TVWriter™’s favorite web series creator, Bri Castellini and her partner, Chris Cherry are at it again!
Sam and Pat Are Depressed, the award-winning comedy mental health web series, is back for its second season, with the first episode premiering March 25th, 2019, on Stareable and SeekaTV.
As part of the marketing push for the much-anticipated new episodes, the stars and executive producers Bri Castellini and Chris Cherry have also launched a companion podcast called Bri and Chris Are Depressed, as well as added new Stareable Enrich tiers for fans of the series to get early access to both the web series and the podcast as well as exclusive bonus updates and content.
The web series Sam and Pat Are Depressed follows depressed roommates Sam (Castellini, also the series’ creator) and Pat (Cherry) who help each other navigate the inherent awkwardness of therapy through profanity, humor, and take out.
The second season will cover the complicated emotions that are part of such activities as going on medication, mansplaining to your therapist, and more. Watch on Stareable or SeekaTV.
The Bri and Chris Are Depressed podcast, hosted by Castellini and Cherry, recaps Sam and Pat episodes one by one while also delving into the hosts’ own connection to the various therapy and mental health topics and answering viewer and listener questions.
Stareable Enrich empowers creators to offer freemium versions of their content so fans can support the shows they love. Sam and Pat have 2 monthly tiers available for fans, for $5 and $10 a month, each with
accompanying bonus content and early access. More information available at the link above.
Ya gotta start somewhere, right? Here’s a post from Script Reader Pro pointing you in a direction that differs from most starting gigs – because in and of itself, writing a web series can be more creatively and financially rewarding than many of us imagine:
How to Write a Web Series and Get Your TV Writing Career Off the Ground
by Rebecca Norris
Are you an aspiring writer still wondering how to write for TV years after starting down the road? We’re going to show you how writing a web series could be your best move ever if your main aim is to become a TV writer.
This isn’t a post on how to write a web series but here are three reasons why creating your own web series is the best thing you can do to learn how to become a writer for TV.
Wondering How to Become a TV Writer? Write For TV.
What better way to show you can write for TV than actuallywriting for TV? If you want to know how to become a TV writer and produce TV shows, why don’t you live that dream today?
Maybe you can follow in the footsteps of Issa Rae, whose popular web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl led her being repped by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment, and writing for TV — i.e. ABC and HBO.
Create your own TV series on the web, and you can enter it into festivals and contests to win awards and recognition, and gain credibility. If you earn a steady following on sites like YouTube, it can help you pitch your series to networks, and build a fan base for your work.
At the very least, you’ll be seeing your writing come to life, and isn’t that the goal of most aspiring TV writers?
Aspiring TV Writers Should Utilize the Power of the Link!…
As many of you know firsthand, I send and receive a lot of emails. Over the past year and a half at Stareable, I’ve learned a lot about everything from how to phrase and structure unsolicited requests for advice or promotion as well as the appropriate boundaries to set when planning a call or video chat with a relative stranger. I’ve also learned that as a community we could all do with a set of common rules to follow.
First, though, some things to keep in mind when you’re sending emails to people you don’t know (at all or very well), especially if you want something from them. Stareable Founder/CEO Ajay Kishore, fellow All-Emailed-Out person, also contributed to this section.
Keep in mind that everyone else is just as busy as you probably are, if not more. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response right away, or if their schedule is seemingly always shifting. In my experience, if a person wants to blow you off they will, but if they keep trying to schedule with you they’re making an effort, so don’t take it personally.
Be specific about what you want, whether it’s a 30-minute call for advice about a topic or help scheduling extras for next weekend’s shoot. Don’t be vague- be direct. This allows busy people to easily determine if they’re able to say yes without having to go through five follow-up emails.
Don’t go for video-chat as a first request. Especially in a professional sense, it’s both far-too-intimate and almost certainly unnecessary. It also requires the invited party to consider background, webcam angle, and tethers them to their laptop on a day they might need to stay mobile.
The “why” is important. Why are you asking for this thing or reaching out? And why are you reaching out to this person in particular? I’m not saying you have to flatter everyone before you can ask a quick question, but especially if your message is unsolicited, the subject needs to feel like you’ve done some research and there’s a reason they’re the one getting the request.
Following up is completely acceptable, but use common sense. If your email isn’t on a timeline, following up the next day (or even the same day) isn’t a good look. But if it’s been a week and you haven’t heard anything, a quick reminder message is totally acceptable! Definitely don’t try following up via social media, especially the same day, unless it’s a literal emergency. Spoiler alert: it’s probably not.
Please copy edit before sending, especially if you want to impress the person on the other end (to write about your series, to collaborate you, to offer you advice as a colleague). Typos are sloppy and so easily fixable, so fix them.
Let’s break the rest of this down by type of email….
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Yesterday, we ran an article by Noam Kroll about Prime Video Direct, the latest addition to Amazon’s boxfull of marketing madness platforms. Here are frequent TVWriter™ contributor Bob Tinsley’s thoughts on the subject. What are yours?)
by Bob Tinsley
Go with me here: say, “Amazon Studios.” Leaves a sour taste in your mouth, doesn’t it? But maybe, just maybe, Amazon might be about to redeem themselves.
I’m sure you remember the kerfuffle back when Amazon Studios started looking for original content. They, in effect, said, “Come one, come all! Pitch us your original ideas for film and episodic content. We’ll choose the best, handle production and distribution, and we’ll all make scads of money.”
Unfortunately it wasn’t long before they said, in effect, “Oh, by the way, when we said the best, we meant, has a Hollywood Name attached.”
That soured the attitudes toward Amazon of a lot of people in the indie sector. Personally I believe, in hindsight mind you, that the apparent reversal was inevitable. At the time Amazon had no experience in either film production or distribution, but, hey, they were the largest book distributor in the world. What could go wrong, right?
It didn’t take them long to discover that there are a lot of huge up-front costs to film. You’ve got rights acquisition, production (wages for directors, writers, cast members, carpenters, grips, sound techs, plumbers, production designers, set designers, editors, drivers, security personnel, craft services, and probably a lot more that I’m forgetting about or don’t know exist). Then you have the sunk costs (buying or renting a studio, cameras, lights, microphones, dollies, cranes, props, air conditioners, heaters, office furniture, bathrooms, and the myriad other things required by a physical location).
I can imagine the scene in the Amazon boardroom. “Umm, you know, this is an awful lot of money to risk on an unknown property by an untried creator. Maybe we need to rethink this ‘come one, come all’ thing. Ya think?”
By now I hope you’ve read Noam Kroll’s article about his adventures in the world of self-distribution of his indie films. He’s excited about Amazon’s new program, Prime Video Direct. And I think he should be.
What’s the difference between Prime Video Direct (PVD) and Amazon Studios? I’m glad you asked. The huge difference between Amazon Studios and Prime Video Direct is that PVD’s costs are small and fixed as opposed to Amazon Studios’ large and variable costs. Also Amazon Studios was built on the model of, wait for it, Hollywood studios. When you think about it, something built on the model of an existing organization will result in near identical operations and outcomes.
On the other hand, it appears to me that PVD is built on the wildly successful models of Amazon’s Kindle/Audible businesses. I can’t speak to PVD, but I can speak to Kindle and Audible. They are simple, easy to use, and, mostly, hassle and cost free.
The creator uploads his final product (note that phrase, “final product,” e.g., polished film) to PVD which puts it in their “catalog” of similar products. People find it. If they like it, they give PVD (Amazon) money, and PVD then gives the creator his cut.
The creator can choose “to earn royalties based on hours streamed by Prime members, a revenue share for rentals, purchases, monthly channels, or ad impressions–or any combination of those options.”
PVD makes your content available in the US “and other locations” on virtually any device you can think of (including video game consoles) anywhere you can get a wired, cell or wifi signal.
As an account holder you have access to an enormous amount of data telling you how your property is doing and what it’s projected to do. You can customize the data in ways that will have your accountant (you do have one, don’t you), swooning in relief.
Oh, did I forget to mention that all this wonderfullness costs you NOTHING but a little time?
All that being said, you won’t make money unless you promote. You are the only marketing department you have. PVD won’t do it. You have to pay for ads. Occasionally, if you start getting a lot of views the algorithms might promote you to a “viewers who watched X also watched” category.
The part of the Kroll article that most tripped my bullshit meter was the claim that without “promoting it with paid ads” he had “an incredibly high volume of streams” in a very short time.
I don’t know. Maybe he did, but that’s not been my experience. If I want my stuff to get seen I have to buy ads, twist arms, or dissolve into tears amongst a lot of people. Caveat emptor.
I think this certainly is worth looking into. Amazon tripped up once and made a lot of people angry and suspicious. Maybe this time they got it right?
(ANOTHER NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: The URL where Amazon gets this whole thing going is HERE It’s definitely worth a long look.)
Bob Tinsley is an artist, writer, boataholic and a new pro in the field of Audio Drama. In other words, he’s an expert in finding new marketplaces, as he’s showing us here.
Did you know that Amazon has opened up a new distribution path? It’s called Prime Video Direct and, strangely, its existence has been an unintentional secret – even from TVWriter™. Here’s the scoop:
by Noam Kroll
It wasn’t long ago that self-distribution was an extremely difficult avenue to pursue, and was simply a last resort for filmmakers who couldn’t secure traditional distribution… But in the last few years, that’s all changed.
For many filmmakers, self-distribution has not only become a viable option, but the single best option out there. As I outlined in this blog post last year, many traditional distributors simply don’t offer enough value to independent filmmakers, especially those working in the micro-budget realm. So more filmmakers every year are making the choice to self-distribute to retain control over the sales, marketing, and exposure of their work.
For a small fee (or in some cases for nothing at all), you can upload your movie to your choice of TVOD, SVOD, or AVOD platforms and make it immediately available to millions of people. Add to the mix a creative PR campaign and some social media ads, and an ultra-low budget movie can compete with a multi-million dollar blockbuster.
I don’t mean to oversimplify the process – just like the craft of filmmaking itself, distributing and marketing your movie is complex and requires a lot of specialized knowledge. But if you can learn the skills to make a movie, you can learn the skills to market one. You just have to be willing to take that path.
When I decided to self-distribute my feature film Shadows On The Road, I knew there would be a steep learning curve… I had never distributed a movie before, but I was willing to learn and willing to fail, and that mentality gave me the freedom to take some risks.
Throughout the process I worked with two different aggregators, ran multiple paid and organic campaigns, and releasedthe film on half a dozen platforms – my favorite of which has been Amazon (more on that later).
For a bit of context, Shadows On The Road was released exclusively on iTunes upon launch. This was intentional, as I wanted to create an “iTunes window”, where it would not be available on any other platform for at least 2 months. This way, all initial sales would be directed to iTunes, helping the movie climb the charts faster than it would if it were also available on other VOD services.
I promoted the iTunes release through my blog, social media, newsletter and podcast, but didn’t spend any more on paid ads during this time.
This strategy worked fairly well – within 2 days of launching on iTunes we broke way into the top 100 pre-orders for all of iTunes, and stayed there for weeks. To my surprise, we were beating out some major films (at least in terms of pre-orders), and that was pretty exciting.
By the time the film was available to stream, I had already started shooting my next feature (White Crow), so I put my organic marketing efforts on hold. I thought I would sit back and see what happened over the next couple of months, and then re-assess once I was wrapped on production.
As the months passed, sales began to plateau as I was no longer actively promoting the film… So the next logical step was to experiment with paid ads.
I started by running multiple Facebook ad campaigns targeted at several different demographics. Some of these ads were purely text and image based, and other ads used videos, such as our theatrical trailer or this 15 second social media teaser.
Around this same time, I also released the film on Vimeo On Demand so it would be available for international audiences too (currently the feature is only on the US and Canadian iTunes stores).
The ads I ran promoted both the iTunes and Vimeo On Demand links, and were most effective when directing users to this very basic landing page.
As more people bought the movie, I would re-invest that revenue into more advertising on social media. So in a way, the ads were really paying for themselves. I wasn’t making gigantic profits (my margins were pretty slim), but it was working. People who didn’t know me in any way (personally or through my website) were being exposed to the movie and choosing to buy it. That was pretty cool.
Because the film was made for such a low budget, it didn’t take long before I was able to recoup costs. And at that point, my primary goal shifted. It was no longer about profit, but rather exposure.
With that in mind, I decided to release the film on several more platforms.
I had previously used Distribber to release the film on iTunes, but this time around I used FilmHub to release it on several other platforms. FilmHub is interesting in that they don’t charge you anything to distribute your film to any platform, but they take 20% of your profits. In comparison, Distribber (like most aggregators) takes none of your profits, but charges a fee (about $1500) to list your movie.
Filmhub was the natural choice to distribute to platforms where I was unlikely to make a ton of revenue, but could still get some added exposure (like TubiTV, for instance). That said, I specifically requested that they did not provide any services for delivering the film to Amazon.
Amazon is unlike most other VOD platforms in that they allow you to upload your movie directly to Prime without using an aggregator. This is something that is just not possible on iTunes, and for micro-budget filmmakers who are squeezing every last dollar, saving that $1500 is pretty amazing. Anyone can upload their movie through Prime Video Direct. And that’s exactly what I did….