In my experience, the pitch deck is less about the project and more about the recipient. You are presenting how your idea will be good for their slate. This means creating a malleable pitch that can be adjusted for every company/person
Saw this as the #webserieschat topic yesterday on twitter so I’m curios your guys’ thoughts… how do you guys thinking about personal branding? As actors and as creators/influencers in your own rights? Do you think about it a lot, or just go with the flow?
For producers specifically, their experience is worth a LOT. So you’re either offering them a check, equity or buy them some tacos to pick their brain because you admire their work. I find a lot of folks are willing to meet a fresh face and feel important over a beverage is nothing is being asked of them upfront. If it evolves into a collaboration organically, bonus points
thanks for being here today, guys! do you guys think there’s a future in web series? as a career? there is a lot of uncertainty right now as digital video staffers keep getting cut even at big companies… what can we as indie people do to not just have this be a hella expensive hobby?
Ok another question then if Bri insists.
So what did you previous experience on similar projects bring to this project. Rather a large question but was there anything that stood out as a task you wouldn’t have know how to overcome if it wasn’t for your past experience.
SONA started with the exterior limitations - I’ve always wanted to do sci-fi, and I started to think about what I could make on a very small scale. Once I had the idea that I could be alone in an escape pod, I started asking questions - who am I? Why am I in an escape pod? And story began to take shape. Then I sat down to write it, and in that process, found myself taking a different direction than I initially thought. And then I went back and rewrote it to tell the new story I’d discovered through the writing process.
We didn’t initially intend to crowdfund. It started as something very small - or so I thought, before a spaceship took over my dining room - and kind of experimental. I was trying new things as a writer and an actor, Brendan was trying new things as a director, and it wasn’t until we started to edit pieces together that we realized we had made something we’re both very proud of. We watched dailies and reshot parts that weren’t working and left the set up until we had what we needed. Once we’d dedicated that much time an energy and made something we loved, we want to make it the full experience we felt it deserved to be, but that meant we needed an actual budget. And thus we kickstarted for post-production.
Why make a web series over a short film or feature? What are the pros/cons of each, since you’ve both been involved in all kinds of projects?
Budgeting is a confusing beast for every human, in life. But we all have to do it everyday and therein lies the secret…practice. Since I was 15 and producing my first play, my first step is always to pick an actual INTEGER, a number, an amount of money that I’m comfortable completely losing. It’s scary, but you’re basically making a deal with yourself that you’re never going to get that money back, but you’re going to get something else for your investment - experience, art, etc.
Then start collecting the hard data and costs on what you need for production. Don’t look at how much if puts you in the red, just get the information.
Then you have to decide what you can do yourself “for free” or what collaborators can bring to the project, versus where you absolutely have to spend the money.
On SONA, I can’t compose music, make VFX or do sound design. So we absolutely needed to learn people’s rates and then hire them to do this work. But I could build a set, film Ashley, lear how to do basic lighting…etc. So we made compromises and made the best who we could with the budget we set.
You tend to direct and act a lot, right? How do you balance that? I personally hate it and always feel way more self conscious, especially when I’m IN a scene and also telling another actor what to do after a take. Do you, like, audibly direct yourself too, and how do you do both without going totally crazy??
Every job has taught me things that helped on the next job, or another job down the road. And when it comes to producing, Non-Transferable was my first experience, which taught me that anything is possible with enough hard work. Brendan set a great example of that for me (I think he works too hard but no one can stop him). One of the reasons Brendan is a great producer is because when a new problem comes up, Brendan’s attitude is always “I don’t know how to do that. I guess I have to learn.” And everything is like that - you’ll either decide you can’t, or you’ll figure out how. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t delegate, because I’d say another lesson is to find people you trust to help you, and let them do their jobs. But, when you’re working with micro-budgets, and can’t pay people, it might be time to roll up your sleeves and learn some new skills.
The most encouraging lesson from every project… Is that you will get through it. So each time you encounter a new challenge that is driving you crazy, you at least go… “I’ve been here before and I don’t know how but I will figure this out “
Any chance that LBD wedding script that Ashley wrote will ever/can ever be made ?
Can you talk about this? I think this is honestly one of the hardest parts about making your own stuff!! The creative stuff is easy (well, sometimes!) but the PR is terrrrible
Oh you didn’t know? I am totally crazy honestly I think I wear so many hats because I feel bad making other people do massive tasks on my projects with such small budgets. The key for me is pacing and taking a little bit every day for months at a time. I communicate as much as I can, and power my collaborators to have a real ownership over there department, and then stay in my lane and do my job(s).
Directing wise, I take one scene or key moment each night as I go to bed and think about how I want it to cut together. I essentially shot list “in my sleep”
Super interested in that book. Any bullet points or take aways that really stuck out after reading it?
SONA came to me serialized. I’m obviously very comfortable with the web series format at this point, but SONA covers a lot of time and I wanted it to take time to slowly unravel the story. Brendan sees a short film in it, so I expect there will be a “directors cut” that speeds it along considerably, but I conceived of it serialized and that’s how I wrote it.
As far as production goes, though, it’s really the same process. I’ve done several web series now (like Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery and the upcoming Wayward Guide for the Untrained Eye) and we all acknowledged that we were basically filming features. But there’s a huge difference in distribution, and those series were created to tease out over a number of weeks with mysteries that unfold and maximize viewer engagement. It’s partly about the viewer experience, and partly about what distribution opportunities are available. Non-Transferable, a light rom-com, is being distributed all over the world, playing for example on French and Italian TV. SONA is a dark, edgy, risky sci-fi story that I knew wouldn’t make for easier TV fare. Its audience is out there, and making a web series means I can best reach them.
Hi! Thank you for coming to share your experiences.
My question is:
Any advice on how to collect emails for the preliminary phase of crowdfunding?
I’d love to make it, and I’ve been doing everything in my power to make that happen for over a year, but since I don’t own LBD, my power is very limited.
Thanks again to both of you I and hope you have all the success in the world with this project wish I knew about the Kickstarter, but cannot wait to see the finished show. It’s great to see original sci-fi being made as a web series since I am working on one myself. Good luck.