WOMEN IN FILM SPOTLIGHT: BRI CASTELLINI

We’re a little late to the parade but are mighty glad that TVWriter™ frequent visitor Ella sent us this illuminating interview with one of our favorite indie auteurs, the inevitable (figure that one out) Bri Castellini!


by Claudia Hoffman

OR DIE TRYING’S CLAUDIA HOFFMAN CAUGHT UP WITH INDIE FILMMAKER BRI CASTELLINI TO DISCUSS HER EXPERIENCE IN THE FILM INDUSTRY AND HER AWARD-WINNING WEB SERIES, BRAINS.

ODT: HOW DID YOU BEGIN TO ESTABLISH YOURSELF IN THE FILM COMMUNITY?

BRI CASTELLINI: TWITTER, ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY. AND IT DIDN’T HAPPEN UNTIL WELL INTO PRODUCTION FOR THE SECOND SEASON OF MY WEB SERIES, BECAUSE ALL THIS KIND OF HAPPENED ON ACCIDENT AND I SEVERELY UNDERESTIMATED HOW DIFFICULT MARKETING WAS. BASICALLY, I STARTED FOLLOWING A BUNCH OF WEB SERIES CREATORS AND WEB SERIES BLOGGERS ON TWITTER, AND NOTICED THAT EVERY WEDNESDAY A LOT OF THEM PARTICIPATE IN AN HOUR LONG HASHTAG CONVERSATION AT #WEBSERIESCHAT.

I STARTED JOINING IN AROUND SEPTEMBER OF LAST YEAR, AND EVERY WEEK WE COVER A DIFFERENT TOPIC SPECIFIC TO CREATING CONTENT FOR THE WEB, AND IT’S AN AWESOME OPPORTUNITY TO MEET PEOPLE AND TO DISCUSS/SHARE HORROR STORIES ABOUT BEING A WEB SERIES CREATOR.

ODT: WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE WHILE STARTING OUT? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

BC: PROBABLY THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I FACED WHEN I FIRST STARTED FILMMAKING WAS THE FACT THAT I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING. BEFORE MOVING TO NEW YORK FOR GRAD SCHOOL (I HAVE AN MFA IN WRITING AND PRODUCING FOR TELEVISION), I WAS A PROSE-FOCUSED CREATIVE WRITING MAJOR. I COULD TELL A STORY AND MAKE PEOPLE CHUCKLE, BUT I HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE ON A SET, TO BE IN CHARGE OF A PRODUCTION, OR TO HAVE UP TO THIRTY PEOPLE ASKING YOU QUESTIONS FOR PROBLEMS YOU DIDN’T REALIZE COULD POSSIBLY EXIST. PLUS, THE SUMMER I STARTED OUT, WE WEREN’T JUST FILMING MY WEB SERIES, WE WERE FILMING TWO OTHERS AS WELL, AND I HELD A VARIETY OF ROLES IN EACH. THERE WAS ONE WEEK WHERE WE WERE ON ONE SET OR ANOTHER FOR EIGHT DAYS STRAIGHT, ALL WHILE HAVING FULL TIME JOBS ELSEWHERE.

AS WITH MOST THINGS, I OVERCAME NOT KNOWING WHAT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DIRECTOR AND A PRODUCER WAS WITH TIME. THAT THREE PRODUCTION SUMMER WAS HELL, BUT IT WAS ALSO A CRASH COURSE IN EVERYTHING THAT COULD GO WRONG AND RIGHT ON A FILM PROJECT. I LEARNED WHAT A PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS AND WHY THEY WERE SO VITAL, I LEARNED THAT YOU HAVE TO SCHEDULE THINGS WEEKS IN ADVANCE AND THEN SEND REMINDERS FREQUENTLY, I LEARNED THAT YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE FRUIT SNACKS ON SET, AND I LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF DELEGATING, BECAUSE NO FILM PROJECT GETS DONE WITHOUT HELP.

ODT: WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES YOU FACE BEING AN INDIE FILMMAKER? WHAT ARE THE PERKS?

BC: HONESTLY, THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE I FACE IS MONEY, AND THE SEVERE LACK OF IT. EVERY PROJECT I’VE MADE SO FAR HAS BEEN DONE LARGELY BY VOLUNTEER EFFORT, WHICH IS INCREDIBLE, BUT WHICH IS NOT SUSTAINABLE.

WE’RE YOUNG ARTISTS IN NEW YORK CITY, AND THERE IS ONLY SO MUCH YOU CAN ASK OF OR EXPECT OF PEOPLE WITHOUT THEM GETTING PAID. IF THEY’RE LOSING MONEY BY WORKING ON YOUR PROJECT, BECAUSE THEY HAD TO SWITCH SHIFTS AT WORK OR DECLINE ANOTHER JOB, THAT’S NOT A GREAT SYSTEM. IT ALSO MEANS WE HAVE TO MAKE A LOT OF SACRIFICES WITH QUALITY AND CERTAIN STORIES, BECAUSE WE CAN’T AFFORD A LOCATION, OR A FULL FILM CREW, OR MORE THAN TWO HOURS WITH A PARTICULAR ACTOR….

Read it all at Or Die Trying

Bri Castellini: You Are Not A Failure – @stareable

You Are Not A Failure
by Bri Castellini

When you’re self-funding and self-producing passion projects, things not going well hits hard. Between film festival rejections, watching creators in your genre get picked up by HBO, and burning through every favor you had to make a single short film, a single setback can feel catastrophic. But I’m here to tell you that no matter your level of past, present, or future success, you are not a failure; rather, in the words of legendary philosopher Jason Mendoza, you’re “pre-successful.” So take heart, and reread this article whenever you need to remind yourself that not all creators are created equally, and that’s 100% ok.

The number of projects you’ve completed is not a measure of your worth as an artist

Whether you have five completed web series under your belt, or maybe just a web series pilot, or maybe just a web series idea, it doesn’t matter. A robust portfolio doesn’t make you more or less of a filmmaker as anyone else, it just means you’re at different stages of your careers. There are so many reasons you could be without many finished products, be it lack of money (#relatable), lack of cast and crew, or even lack of an idea that you feel passionate about. Similarly, there are a billion reasons why someone else had no problem racking up their IMDb credits, reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you and have absolutely no effect on your current or future potential.

If you’re serious about being a filmmaker, either as a hobby or a full-time gig, then just work a little every day and eventually, something will connect. Give yourself permission to build up a body of work at your own pace.

How quickly you produce projects is not a measure of your worth as an artist

In a similar vein, how quickly you create, produce, and release content is by no means an indicator of your overall talent or worth. Some people come up with ideas very quickly, or have a cast and crew at their fingertips, ready to pick up and film at a moment’s notice. Those people aren’t better writers or producers or filmmakers. They’re just different people, with different brains and different circumstances, and their work is not inherently better or worse than yours because of the rate at which they churn out content.

Think of authors like James Patterson, who writes approximately 15 books an hour, and then George RR Martin, who writes about one a century. I’m not here to make a case for either/or, but I am saying that both men have found tremendous success in spite of their very different creative speeds. It’s not a race, so making things slower than other people doesn’t make you a failure, the same way making things faster than other people doesn’t make you a winner.

A [insert film role here] failure isn’t the same thing as being a failure

This is something that comes up a lot in web series, when people are forced into as many roles as they can muster due to smaller crew sizes and lack of budget. Often, the people forced into these roles aren’t actually skilled in them, and if a project is slowed down or stopped by this fact, they’re branded as failures, but that’s not fair or true.

For the same reason that I shouldn’t be a biologist, some people shouldn’t be producers, or actors, or directors, or sound recordists. That doesn’t make me a failed biologist, or you a failed director, it just means our success lays elsewhere.

If you find yourself forced into a role you’re uncomfortable or struggling with, you are not the problem. You’ve been set up for failure, a markedly different thing than being a failure. Sometimes people are able to limp by in roles they’re not fit for, but sometimes they aren’t, and neither of these example people are better or worse than the other. They’re people doing their best, so don’t beat yourself up if you discover producing isn’t for you. All you can conclude from not being a great producer is that you aren’t a great producer. Who cares? Find what you’re great at, and what you love to do, and do that instead.

Finding financial, mainstream success does not inherently make someone else better than you

This is the big one, folks, because it’s the one we all have: career envy. Especially as more digital creators get promoted to mainstream, like High Maintenance, Brown Girls, The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl, and Broad City, it can get disheartening when you’re still fighting for your first 100 pilot views. But the thing about art is that the path to success isn’t linear, and the end-game is different for every person. Some artists get discovered early, some don’t find a sustainable creative career until well into their fifties, some start as PAs and work their way up, and some win a fellowship and enter the industry that way.

It’s always a waste of time to compare yourself to other people, because people are so varied and diverse in their circumstances, but it’s even more of a waste to compare careers in entertainment. Almost no one has the same story of how they found success, because again, there is no standard path. We’re not lawyers or doctors; we don’t go through a series of pre-set steps until we reach our ideal career. We flounder and network and make things and cry a lot and contemplate quitting and then network some more. Give yourself a break; this isn’t an easy path, but you’re on it, and that’s further than a lot of people get.

Repeat it and believe it: you are not a failure. Indie filmmaking is hard and expensive and terrifying, but it’s also rewarding beyond measure, because otherwise, why would we bother? Remind yourself every day why you’re doing this, then get out of bed, stop tearing yourself down, and get out there.

For further reading, here are some great articles about people who were half a step from quitting before they made their big break:


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

Web Series: ‘Wenlock & Jones’

Not bad, huh? Cute trailer, yeah? Makes the search for a missing college mascot look fun, right?

This episode is pretty fun too:

We at TVWriter™ admit it – we’re suckers for Brit accents. (munchman even more than the rest of us, which is why he goes around using several different varieties whenever he can…usually in moments of stress. )

The accents here are wonderful…and pretty darn high class as well. To top it all off, they’re real. At least we think they are. Not being the experts that muncherado is we can’t be sure (and he isn’t talking in anything but his strictest Manchesterieze right now which means he’s unintelligible to all human beings with anything resembling normal hearing.

Bottom line: If you like the way the characters in the Harry Potter films sound, you’ll love listening to Wenlock & Jones. And if you’re into well-made video with truly sensational young UK actors, hie thyself to Wenlock & Jones.Com for more, more, more!

Oh, before we go, here the highly deserved credits:

Writer/Director
Cassia Price

Writer
Yaseen Kader

Director of Photography
Patrick Brooks

Producer
Elizabeth Howcroft

Executive Producer
Sathya James

Assistant Director
Hannah Moss

Composer
Alexander Day

Script Supervisor
Noah Geelan

Sound Recordist
David Erwood

Location Manager
Michaela Higham

Assistant Producer
Millie Morgan

Production Assistants
Liz Campbell
Joanna Taylor
Bella Hull

Publicity Photographer
Johannes Hjorth

Iphigenia “Genie” Jones – Dolores “Dolly” Carbonari

Henry Wenlock – Enrico Hallworth

JJ Lyons – Patrick Sylla

Ingrid Sabbatini – Teuta Day

Rita Douglas – Maya Achan

Innogen Garamond – Beth Hindhaugh

Benji Mapham – Nick Hendy

Alistair Ormsby-Gore – Orlando Gibbs

Sally Forth – Shimali De Silva

Grace Campion – Fay Cartwright

Verity Cho – Cara Fung

Connie Rudd – Louise Harris

Frank Henslowe – Zac Peel

Fox-Lavender Faraway – Ania Magliano-Wright

Douglas Heywood – Leo Benedict

Sammy MacFarland – Colin Rothwell

Jackie Kirkpatrick – Carine Valarché

Olivia Kondabolu – Ananya Mishra

Rahul Dev – Rahul Dev

Johnny Burrow – Johnny Burrow

Nicholas Horton – Ben Morley

For the record – we think these folks are gonna go far!

Animation Tips and Tricks from real, um – you know – animators

Ever get that feeling that the rest of the world knows something you don’t? And what they know is about your absolute passion of passions?

That’s the feeling we got when we stumbled onto the YouTube Channel of – Georgiana. We haven’t seen the Georgiana web series yet because we’ve been too busy watching the most entertaining instructional videos since, yeah, the last most entertaining instructional videos we saw.

In other words, even our B(eloved) L(eader) L(arry)B(rody), who’s done a fair amount of animation work in his lifetime, was immediately astounded by what we’re about to show you.

Oh, and not only are the tips great, they’re also short. And the music is to die for. (In fact, since it’s old, classic blues, odds are that the creators of said music have done just that.)

Anyway:

There, now you’re all caught up and ready to watch this one with us:

More Georgiana HERE

Web Series: ‘A Tell Tale Vlog’

What can we say after we’ve said this:

“Edgar Allan Poe attempts to keep a writing vlog while Lenore the Lady Ghost haunts his study.”

And if that logline isn’t enough in itself, here’s the first episode (which will take less time to watch than it took this TVWriter™ minion’s ex to read that very same logline:

Actually, that’s all the episodes because loops, know what I’m saying? A Tell Tale Vlog just keeps on churning episode after episode, strong and steady and funny. And all you’ve got to do is sit back and laugh.

To put it another way:

Another reason we love web series!