AMA with Brianne Nord-Stewart, I've made some shows and won some awards and stuff!


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #61

I think when you’re creating shows that are so small in budget and you’re shooting in places that you’re just using existing set dressing, you don’t really think about a production designer because you’re walking to a space and just using it


(sam lockie-waring) #62

true dat. what’re some things you’ve learned about production design since you started making it a priority?


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #63

I’m by tracking your views and your metrics across all platforms and laying it out in a digestible and comprehensive Way. By getting into film festivals and winning Awards. And demonstrating your audience engagement which again comes down to metrics


(Meg Carroway) #64

Got it. Any tips for encouraging active engagement (versus the standard passive “just view it”)?


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #65

I actually don’t have this problem. Almost everything that I wrote originally I had the ability to just shoot within my means. Now I need to start thinking bigger and Flash year to attract the work that I want to make.

I would think about the story that you want to write and just write it and then talk to a producer about how it could be feasible. Just don’t write any helicopter chase sequences or explosions unless your best friend or partner is a VFX person.


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #66

If you’re getting pretty close to firing someone, you should have already fired them. Yes I have had to fire a few people and I honestly wish that I would have done it when the first red flag happened instead of later when we were in production and we literally just needed a warm body. And in one of those cases we decided to cut her losses and go without the warm body it was not worth it


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #67

No one hires me for directing. The only people who have asked me to do things are artists who want music videos and I am grateful for that, but often those have barely any budgets and I end up doing the directing producing editing everything. I’m literally sustaining Myself by convincing people to give me funding to make my own work.

That and I have skills as an assistant director and in the camera department so sometimes I Moonlight on commercials corporate videos and recently I worked as a digital order on a feature film in the Arctic because nobody else wanted to be in -38 degrees Celsius temperatures


(Bri Castellini) #68

The Arctic?!?!


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #69

How long have I been a full-time filmmaker? Pretty much since I graduated from Film School. The first summer I basically submitted my short film trolls everywhere I could imagine, yes you can watch it on Vimeo there’s a link on my website, and then I got a job for 6 months on a documentary TV series. I hated that job so much that I decided I had to figure out a way to work for myself. And that’s where living very modestly comes in handy


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #70

Absolutely. The reality is I haven’t had time to fully analyze what works and what didn’t and what success actually means to other people. Success for me would be hundreds of thousands of views. And I’m not getting that. But with Impressions and audience engagement where people writing as emails are giving us feedback that demonstrates success. It’s a big pond so I’m trying to figure out how to crack it as we all are


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #71

Try to get local sponsorship from people or organizations or companies in your community. Whether that’s a gift card to a grocery store so that you don’t have to pay for crop services, or Law Firm doing your legal stuff for free, or getting her locations for free. The website seed&spark is really great for crowdfunding in a way that isn’t just about the dollar value.

To get the higher level of budgets for web series in the US or elsewhere, I’m really not sure but I think looking into possible co-productions with other places would be a really great start. If your interest is in directing, you could largely have all the other team members be from a country like Canada that has financing. Otherwise I would start with small ideas that you can make for free and then try to find those influencers or people to get your show out, and then potentially write with brands in mind.

Tongle is a way to connect with Brands. Doing spec commercials is also another way.


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #72

Which was this in response to?!


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #73

Yas!!!


(Bri Castellini) #74

haha sorry it was responding to me. I’m bogarting your Q&A time because I’m a narcissistic monster!!!

Edit: this fact is literally part of the article I’m teasing


(Jaime Lancaster) #75

What are spec commercials?


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #76

The funding that I got to make each series was around $100,000 cash, and we’re waiting for 20 to $30,000 in tax credit cash back. In the world of web I think that is pretty huge but it’s still feels like a shoestring budget when you start paying people you really don’t have much money left to put on screen for anything flashy.

Figuring out what you and your community have the resources to do or for little money really is a big difference. I would prioritize cast sound and a really great-looking image hiring a production designer will help with that. Fancy tricks for me are less important for my kind of storytelling.

But cast and script is key, and sound I would probably put next


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #77

For festivals figure out the things that you have to offer that people might feel are interesting. It’s probably worth striking up conversations with random strangers before you go to a film festival to see what they find it interesting. When people ask me what kind of films I make I often say awkward comedies about sex. And then they ask me more specifically and I get to get into talking about what my projects are.

Other things that I love to talk about are my 91 year old grandfather whose super awesome that I hang out with and I’m friends with, and my soon to happen two and a half months sailing trip in the Cook Islands. Not many people have those things going on.


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #78

I would do a lot of prep work ahead of time so that you’re very clear about the objectives of the character. I would ask them for their input and then I would share yours. Working with actors is a delicate balance of giving them what they want while also getting what you want. And even the most successful directors talk about doing takes that are for the actors and are basically manipulating them to say okay I’ll let you do what you want but I also want you to do what I want. I’ve been pretty fortunate to work with people that are interested in getting on board with my vision, but figuring out how to speak the same language can often be hard.

I’ve learned to offer the actors up a fun take and just say let’s try something different something fun let’s just go for it and see what happens. I’ve also worked around directors who do a silent take where they get the actors to do all of the reactions and the blocking without any of the dialogue so that they can use it in editing whenever they need


(Brianne Nord-Stewart) #79

Find somebody who knows what they’re doing! I probably should make it a priority in the future to be more Hands-On than I actually am, but in general I create a Pinterest board for the cinematographer in the production designer the costume designer makeup people that shows what I’m interested in when I do have specific things in mind. I also like to say I really don’t want this, whatever this may be.


(Bri Castellini) #80

Alright folks that’s our hour. HUGE big thanks to @bnordstewart for taking time out of her Vancouver Webfest schedule to chat with us today! Make sure to check out her awesome work!!