EDITS – You cannot be completely married to your script. Just a little bit honeymoon respect for it – but don’t expect for it not to change and then call you in the morning. (sorry, we’re getting off track) At the end of the day, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes an improvised line from an actor is what can make a scene amazing!

Also, you have to ask yourself: Is this relevant to the story? There will be times when the words you write are not needed – lines can be replaced by a dirty look or an evil laugh and it can complete a scene more than what was originally written in the script. These are the gifts that your actors will often give to you if they’re truly invested in their work and this is when you need to separate the writer from the editor part of you, if you’re wearing both hats.

Not everyone can do it because sometimes it actually does hurt, but then this question comes up: Do I want to keep these words there because I’m being a stubborn writer ass? In which case, the answer is usually – YES!!! As comedy writers, your jokes need to speak to the masses – not just your friends.

So, being able to take a step back and watch your edited footage with un-shaded eyes – is always the way to go! This is why you need to watch it over and over and over again – because what may not pop out during a late night editing session, will definitely SCREAM at you the next morning, after you’ve had your yummy breakfast and some coffee. Finally, you must remember: Editing is an art – don’t rush it.

With the release of our second episode being pushed back, we wanted to share the brand new show opening complete with an original theme song and a look into what’s ahead for the season. Enjoy!

Angelo J. Bell: I Am Crowdfunding a Thriller Called A PERFECT WEAPON


by Angelo J. Bell

What’s the story, Angelo? 

It’s insane to even want to make a movie…so call me crazy. With whatever you do in life, you must build on your past success. I’ve made no-budget films and I’ve made films with $10,000 to $100,000 of my own dough…

Now, I want to make something bigger and more badass!

In 2010, I got into the “Screenwriter’s zone” and went on a writing marathon. I completed two 119 page feature film screenplays in one month and one of those scripts later evolved into “A Perfect Weapon.” It was written like an adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel, to be directed by Michael Mann for the silver screen. Ha!

“A PERFECT WEAPON” is about a disgraced US Marshal who is mysteriously reinstated to track down an escaped convict with ties to terrorist organizations, but he learns the hard way that some people — maybe even the CIA — will do anything to keep him from accomplishing his mission.

In 2012, #PerfectWeapon became the most-viewed project on the Juntobox Films web site, which is chaired by none other than Forest Whitaker. A member of Juntobox Films’ development team even said my project was “very sexy.”

In the past, ALL of my films have been funded mostly out of my own pockets, but “A Perfect Weapon” is super badass and much bigger than any project I’ve ever make. $200K is a good start.  I’d have enough to start shooting, and find production partners to obtain more money to make the kind of film I want.

After my filmmaker friend Sujewa Ekanayake told me about several successful, celebrity-driven crowdfunding campaigns I thought, “Maybe the fans are ready for a true unknown, up-and-coming indie filmmaker to step up to the plate with a strong project and cast attached.”


I’m excited that Alimi Ballard from the hit TV show “Numb3rs” agreed to take the lead role! After Alimi read the script he responded with a single Twitter message to me saying, “Weapon is F*CKEN BADASS!”

And pinch me to make sure I’m not dreaming; the lovely Tehmina Sunny, rising star of the critically acclaimed Ben Affleck-directed film “Argo” and “Children of Men” read the part of the female lead, Femi, loved it and understood every nuance of the character. She “got” it!

Then there’s the talented and stunning Emayatzy Corinealdi, star of the Sundance award-winning film for Best Director, “Middle of Nowhere.”  I’m happy to say I knew Ema before her star started to rise when she auditioned for a fantasy drama project of mine you may have heard about called “Legend of Black Lotus.” I quickly became a fan.

The main cast is rounded out by the amazingly talented journeyman actor from television’s “Crossing Jordan,” Mr. Ravi Kapoor.

And for all you sci-fi/fantasy fans, hold onto your unicorns…  I’m conversing with the lovely Jessica Duffy from the indie sci-fi fantasy film phenom “INK” for a pivotal role in my movie.

Okay, enough background material. What’s the movie about? 

In “A Perfect Weapon” Shey is a US Marshal with a weakness for women and the good looks and charm to get into a lot of trouble. Suspended indefinitely for fraternization, Shey is reinstated to track down Femi, an escaped Indian/Nigerian criminal. Shey is an expert, intuitive tracker, but as he gets closer to finding coquettish Femi he learns disturbing things about her past in war-torn areas of East India, Africa and the Middle East. Shey is drawn into the mysteries surrounding Femi, even to the point of sexual obsession, but he begins to suspect that both she and he are pawns in a deadly game that someone very powerful doesn’t want him to win.

The result is a thrilling pursuit wrapped in a dangerous international conspiracy, with action and sexual tension so obsessive the lines between fiction and reality blur.

More about A PERFECT WEAPON and the crowdfunding campaign HERE

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie


Chapter 25: A3C!!!!
by Leesa Dean

As I mentioned last week, Chilltown is an official selection in this year’s A3C Film Festival. A3C is the biggest hip-hop festival in the world. And it’s focus is underground/indie hip-hop. A lot of people come from indie hip-hop–Jay Z, Kanye West, 50 Cent, just for starters. When I launched Chilltown, I reached out to the underground hip-hop community. I felt/hoped people would embrace it. And they did! Being an official selection is probably the biggest thing that happened for Chilltown so far.  Part of the lesson for me:  niche.  I didn’t think “niche” when I originally reached out to the underground/inidie hip-hop community initially.  I just thought, “this is the kind of music I love, I hope other fans relate and respond to my work.”

I was told A3C averages 10,000-50,000 people, which is huge. They also do press, so I’m hoping to use this to not only bring more awareness to Chilltown, but also to get people interested in the relaunch.

This is the second year for the Film Festival and other films that are screening are some really cool documentaries, including the world premiere of Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, which is about Stone’s Throw Records, one of hip-hop’s biggest. The festival is produced in collaboration with the Atlanta Film Festival.

Some of the great acts performing there this year include Ghostface Killah (from Wu-Tang Clan), Jean Grae and Too Short. I actually included a Too Short reference in episode five of Chilltown (if you’re a hip-hop head, watch it and see if you can find it.)

Yes, I now have a ton of stuff to do to get ready for the festival (it’s at the beginning of October which seems right around the corner) but I’ll be doing it all with a big smile on my face. To say I’m thrilled is an understatement.

Here’s an article with the official announcement.  Next week:  another Big Screen Little Screen and more adventures to report!

Kathryn Graham: 48 Hour Film Project


by Kathryn Graham

Ever heard of the 48 Hour Film Project?

Why, it’s a chance for you to test your skills, meet people, and jump start your creativity. Spend a sleepless few days pushing yourself and your team to the limits for fun, glory, and the arts! I just finished the New Haven chapter’s 2013 run (but there are many other cities who haven’t started yet). Here’s why I had a great time and you might too:

1. Creating Under Pressure. Are you a perfectionist or a procrastinator? This project will give you a swift kick in the pants. When you only have a few hours to come up with an award-winning script, you dress down your task to the bare essentials and get cracking or you lose your chance altogether.

2. Making Friends (Or Strengthening Friendships). For me the majority of our team were strangers to me (friends of friends) at the onset. Now, not only do I know more passionate, talented people who are dedicated to filmmaking, but they also know me.

3. Learning. Want to learn something about lighting? A/V setup? Video editing? This is a great way to get a down and dirty overview of many of the jobs that are necessary to film creation. If you want to know, you will find out what goes into each person’s job on your crew.

4. Problem Solving. When you don’t have a lot of prep time or funds, you end up with problems that need solving quickly and creatively. This is a useful life skill all around, but it’s especially helpful when making a movie with a skeleton crew.

You can also win awards and screening potential. But for me, that’s the least of it. There’s nothing quite like a team of dedicated filmmakers pulling together to make something they can be proud of (or make fun of later depending on how it comes out).

Go check out the site. Quick. Your city might be starting theirs this weekend. Here, I’ll even link it again to save you some time: 48 Hour Film Project.

3.3.6-B – Sci-Fi Entry 48 Hour Film Project New Haven 2013

Oh yeah, that video up there? That’s the one my team came up with. Sci-Fi Genre had to include: tongs, Detective Steve Nash, and “I’d like to see you try.”

Watch it in HD if you want to make our Director of Photography happy. And if you go out and join your town’s 48 Hour Project, we’d love to see your video too, so link it up in the comments!

SPOTLESS: Cool Trailer for a Very Cool Non-Existent Indie Film


TVWriter™ friend Angelo J. Bell recommended this short film on his blog and included the story of how it came to be written by its creator, the very talented Elena Campbell-Martinez.

Watch and learn, ladies and gents. And read and learn as well. From the imperfections as well as the beauty spots:

SPOTLESS on Worlds With Words