Chapter 61 – Death and Writing
by Leesa Dean
This has been an insane week.
It kicked off with an old friend, one of my Bronx homeboys, suddenly and unexpectedly dying. Which, aside from the obvious (grief, funeral, reconnecting with people from back in the day), shifted things for me.
I’m normally a total workaholic. But, I wasn’t in much of a work mood. I cancelled my weekly radio show, so both stations played reruns. I only took a few meetings; ones that couldn’t be rescheduled. Spent a lot of time with his family. And a few days ago, went down to the park handball courts to practice tennis, smash a few balls around and take my mind off of things. Of course, as things turned out, this happened:
When I got there, there was a guy hitting who was pretty good. After a while, he took a break and turned towards me. Unbelievably, he was wearing a t-shirt from a web series (no names here) that I’m familiar with (its creator is part of my Facebook circle and the east coast web community is fairly small). I asked him if he was an actor on the show. Turns out he was a staff writer, he knew about Chilltown and we ended up talking shop for about 40 minutes. BTW, this kind of stuff only happens in LA or NYC so if you’re reading this and thinking about entering the business, I’d suggest moving.
Mostly what we talked about was marketing. Exactly how do you make a dent after your series is released? Their series had a huge team–multiple directors, big cast, a writing staff, full production crew, interns, publicist, you name it. Even had a red carpet event with a few celebs show up. Started years ago with a kickstarter that they heavily publicized. While they got a fair amount of views for the series, that was pretty much it. Nada. Zip. Nothing else. He was left wondering if putting out a web series (or working as a writer on one) was even worth it.
They had the same issues I did, which mostly centered around being lost in an oversaturated market. Everybody and their uncle is jumping on the web series bandwagon and unless you have massive publicity, a big star-studded project or have been around a while, it’s hard to build a genuine base.
I told him I think the same few principles of web promotion still are true:
1) Use social media to build your base. Twitter, instagram and Facebook are the way to go.
2) Constantly release content. Which is VERY VERY VERY hard to do if you have a web series. People who have vlogs (makeup, prank shows, etc) have a much easier way to go because they can essentially yack into a camera for 3 minutes a week and voila!, there’s your content. Web series are like putting out mini tv shows so right off the bat, you have a finite amount of episodes. It’s important to be juggling a lot of balls simultaneously so different things hit at different times. It’s a grind.
3) Try and get a celebrity involved. And nowadays (meaning the past six months or so), even THAT isn’t a guarantee of publicity. Not only that, it’s not that easy to get celebrities involved, even if you have the budget to do so.
4) Don’t stop. Realize the brand is you. To that end, a great book I highly recommend is Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out by Marc Ecko.
More on the meetings next week. And Rest In Peace, Mitch!