Monica West (Best Thing You'll Ever Do) Seed&Spark Streaming + Pitching Your Ideas

Hi! I’m Monica West – I created the web series Best Thing You’ll Ever Do about the decision to have a baby (or not). My background is in acting (stage, tv, film) and creating comedic music videos and sketches on YT and for production companies in NYC. For more info about me + my work, check out www.bestthingseries.com or follow on twitter: @msmoniwest // intsa: @bestthingseries

I’m excited to share with you that as of today, Best Thing You’ll Ever Do is live on Seed&Spark streaming (btw if you watch us there, you can help us make $$ to make more eps!) I’m also working on pitches to production companies to make more episodes. Something I enjoy about being a creator is thinking of ways to connect business with art. Feel free to ask me anything about making Best Thing, my new relationship with Seed&Spark and pitching your work so that it can be made too – ready? go!

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What made you decide to take Best Thing off of Vimeo and start shopping it around elsewhere (eventually ending up on Seed&Spark)?

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I saw the premiere at Brooklyn Web Fest last year and loved it. I noticed that people reacted to do it mostly as comedy at the screening, although when I went home and saw other episodes, as well as re-watching the episode screened, I had a different experience – not that it wasn’t funny (it was/is) but I found that my experience was different when I saw it alone. Sorry for the long preamble. Here’s the question:

Does seeing Best Thing or other work give you a different perspective on your work? If so, does it influence you as a creator moving forward?

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How does Seed and Spark work, distribution-wise? And how does being on their platform change how you pitch to other places to get more episodes made?

Hi Bri, Seed&Spark approached me a couple of months ago about moving Best Thing to their streaming platform – I said yes for a number of reasons: streaming with S&S opens us up to a new audience and a way to make money to make more episodes; I really like their company – Julie Keck (who I met at Seattle Web Fest), Catilin Gold (S&S curator) and Emily Best (CEO) are amazing business women who want filmmakers to be able to support themselves and make more work – I’m into that; and the offer is non-exclusive as long as the episodes are behind a paywall on Vimeo, Amazon, etc.

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Where did you find confidence for business-y meetings?? And asking people for money (like production companies- not crowdfunding)? It just seems so… awkward… lol

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Wow, that’s amazing! You didn’t even initially crowdfund with them, so you must have made an impression! (no surprise!) Are you looking to expand to other streaming services behind pay walls, or are you sticking with Seed & Spark for all future episodes and seasons?

Side question- since you’re sticking with the web series format it seems, how many more episodes can we look forward to?? Seasons??

Hi Meg, S&S is a SVOD – in other words viewers purchase a subscription and then depending on how many people watch the videos, that’s how filmmakers earn money. (Most filmmakers earn $.25 a minute.) S&S is also coming to Roku and AppleTV soon.

I think being on S&S changes my pitch from – look I made this series – to saying look someone acquired this series! And, fyi we can renegotiate with S&S in 6 months should we receive an opportunity that is exclusive with a production company or branding opportunity. But ideally it would be fun to work with S&S and a production company/branding opp.

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Hi Sunny, that’s a great question. Confidence feels really important in these situations. I think first I would say, in my work with Best Thing or in making comedic videos I am/was confident I could deliver – on a subject I feel drawn to or passionate about. I was also confident that I had a unique voice to bring to the table – not unlike the short film that @Bri_Castellini just made about asexuality Ace and Anxious – when I watched it I learned something new. She has a unique voice.

Asking people for money: it’s good to remember the amount of money you’re asking for is probably pretty small in the scheme of things. When Dove makes a commercial it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars – if you want to do a branding deal with them and you need $5000 or $10,000 that’s pocket change to them!

Dress for the job you want (did you see this on twitter yesterday about Melania – made me laugh out loud) But that’s really helpful to me, to feel great about what I’m wearing in a meeting. Rent the Runway has everyday work clothes now and sometimes I rent an outfit (a stylist can help you btw)!

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Thank you!! Follow up based on this: how do you even find companies and brands to pitch to in the first place? Do you just like email their contact email?

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Hi Pablo, Thanks for your kind words! I loved it that people laughed at BKWF too! My voice in the series hopefully comes across as fun and or funny with a gut punch in the end. I like that kind of humor – especially for topics that cover difficult decisions – to me there’s light and dark in them.

Moving forward, I’d like to push that voice – see if I can get out a comfort zone and take more chances – darker humor in some moments.

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Wow, that’s a really good deal, and congrats!

What does a pitch look like? Do you have a deck? What should go into it/how design-y should it be?

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What was the negotiation process with S&S like? Were there challenges, or did it seem like a fit pretty early on?

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Yes, that’s one way to do it. I like to look for connections thru FB and LinkedIn to see if I have anyone in common with them – and start reaching out to people I know for introductions.

Some brands work through an ad agency – there’s one in Austin who does all of Casper Mattresses ads that I want to reach out to.

Look for brands that sponsor film – ie) Luna is a sponsor of Seed&Spark

Look for local brands who’d have enough money to sponsor an episode and probably don’t have a lot of red tape to get to the right person. ie) Koval Whiskey sponsored our Chicago premiere party.

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Do you have to prove ROI for sponsors, or do you just have to promise to show their product/put their logo on your website and in the credits? What’s the usual arrangement, and how can someone make themselves as attractive as possible for it?

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What’s the long-term plan for Best Thing? You mention funding for additional episodes. Is there a narrative arc with a clear conclusion?

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good question – energy-wise, it was a definite fit. Money-wise – I saw this opportunity as one to get in front of new people and create fans if I decide to crowdfund again. (It remains to be seen if we can make money from the actual streaming.) Negotiations: I sent the contract to an entertainment lawyer who didn’t see any red flags. And in my negotiations with S&S the most important thing to me was making sure that when I secure funding, I can make more episodes – which they wholeheartedly support, even if it means I have to take our eps off S&S.

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Wow, that’s great. They sound pretty accommodating.

Follow-up: How did you find your entertainment lawyer? What’s that dynamic like?

tricky question – you’ll have to wait and see. I have 6 more eps written – but this is actually a great question for another reason – flexibility.

When I’ve been in pitching situations – and particularly the ones that have ended with getting a contract – I’ve had a clear idea of what I bring to the table while allowing myself to be flexible with what the channel or production company wants to accomplish. ie) for Maxim Mag, the CEO said our readers like: sex, disgusting things and watching people in “jackass kind of pain” – no comment btw – but then my partner and I pitched a series of dating advice videos for guys which used old-school style PSA’s for things like the dangers of wearing a pleated pant, or getting mooseknuckle on the subway – gross but I could put my humor thru that filter.

I aim to do something similar with Best Thing. If I’m working with a production company who wants to further discuss egg-freezing I have an episode for that. Or perhaps the people I’m working with want to talk about a couple experiencing infertility or even a miscarriage, I am prepared to write about those topics – I’d love to write about those topics.

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I asked a friend for her lawyer – was hoping he’d work pro bono. In the end he charged me $100. But I’d work with him again.

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