My name is Melissa Malone. I’m the creator (among other things) of the web series, “Or So the Story Goes,”- an anthology series that takes classic children’s literature and adapts it with a modern, horror twist. The series began as a project to teach teens about filmmaking and has grown into a full-fledged award-winning web series.
My bi-monthly column ''Or So the Web Series Go(es)" will discuss all the things that we “work” with throughout the web series world and my experience/advice in each. Obviously, take it with a grain of salt but… I’m happy to offer some insight (and take any questions along the way)!
If you prefer a lengthier look into who we are, check out my previous post It Better Make Your Heart Sing (aka If Not, Don’t Bother).
Keeping Your People
Working in an anthology, our cast & crew has become a family. Reuniting always feels like coming home and I am so thankful for them.
However, it’s no secret that producing a web series is often done on a very VERY limited budget. This unfortunately also means people working on your production are getting very little to no monetary payment for their work. Often times, producers overlook just HOW lucky they are to have people willing to participate in the dire circumstances that can be web series creation. Don’t be one of those people. Appreciate what (and most importantly WHO) you’ve got and most importantly let them KNOW it!
Finding people to come on board a series, while tricky, is also the easy part. Keeping them around is harder. Below are a few key ways to help with that.
An organized set is extremely important in keeping things running smoothly and in making people feel at ease.
Plan ahead. Obviously, things come up and it’s hard to plan a film schedule TOO far in advance. You need to secure locations, rentals, insurance. However, it’s not impossible to schedule further in advance than you think. Give people as much notice as humanly possible. Not only will this help them make the needed arrangements to be on set when needed, it will also help you in knowing they are available and booked.
Value their time. It’s important for your cast & crew to know you value their time. When scheduling, try to keep this in mind. If possible, try to get each actor on set for multiple scenes a day and in as little days as you can. This can be tricky depending on locations but I like to schedule out my scenes by location first and then go back through and rearrange by cast members needed. This helps to not have an actor coming out for half a scene. This is ESPECIALLY important if the location is far away. Additionally, schedule their scenes as close together as possible. It’s incredibly frustrating as an actor to show up on set for a scene and then realize you have HOURS before your next scene, without any reason other than sloppy scheduling.
Oftentimes, people are rescheduling their work/taking days off work to be on set. Not only does this mean they are rescheduling their lives for your series, it also means they are most likely LOSING money. Be as mindful of this as you possibly can.
Treat Them Well
I know I’ve covered this a million times (ie this craft services column) but it can’t be said enough.
- Make sure everyone feels comfortable and taken care of on set.
- Feed people!
- Hydrate them!
- Give them a space to be in when not needed with somewhere to charge their phones, etc. Ask the location for a wifi password and post it in the room.
These things can go a long way.
Let Them Know They Are Appreciated
I realize we can’t all afford to pay our cast/crew what we’d like. In fact, my biggest goal for my series is that one day I have the budget to pay them what they deserve for a season AND some extra for all the years they stuck with me without it! lol. But there ARE ways to let them know you appreciate them.
Throw a wrap party- a fun time to unwind with each other over some food and drinks. It doesn’t have to be extravagant.
Find or make a few tokens of appreciation for each cast and crew member- always give thank you cards. Use those cards to express your gratitude, sincerely.
Pay the favor back in whatever way you can. There’s always a way to help them out when you can. Support one of their endeavors, help them with moving, yard work, maybe they need to do a self tape-literally anything that may come up. There’s nothing worse than busting your butt for someone only to have them constantly pass on helping you when you need it.
At the end of the day, our people are what makes our series. We literally would not function without the insanely hard work, dedication and determination our cast & crew bring to OSTSG. They are our biggest cheerleaders, and the reason we continue doing what we do. I know how lucky I am to have them and I spend a lot of time reflecting on just that. Hopefully, they know how much they’re appreciated and if not… I’ll continue working harder to let them know it!