Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

wildstyleChapter 33 – The Pep Talk Part 1
by Leesa Dean

So, one evening a few weeks ago, freshly back from ATL, I found myself walking throughBellevue Hospital. If you’ve never been to Bellevue, and this was my first time, here’s the visual: It’s HUGE. There’s a big relatively new glass structure that takes up a full city block in front of the old building and you have to walk for, what feels like, miles through bleak linoleum hallways that have piped in smooth jazz playing to just get where you’re going. Kinda like Vegas. Without the carpeting and fake boobs.

No, I wasn’t admitting myself, though, sometimes the process of putting out/promoting aweb series has made feel like I was going crazy. Johnny, the brother of one of my oldest friends had been riding his bicycle over the Brooklyn Bridge, got in an accident and was/is in a coma in the Neuro ICU. Yes, avid bikers, he was wearing a helmet and riding in the pedestrian lane and yes, I am officially crossing riding a bike off my list of things I’m planning on ever doing.

I was there to visit him, the family and lend some support. Is he gonna make it? I sure hope so! And hope he makes a complete recovery. But it’s too soon to tell.  One thing it’s done is definitely put things in perspective. Which brings me to Rollo.

He had been texting me for weeks, hoping, I was assuming, to get together so he could spill his guts about his problems in Hollywood. As it turns out, he was gonna be near the hospital that evening so I agreed to meet him for a quick drink after visiting Johnny. Needless to say, I really wasn’t in the mood for any whining.

But vs. complaining (which is my number pet peeve under normal circumstances, although I guess I am sorta complaining right now…) he simply wanted some advice: Should he bail on the business and get some type of day job, or stick it through?

And, even though his career has seemed to take a disastrous turn of late, I decided to give him a pep talk. Why? I guess getting a second chance was on my mind. Also, he’s legitimately put in a lot of time in the biz and, I believe, ultimately things will work out for him.  Next week I’ll fill you in on the nitty gritty of our convo.

Before I sign off, I wanted to give a HUGE shout-out to my friend Patti Astor. For those who don’t know, among other things she was an icon during the art scene in the 80?s plus the star of one of the biggest movies about hip-hop culture of all time, Wild Style.

Patti has a brand new memoir coming out describing her days running The Fun Gallery, a great NYC gallery that featured a who’s who of graffiti artists and more (Jean-Michel Basquiat was her good friend and showed there; Fab 5 Freddy of Yo! MTV Raps and Blondie fame was her boyfriend; she championed Dondi, Futura, Keith Haring, you get the drift.)

I literally can not WAIT to read this book. It not only has behind-the-scenes stories but tons of photos from back in the day. This book is ALREADY starting to get crazy buzz.Here’s the link where you can buy it. Don’t say I didn’t tell ya!

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

Chapter 29 – Bottom of the Barrel. Rollo Returns
by Leesa Dean

bottom-of-barrelSo, as promised, the Rollo story.

We hadn’t spoken in months. I, occasionally, thought about him but frankly not too often. Being insanely busy with a web series will do that to you. You tend to prioritize what you focus on. I thought he was just gonna be another one of these cottage industry guys who entered my life with a bullshit story and then evaporated. Well, maybe?

A few weeks back he calls. Wants to meet for drinks. Admittedly my first thought: Is this dude selling Amway? But he caught me on a day when I was feeling crappy–a little blocked with writing; a little frustrated with calls not returned; a little worried about the usual: am I making the right decisions with the relaunch, etc. In short, a perfect needy storm whose grande finale was: yeah, I met him for drinks.

We meet in a tiny, dimly lit joint in Chinatown. One of those places that doesn’t have a name or number on the door. That reeks of old dim sum and spilled vodka. Mostly hipsters and NYU students swigging craft beer on beat-up sofas. Rollo looks….different. He’s gained a bit of weight; now looks like he’s pushing 300 pounds. He’s unraveling around the edges. Flecks of grey dot his dreads.

The past four months he’s been in LA. Trying to put a new film deal together. Surprisingly, it’s not dead in the water. It’s one of those action/thrillers that you see in ads in Variety magazine: straight to dvd or streaming and mainly released in places like Romania (“As Seen in Bucharest!!!”) With bad subtitles. Featuring one step above doing porn/type D actors. Money is tight and he’s gotta make it somehow.

My first thoughts: At least *he’s* not doing porn. Hey, it could happen. Someone I went to school with did the online dating thing a few years ago and ended up dating a guy who was 300 pounds and did fetish porn on the side. That’s right. He was a professional fat guy in porn. His main gig was as an IT freelancer/games blogger and times were tough. Real tough. A little tidbit he failed to mention till their fifth date. Yes, she ultimately dumped him (the “ultimately”, believe me, is a story best told when I’ve had a few drinks cause it’s pretty hair-raising.)

So why did Rollo wanna meet? He needed to blow off steam. It’s been a rough year, he can’t really talk to his girlfriend about a lot of business stuff (she, apparently, is perpetually pissed at him) and, for whatever reason, he feels he can talk to me (translation: he probably doesn’t have any friends.) He’s needs to raise money for the movie, by any means necessary (no, I didn’t suggest the porn thing!) Apparently, they did a kickstarter campaign that failed. These days, with major names like Spike Lee doing kickstarter, it’s pretty hard to stand out. Especially if your project doesn’t have much star power.

We finished our beers. I didn’t update him much. Didn’t want to. He had to move on to a business meeting with a financier. I had to go home to write.

I guess desperate times call for desperate measures cause later that night, I looked on FB and he had posted producer credits for the movie for sale. As a status update! Stuff like, $100,000 will buy you an above the line producer credit. $25,000 an associate producer one. I thought, “On FB, dude?!?” This is real bottom of the barrel type stuff. And just….sad. But the story wasn’t over yet.

Next week: Prepping for the Chilltown screening/Q&A at A3C (apparently there are feral pigs on the loose in ATL just as I’m planning to fly down there!) And in a few weeks, more on Rollo.