Writer? – @BrisOwnWorld

by Bri Castellini

NOTE FROM LB: The following column by Bri Castellini was originally published last April, so if it reads like it doesn’t fit properly into the current context of “Bri’s Own World” articles we’ve been bringing you, that’s because, hey, it doesn’t.

The good news is that although the column may sound, as Bri herself has indicated, a bit “dismal,” things actually are pretty darn rosy for her now. The truth is that whether you’re a beginner, an established pro, or a writer on the way out, this is a tough game to play, filled with lows as well as highs.

We’ve all had to learn to live with it. To put this another way, knowledge is power, and after you read what’s below those of you who are just getting started will know a whole lot more about what to expect. I, for one, am grateful for Bri Castellini’s openness as well as her talent:

by Bri Castellini

I’m a very picky writer, and that’s starting to bite me in the butt as I go back on the job hunt, desperate not to end up as a barista again. I’m also a jumble of confusing and sometimes unrelated skill sets and strengths as a human in the workforce, which means my poor butt is not looking forward to the end of this metaphor. Moving on. Apologies to my butt.

Let’s talk about the jumbled skill sets first. I recently realized that, other than when I was a barista and camp counselor, every job I’ve ever had has been one I’ve created for myself, at least to an extent. For a good amount of time, I bounced around from small business to college department branding myself as a “Social Media Consultant.” Essentially, because I was young and on the internet a lot, I would make social media accounts, propose what each platform should be used for, and then run them until the person who hired me realized they didn’t know what to do with me or I graduated from the college and no longer applied for work study. These gigs were great, because they weren’t super time consuming and because I was the “expert” compared to people who didn’t even have a Facebook page, meaning that there was very little oversight and I could do whatever I wanted. I never had to look at analytics, or concern myself with engagement on the posts. The fact that I had made them a few accounts was such a huge improvement to their previous status quo, I was largely left to my own devices.

My full time job at MTV (which ends at the end of this month), as Associate Producer for Digital Development, was created specifically with me in mind. They needed help with a few very specific things and were passed my resume from the women who ran my internship in the research department, so when I interviewed with the SVP, we talked about my specific strengths and based the position around them. I organized and created extensive spreadsheets, did research, made PowerPoint presentations, and helped develop and pitch ideas. All things that were in my wheelhouse before the job.

Most recently, I started working (for equity, not pay) for the start up Stareable.com, which is a hub for web series discovery and reviews. After writing a few guest posts for their blog and offering advice about a few random things whenever I attended a happy hour for filmmakers hosted by the CEO, Ajay, he and I sat down and agreed I should join their team in a more official capacity. Once again, the job was created specifically for me. I write for their blog, acquire content and guest posts for their blog, offer advice, consult on social media, and help organize and run their physical, in person events like the filmmaker happy hours and their new screening series. All things I already know how to do.

Most jobs, however, are not designed for me. At least not when you job hunt in the traditional sense, trolling the internet for job postings. I’ve got almost eight years of social media consulting experience, but I don’t know SEO or any of the fancy analytics programs, so for most established companies who already have accounts, I’m not qualified for anything past maybe a copywriter, which is generally an entry level grunt gig. I also have experience as an “Associate Producer” but don’t know a lot of the software required for most positions under that same title. I’ve done a lot of independent film projects in a variety of roles, but I don’t know anything about paperwork or insurance or SAG waivers so I’m not qualified as a producer of any level, I’ve never technically been an assistant (though I’ve stepped in as one in a variety of other positions) so I’m not qualified for a lot of those jobs ether.

What I’m saying is that I’ve lived a blessed work life, in terms of the non food service gigs I’ve had, and that’s screwing me over right now as I rush to find a new position to pay my new apartment’s rent.

Now back to the picky writer thing. Writing, in most of its forms, is the one thing I’m 100% qualified to do in any role, right? Well… kind of. I knew all the way back in middle school that I didn’t want to be a teacher, and I knew by high school that I didn’t want to be a journalist. As such, I’m qualified to be a reporter or freelance writer in every way except for one- I don’t have a knack for finding stories. I have always erred on the side of personal essays and commentary stories, I hate interviewing people, and I have no vocabulary or confidence when it comes to pitching publications. I’m a writer… I guess. And I’ve done a lot of freelance and article writing, as evidenced by this alarmingly full page on my portfolio.

But if you actually look at that alarmingly long list of places I’ve written for, you’ll notice yet another trend- they’re mostly personal experience posts. I wrote about crocheting for a knitting blog, speech and debate advice for a speech and debate blog, and now most of my online blogging centers around the world of web series. All of these things, again, are things I’m already good at, written for people I already know. I’ve never been paid to blog, or to freelance- usually I do it for the “exposure.” I have no idea how to value my writing, or how to pitch a publication a story about myself when I’m a nobody.

It’s like… I have 75% of the skills needed for a bunch of jobs, but that 25% is really important and I have no way of bridging the gap, not in a way that wouldn’t be straight up lying. I have never taken any of my jobs for granted, because I knew how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to do all these things that are specifically created for me and my existing skill sets.

But those #blessed opportunities didn’t do me a lot of favors when it comes to developing new skill sets and learning things that will make me more qualified or hireable in the future. I have 7 years of social media consulting under my belt, but I do not qualify for jobs that require 7 years of social media consulting experience, because each subsequent consulting gig I took on was me doing the exact same things over and over again. I’d create a detailed proposal about which platforms the company should exist on and what kinds of things we should post to each platform, then I’d make those accounts, run them for a while, and eventually get dropped because the lack of oversight isn’t very useful when I need the boss’s participation in creating content. I am experienced, but I am not experienced. It’s very frustrating.

This is gonna be another one of those really long blog posts that doesn’t really have a point, or a solution. April is gonna be a rough month for me: I’m moving to a new apartment and losing my job at MTV by the end of it, at least two full weekends will be taken up by helping produce and direct the second season of my new friend Jack’s web series, and I’ve promised to help out on two other productions, plus my friend David’s new outdoor product review video series. None of that has anything to do with any of my personal projects either, because I don’t really have time or mental clarity to develop any personal projects because 2017 is hell bent on reversing everything good that happened to me in 2016.

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. This article originally appeared on her blog. Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, BrainsHERE

The Indignance of “Indie” Film Festivals – @BrisOwnWorld

by Bri Castellini

I have made no secret of how proud I am of my web series, Brains (2 complete seasons plus extended universe projects online now!) or my friend Chris’s web series, Relativity (complete miniseries online now!), which I produced. But the thing about making films or series, particularly in the independent sphere, is that no one cares without them laurels.

These are laurels:


Essentially, laurels are the fancy little images you get if chosen to be in a film festival, to promote their festival as well as promote that you got in. They’re a badge of honor for any filmmaker, because it means your film/series was chosen out of many other submissions to be screened or highlighted or otherwise. It adds prestige and viability to your image and is an invaluable way to build credibility to continue in the industry.

The image above is a collection of all the laurels my web series, Brains, has collected thus far. It’s incredibly gratifying to look at, although many of the festivals we’ve been in were online only (meaning no live screening with an audience) and none of them are eligible to add to our IMDb page, because they don’t qualify as “legit” in the eyes of the people who make those kinds of decisions. And here’s the major thing I want to talk about today:

The entry fees are too damn high!

I appreciate and love every festival who has let our weird little series into their ranks, but most of them are low prestige and were either free or very cheap to submit to. That’s good and bad for us: good because we can afford them and because more people will see our content, bad because many of these festivals are small enough that we can’t leverage our inclusion for funding or respect in the larger, more prestigious world of “legit” indie filmmaking.

Why not submit to an award show like the Webby Awards? It’s literally designed for content like ours!




Even if we chose to only submit for comedy series, a single entry submission for the Webbys is $385That’s 1/6 of the money we made from IndieGoGo to make the entirety of season 2. For 3 entries, the total submission cost is OVER HALF OUR BUDGET.

How can you honor excellence on the internet, a place where anyone with a camera and a dream can make content, by charging this submission fee? You know who you’re ACTUALLY honoring?


Don’t get me wrong- Krysten Ritter was incredible in Jessica Jones. But talk about unfair competition. She probably makes more in an hour than we spent on BOTH our seasons. Good god.

This is bigger than one festival, though. The Streamys, another online-specific award show, at least have a flat fee when submitting one project for multiple categories, but that fee is still a non-refundable $95. And to get ahead in the world of indie filmmaking, or entertainment in general, you can’t just submit to one or two. Here is Brains’s track record just from a single submission site (FilmFreeway, which I would absolutely recommend)


as of 12/15/16

And that’s just for the first season.

Bottom line: if your film festival is specifically for independent projects or online projects but your submission fee is over $30/$50 (per category especially, but also per project), maybe you should reconsider who you’re doing it for.

We cannot compete in this market. We cannot afford to, and that’s insane. The whole point of creating things independently is doing cool things with fewer resources on your own terms, but this process of paying insane fees to submit our hard work for consideration and viewership is disheartening and unfair.

If I had $385 (the fee to submit to a single category at the Webbys, I’ll remind you) I’d use it to make more projects, not submit it to your elitist “indie” festival, because apparently, it’s “make things” or “maybe get considered for an award that could bring new credibility and prestige to your cast and crew.”

Call me crazy, but I think it should be both.

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, a hub for web series. This article originally appeared in her blog. Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, BrainsHERE

Cargo 3120 ‘Ties that Bind: Part 2’

EDITOR’S NOTE: What is Cargo 3120? We’ve written about this project many times over the past couple of years, but the best place to go to understand what Aaron Walker Sr. is up to is HERE.

And now that that’s settled:

by Aaron Walker Sr.

Whew! It’s been quite a while, but book 2 is finally done! It was a long and hard road that I outlined in our last two blogs. Check them out (read update 1 here and update 2 here).

As I mentioned in the posts above, I had a few setbacks along the road, including many changes that had to be made to get is where we are today. But now I am proud to announce:

Cargo 3120 Ties that Bind Part 2 will release this month on June 17th, 2017
(Pre-orders are available now on Amazon for only .99 cents!)

Part 3 will be released around December of 2017. And if all goes to plan, the fourth and final installment in the Ties that Bind storyline will release in early 2018. Initially the book will be available only on Amazon Kindle. Later, I hope to have the book released on smashwords, which distributes in many formats, including Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and others.

It was never my intent to have such a long delay between books, and we are hard at work behind the scenes to prevent that from happening again. In fact, I have plans to bring on a special guest this fall to help further develop the universe of Cargo 3120! So, stay tuned, the future of Cargo 3120 is indeed a bright one!

Haven’t finished or read book 1? You can now get the full eBook version on Amazon for free! You can also get it on smashwords, or read the full book on our website.

While I’m at it

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As I mentioned in update 2 on my blog, the reason we didn’t launch in May was because we were still finalizing the cover art. We felt this step was too important to rush, so I made the call to delay the launch until we got it right.

We’ve probably all heard the saying: “You can’t judge a book by its cover…”

And while this certainly should be the case, from my experience, people often do judge a book by its cover. This is especially true in the eBook realm, as people quickly scroll past titles, often stopping on titles with an eye-catching cover.

My first thought was to have something that was jam packed with imagery that I thought highlighted the best of book two. But after many discussions with our talented artist out of Los Angeles: Lee Wherry, we decided to go with a “less is more” approach. We wanted something that was clean and easy on the eyes.

What do you think? Did we succeed?

Web Series: ‘Welcome to Anhedonia’

We’re suckers for puppets and horror shows and early ’80s music, which means that we find Welcome to Anhedonia irresistible.

Who needs to see full episodes when the trailers are this adorable?

Twitter http://twitter.com/wtanhednoia

Facebook http://facebook.com/welcometoanhedonia


Learning to Love Shameless Self-Promotion – @BrisOwnWorld

Face Person
by Bri Castellini

No, it does NOT say “Bris” above. It just, erm, looks that way.

I have always been a shameless self promoter, but now that I’m attempting to join an industry built on networking and chance, I’ve gotten so much worse. Now, even in my Facebook bio, I have to make reference to the fact that I’m an indie filmmaker, that I have an award-winning web series, and that I work at MTV. All these things are things that will hopefully eventually impress someone enough to give me money or a TV show.

And because it’s unavoidable that people who notice Brains will notice that my face is all over it, I also end up referencing the fact that I am also the lead character in the show. This is where things start to get complicated, for me at least.

First up, I hate the phrase “star.” Technically, I am the star of Brains. I have the most lines, I am in every episode (except for the final minisode of season 2), and my character is in complete control of the narrative of the people around her as well as the camera. But “star” seems awkward, and self-important in a way that, surprisingly, I’m not super comfortable with. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’m not a narcissist, because I am. I’m a millennial in the arts, after all. But, and I’m not joking, sometimes I forget I’m in Brains, because the acting part of it is so last priority, even on set. I will talk about the writing and producing and promoting until the cows come home and die of boredom, but the acting? Meh. So, “star” seems too grandiose.

But I also don’t love the word “actress.” It’s more descriptive and less self-congratulatory, sure, but it still doesn’t feel right, especially with the incredible talent of my co-stars. I have seen the way Colin and Marshall (Carl from season 2 and Damian, respectively) prepare for scenes and roles. I’ve seen the notes in the script margins, the binders of research material.

I once had a two hour coffee meetup with Marshall just for him to better understand the timeline of season 2. That level of commitment is on a whole other level, and I so do not feel worthy of the title. I’m not going to auditions constantly, doing as many plays as I can get cast in, shopping for agents, and maintaining my physical appearance to be more cast-able. I’m saying some lines on camera in between running sound and coordinating crew and buying craft services and managing media and making sure the set pieces haven’t fallen. Watching my actual actor friends hustle is enough to dissuade me from calling myself one as well.


Granted, maybe if I ever get cast in something I didn’t write (unlikely- I have a very specific look, and it’s not one people look to cast) I’ll get a chance to spread my acting wings. Because to be fair to me, I did write the stupid show, so if anyone doesn’t have to do extra character work on Brains, it’s me. Also, Alison is me if an apocalypse hit and I made [slightly]  worse decisions, so there’s that.
Which is why it’s incredibly confusing for me when, during the two negative-slanted reviews of Brains that have been published, I am criticized for my writing and celebrated for my face person-ing.The term/job description I’ve landed on that feels the most comfortable is Face Person. Whenever I have an extra few characters in a social media bio, or I have to explain on camera or in audio form what I do on the production of the award-winning web series Brains, I say “I’m the face person of Alison Sumner.” If I’m feeling nasty I’ll say I’m “the boobs,” but that’s a conversation for another time.

In reviewing the first season of Brains, the blog Nerdophiles said this:

“The only bright spot is that Bri Castellini as Alison does a solid job with the material she’s given, and she’s largely what makes the series watchable.”

Similarly, a less than thrilled reviewer of the show for NetTVNow said this:

“To be fair, Alison is actually pretty great. Castellini has a natural charisma, and Allison benefits from by far the most screen time in the series. She’s one of the only character who feels remotely like a real person”

This isn’t me being like “PERHAPS I HAVE BEEN FOOLISHLY LEANING INTO WRITING ALL THESE YEARS AND SHOULD SHED MY INTROVERTED NATURE IN PREPARATION FOR BRI 3.0- THE ACTRESS!” I’m flattered that when people don’t like my show they seem to still like me, but I have to admit, I’m confused.

Also a face

I figured I’d be written off as an over- (or, occasionally, under-) performer, and honestly I figured at least one person would be like “she was only cast because she was the writer, not because she was a strong face person.”I knew some people weren’t going to like my show. After all, it stands to reason some people have bad taste. But what they didn’t like about the show and what they specifically called out as passable surprised me.

They would be correct- we 100% cast me because the idea of finding someone else to commit to that long of a production and that many lines for no money was incredibly anxiety-inducing.

What is the point of this blog? I’m not 100% sure. But people have started asking me more frequently what my goals are in the industry, and they’ve started changing since I became an indie producer. I still would definitely love to write for a TV show, and to eventually run one, but I also am starting to get addicted to the thrill of indie filmmaking. I like producing, I like directing, and I like how much control I have and how little oversight others do over my creative works. Plus, I actually really like acting, and as far as I can tell, I’m the only person who will ever cast me.

But who knows what the future holds? All I know is that I needed to post 2 blogs this month to keep up my New Year’s Resolution #3, and now I’m off the hook for another 30 days.

Bri Castellini is an top indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, a hub for web series. Last week was the last of her scheduled columns for TVWriter™ on the ins and outs of making web series. It didn’t take very long for us to start missing her, though, so we lifted this article from her blog, and if we get away with it we’ll go back for more. Meanwhile, watch Bri’s deservedly award-winning web series, BrainsHERE

Web Series: We aren’t featuring this series because it’s made by Larry David’s daughter

Let’s say it again. We swear up, down, and sideways that we aren’t writing about this web series because its creator/star/all around boss is Cazzie David, daughter of world famous grumpy guy Larry David. We aren’t.

We’re featuring this series because it was highly recommended by another site that wrote about it because Ms. David has that certain close connection with Mr. David.

And, unlike that certain other site, we’re making no excuses for it. Because we don’t have to. Sure, it’s about “first world problems.” But first world probs are real, y’all. Many of us have them. And many more of us aspire to having them. Let’s face it, if we could afford those kinds of problems it would mean we weren’t in the genuinely deep shit we’re slopping around in right now.

So, no excuses or apologies, we’re saying it loud and clear:

We like Eighty-Sixed and here’s why:

That’s it, the whole megilla. Let us know what you think!

Web Series: ‘Classic Alice’ Coming to Amazon

by Team TVWriter™

Almost two years ago – July 6, 2015, to be precise – TVWriter™ raved about the web series Classic Alice,  which we thought really did have all the elements of a true classic.

Today, we’re happy to say that the series has discovered a whole new way for us to watch it – via Amazon video.

The show is a literary web series with a twist – rather than modernizing one novel, it tackles multiple classics in interesting ways as college student Alice (writer/creator/star Kate Hackett) makes life decisions according to the actions of characters in classic literature – from Crime and Punishment to Persuasion – and has to deal with the fallout as she navigates her college career and figures out what comes next. By turns hilarious and moving, and often both at once, the show thoroughly entertains its viewers while making them think about books in new ways.

Classic Alice’s original 100+ short episodes are now edited into longer episodes arranged by book, making it easier than ever for viewers to enter Alice’s world. Episodes are available for purchase from Amazon (use your Amazon app to view any time!) or watch via Amazon Prime. The entire show is/will be available as of tomorrow, May 19th, HERE.

Oh, and Kate Hackett Productions is HERE

Take a Gander at a Sample

Suggestion from LB: Looks like Amazon is now a viable market for your web series. We definitely hope that other creators will check that situation out…and get back to us with the results when you do. Break a leg, Alice/Kate, and everyone who, well, who dares!