Web Series: ‘Or Die Trying’

by Team TVWriter™ Press Service

Or Die Trying is a web series about women in film, by women in film. The show’s creators, like its characters, are creative females living and working in various aspects of showbiz in Los Angeles. Here’s a taste of how that works:

Written by Myah Hollis, who along with Sarah Hawkins also is an executive producer, and directed by Camila Martins, Or Die Trying takes a slice of life approach to the unique highs and lows, failures and successes, of being young millennial women working in the L.A. film industry. In a concentrated effort to systematically change the statistics on gender inequality within the film industry, the producers of OR DIE TRYING have committed to hiring 85% or more of their team to be filled by women.

This TVWriter™ minion enjoyed the show thoroughly, and after the trailer the lighthearted sitcom music pretty much vanished and the constant hitting of empowered women!!! talking points faded into the background, allowing the show to become what Hawkins says has been what it intended to be all along:

“At its core, this show is about people. It’s about figuring out what you want in life, going after it, and learning to deal with your personal obstacles along the way,” says Hollis, the show’s creator/writer. “I hope that people take what they need from our series. Whether it be inspiration to create their own work and tell their own stories, or just the reassurance that it’s okay to be imperfect and to not have everything figured out.”

For example:

It ain’t GLOW, but then it isn’t trying to be. Or Die Trying works its butt off to be itself, and thanks to its authenticity it definitely shines.
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Check out the series’ episodes at: odtseries.com/episodes and youtube.com/ordietrying.

Enjoy behind the scenes content at odtseries.com.

Bri Castellini: ‘The Bechdel Test is The WORST’ – @brisworld

Bri Castellini, TVWriter™’s favorite starving young indie filmmaker, has a few very choice words to say about the biggest cop-out “test” in showbiz. This is something we all need to know:

As a female TVWriter™ minion who regards this post as a kind of conversation between Bri, myself, and all of you who are reading and watching this, I have a question:

Does this, our current convo, pass the Bechdel Test?

Does it pass the Castellini Test?

Thanks for challenging us, Bri. You’re PFC with TVWriter™.

More cool Bri Castellini videos are HERE

Web Series: ‘Stupid Idiots’

So how damning is it if I say that the two leads in this very funny web series aren’t merely perfect recreations of people I know but in true fact are perfect recreations of, well, of me, dammit? Me!

Writer-director-editor Stephanie Koenig, you know me, don’t you? You’re the one who’s been following me around with that long, long lens and the shotgun mic. You’re making me a star, girl! I owe you bigtime and will get around to rewarding you properly right after you settle the lawsuit I’m filing against you for $50 million.

Please consider the official looking bunch of papers the next stranger who comes to your door and says, “Stephanie Koenig?” hands you just my opening salvo of “Thanks!”

Here’s the next episode:

And HERE is where you can watch more

Indie Video & Film for Fun & Profit?

Here at TVWriter™ we’re all gung-ho about indie video and film making, especially of the ultra short and cheap variety. If you’ve given that a try,  you’re probably familiar with the costs, work, aggravation, and rewards for web series and such.

Some indies, however, may be a bit more ambitious. This one’s for y’all:

Shocking truth behind – and beside and in front of – Life Tracker!

How I Raised $150K for My 1st Movie and Never Saw a Dime Back
by Joe McClean

It’s high time indie filmmakers started sharing data. Yes, that includes your budget and your earnings. I’ll go first.

We’re taught from childhood that “two heads are better than one.” We unionize to have a collective bargaining voice. We’re encouraged to collect as much information, from as many social media accounts as we can manage. Yet independent filmmakers are still told by distributors, and one another, that they should never reveal their movie’s budget. If a buyer knows how much you spent, they’ll change the number they’re willing to offer. People also have hang-ups about budget specifics. If someone finds out I made $xxxx on a production, then future employers won’t pay me more.

These are understandable concerns, but I believe the secrecy is hurting the independent film scene. Too many times I’ve said to my attorney or agent, “Is this a good deal? Are these numbers on par with other people at my level?” I’ve had to ask these questions because the information is nearly impossible to find.

So I’d like to spill the beans, even when it hurts my ego, about the first indie feature I made: “Life Tracker,” a $150,000 science fiction movie with a few recognizable faces in the cast. (My second feature, “The Drama Club,” is available on iTunes and Amazon on June 9.) I sincerely hope it helps some indie filmmaker out there to have this information as they move forward with their own production.

I wrote “Life Tracker” in 2010. I chose science fiction because it’s a genre that has a reliable audience. I wrote a found-footage, dialogue-heavy script because it was cheaper to make. I didn’t include large crowd scenes or explosions because I knew if I was trying to make “Cloverfield,” I’d be one of those filmmakers who always talks about making a movie but never actually does. The goal here was to make a movie, not to write a script.

My attorney, Bianca Goodloe, helped me get the script into a few hands. She also introduced me to a person who found money for productions through personal connections and took a 10 percent finder’s fee. This person ultimately brought $90,000 to the production — $40,000 from two investors, $25,000 from NBA All-Star Baron Davis, and then, at the very end, when it looked like we weren’t going to get the budget we needed to make the movie, $25,000 of their own money….

Read it all at The Wrap

Indie Video: ‘Marlon Brando Was a Dick’ – @brisworld

Bri Castellini, TVWriter™’s favorite starving young indie filmmaker, strikes again:

We find this video interesting because there are so many even dickier things that reliable sources have reported about Brando over the years that Bri didn’t list here. Instead, she very professionally stuck to what appears to be her professional pet peeve – of the moment, anyway – thereby making this the perfect video for TVWriter™ to post as a public service to new filmmakers.

Thanks for your service, Bri!

More cool Bri Castellini videos are HERE

Web Series: ‘You Only Die Once’

This is an interesting series. In many ways it seems to us to be better than it thinks it is, or intends to be.

Yeah, that’s a compliment.

You Only Die Once definitely works for us. It’s kind of like Buffy, only it doesn’t get as carried away with itself. Try it and let us know what you think.

More You Only Die Once HERE

What else do people do again? – @BrisOwnWorld

by Bri Castellini

La La Land was ok. I mean, don’t get it twisted, I cried at the ending. That’s not particularly surprising- I cry a lot at TV and movies. I’m wired to care more about fictional narratives than actual human people. That’s not the topic of this blog. The topic of this blog is the sometimes inescapable self congratulatory subjects of media- ourselves.

Most hack writing books and teachers will tell young writers- write what you know! And to an extent, that’s good advice. To an extent. But what this has really done is encourage basically every other writer in the world to write about, well, writers. Screenwriters write about screenwriters, about actors, about Hollywood. Novelists write about novelists. Web series creators write about making web series, or wanting to get into the film industry, or living with too many roommates because we’re all poor and want to get into the film industry.

Every once in a while, there’s a really great piece of media about the media industry. 30 Rock. Submissions Only. La La Land. But here’s the thing- most people are not writers, actors, playwrights, artists, etc. So there are only so many narratives you can tell about the artistic lifestyle before people are like “we get it. You eat a lot of ramen and argue about dishes with the revolving door of kooky 20-something roommates, and someday want to see your name in lights. Cool. What else you got?”

I don’t know. I don’t know what else I got. About a month ago I was trying to force inspire myself to write something new, having written ten pages of a TV spec pilot about making a web series and then realizing that it’s the least inspired thing in the world. And I genuinely had this thought- “what else do people do?” For the life of me, I could not remember what else people do in the world, other than write and want to be filmmakers or actors. Sure, the service industry was an option too, but there are already some really great service industry shows out there (Superstore in particular) and I don’t think my perspective is unique enough to try my own hand at it.

I am surrounded by creative people, and on a day to day basis, that’s great. We all get each other, and we’re all doing our best to make it in this often debilitating depressing entertainment industry. But when it comes to developing new shows and projects for us to make together, because all I do is talk about making new shows and projects with people, all I can think to write is- that. Writing about being a writer stuck as a barista. Writing about being a writer living with her creative partners and intermingling friendship and business in hilarious and detrimental ways. Writing about being a writer with two actor best friends. Do you see the problem?

A few years back, I was midway through a creative writing degree at the best place in the world (Pacific University) and one of my favorite authors (Maureen Johnson) wrote a blog about doing just that. If I was smart, I would have bookmarked it and read it once a month, but I was young and cocky, and now it’s lost to the ages (unless I find it again, in which case, I will link to it HERE!).

The basic premise of the blog was an argument against getting writing degrees- especially graduate or doctorate level writing degrees- if your eventual goal was not to become a teacher or professor. Her argument was that if all you ever do is study writing, what the hell are you going to write about? This was, and remains, a very good point.

At the time, I wasn’t concerned. I was in college, I had lots of other shit going on, and I was mostly writing genre stuff anyways, and my imagination wasn’t going to go away, so who cares if all I studied was writing? I’m glad I got my BA in Creative Writing, because I genuinely did become a better writer, but then I moved to New York City for an MFA, and if the goal was to have experiences outside of being a writer, well, I shouldn’t have moved to New York City to become a screenwriter, because once you’re in that world, it’s all you do. You only ever meet people in the acting or writing or filmmaking world, because it’s all about networking and who you know, and knowing someone outside of that world doesn’t do shit for your career, so the cycle begins again. There’s insulated communities, and then there’s the film and television industry.

All this is to say, boy howdy is it difficult to come up with honest, complex narratives (that I could also theoretically produce myself, so genre is mostly out) that aren’t about the thing I do- writing and making indie media. And yet, I don’t have a ton of time to cultivate other interests, because if I take my eye off the ball for even a second, I might miss my one sliver of a shot.

Intellectually, I know I have other interests. My speech and debate pilot has gotten relatively good responses, and obviously my short film Ace and Anxious (about asexuality and anxiety) is doing really well in the festival circuit, at least as a script. But what’s next? I keep asking myself: what else am I? What other stories do I, Bri Castellini, have to tell? (that aren’t too personal so as to embarrass or upset people in my life, that are interesting, that are active and not passive, that are not about an inability to “adult”.)

I guess we’ll see?


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