This column is written by Sally Hassan, the creator of Ghetto Nerd Girl. I talk about how to get through the vital steps of making a web series as smoothly and painlessly as possible.
When making Ghetto Nerd Girl, I wanted to capture the late 90’s and early 2000’s as much as possible. It was a fun process doing the research and adding those tidbits within pre-production. A nice trip down memory lane if you will! If you’re considering doing a period piece for your web series, this is a good place to start.
1.) Research – I lived in the early 2000’s, but that doesn’t mean I remember everything that made it great. I went through my yearbooks and searched on the web. I found plenty of those nostalgic lists on Buzzfeed to be helpful.
2.) Copyrights – The last thing you want to do is steal someone else’s intellectual property. This can be a struggle, but allow yourself to think outside of the box. If you heard it on the radio or saw it on television, chances are it’s off limits.
3.) Pre-production – I suggest recruiting a set designer or including your MUA and/or wardrobe department in the discussion. They’ll help you re-create the world you’re looking for. Shout out to our set design, wardrobe, and makeup guru, Leslie Pinho!
Wardrobe is one of the most noticeable ways to capture the time. (from L to R) Megan McGullam, Jillian Eichler, & Shayna Schmidt in Ep. 1 - The End of Clique-Dom
Megan's hair, makeup and earrings scream early 2000's
Jewelry pieces from the era: Zach's ball chain, Melissa's handcuff necklace, and Roland's puka shells.
My most used prop to date was a pre-paid cell phone I bought from Walmart for $10. I only wish it had Snake!
4.) Shopping – Amazon was my best friend during pre-production. It was easy to get props from there fast and on the cheap. As a producer, we like those things!
5.) Music – I couldn’t use anything obvious, unfortunately. However, there are many independent artists out there who are inspired by a specific time period. Some of them happen to be my friends. Many of their tracks ended up being a good match. A good example is Boro and Saxon Blu.
6.) Vocabulary – This wasn’t as obvious to me since I still talk like I’m from this era, but there are some words I can point out in my script that I wouldn’t use today. As if!
7.) AOL Instant Messenger – This gets its own category because it’s too damn good. In one of our episodes, AIM is the main character. I included the sound effects from the good ol’ buddy list. RIP AIM.
This was as close I could get to including an AIM window in Ep. 3 - Smoking with Grandpa
Once all of these elements combined I noticed my series giving off a specific vibe. Viewers noticed the details and it made them feel nostalgic. The joys of our adolescence (some of us)! I do recognize that not everyone will want to make a period piece at a time that was lived in. In that case, I have a list for you too.
1.) Use Nature – Works for pretty much any century.
2.) Green Screen – Make your own world!
3.) Wardrobe – You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Second-hand shops are a great resource. Or you can contact your local theater house to see if you can borrow some costumes.
What time period does your web series take place? What steps did you take to make it like the era? I’d love to hear about it!
If you’re a fan of the early 2000’s check out Ghetto Nerd Girl!