Tara Jayn (Social Medium, Imaginary Friends) Content Creation

Welp if you’re here I’m sure you kinda already know what we’re up to today, talking about making stuff and having fun. My name’s Tara Jayn! That’s okay. There’s no reason you should know my name. I’m just like you, a hustler trying to make my way in an industry I love.

I’m gonna make this fast so we can get down to business! Here’s some highlights.

-My IMBD, whoop! Isn’t it pretty.
-I come from theatre folk and I got the “self-produce” bug producing and directing plays.
-I love acting and even more I LOVE television and movies so in 2006 I moved to Los Angeles.
-The WGA went on strike in 2007… Yikes. So I went back to self producing and with my writing partner, Natalie Lynch, made over 70 Youtube videos.
-I produced and starred in the transmedia series SOCIAL MEDIUM.
-I co-wrote, produced and starred in the award winning short film IMAGINARY FRIENDS.
-I’ve crowd funded on IndieGoGo. Yikes again.
-You may have also seen me on PARKS AND RECREATION and if you didn’t blink GREEK and GREY’S ANATOMY (both which are fun Hollywood type stories and experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything).
-Worked for Desert Wolf while they were in production on PENNY DREADFUL Season 2 and GENIUS (some NDA action there but here’s a fun word I learned while on the job, Quickbooks).
-I’ve got a new Youtube show called NATALIE AND TARA TRY STUFF. Ever eaten live octopus… I have and I blame our show.
-I have massive dyslexia! Like how do you spell deafeningly… defenintly… definintaly… definitely! I am definitely dyslexic, very, very dyslexic.

Point is I’ve spent sometime working on my dream projects other peoples projects. I’ve seen some stuff. And I’m hoping I can relay all the things I’ve learned and keep you from making some of my mistakes.

So go on! Ask me anything!

UPDATE: Well hey guys, that was fun. I hope I was helpful at least in some small way. My best advice is to keep making content and making friends. We all have days of massive doubt, no one has got it all together or knows exactly what they’re doing. Just keep moving forward and be excellent to each other!

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Hi Tara! Thanks so much for being here today! Can you talk a little more about how you got started in producing, and all the intricacies that go with it? Where did you learn producing- a mentor, a class, or just by doing it over and over?

Why did you decide to do a prequel season for Social Medium before season 1 proper? What do you think you got out of that? And will there be another season?

I learned producing the hard way, just doing it over and over. I come from theatre folk (my mom’s a director/producer/costume designer, my step father’s a lighting and set designer) and during my college years I caught the bug for self producing in my directing class and began to produce and direct theatre. Much to my parents dismay though, I did not go on to become a great theatre director. I LOVE movies and I’m OBSESSED with television, so I moved to Los Angeles, and to make things more interesting, I moved to LA to be an actor.

But in 2008 when the WGA strikes happened and the economy tanked, big changes occurred in the way the entertainment industry functioned. I went back to my self producing roots and started making Youtube content.

We started with a cheap camera and a tiny budget (usually spent on pizza) and over the last 10 years I’ve slowly added to my list of people I enjoy working with and our budget size. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and maybe I would have been better off getting some formal training but I had no idea I would enjoy producing or be any good at it until I was forced to find out.

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What do you think are some of the biggest mistakes young/new producers make, and what would your advice be to sidestep them?

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Hi Tara!!! Congrats on everything!! Were Social Medium or Imaginary Friends SAG or SAGNew Media? Was that confusing, or hard? OR would you recommend it?

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What are some enduring changes that the WGA strikes brought about that filmmakers today should be aware of?

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Man! I would LOVE to do another season of Social Medium but like so many shows I do think it’s in the cards for us.

Originally I found the concept for the show on twitter through a series of tweet written by our shows creator and head-writer, Brain Newlin, and I convinced him to let me make it. I had auditioned for Frankenstein MD recently and during my research for the show I fell in love with the style. So here I had this show on my hands that I felt would be an amazing fit for the transmedia style but no real experience making that kind of content and nothing to show that I could or how it would work (transmedia was still so new that I had trouble even getting people brains wrapped around the concept. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE, THESE SHOWS HAD WONS EMMYS!!!)

So Brian and I talked it over and decided to back up the story line as far as we could and make it on a micro budget just to get a proof of concept together and maybe start building a fan base.

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Wow, that’s great! Too bad about no new season probably though. Speaking of Emmys… didn’t you guys campaign for that last year? What was that like? Would you do it again?

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Hey Thank you!

Yep! I’m a card carrying SAG member since 2008 so everything I’ve ever made has been SAG.

It’s not hard, it’s a lot of paperwork, and now they’ve added a new hoop to jump through, production insurance.

I like being SAGNew Media because I feel that it opens up my pool of actors to everyone (a LOT of my friends are also in the Union) but it figuring out the insurance can be a bear and production expense right out of the gate.

So if you’re new roll with non-union for a while. Just to get your feet under yourself but when you can go for it. Cause honestly production insurance can be a pain to pay for but so is something going terribly wrong and you being on the hook for it.

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Hey Tara! waves Thanks so much for joining us today, and for taking the time to do this AMA with us. Have you ever had to coordinate production from a distance (meaning working with actors based in different cities)? I’m doing that on my web series, and I was wondering what you’d suggest to make that process more efficient in terms of scheduling and organization.

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As a filmmaker we hit a vin diagram for self-producing. Between technology advancing, project like Doctor Horrible opening up the suits minds, and just the rules changing we entered into a bit of a wild west.

10 years ago the only way to get your show made way to go thought the network system. Now you can make your show or film and even if you haven’t gotten a lot of heat on the internet, it’s actually possible to get it in front of the big boys and get pushed to the next level.

Now lets be realistic, just because you make something and put it on the internet does not mean that in two weeks your phones gonna be ringing with offers BUT they do have people scoring the internet looking for the next big thing.

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How much does that cost, because doesn’t the New Media certification thingy require like a down payment or something? Before even factoring in the insurance??

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Social Medium was really high quality, but your new short film took production value to a whole new level- can you talk about what changed between projects? What you learned that changed your process or approach?

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Hey! Thanks for having me!

YES! I have been where you are. My short film ROOM 313 was filmed in Houston, Texas and pretty much 75% of SOCIAL MEDIUM pre-production was all done virtually. GoogleDocs is my favorite thing, especially since they have phone apps, I can’t tell you how many production meetings and writers rooms happened over Skype.

Most importantly, you need to be well organized and very clear when writing emails. Spreadsheets and to do list are my way of life, and Pages is still my favorite for that.

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hey tara. just looked at the social medium website- you had sponsors like yelp, loot crate, and match.com… how did that come together, and how do you think it benefitted your show? great design work by the way, on the thumbnails and sets. really dig the look of your show- i’ll definitely check it out after this.

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Thanks so much, Tara! Really appreciate it. I’ve worked on some spreadsheets, and have made a to-do list for tasks I still need to accomplish for this season. It’s still a matter of trying to get people on the same page, schedule-wise. I do my best to communicate what I want from everyone, and what objectives I want to achieve, even though I’ve been known to change my mind from time to time…

Unless something drastic has change in the last 6 months, there shouldn’t be a downpayment to SAG-Aftra. If you pay your actors you’ll need to put into the Pension and Health fund, I believe its 17% of what you pay them.

Correct me if I’m wrong but it should be free other wise. Don’t hesitate to call them! They’re very nice, overworked but down to help and answer questions.

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Since you’ve been around the web series community for a while now- what are some troubling trends you’ve noticed in the community, and what are some exciting ones?

Thanks! I really had some crazy talented people working on my set design, wardrobe and all that good stuff.

For SOCIAL MEDIUM what I really needed was to be able to use the products and company names for the show. It was crucial to be able to actually say “Yelp” and not just make up another company. So my ask for them was really small. It was still a lot of hoops to jump through but I was very clear and specific on what I needed and it got me the products and freedom I wanted.

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