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

Web Series: WELCOME HOME

One of the best comedies on the interweb. We admit it – we’re taking WELCOME HOME as another symbol of how thoroughly professional and insightful interweb TV has become.

And, if you think about it, the combination of “professional and insightful” isn’t something that usually – if ever – springs to mind about that other way of watching TV…you know, on your 60-incher, presented by a broadcast or cable or satellite net>

As someone all too familiar with the lifestyle this series presents (moving in with your – yikes – parents after thirty) this TVWriter™ minion definitely appreciates the all-too-real humor you’re about to, um, behold:

See more HERE

Robin Reed: Trying to Kickstart the web series “Pastor Damien”

by Robin Reed

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…so I don’t have to be the entire crew any more.

When I was a shuttle bus driver on the graveyard shift at a parking garage near LAX, one of the valet parkers was a tall, goofy guy who liked to run around making monkey noises.

At break time, when we late night workers sat and talked, I found out that this fellow, Roger Sonnier, was an actor who worked the night shift so he could go to auditions during the day. In L.A., where everyone wants to be in show biz, it was not an unusual story.

Since I was a writer and had some experience with shooting and editing video, we vaguely talked about doing some sort of video project together. Then I got the chance to quit that job, and didn’t look back.

Months later I got an email asking me to help Roger and a friend of his with a web soap opera they were planning. Basically they needed me for my DSLR, a camera I bought mainly for still pictures but knowing that it could do video.

Another camera person got involved who had better equipment, and I became his assistant. We shot many hours in several locations. The lead camera person was not a nice guy. He had a very low opinion of me and my low-end camera. So I decided to leave it to him and not subject myself to his insults any longer.

Not too long after that Roger contacted me again. He too had left the soap opera. He had an idea for another web series. It would feature a pastor who was a serial killer, and be titled “Pastor Damien.” I went along just because my ambitions to work in show biz had atrophied to nearly nothing but I still liked the process of shooting and putting a show together.

I didn’t plan to become the editor, but there was no one else and no budget, so I ended up stuck with that job. I spent many a frustrating hour on iMovie, and when I reached the limits of that, found out I could subscribe to Adobe Premiere Pro for twenty bucks a month. Premiere Pro was even more frustrating.

We had no boom mike or any real sound equipment for the first episode, and it shows. Sound has improved but making it good also makes the shooting and editing harder.

Now we have five episodes. Roger is a people person. He can get actors to show up, and he can get locations. We have used a car repair shop, a tire store, and a school. We had quite a large cast for the church scene and later for a church picnic. We have also had actors quit after one episode so we had to write out their characters.

Writing is my main skill in video production, and on this show I do very little of it. My writing contribution is to try to keep some sort of story logic going, while Roger likes to shoot off in new directions all the time, forgetting to tie things together. He has never written before, but he does have interesting ideas and an ear for how people talk.

We started with a police procedural and now we have spies, ghosts, demons, and a very funny church lady who thinks she is holier than everybody.

Doing your own web series with no resources does allow for a lot of freedom. No one gives you notes. You don’t have to check anything with the network. You just write and shoot. I don’t know of any writers who have built a career on it yet, or of any web series that makes money. Having actual footage to show, not just scripts, is good for your resume. It does feel good to be out there doing it, rather than waiting for pitch meetings and the approval of people who disapprove of almost everything.

Now Roger and I are throwing ourselves on the mercy of Kickstarter, hoping we can find people who appreciate our weird little show and want to see us make it bigger, faster, and stronger. We have asked for a pretty good chunk of cash, but if we can pull it off we will create a little studio of our own and branch into other projects as well.

Please look at our Kickstarter page and see if you want to help. I hope you do.

You can see our five episodes HERE.

A Kickstarter Web Series Project We Like (& 3 Others That are Meh)

The Good:

SAMURAI DRUNK 

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Real people! Real humor! From Dallas but still hip!

The Meh:

NICK THE PAINTER

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Just as good as any genuine reality series but we hate reality series.

FLUFF

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They could only have come up with this idea in a bar. But if you like pron this might be acceptable.

DOODIEMAN

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A crap joke – literally. But told slickly, by a former animator on THE SIMPSONS.

Always be careful on Kickstarter, kids!

This public service announcement comes from TVWriter™!

Inside Look at “Untitled Web Series About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time”

Yeppers, another exciting update from Travis Richey:

untitledwebseriescastBOOTH, Budgets, and Babyish the Extraordinary
by Travis Richey

Greetings, Inspectators!

Production is well under way on the prequel episode to Season 2 of Untitled Web Series… Those of you who are familiar with the behind-the-scenes of Season 1 will know that we’d had some challenges regarding one of our most integral characters: The BOOTH. Namely, that we didn’t actually own it!

Building a Better BOOTH

So, being the proactive interdimensional voyagers that we are, we decided it was a good idea to build our own. We are thrilled to announce that construction has completed on a brand new BOOTH (The Inspector calls her “Red”) and we couldn’t be happier with the results. Check out the FaceBook album to see the process of building the Time Helix. We’d like to give a big shout-out and a HUGE thanks to Mr. John Shearer for putting in the blood sweat and tears that went into making the new and improved (and portable) BOOTH.

Also, check out the just released photo album documenting the construction of a custom phone console to go with our posh new time machine. Master prop builder Brian Uiga, with the help of a gifted design team, created what we can only describe as a marvel of modern engineering.We’ve heard from several prop makers from Star Trek, Doctor Who and other Sci-Fi shows that completely agree!

Making Cents of the Budget

As often happens with independent productions, we didn’t accurately predict the final cost of creating these one-of-a-kind props. Who knew building a Bio Organic Omnidirectional Time Helix would cost such a pretty penny? The unfortunate news is that they cost about $2400 more than anticipated. (about how much it cost to rent The BOOTH for one day in Season 1!) The good news is that we have them now, and we’ll be able to use them in future seasons with little to no additional cost.

However, we need to raise additional funds to complete the prequel Episode. If you missed your chance to contribute to the KickStarter for the prequel episode and you want to contribute to production, we are accepting donations via PayPal on our website. Plus, we will send you the rewards that match your donation level from our last KickStarter. This is your chance to get signed photos, scripts, soundtrack CDs, even a custom built Optic Pocketknife.

Babyish the Extraordinary!

Now for a piece of “extraordinary” news: we’ve had our first production baby! A brave new Inspectator joins our ranks! Our very own Eric Loya (co-writer and Boyish the Extraordinary) and his lovely wife Catherine are now the proud parents of a child we like to call “Babyish the Extraordinary”! The fact that they like to call him Evan concerns us not. You can leave your congratulations on our official FaceBook page.

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