Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

stagelightsChapter 44 – The Shoot, Part 2
by Leesa Dean

I’ll cut to the chase: It went well! Really well. I, of course, am talking about the shoot with the celeb for the TOP SECRET PROJECT.

This time around, I was the first the arrive. I made a point of getting there around 15, 20 minutes early in case the celeb arrived before I did, so the guy who owns the studio was still setting up when I got there. It actually gave us a chance to chat, which was kinda cool. The studio is small and the guy who runs it is a shooter/editor on the side. So it was interesting talking shop with him.

My producing partner, his friend who was helping us out as a grip and the A.D. arrived exactly at the same time. And the celeb and his girlfriend showed up about 5 minutes later.

After running the lines during a couple of tech rehearsals, we started shooting. And every take was great/useable. I like to shoot a lot to be on the safe side and to give us room to play while we’re in post, so that’s just what we did. But we were done in about an hour and a quarter. He was such a pro and so into it, everybody was just buzzed.

He left and we broke down the set and spent the rest of the time yaking, talking cameras and backing the footage up to drives, laptops, etc.

It really was a different experience doing this shoot, now that I’m a bit more educated about the technical side of cameras. I can’t wait till I plunge into it fully and start shooting myself. Every day, I’ve been allocating about an hour to go to “film school”, meaning learning all this stuff from tutorials on the web. A lot cheaper than NYU Film School! It’s opening up a whole new world for me and is adding a whole other level of depth to not only directing, but producing. Frankly, in this digital age and the way things are going with tv/streaming, understanding it is necessary.

For people interested, we shot on two Canon EOS 7D’s (the same camera Lena Dunham used to shoot Tiny Furniture) tricked out with Magic Lantern, had full kino lights and used a boom and lav through a Tascam TD40 for sound.

If anybody had suggested I start doing this a few years ago, I wouldn’t have taken it too seriously. Now I now can’t imagine why I didn’t start learning it sooner.

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

Chapter 31 – A3C Hip Hop Recap
by Leesa Dean

atlanta-festival-tvwriter.comI’ll cut to the chase. I had a GREAT time in Atlanta!

My plane arrived right on time and I called Lyn Adler as we had pre-arranged. She and her fiance Mark were already en route to the venue. We both got there early and it was so cool to finally meet her and Mark in person. Lyn and I have known each other for a few years, but only online (we had a friend in common.) It was wonderful to finally meet in person. They are absolutely lovely people.

We took a short walk, checked out the the block party (which was just setting up/starting a few blocks away) and came back just in time to meet Charles Judson, the artistic director of the Film Festival (and the Atlanta Film Festival) and Kristan Woolford, his assistant. Both great guys. We started chatting as people started arriving and really hit it off.

Once inside, I met Darren Blastmaster Zulu and his wife and son. Really great folks! Darren and I both know Patti Astor (who knows anybody who’s anybody that’s involved in the graffiti, art and hip-hop world; she used to run the iconic Fun Gallery. I’ll be writing a bit about her and her new book next week) and when I told Patti I was flying to ATL for the screening, she told Darren all about it and he and his family came to show support. It’s just humbling when people are so genuinely nice to you.

The crowd was intimate and seriously enthusiastic! Great to see all the episodes back to back. I literally haven’t watched them that way since before I launched. And, during the Q&A, people asked a lot of cool questions.

After the screening, Lyn, Mark and I checked out a little more of the block party, then went to Cabbagetown and had cappuccino and interesting conversation at a quaint little spot. The weather was lovely. It was just….idyllic.

They dropped me off at the airport which was just so nice of them and…my flight was delayed for an hour because the idyllic weather had apparently changed once I got inside the terminal. It was raining and thundering like crazy.

It’s not a good a sign when, before take-off, the pilot says, “Folks, yes the weather is NOT good, but I’ll get you all through this. We WILL make it safely.” People around me were literally crossing themselves as we headed down the runway. And I, the atheist, was sitting next to a guy who looked like a body double for Dwayne The Rock Johnson. Well kind of.

His name was Moses (at least that’s what he told me, unironically) and he was with special forces in the military. Recently came back from Afghanistan and was working doing something with law enforcement. He couldn’t tell me exactly what. Hmmm. For whatever reason, I felt that if something happened with the plane, he’d know what to do, which was slightly comforting though, for all I know, he might’ve been the first guy to start screaming like a baby and hid under the seat.

Needless to say, though there was turbulence most of the ride, we landed without a hitch and I was back home by 11pm. An intense but really fun adventure all in all. Bye, Atlanta. Hope to come back again soon! And thanks A3C for a great time.

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

a3c_laurelsChapter 30: A3 C!!!!!
by Leesa Dean

Sunday morning, 10am I fly down to Atlanta for the Chilltown screening at A3C and I am officially THRILLED! And yes, that means I have to be up at 5am so I can get dressed/to the airport on time. As an official late night person, the fact that I have to be up that early and it doesn’t even phase me let’s you know exactly how excited I am about this.

I reformatted Chilltown so it’s now HD (perfect for a big screen) and strung the episodes together. They wanted to show all of Season One. Since it’s a semi-serialized show, the story arcs extend through the Season so it lends itself naturally to being seen that way. The guy who’s running the film part of the festival, Charles Judson, is also the artistic director of the Atlanta Film Festival and A3C is affiliated with it. It really feels great that somebody of his stature loves the show.

A few nights ago, I did an interview with Jah Prince who has a hip-hop radio show in Atlanta and has been promoting the festival a bit. It was my second time on the show. He’s a big Chilltown fan. After the interview, we chatted and he’s coming to the screening and will bring some people.

Also, an Atlanta friend (who I haven’t yet met in person–we have friends in common and became FB buddies), Lyn Adler, is coming with her fiance.

So it’s extra exciting that they’ll all be there and I get to meet them in person!

It’s going to be a whirlwind trip. I arrive at 12:40, the screening is at 2pm and I fly back to NYC at 7pm. Just enough time to get to the venue, watch the show, do the Q&A, hang out with Lyn, her fiance and Jah and make it back.

A number of people have asked why I’m not staying for a couple of days. First of all, I’m simply too busy. I’m still working on this extra project which takes up a huge amount of time (aside from also being the planning stages for Season Two of Lele Show and Chilltown relaunch), I’m booked solidly so I’m literally squeezing this in.

Also, since part of the reason for the blog is to show what things are really like as an indie person, I’ll add this (which a lot of people don’t realize): When you go to festivals, you (as the filmmaker) are responsible for your expenses. Yeah, they’re a tax write-off, but as an indie person and especially an indie web person, things can add up. I’m fortunate that this, relatively, is a pretty cheap trip. A NYC to ATL flight doesn’t cost a fortune, Lyn and her fiance will be giving me a ride back to the airport in ATL and I’m not staying at a hotel. I’ve known indie filmmakers who have literally spent close to $10,000 flying around to festivals. If you’re reading this and considering submitting to festivals, it’s definitely something to consider.

So wish me luck! I’ll let you guys know how it went next week.