"Do the Thing, Make the Thing" - Ashley Clements & Brendan Bradley AMA

(Brendan Bradley) #1

Ashley Clements and Brendan Bradley are the team behind SONA - a sci-fi series created by and starring Ashley Clements, filmed mostly on an escape pod set built in her own apartment.

Last month, the project successfully crowdfunded in less than 4 hours and ultimately raised 306% of it’s funding goal to expand the series storyline, cast and locations.

TIMELAPSE OF SPACESHIP SET BUILD: https://twitter.com/TheAshleyClem/status/963081607039995904

Ashley Clements (Creator/Actor): Ashley is best known for starring in the Emmy & Streamy Award winning digital series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which launched a record-setting kickstarter for the DVD box set. Ashley has appeared in a number of other kickstarter-backed series: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party, Muzzled the Musical, and most recently, The Wayward Guide for the Untrained Eye. Other series credits include: Inside The Extras Studio, VGHS, BlackBoxTV, and TableTop. Her feature credits include Non-Transferable (which she also co-Produced), August Falls, Call of the Void, and All The Creatures Were Stirring. An accomplished theater actor, Ashley received her MFA in Acting from The Old Globe/University of San Diego and she’s won a bunch of acting awards and stuff. Follow her all over the internet @TheAshleyClem

Brendan Bradley (Director/Actor) As a multi award-winning digital creator, Brendan Bradley has played in over 100 digital shorts and sketches, earning over 40 million views. His television appearances include Elementary, NCIS, Timeless, Wizards of Waverly Place and commercials for Staples. His film work has been featured in festivals world wide, most notably The Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and Methodfest. For his recent feature film, Non-Transferable Brendan created a co-branding deal with the Turkish Ministry of Tourism to host an American film team across three continents. Travel sponsors were organically integrated into the film’s locations and story to offset prohibitive production costs and shoot the film’s many scenes in airports, hotels and exotic destinations. Find him on all the internet places under the handle @brendanAbradley

Topics we like to talk about:
:performing_arts: Acting
:pencil2: Writing
:cat: Cats
:muscle: Creating something from nothing
:clapper: Microbudget narrative digital content
:selfie: Running your own PR
:money_with_wings: Crowdfunding campaigns
:handshake: Working with brands
:rocket: SonaSeries.com

// AMA // Thursday, March 8 // 11a-12p PT // 2p-3p ET

(Bri Castellini) #2

Thanks SO MUCH for being here today guys!! My first question is… When did web series as a format pop up in your radars? And what was your first impression of it?

(Anya Steiner) #3

Hi Brendan & Ashley,

Two questions for you:

-Any tips on creating a budget that will end up being as accurate as possible (while also being as low as possible, ha)?

-I saw that one of SONA’s stretch goals was to make it into a feature film. In your opinion, how do you know if a story is best suited to a web series or a feature? How do you make sure your web series doesn’t feel like a broken up feature? (Or vice versa.)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts & expertise!

(Sunny Larkson) #4

Oh. My. Goshhhhhh. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU GUYS ARE HERE RIGHT NOW!!! Um. oh gosh now I have to com up with a question…

(Meg Carroway) #5

Welcome to the Stareable forums! This is so freaking cool!! What do both you wish more newbie producers knew about working with actors?

(Sunny Larkson) #6

Ok I have a question now! How has being involved with Lizzie Bennet Diaries/Frankenstein MD/ Pemberley in general impacted your career and your opinion of web series as a format??

(Brendan Bradley) #7

I became aware of “new media” in 2007 during the writers strike. I actually went a little crazy, researching everything I could and moved to Los Angeles shortly after. In the early days of YouTube, brands would host contests on the homepage and I created several short videos and sketches, winning a few of these contests. A bar in miracle mile would hosts monthly meetups for “web television” projects and it was a creative swap meat for equipment, ideas and collaboration. I began my first “short form television series on the internet” in 2009 working opposite Sandeep Parikh and Felicia Day on The Legend of Neil at the same time I was writing Squatters The Series.

(Anna Bateman) #8

Woah that time lapse set building is so impressive!! Welcome! How did you approach building a set in your apartment that doesn’t look like a set you built in your apartment?

(Brendan Bradley) #9

I think no matter the department or job, we all sometimes forget the “human” element during on-set stress and hustle. The whole point of filmmaking is that it’s a collaborative art form which relies on communication and passion. Talk to your team and welcome each person to YOUR set and way of doing things - when people feel like family, they do their best work.

(Bri Castellini) #10

Very cool! So having been in “new media” for such a long time, what has struck you about the evolution of the form? What is harder/easier today than in 2007?

(Paula Rhodes) #11

Hi guys! This one is mostly for Ashely - would you consider yourself thrilled or excited beyond belief to be jumping from SONA crowdfunding to @FictionalFares crowdfunding next and teaming up with Paula Rhodes? Buhahahah! But serious plug time (so I can team up with this stellar fellow ginger finally) : www.tinyurl.com/fictionalfares . And HI, Brendan! cyber hugs to you both

(Ashley Clements) #12

Hi Bri! Thanks for having us! My introduction to web series was kind of accidental. I was an actor fresh out of school and new to LA and I submitted my materials for an audition I could get into. But I didn’t think of them as anything more than jobs to gain experience and hopefully some footage for my reel. I didn’t know about any popular or successful webseries, so my first impression honestly wasn’t great. I did a couple projects that taught me to be pickier about submitting to web series and learned to research the creative team before getting involved. When I was cast in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, it opened me up to this whole world and community of passionate creators and fans I didn’t know existed, and my life was dramatically changed. Now my world is full of incredibly dedicated hard working people who are committed to continuing to raise the bar when it comes to what you can expect from a web series.

(Brendan Bradley) #13

Haha! What you don’t see in the timelapse is the HOURS of thinking, taking things apart, rebuilding, remeasuring, staring off into space with regrets :slight_smile: Like everything in production, it’s one step at a time. We planned out the visual look we were going for and tackled each piece of the puzzle.

(Meg Carroway) #14

So true. Thanks! Kinda in that vein, a lot of us here in the forums are pretty new and basically have no starting budget for anything and therefore do a lot of work/labor/favor trading because we can’t pay cast or crew. Any advice in that area, when you can’t pay cast/crew but want to be professional and realistic and mindful?

(Bri Castellini) #15

What struck you about the LBD casting call, having had some… less savory experiences prior?

(Anna Bateman) #16

Did you guys work with a production designer or just figure it out yourselves? What materials did you use? Also… did @TheAshleyClem’s landlord know??

(Kallum Weyman) #17

Thanks for joining us today. I’m a fan both of you in some of your other works.

So my question would be why take a chance with Sci-fi on a low budget. How much testing did you do of the set ideas to make sure it looked good. Was the risk of it maybe not looking as good as you hoped a constant challenge?

(Ashley Clements) #18

Remember that everyone has a job to do, and everyone is there to do their best, and treat everyone like a human being who is working very hard. It’s hard for anyone to do their best when they aren’t treated with dignity and respect, yet actors are asked to do it all the time. Take care of everyone on your team, and you’ll create a group that wants to work together again and again.

(Jaime Lancaster) #19

This is so cool!! I’m an aspiring producer and I have SO MANY questions for you both! First I wanted to ask @brendanAbradley about Non-Transferable… Any advice for asking people for money or for free help or a location? Like how did you get Turkey to mostly finance you guys/your travel? How did you even contact them?

(Brendan Bradley) #20

Absolutely! I’ve had so many conversations about this and no one has the perfect answer, but I think it’s fair to always sit down with each team member and understand that “value” they are looking to get out of the project. Are they just getting experience? Are they specifically looking for a pay check? Do they want to experiment with a new piece of equipment? Then you can determine if your goals align and everyone can manage their expectations appropriately. For example, on Non-Transferable, I bought an expensive piece of gear for my DP that he kept throughout filmmaking to use on other projects. We got a “deal” on his usual rate and his kit fee practically doubled for all his other clients because he had better tools. That’s a win-win that puts every dollar on screen, while also taking care of the team.