Web Series: THE LOUISE LOG

Earlier this year we ran an article about THE LOUISE LOG, one of our favorite web series. Since then, it’s gotten better and better. So today we thought we’d share what Anne Flournoy, the creator of THE LOUISE LOG has told us about the series, in the hope that it’ll prove inspirational to other peer producers.

Take it away, Anne:

THE LOUISE LOG Capture

by Anne Flournoy

LA Web Series WinnerHow did I get this going?

A few weeks ago, a friend went to the PGA’s “Produced By: NY”. The only thing she wanted to talk about was Harvey Weinstein. He’d said again what we’ve all heard a thousand times (paraphrased) : “The success or failure of a film depends largely on the quality of one element: the script.”

But because writers aren’t always good at selling their ideas and social stamina isn’t necessarily included in the writer DNA, it’s more than likely that scripts better than many which make it to the screen lie forgotten in drawers. Today, thanks to digital technology, there are options to this dark history. Here’s my story.

My first ultra low-budget feature was in competition at Sundance. Its reviews were good but not great and it had a very limited distribution. Determined that my next film would break out, I’d been rewriting the same script for seventeen years. It was a comedy, based on my experience of marriage and motherhood. And I wanted to direct it.

From time to time, I’d screw up my courage and give the latest version to one or more potential producers. You notice I said ‘give’. A more accurate way to put it would be ‘I’d send it’ … cause we’re talking about the mail here. I hate to pitch.

As you already know, this has put me at a huge disadvantage in the business and so greatly narrowed my chances at ever getting anything produced, that even I began to see the writing on the wall. In a frenzy of frustration and desperation, I decided to take matters into my own hands and picked up the family point-and-shoot camcorder.

It was 2007 and no self-respecting filmmaker was uploading to youtube, but that’s just what I was going to do. I’d seen “Charlie Bit My Finger” with its hundreds of millions of views and I’d loved it. And hey, I’m a parent and a filmmaker (unlike the father who shot “Charlie”). I can do that. I started shooting whatever was in front of me: a snake swallowing a mouse, kids, seagulls. I was going to make ‘viral videos’, one a month, and, with this bank shot, prove my relevance and get the attention of Hollywood executives. Hell, they’d be lining up to produce my second feature.

After spending the most miserable summer ever, charged-up camcorder in my hand and still just-missing every great moment, I realized that viral videos are not a sane expectation. But in the meantime, the thought of making short videos was like a drug: I didn’t need anyone’s greenlight to go into production and already had distribution ‘lined up’ (youtube). The mini-dv tapes cost three dollars each, there was a mic in the camera, daylight and friends/friends-of-friends willing to act. I learned the basics of video editing on imovie in about an hour and started uploading one video a month to youtube.

My plan was to increase my chances at virality by varying the content, one month something documentary a la “Charlie Bit My Finger”, the next month talking animals (dubbed), etc. After the first episode, people in my address book wrote back: “Do another one— with the same actor.” So, by the second video, I was making a series. Soon after, I read somewhere that this could be called a web series.

The first episodes were each less than two minutes long but even so, after six episodes, I was out of ideas. Everything I wanted to do was in my ‘feature script’, the one I’d been rewriting for seventeen years. No way was I going to shoot that with a camcorder and non-pro actors and throw it up on youtube for free. Or was I? With my husband’s encouragement, “You’ll get more ideas from doing this.”, I gutted the script of its juiciest scenes, found some pro but non-union actors, and continued, shooting and editing one video a month.

In 2009, How To Deal With A Hot Repairman: The Louise Log #13 (budget $13) beat out a politically correct, highly-produced, United Nations-backed short for a Saturday night slot on Reel Shorts, a show on New York’s PBS Channel 13.

By May of 2010, seventeen episodes were online, all produced for a sum total under $1000. Roger Ebert had tweeted about it and Eve Ensler had raved about it. Fans crowdfunded Season 3 to the tune of $22,000 and the last episode of that season (#44) is posting this month on Thanksgiving, oddly seven years almost to the day since the first shoot for this series.

Now for the promotion. Anybody know how I can get on Ellen?

Check out THE LOUISE LOG. You won’t be sorry.