Hey, I’m back!
In addition to working on the migration of this site (hopefully you’ll notice — or not notice — that all archival posts are now reformatted), I’ve been putting some serious time into helping out some fellow NYU alumni who have put together pilots for web series.
It’s called — and yes, this is a mouthful — the Spring 2010 Tisch West and Writers Lab West Web Series Showcase. From a batch of thirty or so proposals, an industry panel narrowed it down to ten. Scripts for those ten were workshopped over about two months, then the filmmakers had to go out and shoot them, leaning on fellow alumni for cast and crew. Six of the final pieces were selected by the judges to showcase. Check them out.
I happen to know they shot and edited for low budgets — I think most were a few thousand dollars or less — and in a time frame of about two months. NYU itself did not provide any direct resources, but the winning six filmmakers each won a $250 prize. The alumni group I work with, Writers Lab West, which is part of a greater NYU Alumni universe, organized the whole thing. It was really fun bringing in guest speakers to the workshops and working with the filmmakers to hone the scripts.
These series show what you can do with limited resources, and I’m very pleased that the final projects are all unique — and very much in the individual voices of the filmmakers. The idea of breaking them up into three, five-minute episodes was kind of arbitrary, but I think it provides a good model if you’re thinking of launching a web series. This is just small enough to be possible to do with limited resources, and just long enough to tell a more complete story and give a sense of what the whole web series would be like.
If you only have time to check out one, my sentimental favorite is Nothing is Cool. It’s a parody of the indie music scene, and Chris Punsalan, the writer/director, used to be in indie bands, so it comes from a very real sense of that world. He actually scripted and shot more than was needed for just three episodes, and is considering putting together a feature version of the story. I hope he does.
One of the things we stressed in the workshop is that your job isn’t done when the edit is over — it’s just starting. The filmmakers all considered how to get the word out. One of Chris’ ideas is to have the fake hipster band from Nothing is Cool (“The Moustache Bravado”) play some real gigs (with actual musicians playing behind them). This is just the kind of unorthodox buzz-generating stunt that I think all filmmakers should be thinking about: something that supports the story and is entertaining in its own right.
Anyway, I’ll be keeping an eye on all these cats and rooting for their success so I can say I knew them back when.