Web Series: WELCOME HOME

One of the best comedies on the interweb. We admit it – we’re taking WELCOME HOME as another symbol of how thoroughly professional and insightful interweb TV has become.

And, if you think about it, the combination of “professional and insightful” isn’t something that usually – if ever – springs to mind about that other way of watching TV…you know, on your 60-incher, presented by a broadcast or cable or satellite net>

As someone all too familiar with the lifestyle this series presents (moving in with your – yikes – parents after thirty) this TVWriter™ minion definitely appreciates the all-too-real humor you’re about to, um, behold:

See more HERE

Robin Reed: Trying to Kickstart the web series “Pastor Damien”

by Robin Reed

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…so I don’t have to be the entire crew any more.

When I was a shuttle bus driver on the graveyard shift at a parking garage near LAX, one of the valet parkers was a tall, goofy guy who liked to run around making monkey noises.

At break time, when we late night workers sat and talked, I found out that this fellow, Roger Sonnier, was an actor who worked the night shift so he could go to auditions during the day. In L.A., where everyone wants to be in show biz, it was not an unusual story.

Since I was a writer and had some experience with shooting and editing video, we vaguely talked about doing some sort of video project together. Then I got the chance to quit that job, and didn’t look back.

Months later I got an email asking me to help Roger and a friend of his with a web soap opera they were planning. Basically they needed me for my DSLR, a camera I bought mainly for still pictures but knowing that it could do video.

Another camera person got involved who had better equipment, and I became his assistant. We shot many hours in several locations. The lead camera person was not a nice guy. He had a very low opinion of me and my low-end camera. So I decided to leave it to him and not subject myself to his insults any longer.

Not too long after that Roger contacted me again. He too had left the soap opera. He had an idea for another web series. It would feature a pastor who was a serial killer, and be titled “Pastor Damien.” I went along just because my ambitions to work in show biz had atrophied to nearly nothing but I still liked the process of shooting and putting a show together.

I didn’t plan to become the editor, but there was no one else and no budget, so I ended up stuck with that job. I spent many a frustrating hour on iMovie, and when I reached the limits of that, found out I could subscribe to Adobe Premiere Pro for twenty bucks a month. Premiere Pro was even more frustrating.

We had no boom mike or any real sound equipment for the first episode, and it shows. Sound has improved but making it good also makes the shooting and editing harder.

Now we have five episodes. Roger is a people person. He can get actors to show up, and he can get locations. We have used a car repair shop, a tire store, and a school. We had quite a large cast for the church scene and later for a church picnic. We have also had actors quit after one episode so we had to write out their characters.

Writing is my main skill in video production, and on this show I do very little of it. My writing contribution is to try to keep some sort of story logic going, while Roger likes to shoot off in new directions all the time, forgetting to tie things together. He has never written before, but he does have interesting ideas and an ear for how people talk.

We started with a police procedural and now we have spies, ghosts, demons, and a very funny church lady who thinks she is holier than everybody.

Doing your own web series with no resources does allow for a lot of freedom. No one gives you notes. You don’t have to check anything with the network. You just write and shoot. I don’t know of any writers who have built a career on it yet, or of any web series that makes money. Having actual footage to show, not just scripts, is good for your resume. It does feel good to be out there doing it, rather than waiting for pitch meetings and the approval of people who disapprove of almost everything.

Now Roger and I are throwing ourselves on the mercy of Kickstarter, hoping we can find people who appreciate our weird little show and want to see us make it bigger, faster, and stronger. We have asked for a pretty good chunk of cash, but if we can pull it off we will create a little studio of our own and branch into other projects as well.

Please look at our Kickstarter page and see if you want to help. I hope you do.

You can see our five episodes HERE.

A Kickstarter Web Series Project We Like (& 3 Others That are Meh)

The Good:

SAMURAI DRUNK 

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Real people! Real humor! From Dallas but still hip!

The Meh:

NICK THE PAINTER

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Just as good as any genuine reality series but we hate reality series.

FLUFF

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They could only have come up with this idea in a bar. But if you like pron this might be acceptable.

DOODIEMAN

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A crap joke – literally. But told slickly, by a former animator on THE SIMPSONS.

Always be careful on Kickstarter, kids!

This public service announcement comes from TVWriter™!

Inside Look at “Untitled Web Series About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time”

Yeppers, another exciting update from Travis Richey:

untitledwebseriescastBOOTH, Budgets, and Babyish the Extraordinary
by Travis Richey

Greetings, Inspectators!

Production is well under way on the prequel episode to Season 2 of Untitled Web Series… Those of you who are familiar with the behind-the-scenes of Season 1 will know that we’d had some challenges regarding one of our most integral characters: The BOOTH. Namely, that we didn’t actually own it!

Building a Better BOOTH

So, being the proactive interdimensional voyagers that we are, we decided it was a good idea to build our own. We are thrilled to announce that construction has completed on a brand new BOOTH (The Inspector calls her “Red”) and we couldn’t be happier with the results. Check out the FaceBook album to see the process of building the Time Helix. We’d like to give a big shout-out and a HUGE thanks to Mr. John Shearer for putting in the blood sweat and tears that went into making the new and improved (and portable) BOOTH.

Also, check out the just released photo album documenting the construction of a custom phone console to go with our posh new time machine. Master prop builder Brian Uiga, with the help of a gifted design team, created what we can only describe as a marvel of modern engineering.We’ve heard from several prop makers from Star Trek, Doctor Who and other Sci-Fi shows that completely agree!

Making Cents of the Budget

As often happens with independent productions, we didn’t accurately predict the final cost of creating these one-of-a-kind props. Who knew building a Bio Organic Omnidirectional Time Helix would cost such a pretty penny? The unfortunate news is that they cost about $2400 more than anticipated. (about how much it cost to rent The BOOTH for one day in Season 1!) The good news is that we have them now, and we’ll be able to use them in future seasons with little to no additional cost.

However, we need to raise additional funds to complete the prequel Episode. If you missed your chance to contribute to the KickStarter for the prequel episode and you want to contribute to production, we are accepting donations via PayPal on our website. Plus, we will send you the rewards that match your donation level from our last KickStarter. This is your chance to get signed photos, scripts, soundtrack CDs, even a custom built Optic Pocketknife.

Babyish the Extraordinary!

Now for a piece of “extraordinary” news: we’ve had our first production baby! A brave new Inspectator joins our ranks! Our very own Eric Loya (co-writer and Boyish the Extraordinary) and his lovely wife Catherine are now the proud parents of a child we like to call “Babyish the Extraordinary”! The fact that they like to call him Evan concerns us not. You can leave your congratulations on our official FaceBook page.

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Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie, Chapter 8

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by Leesa Dean

A lot of exciting stuff is going on. The biggie: Chilltown was listed by ABCNews/Univision as Web Series That Should Be On Your Radar!!!!! And we got an incredible review! Ecstatically happy about it. Also, did a ton of fun radio including Geek Soul Brother,Educated Insanity (on ChicagolandsportsRadio), The Bobby Pickles Show and KRYC Rhythm 105.9 FM !! Also released Episode 6 of Chilltown and people are telling me they love it. In spite of all that, there’s still a bit of frustration that always boils down to the same thing: How can I get more people to watch? We’re still a very tiny show in an enormous pool. Have a lot of plans in place for additional shows and specials that (hopefully) will make a little noise. But it’s a tough tough game. Much tougher than I expected. But, in all, a really good week.

And I heard from Rollo. Last Friday, went to another YouTube meeting and it was great! Met some cool people plus got to see the YouTube studios at Next New Networks NYC. Very exciting. They have a couple of green screen studios with pro lights and cameras. Some of the collabs I’m involved with will probably be done there. Part of the meeting involved having a tour and being shown the ropes (a prerequisite to using their space.) Their computers are probably a billion times faster than mine, so can’t wait to do some editing there. A guy name Chris Chan Roberson runs stuff there and he’s great. They had pizza and drinks after and everybody was schmoozing and just like clockwork right towards the end, my phone rings. Guess who? Rollo happens to be in the area and we meet.

He’s been having meetings to get his other project back on track and serenades me with more stories of excess and glitz. He’s been using every connection he has to rope in another MAJOR CELEBRITY (!!) to prove his relevance but things haven’t gone as planned. The week before he abruptly flew out to LA to attend a hipper-than-thou dinner party in a sad last ditch effort to hang on by his fingertips. A minor mix of dps, on-the-rise actors, Interscope execs and big shots from Vice and UTA. But nobody bit. His shine is gone. He’s used up most of his money. He cuts to the chase.

He knows someone who works at a cable network. It’s a long shot but they might be interested in Chilltown. Did I want to push up the schedule and take a meeting?

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie, Chapter 7 – Four Bad Things

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by Leesa Dean

This has been a crazy week.  A lot of ups and downs. Did four really awesome podcasts and radio shows (thank you Surfing AliensGeek Supremacy ProjectWide Open Radio After Dark and Comedy Girls!!)  Also have some potentially really exciting news that I’ll share sometime soon.  But one thing in particular stood out.  I was contacted by a large online network.  They said they loved my work and wanted me to drop what I was doing to animate (and help develop)  a series for one of their top stars.  Sounds exciting?  Not really.  What they offered in terms of compensation was, let’s just say this–I’d make more money being a Walmart greeter.  With that in mind, this week I decided to put together this list:

FOUR BAD THINGS YOU’LL PROBABLY EXPERIENCE WHILE LAUNCHING YOUR FIRST WEB SERIES:

1) You will hear from psychos. Case Study: The Satan Lady. I posted the latest Lele Episode, Pimp Logic, on Google +. A woman who apparently didn’t realize I was mocking pimp logic commented and called me “Satan!” But she misspelled it and wrote, “Go way, SATIN!!!” I considered responding, “Satan, Satin, Satan, Satin, let’s call the whole thing off” then realized hmmm, maybe she thought I *was* a pimp and “Satin” was my pimp name. #ThingsI’llNeverKnow.

2) You will have people enter (what I call) “The Vortex”, a metaphorical tunnel where everyone’s there to do just one simple thing: NOT RETURN YOUR CALLS. Sometimes it has to do with them being bombarded with a ton of stuff and you’re low on the food chain. Sometimes it’s cause they have bad time management skills. And sometimes it’s because they think your project sucks, you suck or a zesty melange of both!  FYI, you’ll ALWAYS think it’s the latter. Which brings me to:

3) You will start seeing the upside of being an alcoholic. Note: this applies even if you don’t drink.

And finally,

4) You will go through the Kübler-Ross stages of grief, Web Series style:
• Denial (“All I have to do is put my show up on YouTube and it’ll instantly go viral!”)
• Anger (“When they said, ‘Just a dollar and a dream!’ I didn’t realize they were referring to what my actual compensation would be.”)
• Bargaining (“Yes, I will appear on your 30 minute podcast, Xylophones & Madrigals, and agree to a 45 minute phone ‘pre-interview’ where you grill me about what I’m gonna say on the show just so I can promote my hip-hop oriented web series to an audience of one: the host of Xylophones & Madrigals.”)
• Depression (“I was just on Xylophones & Madrigals.”)
• Acceptance (“Hi, I’m writing to book my second appearance on Xyophones & Madrigals.”)

Next week: more about Rollo and tales from the YouTube workshop!

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie – Chapter 5

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Penny For Your Thoughts?
by Leesa Dean

Things keep moving. Rollo and I talk a couple of times a week, mostly on the phone. He’s working on another project that just sounds huge. Two VERY MAJOR CELEBRITIES are attached. It’s a movie. It’s sci-fi. It involves a franchise. He got in through the back door because of his connects. What’s his participation?  Well, that’s a little nebulous. Yet, it’s thrilling. He’s like Scheherazade, spinning out tales of hope. If things work out like that for him, how incredible is it gonna be for me!

He admits he’s treading water financially. How does he support himself? I don’t even wanna guess. It would pierce my expectations and I know that. He’s not the only iron I have in the fire, in fact, he’s just one teensy one, but his stories and the potential weight they carry are mesmerizing.

I find out even more exotic things about him and, unbelievably (thank you, Google), they’re all true. Most of them are from back the in day and his exploits are rich with swanky VIP room scandal and excess. Close encounters with Halle Berry, Rza and Rutgar Howard! Tales of opulent tasting dinners in hyper-exclusive joints and crazed illicit backroom escapades. He talks to me like I’m one of the guys. And it’s dope.

And then, I don’t hear from him.

Weeks go by. Meanwhile, I’m working like a psycho. Promoting Chilltown, writing and animating new Lele episodes. Doing a lot of radio. Reaching out to new people every day. It’s intense and crazy and 24/7 (you know when you tell your cat, “Penny for the thoughts!” you’ve been in the hole waaayy too long.)

I break it up by going to a couple of meetups. The web series community in NYC is pretty small and by now, I’ve met a lot of the players (more on that soon.) Everybody’s so supportive and cool. It’s great to be a part of. I spend a full day at a YouTube meetup. They trot out some YouTube celebs and their stories/channel successes are absolutely awesome and inspiring, particularly Charlie Dodd from Improv Everywhere and JR fromJR Sports Brief. As part of the meetup, we partner with fellow creators and write/film on-the-spot collabs that everybody votes on. My team, including Yusef Lateef and Mike Mac, wins! And yes, future collabs with them are in the works. It’s a lot of fun and it takes my mind off everything.

We all retreat to a bar for celebratory drinks and schmoozing. And just as I’m leaving, my phone rings. It’s Rollo.