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