James Brent Isaacs and Omar Najam- Making That Web Series


(Sunny Larkson) #81

Thank you Stareable for bringing in soooo many people I’ve watched and loved and thank you Fictional Fares for bringing together all my faves!!! :heart: :heart:


(Kernen Wing ) #82

omg, I am so relieved it will be happening either way! <3


(Chris Hadley) #83

@JamesBrentIsaacs @omarnajam Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions about web series filmmaking, and best of luck to you all with Fictional Fares! Can’t wait to watch!


(Blair Beveridge) #84

@JamesBrentIsaacs @omarnajam keep hitting home runs guys, see you in the verse


(omar najam) #85

So the origins of SSG are really funny! Chris Bramante and I were getting thai food one day and we were talking about rewatching Buffy and we decided to do a podcast. That’s… that’s seriously the origin story haha. Holland Farkas got it off the ground, we made an iTunes account and just started posted episodes. Then friends asked to guest and we were off to the races.

And oh man after producing three episodes of 2BG a week for a while, audio-only is suuuuuuuch a gift! Haha! But it has been tough, we had to take a break from Sunnydale Study Group for a little while because Chris got super busy and I got super busy. But once I tracked how long it takes to record and produce an episode, I was able to budget that time into my schedule and fit it into my week without getting too thrown off! Bullet journaling. My short answer is bullet journaling


(James Brent Isaacs) #86

I think it’s a case by case bases. It depends on the project really. I’ve collaborated on projects where both of us are writing the same thing at the same time and confirming that we agree or don’t agree with something after every sentence.

With Omar, it was really simple: We cut everything in half. We had 10 episodes. I took five, and he took five. Then we’d send each other our work for notes. Something like this though really only works as long as the both of you are on the same page about your project: Tone, style, genre, everything. Luckily Omar and I are very similar writers (truth be told he’s the stronger one). It allowed us to trust each others decisions and note nit pick everything.

But that’s the most imporant thing: You have to trust your collaborator’s abilities and know that you are both on the same page about your project. Anything else will be fitting a square peg into a round hole and wont end well.


(James Brent Isaacs) #87

I only talk about that in my weekly meetings and Thursday night drum circle.


(James Brent Isaacs) #88

We wrote 10 episodes total. I took five and Omar took 5. We are completely responsible for our own eps. We exchange them for notes, and our notes are not “this is how I would do it,” but more of a , “I think this is how you can improve what YOU’RE trying to get across.”


(Kernen Wing ) #89

well, now I need to know which episodes were by whom!


(omar najam) #90

Absolutely! I would say a) start with your friends and b) be a part of conversations like this!

A) if you are doing a d&d thing and you know some people on twitter or on reddit who are also into d&d, mention it to them. Then they’ll mention it to other peeps they know and your web of influence widens maniacal laughter no but really that’s honestly how I’ve seen online media work. I know that sometimes companies can hop in and make a big splash but my personal favorite creators are just really into, say for example, Jurassic Park and they make a Jurassic Park podcast and ask their friends who are into JP to guest and those friends tell other people who like JP about the podcast and it kinda catches on. I’m referring specifically to my friend Steven Ray Morris who did exactly that with both dinosaur content and cat content. He just messaged his friends who like Jurassic Park and/or cats for his various projects and now he’s world famous in those geeky circles. I think as long as something is genuine and heartfelt, it will always catch a genuine ear, which is something established brands will ALWAYS struggle with, you will always have that over them!

B) Just being part of a conversation is the thing! I think we make things so we have content to bring to the conversational table. We all like talking about stories, about making shows, and making content is how we do that haha. So jumping in on AMA’s, hopping in the comments of livestream shows, going to conventions, that’s how people get to know you and hear about you. And especially in this group, there are so many beautiful wonderful encouraging people that when you post that you are working on something, you are only going to get applause. When people see you in conversations, they become invested in you and your success and all you have to do is take that energy and run with it.


(James Brent Isaacs) #91

It’s a lot of emails. And it always helps to write out their post or status update for them. The less effort on their part the better.


(James Brent Isaacs) #92

Friday is my designated writing day. I’ll take notes throughout the week to remember and keep my mind going, but I don’t put fingers on keys until Friday.


(omar najam) #93

THANK YOU FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION!

I might be a little kitchen sink in my bias (I like things that look quick and dirty vs overly produced) and web content is where I went to see stuff that was more focused on ideas and characters and perspectives than shiny expensive stuff because I could go to television for that. I think if we as a community really underline… hmm you know, this is going to be a bit of an ambiguous reply since it’s not super actionable but I think if we remind ourselves that we love this content because it’s so much personal than something like an ABC show that’s shot half a year in advance, we can get back to that. I have seen a lot of content that looks like stuff that’s produced to sell and I always feel a bit icky about that. If you like a story so much, why are you in a rush to sell it off? I love stuff that is really personal and resonant and ground level.

Maybe as content creators we can show more of the behind-the-scenes cause that would definitely separate these projects from branded content and to-digital televised series.

It’d also help if award shows leaned more towards webseries webseries to raise up new voices instead of established actor projects BUT maybe that’s too much tea for this early in the day haha.


(James Brent Isaacs) #94

BLAIR! Hey man!

I think the beating comes from an over saturation of content. There are so many web series out there now. So it’s more important than ever that new shows have a hook. Something that separates it from everything else. Lizzie Bennet was one of (if not THE) first adaptations of a public domain story told through vlog form. And now there are a lot of those, so it’s time to do something different, or try it in a new way.

What I’m trying to say is, when you are working in a technology based medium like a web series, your story ideas need to evolve as fast as the technology does, because people move on quick.


(omar najam) #95

We got so lucky to work with Revl because their dashcams are AMAZING. Also James was brilliant in cooking up a show that would actually lend itself to things like shadows, bumps, sound glitches, etc because it adds reality and verite to the end project. If a pebble hits the windshield, we don’t yell cut because that’s a very real car thing happening while we have a fantasy character in the back talking about how he grew up with a bear.

We also shot a TON of test footage. A ton. We have three whole episodes that we might just post this weekend haha.


(James Brent Isaacs) #96

The cool thing about cars is that there are lots of places to hide things, its just a matter of keeping our audio recorders out of sight of the cameras, also a lot of actors will be wired up. In terms of cameras, our show is shot more docu style, everyone is aware they’re there, so there’s no need to hide.


(Blair Beveridge) #97

I could not agree more. Thanks brother :slight_smile:


(omar najam) #98

This is such a good question! You know, I’ll be honest, what’s been amazing is that James and I don’t have an iota of competitiveness between us. The best idea is the best idea for the project, even if we haven’t come up with it yet. So whenever something doesn’t work, there’s no ego, one of us has just realized that something isn’t landing the way we’d like. When we wrote the first few drafts, we tossed the scripts back and forth and rewrote them so after a while, we had lost track of who wrote what. The scripts became sort of this groupmind. And then if there were any individual concerns or notes, we’d address them with “why’s.” “This isn’t landing for me BECAUSE…” and since our goal zero is for everyone to feel so proud of this project that we love, to tell this story we’re really invested in, it became the easiest thing to just do everything you can to make sure the script lands for your first audience, which for me is James. Maybe a few years ago my ego woulda kicked in but I’ve since been humbled over so many projects and working with so many people that my golden rule is that I can’t make James laugh/cry/smile/sigh, it goes back to the writing room.


(Blair Beveridge) #99

Hey champ :slight_smile:

I also agree with this, and the charity tie in IS THE DIFFERENCE MAKER TO ME. That is the value of this medium and what it can do. Keep doing awesome things and try your best to get to SDCC this year, you can whoop my ass in a thumb wrestle if you do :slight_smile:


(omar najam) #100

Lemme ask! I’m not in charge of the fancy perks cause they’re really fancy but lemme ask!