Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

fearisaliarChapter 22 – Fear is a Liar
by Leesa Dean

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during the process of teaching myself how to animate, getting Chilltown off the ground and promoting it has been: Fear is a Liar.

I was so worried, initially, that nothing would turn out right. That everything would be a fiasco, it literally kept me up at night, at times. But, ultimately, the believe that people would respond to what I did prevailed. And, people did. As they say in the Lottery, “Gotta be in it, to win it.”

I know a lot of people who are writers or, even, wannabe writers who are wracked with fear of failure. And it prevents them from ever completing anything. I used to be friendly with someone who ran around telling everyone he was a writer. The truth is, he never really wrote anything. He was too scared of being judged and failing. So he’s wasted years of his life in a type of limbo. Too scared to fail and too scared to try.

I recently had a long conversation with someone who told me her biggest fear was putting herself on the line. I told her, “You know what? You are going to fail. It’s inevitable. But you’re also going to succeed. You just have to get past that fear and try. It’s the absolute only way to succeed.” Failure goes hand-in-hand with success. You ultimately develop thick skin so it doesn’t affect you as much.

Mark Ecko, the entreneur/designer, etc. may have said it best: “Success is the hangover of failure.”

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

Adventures of a Web Series Newbie - Chapter 23: Missives From The Trenches

Chapter 23: Missives From The Trenches
by Leesa Dean

I’m officially on hiatus with both Chilltown and the Lele Show but it seems like I’m busier than ever.

Been working on the TOP SECRET PROJECT and the relaunch. Had a great shoot Monday. Really killer and a lot of fun. Then Tuesday had a long edit session that was also fun and wildly productive. Also, exciting to see some of Monday’s footage up on the screen and how it even exceeded my expectations.

Before the session, I met with Kai Alexandre. I’ve mentioned him here before. He’s definitely one of the players in the web series game. A former MTV producer (and actor), he had a fairly popular series on youtube a few years ago called Potty Mouth TV. He’s resurrecting it as part of 3Senso, a brand new network he’s starting and seems to know everybody. He’s been a huge fan of ChilltownTV from the start.

We met at The Royalton, a pretty swanky hotel in midtown Manhattan with an equally swanky bar (i.e. In hushed tones, wearing seemingly velvet slippers, they float over slinging large bottles of imported non-sparkling Italian water that probably doesn’t, but seems to taste better than tap.) Over said water and yummy summer artisanal (yes, artisanal) drinks we caught up.

Kai told me VC funding war stories from the trenches. I told him part of the relaunch plans for Chilltown and the Lele Show–well, some of the parts I’ve already figured out. Compared to launching a web series, launching an online network is a whole other animal. I’ve read quite a bit about the VC startup dance. It’s very fast-paced world–especially in tech where everything changes from moment to moment–and very exciting. And hearing about Kai’s experiences was pretty cool. A lot of his plans have changed/shifted in the five or six months he’s mentioned them to me. Mostly in a really good way. A reflection of the market. I can’t wait to see what happens with 3Senso and write more about it.

The rest of the week I’ve been deep in animation production and doing a lot of recording, Victor Cruz who’s a HUGE talent and starred in Chilltown did some voiceover work on Thursday. It’s always a good sign when someone reads their lines and the reading is SO funny, tears start streaming down your face. We also spent some time catching up. Victor’s wife just had a baby a few weeks ago which is so exciting. And, he just wrapped work on the new Nick Cassavetes film, starring Cameron Diaz. It was pretty thrilling to hear. Especially since I’m a huge fan of Nick’s dad, the iconic brilliant director (and actor) John Cassavetes.

The week ended with me getting yet another contract offer. And boy was it a doozy. I’ll write about it next week.

Finally, my thoughts are with Will Gray and family.  As of this writing, Friday, he’s in hospice on a breathing tube with severe pneumonia and unresponsive.  It is not looking good.  He’s 33 years old.  Will, a brilliant songwriter/singer/mc was diagnosed with Stage 4 sinus cancer on Oct. 31, 2012.   Right before his diagnosis, he finished a documentary about unsung, struggling musicians called Broke*.   Check it out.

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie: Chapter 6 – Things Fall Apart

Adventures of a Web Series Newbie: Chapter 6 - Things Fall Apart

by Leesa Dean

Ok. Before I continue with the Rollo saga I’m gonna kick this off with first, saying R.I.P. to brilliant writer Chinua Achebe who just passed away and second, a few random unrelated observations from the trenches:

1) The word “genius” is bandied about at an alarming rate.
2) I’ve yet to meet anybody who’s an actual genius since I’ve started. Smart, yes. Genius, no.
3) Doing a web series is similar to having a serious disease in that when it jumps off, you find out pretty quickly who your real friends are. And the results, at least for me, have been surprising. And sometimes depressing.
4) When someone says they want to “build” with you, it’s usually a codeword for, “you’re never ever getting paid.”

So Rollo, that’s what you came for, right?

He calls, I agree to meet him the next day (and, btw, when I say “agree” what I really mean is: I couldn’t WAIT to hear why he was MIA.)

I meet him directly after yet another awesome YouTube meeting. Got to hang with Kai Alexandre from Potty Mouth TV (who’s putting together an absolutely incredible project) and Nick Uhas the rollerblading phenom (yes, we’re doing a collab and yes, I am GEEKED about it.) Jake from uber-successful/dope channel vsauce3 gave really great tips and let’s just say I have a lot of housecleaning to do including changing the way a lot of the thumbnails look. YouTube just changed it’s channel format. At first, I was skeptical about it, but after this meeting I’m not only sold, I can’t wait to change over (a lot of prep work for me cause it means doing a lot more animation.) One of the great things about the new format is everything looks the same on mobile. It’s gonna be dope.

Rollo’s waiting for me when I arrive at “our” coffeehouse. I settle in. Look at him. Something’s definitely up. He’s unpressed. Not exactly deflated, but I can tell his ego’s been taken down a notch or two.

There are problems with his other project. One of the TWO MAJOR ATTACHED CELEBS(!!) has bailed and it might now be in jeopardy. I’m thinking, Ok, I thought this project was a done deal. It turns out the celeb who bailed was how he got in in the first place. He’s holding on by his fingernails and, I’m guessing, scrambling to stay in the mix.

My mind goes wild. How is this dude paying the rent? Is he some low-rent, over-the-hill hipster male escort with a crazy ad on Craigslist? Card shark? Probably more like bowling shark, if that even exists. Sadly, he’s probably a telemarketer and mainly living off his girlfriend.

He stresses he’s still committed to helping me with Chilltown and says he can definitely make things happen. So in my brain, he’s now hard-shifted to “back burner” status. But he’s still got a couple of surprises up his sleeve…