Filmmaking To The Max: The Balancing Act


(Kyla) #1

Hi! I’m Kyla, teenage filmmaker & creator of the teen drama webseries To The Max. This column will serve both as a production diary and an ever-growing list of how I’ve found my way around every issue I’ve come across and every mistake I’ve made.

Hey! Are you creating a webseries as well as handling your job/family/friends/life? If so, you are now a trapeze artist!

There’s triple-meaning to that, mostly because I like feeling smart. The first is that we’re all doing a balancing act, the second is that we’re doing something that looks impossible, and the third is that we’re doing something that feels impossible but we’re putting on a brave face and keeping up with the performance anyways.

The thing I find about webseries creators-- and this heavily includes myself-- is that we all like control a whole lot. So it’s not exactly fun when things are unexpectedly dredged up in your personal life and it complicates your production. And even if we lose the whole control freak aspect, it’s generally not great trying to balance life and webseries and oh I think maybe we’re jugglers instead.

Whether we’re trapeze artists or jugglers, I’m going to drop the metaphor for a second to say this: it feels like there’s never enough time. You have organizing shoot days, your actual shoot days, anything else that may come up that’s webseries-related, your job, your social life, fitness, your family, and anything else you may be doing-- such as working on other people’s projects. For me right now, I have webseries stuff (and it’s really coming to head as we’re nearly wrapped), school (and it’s exam season), my job, my family, my social life, the two summer courses I’m doing, another project I’m working on, these stareable articles, and fitness (I say the last one as though I’ve been able to make it to the gym in the past month).

So there’s a lot going on! A lot! A whole lot! So much! I’m about to cry thinking about it!

But never fear, because I’m about to pretend I know how to handle things and impart this false wisdom unto you!



However, the thing about planners is that sometimes things come up and you can’t complete everything you write down! That’s why I have a personal goal of completing at least half of the things I write down. Also, it’s so satisfying to cross things off after you’ve done them.

Also, if you’re very forgetful like I am, it’s amazing to just have everything written down somewhere! In my personal opinion, it’s better than using your phone because your phone can get too distracting.


What’s more important? Not carrying over law or your webseries?

That might not be relatable, but I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar. The thing though is that as with everything, this is not an ultimatum. Prioritize-- what can wait, at least for a few hours? What can you do later?


Jumping off the last point-- “what can you do later” is not valid if you’re putting something off to do nothing. For example, I’m putting off law right now, but that’s to write this column. It’s a commitment I’ve made and also I really need a break from law right now because I loathe it.

You! Can! Not! Procrastinate! Don’t ever think you have time to do a shot list later because you want to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Of course, this goes along with…


Yes, this technically could be seen as prioritizing, but there’s a difference between saying “I’ll do this in two hours after I finish this other task” and “I’ll get back to that later”. The former is a concrete plan while the latter implies that later is whenever you remember and you will forget and you will have a sad existence. Okay, maybe it doesn’t imply exactly that, but that’s what will happen. If you’re dedicated to your webseries but also have a job, don’t put the heat high on one and low on the other. Keep it medium and don’t watch your pots because they’re very insecure and won’t boil if you’re staring them down like that.


Is it smart to have a seven hour shoot day four days before the last day of work submission before exams? No. Am I doing it anyways because I’m desperate to wrap production before exams? Yes.

The most important life lesson you’ll ever learn: don’t be like me.

The main reason why you shouldn’t be like me is this picture, in which I am mostly in costume, calling someone who didn’t show up for the shoot, and fully aware that I am being photographed.

Make schedules that work for your life and your job and what’s going on with you, as well as what’s going on with your cast and crew. Don’t overschedule, don’t freak out if you get behind because of scheduling stress, and don’t do a 70-something scene webseries as your first project, you fool.


So sleep is a thing. And it’s a pretty important thing. And you should probably do it at some point. Probably soon, actually. You kind of look like you’re about to fall over. Also, you should invest in some quality concealer, because those eyebags aren’t helping the whole dead inside look. You look like Bucky Barnes, with the messy hair and the raccoon-esque smoky eye and the vacant “I will murder you if you so as much as look in my direction” stare.

Basically: get enough sleep. Eat well. Drink water. If you don’t, you won’t produce your best work, and that’s not going to be a nice feeling. Think of yourself as a Sim, and fulfill all your needs.



(Bri Castellini) #2

I agree!! I am definitely still a handwritten To Do list kinda gal. I like to take at least half an hour every Sunday to write my To Do list for the week, for my work as well as for work-work. I split it up by either type of work (writing, production, personal, other) or by project (Stray, Sam and Pat, Buy In) depending on the type of week it shapes up to be.

I don’t use a planner though- I’ve been using plain black moleskine notebooks since I was in high school- I have at least ten full of notes and drafts of poems and scripts and to do lists and I love looking back through them and seeing what I was up to during those years. “Oh cool in October 2008 I was stressing over an AP Euro assignment.”

(Kyla) #3

LISTS!!! you are a woman after my own heart!!!

I hate hate hate looking back at what I was stressing over because I’ll go back in my planner and look at a day where I had like five basic things to do (and two of them would be like emailing someone) and I’ll just cry and dream of simpler days.

also-- I don’t know if you have a mac, but I find that the sticky notes option is super useful! basically every time I open my computer I see colour-coordinated notes of what I have to do so then I get double the satisfaction when I can remove a sticky note & cross something out from my planner!!!

(Bri Castellini) #4

I use the sticky notes for things I need quick access to, like my standard YouTube video footer with all the links formatted properly, or the hex code for Stareable brand colors, or synopses for various projects for easy copy/paste if someone needs a logline. Oh and my standard cover letters for different job types (Voiceover work, copywriting, filmmaking). I don’t love digital to do lists in any form- if I have to check more than one place something will get lost in translation :slight_smile:

(Jerome Keith) #5

Definitely a crucial thing to keep in mind on projects. I’ve had a couple project where overscheduling myself led to lack of sleep.

(Mark Mainolfi) #6

This is the sentence I needed. Gonna go rethink my life now.