First Steps First
by Leesa Dean
I’ve been insanely busy, prepping for a few big meetings. Animating, writing, ideating. But I took a small break to meet an old friend for coffee. He’s a wannabe tv writer who’s been thinking about writing/filming a film short and wanted to pick my brain about ultimately (meaning after he’s finished his short and, hopefully, made a little noise with it) doing a digital project. I’m thinking the sale of Twitch to Amazon for $1.1 billion made him suddenly and seriously pay attention to the digital world. He’s a gamer (as a hobby) and I think, for whatever reason, it legitimized the digital realm for him. He never really took it seriously. And truthfully, why it took him this long to drink the digital kool-aid is a mystery to me.
I told him I thought he had it backwards.
He should first start putting a few shorts online and see if they get any traction. Preferably do a web series. Then, ultimately, do a film short and submit it to film festivals. No, it’s not easy-particularly promoting them-but the one thing I’ve been observing over the past few months is exactly how much everything is bleeding together. Yes, you have to still write a ton of scripts (it’s the only way anyone will consider really working with you professionally and the only way you’ll grow as a writer.) Yes, it’s also a good idea to do a film short (or two) and submit it/them to film festivals. But I really don’t think that anybody’s going to take you seriously if you don’t have a real web presence. This is 2014. That’s what it is.
And if you’re starting out doing this, it’s a smarter move to start posting online first. Why? Cause if what you do sucks, you can always remove it. It’s an incredible testing ground. The stakes are lower. And there’s so much content out there, if no one likes what you do and you don’t have an audience, chances are no one will remember it so you can move forward unscathed.
You’ll also see, pretty quickly what works. And you can build until you’re really ready to submit to film festivals.
Also, web series are closer to the tv writing experience than shorts are for writers. Why? Like tv, they’re more of a writer’s medium. Film shorts are really a director’s medium. If you’re a writer and not a director and are considering doing a film short, if it’s successful, the director will get the glory. Which kind of negates the point of doing it in the first place if you’re just the writer.
When we parted ways, he told me he had a lot of think about, but I’m not sure he was really convinced. I’m kind of curious to see how this plays out.