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.
During pre-production of the first season, I completed most of the work on my own. I wrote the script, got the film permit, shopped for insurance, arranged to cast, scheduled shoot days, and made all the design choices mostly on my own. It was a lot of work for me, but I enjoyed it. Who knows how to recreate my teenage life better than me?
I don’t regret taking on all of the producing myself because it taught me how to make it happen. It feels good to be able to do things yourself and not have to depend on anyone. However, for the second season, I wanted to take my production to the next level. I strived for better production value, and I knew that would require some collaboration.
To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about letting people help me during the pre-production process. I know it sounds crazy, but that was my time to plan how I was going to present my project to my team. I naturally like to work alone. I knew it was time to let that go in order to grow. Plus there was a handful of people on my team who were ready to step up and contribute more time to my web series. I wasn’t about to turn them down!
Collaboration is a great opportunity to let your team own a part of the project too. Whatever they contribute will make your series more dynamic. I knew my possessiveness over my project was unnecessary and letting people into the pre-production process was a way to drop some of the weight off of my shoulders. It was comforting to know other people wanted to see GNG come to life just as much as I did.
Just like anything else, help can be misguided if it’s unorganized and can become chaotic. You want to make sure the right people are handling certain aspects of your production. Here are my tips to lead you to some happy and healthy collaborating.
Be Clear About Roles
You have people on your team who want to help. That’s great, but you want to make sure you’re putting them in a position they’ll thrive in. If they want to “learn on the job” you’ll have to have more patience and be more involved when it comes to completing tasks. Either way, some help is better than no help. If you’re starting from scratch and collaborating from Day 1, write up some contracts establishing intellectual property ownership and list who is responsible for what. If a conflict arises you can refer to the contract and have a mediator involved to hash it out.
Stay on Task & Communicate Everything
Not every collaborator has to be involved in every decision. For example, my casting team was separate from my production team and those meetings did not take place together. It made it easier to focus on one thing at a time. My production meeting included key crew members to talk logistics, propose shoot days and estimate how much time was needed each day. If you’re going to delegate tasks, let them know what you need to be completed by a deadline. It’s important to be clear and concise so everyone knows what is expected of them.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
When it comes to collaboration it can be difficult to put a price on it. Most of us cannot afford to pay our people what they’re worth, but you want to make sure their work is valued and appreciated. This should be discussed up front before any work is done, possibly in writing if needed. Honest conversations about pay go a long way and if you still need help with this, reference this article.
Set Design of Susan's room - Artwork by yours truly and Leslie Pinho
Wardrobe - Zach Seekins and Tania Dutta sporting New World Republic
Locations - Filming our dance scene at Pino’s Gift Basket Shoppe, Wine Cellar & lounge
In the end, I see it was the right move to collaborate. It made Season 2 leaps and bounds better than Season 1 in the following areas: script, wardrobe, set design, locations. As long as everyone understands what their role is, enjoys providing the extra contribution, and are appreciated for their efforts, everyone wins!