Alex Dobrenko - Creator / Writer / Actor / Anxious Human Bean - AMA!


(Alex Dobrenko) #41

lots and lots of emails. Lots of google docs. Lots of phone calls and conversations. Answering the “what is the central quesiton of my show” question is key - what is the thesis - what can all decisions be funneled through? And who are these people? And what is this world?

AND ALSO TELLING PEOPLE THAT YOU DONT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. Like not pretending that you know everything. That was such a hard one for me, but the more that I did it, the more I could just be honest and vulnerable, the better things got.


(Bri Castellini) #42

Existential question alert: why do you think art is important? I think in light of political conflict and world events, sometimes people get almost guilty about asking for money for artistic causes versus charitable ones, and about asking for time and attention for something that isn’t a call to action to stage a coup. So what’s your take on why art, like Distance, like anything else you’ve acted in/written or will act in/write, is important?


(Alex Dobrenko) #43

I asked everyone I knew who might have some spare money to give. Every one of our investors was people I knew, either knew very well or as acquaintances. Start there.

ALSO think about brands who might want to come on. That’s a tough one if you don’t have an audience already, but if you can show a clear path to audience, brands might want to hop on.

We gotta all start thinking about web series as podcasts - they are these small little entities that connect with small audiences, and that’s a brand’s wet dream (excuse the parlance). That’s the system, I think, that makes all this financially feasible.


(Alex Dobrenko) #44

We had two directors - Carlyn Hudson directed all the female episodes and Jack Mayer directed the male episodes. That was basically the first decision we made, and then they joined our writing team as well. I don’t think Lauren and I could have possibly directed as well.

Having specific directors was essential to our two-perspective vision of the show, so we had to decide on that very early on.


(Meg Carroway) #45

Holy crap I can’t believe we’ve gone 40 minute without asking about this…

ALEX! PLEASE HELP! HOW DO YOU DEFINE, FIND, AND LEGITIMATELY CONNECT WITH AN AUDIENCE? Especially before you have content online


(Alex Dobrenko) #46

Yeah, I would say 4-6 tops.


(Jaime Lancaster) #47

Do you want to direct in the future? What do you think your directing style is/would be?


(Bri Castellini) #48

I think this one might have gotten lost in the shuffle :slight_smile:


(Bri Castellini) #49

Before I forget, we had a few folks submit questions beforehand because they couldn’t make this hour.


(Hailey Harper) #50

YES didn’t miss this!! Hi Alex! What’s your low(er) budget, high quality secret? What do you prioritize as a producer to make a feasible yet still amazing looking product?


(Alex Dobrenko) #51

Yeah, this one is huge. Below is something I posted on the day we launched our campaign, which was at the beginning of Trump. In short though - art unites people. It makes us feel less alone. And that’s essential. It doesn’t need to all be political, it just needs to be true and speak to our hearts. And that was always the goal for Distance.

For the past two years I’ve been working with an incredible team of talented, hilarious humans to write a full season of this show that means the world to me, and now we’re ready to make it a reality. Now, more than ever, its important to make art that unites people through love (and gives them a giggle or two in the process). We’re raising a large portion of the budget through crowdfunding and I’d love your help - please check out the page, contribute if you can, and spread the word far and wide to your people.


(Alex Dobrenko) #52

Heya meg! This is another one I could talk about for hours, and I sorta did on the Seed & Spark blog - https://www.seedandspark.com/blog/from-fearing-social-media-to-making-it-my-bff-growing-an-audience-for-your-show-or-film.

Take a look at that and lemme know if you have specific questions?


(Alex Dobrenko) #53

you sure do know a way to my heart. Yes, I do. I’m a young pup, so I have a lot to learn first. My style, I think, would be a mix of super real and genuine and super absurd / satirical. I’ve directed a few sketches with my writing partner Phil Kaye over here - www.thankslaura.com.

But yeah, I do.


(Hailey Harper) #54

As an actor, do you have any directing tips for non-acting directors? Things actors love/hate from a director?


(Alex Dobrenko) #55

Thanks for bumping this one Bri! YEAH SO THIS ONE IS NEAR IMPOSSIBLE BUT I FOUND OUT A LOT OF HACKS -

  1. Later.com - you can schedule insta posts!

  2. Flume - you can post and respond to comments on your computer, which for me makes it like 5x faster than using my dumb phone.

  3. I did a few auto follow things that are not techinically okay with Insta’s rules and regs, so maybe i should talk about those privately.

There are solutions though! Message me and I can help you out :slight_smile:


(Chris Hadley) #56

Hey Alex! waves Welcome and thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and advice on web series production. Have you figured out any way to potentially make this web series, and other filmmaking projects, financially sustainable? If so, how can web series creators do that - based on your experience?


(Meg Carroway) #57

Oh yeah Bri linked this article in another thread- I’ll check it out and get back to ya :slight_smile: Thanks! (separately, I guess, is social media your big takeaway? What about email, email newsletters, supplemental content, live events, anything like that?)


(Chris Hadley) #58

And how did you manage to secure investors for DISTANCE?


(Alex Dobrenko) #59

Thanks! Appreciate that. We had 2 writers (1 male, 1 female) from our writer’s team take on each episode after we outlined the entire season. Then we read thru it all, I gave big and small picture notes, then everyone rewrote. Then we read thru it again, then people rewrote again. Then I rewrote it all as needed. Then I got feedback from a few key confidantes, and then I rewrote. And then we shot it during which we rewrote all the time. And then we rewrote again during editing.

Did I say rewrite enough?


(Jane) #60

THIS IS SO HELPFUL THANK YOU!!!