Indie Video: Creating Powerful Themes & Great Characters

The last time we featured a Microbudget Film Lab video was back in October, and as good as that one was, we think this will be even more helpful. The info here isn’t just about indie film-making, it’s what everyone who writes just about anything (except maybe Ikea furniture assembly directions) needs to know.


The Microbudget Film Lab Channel is HERE

Bri Castellini: ‘Letter to my future self 2017’ – @brisownworld

Frequent TVWriter™ contributor Bri Castellini’s latest interweb video masterpiece, for those who wonder what web series creators actually, you know, get out of being web series creators.

Remember the days when you could say “You go, girl!” and not sound like a jerk? Believe us when we tell you we’d be saying it now…but the “jerk” thing is, yeah, kind of problematic. >sigh<


Bri’s YouTube channel is HERE

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. This article was originally published on Bri’s most excellent blog, the eponymous Bri’sOwnWorld. Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE


Did You Know that ‘Smilf’ Started as a Short Film?

Believe it or not, not only was an earlier version of this season’s latest breakthrough TV series a short film, it is far from the only show that started that way. Who says your short script has to be an end in itself?

ALTERNATE ROUTES: Using Short Films to Develop Your Stories
by Marty Lang

Every now and then, I’m lucky enough to find a movie or television show with a new storytelling voice that blows me away. I had a moment like that last week when I watched the pilot of the new Showtime series SMILF. The half-hour dramedy, written, directed and produced by lead actress Frankie Shaw (MR. ROBOT), is a hilarious, fearless story about a single mother in South Boston, and her struggles to balance motherhood, family, career and a fulfilling sex life. It really hit me as something with a singular vision.

After digging online, I was surprised to learn that SMILF started as a short film. Shaw also wrote, directed and starred in the short, which tells the story of a single mom trying to have sex with her boyfriend – while her baby sleeps next to them in the same bed. The film won the 2015 Short Film Jury Award at Sundance, which got Showtime’s attention, leading to the show. And it all came from Shaw taking matters into her own hands.

“I think make opportunity for yourself, if that’s something you’re inclined to do, for sure,” Shaw said to Variety. “I discovered that my biggest passion was for directing, so in making opportunity for myself, I found what I like doing the best.”

This is just the latest example of the possibilities writers and filmmakers can create for themselves by making short films. You can use a small, single story to explore a world you’d like to tackle in a bigger format, and with a little luck, get the opportunity to create in that format….

Read it all at Scriptmag

Indie Video: ‘Ace and Anxious’ is Rocking Out

by TVWriter™ Press Service & Bri Castellini

EDITOR’S NOTE: Just got the following message from the ever-popular, omni-positive, multi-talented Bri Castellini:

Happy November, everybody!

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for YOU! Have a lovely holiday!

The big news in Bri’s Own World this month is that my award-winning short film Ace and Anxious is officially streaming with REVRY!

REVRY is subscription streaming service created by and for the LGBTQ and allied communities which distributes short, medium, and long form LGBTQ content. You can find REVRY on its desktop site, it’s app, and on Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and more.

Ace and Anxious and the entire Undead Burrito team couldn’t be prouder to be distributed alongside other incredible, diverse content.


The absolute, accurate, and thoroughly delightful REVRY desktop site is HERE

The version of Ace and Anxious that is taking REVRY by storm (mostly because it’s at REVRY) is HERE

Bri’s article on her very own blogt about Ace and Anxious is HERE 

Our article about Ace and Anxious earlier this year is HERE

And, as you’ve probably figured out, you can see the whole darn film HERE (although Bri might prefer that you watched it on REVRY because she just made this cool deal.

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. This article was originally published on Bri’s most excellent blog, the eponymous Bri’sOwnWorld. Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE


Despite the exaggerated clickbait headline, this is in fact an interesting and helpful article. Remember, we told you first: YouTube is the future. (For better or for worse.) Check out this list of thoroughly professional type video series that you just might like:

Yeah, this really is a kind of free plug, isn’t it? Sorry!

by Sean Fitz-Gerald

NetflixAmazon, and Hulu might be dominating the streaming wars, but never discount the original streaming site: YouTube. The video-sharing platform recently tossed its hat in the original content ring to vie for your attention and money with its own subscription-based service, YouTube Red.

Not ready to pony up yet? No worries. Over the years, tons of budding creators have used YouTube as a hub to post their passion projects — see: The ActressLemmingsClark and MichaelThe ‘BuThe Outs, and Green Porno. For more solid, free watches, read on for nine of our other faves.

The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl

The seeds for HBO’s hit comedy Insecure were planted with this snappy web series more than half a decade ago. HBO’s product is, of course, flashier and more fleshed out now, but if you dig into Mis-Adventures you’ll see how creator Issa Rae got her start, developed her voice, and laid the blueprint for one of TV’s more innovative shows. Both offer a semi-autobiographical look at Issa Rae’s titular awkwardness; both are insightful, funny, and worth your time.

Read and see the rest of the recommendations at Thrillist.Com (Careful, though. It has one of those obnoxious “Sign up for our email list popovers.”)

Laura Conway on Web Series: Production Day

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here it is. The sixth and – oh no! – final chapter in Laura’s series on the making of her very, very, very popular – over 3 million views – interweb series hit The Vamps Next Door.

Relax, Kid, You’re Not Making Star Wars
by Laura Conway

I try to be positive, but having a big imagination works both ways. Try to imagine the worst possible thing that can go wrong during your production. For me, that involves death, so if nobody dies, it was a great shoot. And when it’s over, you can happily say that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. You’re not making Star Wars here, so focus on the positives of the experience or you’ll miss all the fun.

Some practical things to do in preparation for shoot day: Set up the house as much as possible the night before. Have printed copies of the script and the call sheet. Print out the lunch menu and take orders in the morning. Have extra batteries, duct tape and blue painter’s tape (the kind that doesn’t stick to wood floors), have an opaque tarp in case you need to block out light from windows.

Have some wardrobe tape ready in case an actress has to tape her dress to prevent wardrobe malfunction, have a slate ready with dry erase markers and an eraser, designate a bathroom, including free counter space, for the makeup person to set up (they take up way more space than you would think), know which area of the house you won’t be shooting in and use it as a staging area for equipment, have all the props ready to go and a designated changing room for the actors. And make sure there’s plenty of coffee, water, snacks, etc.

One recommendation I have is to “check the gate” after each scene. That means watch the footage you just shot before moving on to the next scene to make sure it looks good… Remember the homeless guy, who works for food, that you picked up and put on camera 3? Make sure his shots are in focus. Vamps Director, Phil, never checks the gate, but I’m the editor and I can tell you that out of focus shots can’t be fixed well in editing… See what you can see:

When I showed up for our very first Vamps Next Door shoot, I didn’t know anything about anything. Now I know some stuff, but nothing can really prepare you for a low budget shoot except to expect the unexpected. Being obsessively organized helps a lot. Until it doesn’t…

Some of the unexpected things I’ve had happen while shooting:

My neighbor decides it’s cut down a tree day

There’s a dog in the back room whining (and it’s not my dog)

Fangs just fall out of the actress’s mouth

An actor shows up for pick up shots with a new beard and new hair color

The fake pee device supposed to wet the actor’s pants just makes a puddle on the floor

The Fire Marshall shows up and says we’re not allowed to really smoke from the bong

The cat won’t react when the script clearly says CAT REACTS

The homeowner is having a mental breakdown, tears included, over all the people in her house

And my personal favorite…The actress’s nipple is showing through her bra and we don’t notice until after we’ve shot it (Editing that nipple out was a bitch… see if you can see it at 4:45…

Every time I finish editing and posting a new Vamps episode, I say, “I’m never doing this again.”

But I do. Because I’ve also had some amazingly cool moments while shooting, like when actors nail my favorite lines, the way good lighting makes an actress’s skin look on camera, when I frame a beautiful exterior shot and it’s perfect, when the fake vomit looks real, when a joke line I wrote makes everyone laugh. And best of all when I look over at all the brilliant, creative people I work with.

So that’s my story about my strange kind of hobby, writing and producing web series. Now it’s your turn to make one!

Read Chapter 1 HERE

Read Chapter 2 HERE

Read Chapter 3 HERE

Read Chapter 4 HERE

Read Chapter 5 HERE

Laura Conway is the writer and producer of The Vamps Next Door web series, directed by Phil Ramuno. Subscribe to the Vamps’ YouTube channel to get notifications about new episodes.

Indie Video: ‘New Eden’

This one’s like Star Trek.

If Star Trek wasn’t really like itself but was instead an offshoot of classic video game TOEJAM & EARL.

Although we don’t think the makers of New Eden have ever seen TOEJAM & EARL. Way too young, you know?

Bottom Line: We laughed. You’ll laugh. Life is good.

Here’s a full ep:

New Eden is an animated sci-fi web comedy following the adventures of Murray and Hamilton, two starship crewmen marooned and fighting for their lives on a primordial world after their starship crash lands on the wrong planet!

EXPLORE New Eden at ?