On May 19th, 2015, I called 911 for the first time because my roommate couldn’t stop puking up blood and after spending approximately 15 hours in the ER with him, I didn’t eat for the next 2 or 3 days.
This is a blog about food, and my strange love/nope relationship with it. Love because I feel very passionately about certain foods and enjoy eating, nope because my immediate reaction to stress, anxiety, or being busy is skipping meals or full days worth of food. Continue reading “My love/nope relationship with food”→
I’m a very picky writer, and that’s starting to bite me in the butt as I go back on the job hunt, desperate not to end up as a barista again. I’m also a jumble of confusing and sometimes unrelated skill sets and strengths as a human in the workforce, which means my poor butt is not looking forward to the end of this metaphor. Moving on. Apologies to my butt. Continue reading “Writer?”→
I have always been a shameless self promoter, but now that I’m attempting to join an industry built on networking and chance, I’ve gotten so much worse. Now, even in my Facebook bio, I have to make reference to the fact that I’m an indie filmmaker, that I have an award-winning web series, and that I work at MTV. All these things are things that will hopefully eventually impress someone enough to give me money or a TV show. Continue reading “Face Person”→
I have made no secret of how proud I am about my web series, Brains (2 complete seasons plus extended universe projects online now!) or my friend Chris’s web series, Relativity (complete miniseries online now!), which I produced. But the thing about making films or series, particularly in the independent sphere, is that no one cares without them laurels.
These are laurels:
Essentially, laurels are the fancy little images you get if chosen to be in a film festival, to promote their festival as well as promote that you got in. They’re a badge of honor for any filmmaker, because it means your film/series was chosen out of many other submissions to be screened or highlighted or otherwise. It adds prestige and viability to your image and is an invaluable way to build credibility to continue in the industry.
The image above is a collection of all the laurels my web series, Brains, has collected thus far. It’s incredibly gratifying to look at, although many of the festivals we’ve been in were online only (meaning no live screening with an audience) and none of them are eligible to add to our IMDb page, because they don’t qualify as “legit” in the eyes of the people who make those kinds of decisions. And here’s the major thing I want to talk about today:
The entry fees are too damn high!
I appreciate and love every festival who has let our weird little series into their ranks, but most of them are low prestige and were either free or very cheap to submit to. That’s good and bad for us: good because we can afford them and because more people will see our content, bad because many of these festivals are small enough that we can’t leverage our inclusion for funding or respect in the larger, more prestigious world of “legit” indie filmmaking.
Why not submit to an award show like the Webby Awards? It’s literally designed for content like ours!
THE WEBBY AWARDS IS THE LEADING INTERNATIONAL AWARD HONORING EXCELLENCE ON THE INTERNET. (via)
Even if we chose to only submit for comedy series, a single entry submission for the Webbys is $385. That’s 1/6 of the money we made from IndieGoGo to make the entirety of season 2. For 3 entries, the total submission cost is OVER HALF OUR BUDGET.
How can you honor excellence on the internet, a place where anyone with a camera and a dream can make content, by charging this submission fee? You know who you’re ACTUALLY honoring?
Don’t get me wrong- Krysten Ritter was incredible in Jessica Jones. But talk about unfair competition. She probably makes more in an hour than we spent on BOTH our seasons. Good god.
This is bigger than one festival, though. The Streamys, another online-specific award show, at least have a flat fee when submitting one project for multiple categories, but that fee is still a non-refundable $95. And to get ahead in the world of indie filmmaking, or entertainment in general, you can’t just submit to one or two. Here is Brains’s track record just from a single submission site (FilmFreeway, which I would absolutely recommend)
And that’s just for the first season.
Bottom line: if your film festival is specifically for independent projects or online projects but your submission fee is over $30/$50 (per category especially, but also per project), maybe you should reconsider who you’re doing it for.
We cannot compete in this market. We cannot afford to, and that’s insane. The whole point of creating things independently is doing cool things with fewer resources on your own terms, but this process of paying insane fees to submit our hard work for consideration and viewership is disheartening and unfair.
If I had $385 (the fee to submit to a single category at the Webbys, I’ll remind you) I’d use it to make more projects, not submit it to your elitist “indie” festival, because apparently, it’s “make things” or “maybe get considered for an award that could bring new credibility and prestige to your cast and crew.”
I talk a big game about being an indie filmmaker, but the truth is, at this moment in time and space, I’m struggling with it. There are two reasons for this: Trump and knowing what the hell I’m doing. Let’s, as they say, explore! Continue reading “I’m in my head”→
Now that I have two complete seasons of Brains online, a short film about to be sent off to festivals, two spin offs of Brains (that I wrote/ co-wrote and helped produce), and my friend Chris’s web series Relativity (that I produced, among other things), I feel confident in calling myself an “indie filmmaker/producer.” As such, I thought I would impart some things I’ve learned in reaching this new level of broke artist, both tangible and intangible.
If you can do it yourself, do it, but also sometimes it’s ok to delegate.
Only delegate after having more than one conversation with someone about what said delegation entails. You cannot expect someone you’ve just met to do things the way you want them to, because you just met them and how are they supposed to know all of your insane rules??
Good audio is worth taking time on/throwing money at
Good audio is the hardest thing to attain with no time or money, but it is more important than almost anything else
Ask for help, even when you don’t think you need it
Be prepared to do everything yourself, but try not to
Always have food available
Bonus lesson: people really like fruit snacks
Write within your means, but remember that your means can expand the more people you meet
Latch on to talented people, continuously thank them for their help, and praise them incessantly so they’ll be inclined to help out again in the future
Be nice to everyone. Not only should you do this anyways because common decency, but also because the indie film world is small AF and you can’t afford to burn bridges
Don’t start production before you’re ready- a healthy and thorough pre production process will make everything better and smoother at every step.
Sometimes you’re going to have to start production before you’re ready.
Communication is more important than anything, even audio.
Don’t fight on set.
Fight after set, then make an effort to fix the problem. It’s not about winning, it’s about effectively solving issues and finishing the project.
Press releases are super important. They are also a bitch to write.
Reaching out to press is super important too, and it’s the most awkward thing in the world.
Create a project-specific, production company-specific, or otherwise seemingly third party email address with which to reach out to press with. This way you don’t have to send emails like “Hi my name is Bri Castellini- please write about me and my show. I am amazing and you should promote me”
Learn to say “ok- how?” instead of “we can’t do that/that won’t work.” I’m bad at this but I’m working on it.
Schedule people as far in advance as possible, then periodically remind them about it.
Mid 2016, a crazy idea came about. I was slogging through Brains season 2 production and already feeling the bottomless depression over likely not getting a season 3 when it occurred to me that the Brains universe was pretty big. I mean, it was a worldwide apocalypse- Alison’s campus isn’t all that’s left in terms of survivors, in terms of people whose lives have been forever altered. And then I chatted with filmmaker friends and family and then it was official: we were gonna do some extended universe spin off projects because I couldn’t let it go yet. Continue reading “Brains EU: A reflection”→