I’m pretty sure my cell phone bill data will be through the roof this week from all of the texts, emails, tumblr posts, tweets, photos, what have you I’ve made this month, all in the name of producing.
For several months, my good friend Tiffany and I have been trying to figure out a project for us to work on together. I met Tiffany because of Squaresville-she plays my character Esther’s antagonist, Shelly, on the show-and what started as a girl that I admired that joined our inner circle early on became one of my really good friends and someone I keep wanting to work with even after her time on the show was over. We did a small sample project that I put on my YouTube channel-literally us improving while we were ‘working out’-that got some notice and we wanted to come up with a new project, but we were stumped until she called me one night with an idea to create a new web series. After taking a lot of meetings and brainstorming sessions and making the calls and finding friends and doing casting and all the things you need for production, we shot the first batch of what I have been affectionately referring to as “The Thing.” Now that we’re in post-production and beginning to look at avenues for launch and anyone we can take a meeting with before we tell the world what we did over two weekends, my data plan is currently about to explode and I’m having a crash course in how to produce low-budget and on the fly.
I have been wanting to get into producing/development for a while. I always knew that acting was just one avenue I wanted to pursue in this business, and since I’ve been working for a long time in the industry, it’s only natural to peek around the curtain and step behind the camera while I get my makeup done and memorize my lines. I, of course, also want to develop my own scripts, but my confidence in writing isn’t exactly 100%, so being a producer and getting the business/marketing end of the deal on my first producing/acting hybrid is a pretty sweet deal, especially since I’m Making A Thing with a really wonderful friend of mine who is also one of my favorite people to work with. I even said in our last production meeting how seamless and EASY this set was run, and it was one of the most efficient jobs I’ve ever done, and I’ve been on jobs where we’ve shot 11-14 pages a day (i.e. “Pizza,” “Squaresville,” etc.).
Now that we’re in our next phase, it’s my turn to step up to the plate and go to that next level. Not going to lie, I feel a bit of pressure that things won’t work out; this is my first time doing the whole ‘producer’ gig and sure, I have connections and favors and friends and what not, but we want this to be Something, not just A Thing. We didn’t do a kickstarter, we didn’t make a lot of noise, so really the big HELLO! to the world is on our shoulders to at least give this a fighting chance, so there’s a lot riding on this. But this is the first time in a while (if at all, really) where my opinions on creative, production, AND marketing/PR matter to the end discussion, and that’s AWESOME. I have a lot of opinions, and it’s nice to be heard to help make the show the best it can be. We’re still in the early stages of post-production, but we’re excited to show the world what we’ve made, and I’m very proud of it.
The idea behind producing is simple-you create something. You gather together your resources, your budgeting, your ideas, and you create something. For some reason, up until this point, I had put the idea of producing something on this pedestal, like ‘once I get on a series again I’ll start to figure out how to do producing’ or ‘oh maybe I can actually develop a project once I actually figure out how to articulate an idea.’ I didn’t think about that whole idea of just doing it and figuring it out along the way. When it comes down to it, you just pool your resources with who you want to make things with, and then you Make A Thing. You can gather your friends and a camera and create a video or a series or another project, and you can do research and make budgets and production ideas and casting, but if you really want to do something, you have to go out there and do it and figure out the rest while you’re on the journey.
You also learn a lot about who you are as a person and how you work with others, especially when you’re first starting out on the production end. For me, this has been one of the most eye-opening experiences in trying to figure out angles for marketing as well as casting and giving input on scripts that Tiffany and her co-writer Matt Blessing (who was also our director) were giving me in a very quick manner…on top of acting in it and being at work every day doing double duty of memorizing lines and being in the pocket for improvisation as well as seeing dailies and figuring out what musicians we needed to reach out to. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun if you play your cards right, and I’m glad that in this first go-around in producing, so far it’s been pretty painless. The bar has been set pretty high, so I only hope that the rest of the process is just as easy. I’ll probably be able to breathe easier later on this summer, but until then, AT&T is going to love me for the next few months for paying for their electric bill.