Web Series: ‘The Stand’

The perfect web series for Trump’s America?

Or the hipster’s best friend?

Where would you place The Stand in the lifestyle spectrum?

Learn more about The Stand HERE

We’re thinking that this is well made – especially well-acted – and perfectly in keeping with today’s ironic niche humor. But to level with y’all, we’re also a tad tired of shows with asshole heroes. Does this make us bad people?

Feeling kinda disappointed…in ourselves.

What about you?

Found via Stareable

New YouTube Series Gives Us Untold Tales of Star Wars

Whoa, an authorized Star Wars Forces of Destiny is a YouTube web series…ands it’s canon!

Mother of mercy, is this the end of TV?

Yeah, the question was rhetorical, but the practical, all too real answer most probably is, “You betcha.”

Spend some time – not all that much because the episodes are roughly two and a half minutes each, binging on all 8 episodes HERE

Give thanks to Our Overlords at Disney in the comments. This TVWriter™ minion things the series is barely competent, artwise, and completely childish when it comes to the writing, but WTH? I think all the same of all the SW films and TV shows. Well, except for Star Wars Rebels. It’s awesome.

More about SWR is HERE

How To Turn Your Web Series Into A Full Time Job – @Stareable

Last week we brought you the exciting news that web series Stupid Idiots has a new TV deal, and today, in the same vein of productivity and achievement, we’re continuing in that vein with Stareable.Com’s Bri Castellini and her interview with Alex LeMay, who is making a name for himself via…well, hold on there. Y’all don’t need our set-up, you need the punchline.

So here it is:

Interview with Alex LeMay
by Bri Castellini

It’s a running joke in the web series community that none of us have money to make our shows, none of us make money off our shows, and none of us ever will. But what if I told you it didn’t have to be that way?

Alex LeMay @Alex_LeMay studied theater at DePaul University in Chicago and the University of Windsor in Canada, but he’s always been a fan of using cameras to tell stories. In 2006 he discovered a video streaming site called iFilm, which was a precursor to YouTube, and realized that online video was the future of media. In his words, “I put all my eggs in that basket.”

Today, Alex is a showrunner, producer, and director for two of the major studios, a bunch of digital studios, and branded entertainment divisions of various advertising agencies. He also runs AlexLeMay.com4, where he helps “ambitious filmmakers and video creators build [and] sell their web series.” How did he get there, and what can we all learn from his tremendous success? Read on.

Editor’s note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Stareable: What shows have you created or worked on that we might have heard of?

Alex LeMay: I just finished a travel food show with celebrity chef Fabio Viviani called DINNER IS SERVED for Endemol Beyond. I was a lead producer on a digital feature for YouTube Red called KEYS OF CHRISTMAS starring DJ Khaled, Mariah Carey, Ciara, Bebe Rexha, and YouTube star Rudy Mancuso. I was a producer on Nigel Lythgoe’s EVERY SINGLE STEP which was like the choreographer version of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. I was the showrunner/director on WORD OF MOUTH with YouTube star Josh Leyva for Shaun White’s Air+Style/Go90, I was the creator/show runner/director for ADVENTURE LAB for MSN. I was the show runner and co-creator of the online digital experience called BZRK which we ended up selling to Sony Pictures for Sam Raimi. I’ve been fortunate to create online content for companies like Starbucks, Johnson & Johnson, and Wilson Athletics as well. Right now I’m directing and producing the pilot episode of a web series by Jim Uhls, [who] wrote the movie FIGHT CLUB.

How did you end up producing and creating digital content?

In 2006 there was a video platform called iFilm which was the precursor to YouTube. When I saw that streaming video online was possible (which until then it would take you two days to download a two-minute video) I realized this is where media was going so I put all my eggs in that basket… Eventually, because I was one of the first producers creating digital video, I developed a reputation as someone who knew how to create for that space.

You’ve worked with some big digital production companies- how did you get in the room, let alone build long-lasting relationships, and what advice would you give to filmmakers, producers, and writers looking to follow in your footsteps?

I proved I could create content that builds an audience. I built an online series with a gaming component that Sony Pictures saw and they ended up buying it to turn into a movie. That allowed me to use that as a springboard into other work.

The reality is that it is a business like any other so as a creator and producer I had to show studios that I not only could deliver their series on time and on budget. I also had to show them I understood their business concerns, meaning that I understood how to deliver content that resonated with their particular audience… The advice I would give is that now it’s about creating social reach, so creators need to be proactive in building their own audience outside and separate from the traditional media system. That gets the industry’s attention more than anything else. Don’t think you need a distributor to make a living.

What is the most challenging part of working with larger production companies, and aside from funding, how does it compare to working on indie projects?

There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen. As a producer, director, and writer you have to fight, kindly, but fight nonetheless, to maintain your voice in a project. I never forget that it is my name on that piece of work so making sure I can be proud of it is essential. Also, most people in studios aren’t filmmakers in the traditional sense. They are executives whose aim is to make sure that the project is profitable. At the studio level, we as creators have to understand that helping studios profit is part of our job, but finding the balance between art and commerce can be challenging sometimes. The best way to avoid that conflict is to have a clear understanding of what the expectations are before making it. Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised.

Working on indie projects is a blast- there is a huge opportunity to break some rules, experiment, and try new things. Not having a budget means I get to play the game of “how can I solve this problem with no money?” That stretches my abilities and strengthens my creativity, which becomes hugely useful on bigger projects. I use all those little hacks I discovered on indie projects constantly on the bigger projects. Simply, indie projects are just freer.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see smaller indie web productions make, and how can they course-correct?

There are a few common mistakes, but the biggest and most classic mistake is: “Build it and they will come.” This is the one where producers shoot 6 episodes of their series by racking up credit card debt. They then launch it by putting it out to their Facebook friends and in total they’re out $10k, 20k, 30k and only have 1500 views across all the episodes. I see this all the time. It’s sad, because so many of these projects are amazing.

Don’t make the series, make the proof of concept. When you make the entire series (or a major chunk of it) you don’t leave the distributor/buyer anywhere to go. Distributors only buy things that fit into the narrow parameter of what their audience wants based on their extensive audience data. Remember, this is the internet, not TV, so distributors have data on every view and click on their content and unless your series ticks all those boxes, chances are they won’t buy. Instead, bring them an idea that is 75% developed and let them fill in the other 25% with their knowledge of their audience.

What is something many indie creators overlook when making an indie project that you think they should remember that might make their project more appealing to wider audiences or larger production and distribution companies?

Many creators make their projects first and then find out who their audience is after. I think best practices show that successful series producers know exactly who their audience is before they make anything. In fact, before production begins, many creators have been building an audience by communicating with fans of their genre (the one they are creating in) long before that audience knows anything about their project. Once they have engaged the audience and built trust, they move ahead with production. This way, the project lands on an audience that already has a relationship with the creator….

Read it all at Stareable

TOLDJA! – Web Series ‘Stupid Idiots’ Now has a Genuine TV Deal

Stupid Idiots (not the people, dammit, the show!)

Just a couple of weeks ago TVWriter™ gave the web series Stupid Idiots a review that included the following:

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!

If that isn’t a rave, what is it? In other words, we knew this show was going to take off, but even the smartest, bravest, and boldest of TVWriter™ minions never imagined that before the end of the month Stupid Idiots would have a genuine, supercool, real big-time development deal with the likes of Paramount TV and Anonymous Content?

According to Deadline:

In a competitive situation, Paramount Television and Anonymous Content have acquired rights to Stupid Idiots, a comedy web series written, directed by and starring Stephanie Koenig, to develop as a TV series. Koenig (PopTV’s Swedish Dicks) is set to write the adaptation and star in the potential TV series, described as a (trying-to-get-out-of-the-) workplace comedy about two underachievers who consistently fail upwards. Koenig and Brian Jordan Alvarez star in the web version, which launched earlier this year.

We love it when something we love gets even bigger love. We keep saying this and we’ll say it again: Web series are the perfect proving ground for new talent. There isn’t a better place in the Biz to hone your craft and prove your project’s appeal. Go forth, young dreamers, and conquer!

Oh, and while you’re at it, take a look at Stupid Idiots HERE

Oh, and in case you missed it in the headline: “TOLDJA!”

Bri Castellini: Exactly How Much My Award-Winning Web Series Cost Me To Produce – @brisworld

by Bri Castellini

Filmmaking is expensive. Even the cheapest, easiest production in the world is riddled with costs for things you can never truly anticipate until you’re actually on set, and it only gets harder when you’re on your own. I’m one of the idiots trying to make and release content without the support or funds from a production company or a cable network. Hi, my name is Bri Castellini, and I’m an independent filmmaker with over $80,000 in student debt.

Since 2015, I have produced two seasons of my award-winning web series Brains, two spin-off “extended universe” projects (a mini-series and a short film) from that series, a short film, and several other web series and film projects that were written by friends and collaborators. As expected, this productivity did not come cheap.

Today, I want to talk about the first season of Brains, my first film project, and take you through where the minimal amounts of money I had for my no-budget show went. At the time of production, I was an assistant manager at a coffee shop in TriBeCa, making $14 an hour, while also in my first year of graduate school.

IndieGoGo

In the green column of the budget, I had only one source of funds — the IndieGoGo campaign we ran between filming the pilot and the nine other episodes of that season. According to the campaign itself, we raised $1,015 of the arbitrary $3,000 goal we set. In actuality, we’d made $923.65, after Paypal and IndieGoGo took their fees. Pro tip: the fees on IndieGoGo are lower if you reach your goal. Had I known this at the time, I would have donated the remaining amount before time was up, since it was all coming straight back to me anyways. At some point during production, my grandfather sent me $100 as a gift, so I added that to the IndieGoGo funds, making our working budget $1,023.65, i.e. definitely not enough money.

IndieGoGo Perks

Because I’d never run a crowdfunding campaign before, I made the most amateur of mistakes: I didn’t calculate the costs of the actual perks before setting their prices on the campaign. For instance, we charged $35 for the “official poster” perk and made about $200 dollars from it, but we actually spent $392.95 printing and shipping those posters, which is a pretty dramatic net loss. Not an ideal situation.

Transportation

$312.41. This is where most of our money went that first season. Because we’re in New York City, no cast or crew had a car, meaning that we relied entirely on taxis and public transportation to get us to and from set. It got complicated when we had to drag giant props and other materials to and from our apartments, and because filming is exhausting, we’d treat ourselves to a cab ride after a hard day instead of braving the subway with five giant bags of props and lighting equipment. I also had to shell out some cash when a key cast or crew member forgot about our shoot and we needed them on set as soon as possible. Season two, after learning all this the hard way, we only spent $41.20 on transportation.

Props

Brains is an apocalypse show, so we also spent a chunk of change on props. $261.66 to be exact, which covered fake guns, a fake machete, handcuffs, lab coats, binoculars, and outfits for all our zombies, among many other things. This couldn’t be avoided, but during season two, we spent almost nothing on those items, because we already owned them. In this case, and this case only, being a pack rat really paid off.

New actor

There were several months between filming the pilot and the rest of the season, and in that time, the actor playing the main love interest, who was also my roommate, dropped out for lots of very dramatic reasons. Because this character was vital to the story, and because we’d already cast every other guy we knew in other parts on the show, we had to shell out $91.70 to woo a new actor. First, $19.95 for a Backstage.com account to post a casting notice, then $24.95 for listing the casting notice. After we got some responses, we needed a professional-looking space for in-person auditions, which ended up costing $46.80. The actor we eventually chose was absolutely worth the unexpected charges, and I want to cast him in everything ever moving forward, but finding him cost us time and almost 1/9 of our total budget.

Mistakes

When I was going over my budget spreadsheet after the season, I organized some of the charges into a category labeled “charges that fucked us without being that helpful.” The $165.65 total included a prop gun that looked too fake to use, a set of mics that weren’t compatible with the rest of our equipment, adapters for those mics that still didn’t make them work, PayPal fees from getting the IndieGoGo money into my account, and another set of prop guns that got delivered to the wrong address, and thus we didn’t actually get to use in the show. You can’t plan for every mistake, but you can do more work beforehand to lessen their impact. Had we researched those mics more fully, for example, we never would have ordered them or the adapters in the first place. Same for the too-fake fake gun.

Food

That first season we were pretty inconsistent about feeding people on set because we genuinely forgot that was a thing you had to do, but even so, we spent $221.23. Sometimes we’d send someone to a nearby fast food chain to pick up actual meals, sometimes we’d just buy water bottles and snacks to have on hand, and at the end of the season, I bought three giant watermelons. Fun fact: hitting a watermelon with a machete and a baseball bat sounds like hitting a human, which we recorded to layer onto the zombie “kills” we’d already filmed.

Advertising

Because we were a group of nobodies, no one cared that we’d just spent the better part of our summer laboring over a web series. So each week a new episode went live, I spent a little money on Facebook ads to promote them, to varying levels of success. In total, for the first season, I spent $167.86 on Facebook ads.

Film Festivals

This cost is one that still sends me reeling. I actually don’t have the actual total amount I’ve spent on film festival submissions, because after a while, it got too depressing to keep track. The number in my spreadsheet, $120.74, is only accurate as of November 2015, but since then, I’ve probably spent twice that, because the only way to raise your show’s profile is to get accepted into film festivals, and the only way to get accepted into film festivals is to spend a bunch of money submitting your show to them for the possibility of selection.

As of November 2015, I was $948 over budget. Since then, taking into account my being over $1500 in the red from season 2 and the exorbitant film festival costs I’m still accruing, it’s safe to say that from a financial perspective, producing a web series is more expensive than setting your money on fire. In the future, my best case scenario is breaking even. And I still wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.


Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Read her blog! Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, BrainsHERE! Oh, and she wants you to know this:

Web Series: ‘The North Pole’

Wow. It’s gotten so that you can’t tell the pros from the ams when it comes to web series. There is nothing, we repeat, nothing amateur about this series. The North Pole is, well, it’s perfect. Writer-producer Josh Healey and his team, with encouragement in the form of $$$ via a successful Kickstarter campaign, are this TVWriter™ minion’s new heroes.

Learn more. See more. Feel more…HERE

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.