Bob DeRosa & Ben Rock, co-creators of "20 Seconds To Live"


(Bob DeRosa) #1

Hi everyone! This is Bob DeRosa, writer/co-creator of the horror/comedy anthology web series “20 Seconds To Live”. I’m here with director/co-creator Ben Rock @neptunesalad. Every episode of our show is short (usually around 2 minutes) and features a different group of characters. At some point, a 20-second timer pops up and by the time it gets to zero, someone dies! Who gets it and how is most of the fun.

Our first season is available on Ariescope.com, Seeka.TV, and Facebook. We’ve played nearly 20 international film and web festivals and won several awards, including Best Web Series at the Nashville Film Festival and Best Horror at Hollyweb Festival here in Los Angeles. We currently have over ten thousand Twitter followers and recently raised over $10k on Indiegogo for our second season.

Some things we can talk about:

  1. Getting the first season made
  2. Navigating the film and web festival world
  3. Promoting your show on social media
  4. Crowdfunding

So….ask us anything!


(Bri Castellini) #2

Hey guys! So awesome that you’re here with us today! First thing’s first: how did you two meet?


(Bob DeRosa) #3

Ben and I were both aspiring filmmakers in Orlando, FL. The Enzian Theater was the only place at the time you could see indie films. We both had shorts in their annual locals-only fest called Brouhaha so we met after a mutual screening. Ben went on to be a projectionist for the Florida Film Festival (also at the Enzian) and got me a job there as a Programming Assistant, and that’s when we really became friends.


(Bri Castellini) #4

What are your backgrounds in film, prior to 20STL? Did you go to film school, work on “professional” sets, or other indie projects?


(sam lockie-waring) #5

how do you guys pick what episodes to screen at festivals? do you always submit the pilot, or different episodes each time, or what?


(Joseph Steven Heath) #6

Tell me more about promotion because I am terrible at it.


(Pia) #7

Ten thousand twitter followers!? WOW! Also… HOW? lol (but really how did you do that? Do you have a schedule or something? How do you make a social media schedule without going crazy?)


(Bob DeRosa) #8

I went to UF where there was no film program so I just wrote scripts and made shorts with my friends. Then continued doing so in Orlando after I moved home. I moved to Los Angeles in 2001 and just focused on my writing. I’ve been a pro screenwriter ever since. I wrote two movies: “Killers” starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl and “The Air I Breathe” with an all-star cast. I also wrote on the 4th season of White Collar. After that, Ben pitched me the idea for 20STL and off we went!


(Amen J.) #9

Have you guys been approached by sponsors and/or distributors yet, given your enormous following and success (congrats by the way!)?


(Ollie R) #10

Co-opting this and adding: how do you promote authentically, especially when the team is a team of one and you somewhat value your mental health? I don’t want to just set up auto-tweets, you know?


(Bri Castellini) #11

How did you get your start as a pro screenwriter? What would you recommend to other hopeful writers to best help them on their way?


(Bob DeRosa) #12

We use withoutabox and filmfreeway which allows you to have set episodes that you submit to festivals. Our show is an anthology so we picked ones that we know play well with crowds. But some fests just looked at our whole series and picked which ones they wanted. As an anthology, it doesn’t really matter.


(sam lockie-waring) #13

filmfreeway lets you pick episodes? do you mean you have to make new “projects”, each time highlighting a different episode? i dig the strategy to pick which one fits which festival, though.

is it hard to do an anthology? would you recommend it? i imagine casting is a bitch, but at the same time, you only need to schedule actors for a little while at a time i guess, which could be useful on low budget


(Bob DeRosa) #14

We were terrible at it too. It takes lots and lots of practice, but we love our show, so we dove in and figured it out. We use social media like crazy. I run our Twitter feed, Ben does Instagram, we all pitch in on Facebook. The important thing is to be genuine and engaging. People respond when you’re coming from a sincere place. We love our show, we love being a part of a community, we have an irreverent sense of humor…all of that comes through in our social media. If you like us online, then you’ll probably like our show, too.


(Ben Rock) #15

I started out as a special effects makeup artist while I was still going to film school in Orlando. I worked on a bunch of low budget films in the southeast - mostly for David Prior in Alabama. In 1997 (one year out of film school) I decided to quit makeup and pursue directing but around that time my friends asked me to join their microbudget feature as production designer. That film turned out to be “The Blair Witch Project,” and between production designing it and creating a bunch of the mythology it opened doors for me as a director.


(Ollie R) #16

Yeah how did you end up making a genuine and engaging AND consistent promotion schedule though? It feels like one of those triangles where you have to pick two haha


(Bob DeRosa) #17

We, uh, go crazy. It’s really hard. There are plenty of tricks. Using crowdfire really helped and we use hoot to set up posts throughout the day.

My 3 rules for Twitter are:

  1. Have a voice: our show is funny and irreverent so our Twitter feed is, too.
  2. Have content: we post lots of behind the scenes pix and stuff that we think our followers would enjoy
  3. Be generous: we’re always giving shout-outs to friends in our show, thanking people who RT us, and when we attend fests, I take pix with other filmmakers and tag their shows. Show that you’re a part of a warm community and I think it makes people want to be a part of what you’re creating.

(Bob DeRosa) #18

We met with a production company that’s been extremely successful in the web series world and the exec said, “Hmm, I’m trying to think of a sponsor for you guys but who would sponsor a show about death?” So yeah, we’re in a weird situation. People love our show, but it’s hard to figure out who would like to associate themselves with us (even though we don’t glorify death at all.) We like to say we make our show to laugh in death’s stupid face.

Seeka.TV is a great platform that saw our show on the web circuit and they approached us and we partnered with them early after their launch. Check em out if you haven’t already!


(Meg Carroway) #19

Hi! Thanks for being here today! Since you both have a lot of what most of us would consider “real” credits under your belt, why make a web series, instead of a more traditional format? What do you think indie gives you that traditional avenues don’t?


(Amen J.) #20

haha, what about insurance companies? :joy: