It takes a village

To make it in Hollywood you need to have a strong team behind you. No, I’m not talking about a manager, an agent, a studio head that thinks your the next great thing, or even a mentor to guide you along your way. You can have all these different people to help you, but more importantly, it is the connections you make along the journey that will be most beneficial.

I’m lucky to have found a wonderful team during the first season of a webseries I helped co-create called Wave Goodbye. What started out as pitching ideas back and forth between myself and two other people has become something real. Something that shows what I’m capable of creating, writing and producing. But no, I did not do it alone, I did it with an army of amazing and talented individuals, and god bless their hearts, did it all for the love of the project and the people behind it.

I could go into details about how the idea came to fruition, but I’ve already covered that here and I don’t want to bore you with the details. And, honestly, this post isn’t about me. It’s about the team and I’ve already spent too much time throwing around the words “I” and “me”.

First and foremost, this project would not exist without a select group of individuals. The idea wasn’t my own, but a joining of forces along with Eric Goodwin and Adam Morris. Eric wanted to do something big in scope with lots of characters and locations. Adam was the one who created and gave life to Mitch, Leonard and Autumn off of very rough character sketches. Those two are the backbone of the series and have been crucial in adding in new characters to the mix and creating the arc for the first season. They’ve also both written a handful of episodes and Eric has taken to task to direct every single episode and has been the main editor on all of them too. It is his eye and skill behind the Canon 5D that gives the show its look and tone.

Once we created the first three episodes we raised a handful of money (a little over $5k) that was used to feed the crew, rent equipment and that’s about it. Creating a feature length web series on that budget doesn’t leave much left over. Eric and I also threw some of our own money into the budget to keep us afloat as the numbers dwindled down. But we must thank each and every one of our donors, because without you, we couldn’t have made this work. Here is a list of all donors in no particular order :

Alice Schwartz, Julie Kahn, Keith Shankar, Libby Macfarlane, Lynn Dickinson, Courtney Liebowitz, Mona Robinson, Brian Ronaghan, Bob DeRosa, Dave Bullis, Alexis Niki, Sarah Alexis, Alex Hernandez, Casey Carroll, Christi Waldon, Daniel Elder, David Mulholland, Derek and Rachel Langer, Diane Williams, Elaise Piper, Ellen Sunshine, Emily Berger, James Gale, James Hutcherson, Jamie Dierks, Jeanne Bowerman, Jeff Eyamie, Jeffrey Field, Jennie Goldman, Joshua Fai, Kelly Anelons, Kelly Hofmann, Kelly Masula, Lindsay Carlson, Marcia French, Maria Moskalenko, Michael O’Neal, Miguel Duran, Nicole Hill, Noelle Buccino, Rena Wiriaatmadja, Richard (sorry no last name), Rob Hobson, Robert Carroll, Sherry T. Pete, Susan Blatt, Vivi Anna, William A. Porter, Wonder Russell, Kim Garland, Elizabeth Wayne, Little Big Film Company, M. Linares-Soto, Anne Lower, Beeks Wayne, Beth Flom, Brad Polsky, David Aldrich, Dawn Bierschwal, Eric Meyers, Gardner Grout, Geoff and Blair Marshall, Germaine de Pibrac James, Scott Horowitz, Joe Shapiro, Jolene Jahnke, Kait Nagy, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Margaret Riseley, Nancy Yuen, Thor Halvorssen, Nico Sabenorio, Lulu Kane, Barbara Flom, Cici Maher, Dutch Doscher, Jason Kesler, Michael & Tina Brand, Mom & Dad (Goodwin), Mom & Dad (Sanford), Ratbone Blossom, Ric LevisFitzgerald, Russell Southam, Tom & Lois Quinlan, Blaire Marshall, Dorian O., Paul Singleton, Ben Pieper, Bonnie Gibson, Daniel Cohen.

Remember when I stated it takes a village? That’s just all the people who were kind enough to give us a dollar or more towards our campaign on IndieGoGo and we couldn’t have shot episodes 4 through 20 without you. We owe you all stuff for the perks fulfillment and hopefully you’ll be seeing it soon. It’s coming, we promise.

But it wasn’t just our backers who kicked ass, we had an amazing cast and crew that made everything happen on set and behind the scenes. They gave up time at work, personal lives and time with friends and family to be part of this new indie family.

Our main cast consists of:

Mitch Eakins who plays Sgt. Mitch Preston. Mitch is amazing and has grown behind the scenes with each and every episode we’ve written and shot. He’s offered up his home as a location and his time to even work the set when he’s not even on camera.

Kristofer Macklin – Mitch’s sidekick and one of the most fun characters to write for. He hasn’t been in the acting game as many of our cast members, but it doesn’t show. He’s going to go far and I have no problem constantly updating his demo reel for all the hours he’s put in.

Elle Carpenter – When I first was told that she decided to do this weird Australian accent I was afraid of how things would turn out, but I dig it… oh, and there’s a reason why she has it. You’ll just have to wait for season 2 to find out. Oh, and if you haven’t check out her music yet, you should get on that.

Abimael Linares – Abby has the hardest job. Horace is the most grounded of the main characters and the closest thing we have to a straight-man (trust me, it’s true). He isn’t give all the laughs, but he has been my favorite character to write. And I promise to not give him anymore tongue twisters in season 2.

Elisabeth Carpenter – She let us use her house in the first episode and she’s been great in an ever-expanding roll as Autumn’s older and wiser sister.

Sage Carpenter-Rihs – They say to never work with kids and animals, but whenever Sage is on set it is a blast and keeps us laughing. Hopefully we’ll find more reasons to bring her smile in-front of the camera in season 2.

Paul Marshall – Paul is just as laid back on set as his character Doctor Potter is on screen.

Timothy D. McKeown – Not only is he our wonderful on set and post sound guy, but he’s stepped in to play the bum on more than one occasion.

Kaitlyn Nagy – Kaitlyn has filled in in numerous roles and has helped out behind the scenes. One of many utility players that we’ve had to help out on more than one occasion.

Jaedon Puissegur – Our Mormon/Agent who took many spills on the bicycle. For your stunt work alone people should be hiring you as I’m amazed nothing broke during the spills.

Christina Saragaglia – The mysterious woman in episodes nine and ten. Hopefully she comes back to the West Coast so we can expand on her character a little…

Trevor McKay Smith – Trevor was originally supposed to be the husband in the tow yard, but thankfully he ended up sick so he could bring the amazing Specter to the screen in future episodes.

George Spielvogel III – The wonderfully weird and creepy Deputy Guy Beaumont. Another actor who has transplanted to the east coast, we will find a way to get him back in season 2… hopefully.

The rest are listed in episode order and have only appeared once at the time of this posting:

Episode 2: Nico Sabenorio & Adam Morris
Episode 4: Catherine Lydon & Alex Wolff
Episode 6: Bobby Kraft, Patrick Quinn, Kristin Rossi
Episode 7: Stanton Prescott
Episode 10: Christopher Hayes, J’aime Spezzano
Episode 12: Steve Bannos
Episode 13: Virginia Kingston

(I will add in the actors for episodes 16 – 20 as they air so I don’t create any spoilers).

Behind the camera we have a countless number of people to thank. I know I’m going to miss a lot, but here goes (in no particular order):

Allison Scott – She can line produce, first AD, be an assistant camera operator and doesn’t complain when she’s the only one around to run some errands that would be usually relegated to a PA. If you need someone for your crew… hire her. Seriously. She was supposed to be Desiree in an upcoming episode, but paid work for a month pulled her away… so we’ll find a spot for her in the future.

Stanton Prescott – Our other key utility behind the scenes multi-hyphenate. Like Allison, Scott does it all and is a blast to be around on set. He’s even filled in when we had to break the forth wall and needed someone to act as Autumn’s camera man. Once again, another crew person I would personally recommend.

Timothy McKeown – Soundman extraordinaire. He records on set at all hours of the day/night and then he’s up all hours of the day and night doing our sound mix and design. If you’re watching the episodes on crappy little laptop speakers, pull up the episodes on your TV or Blu-Ray player with web access and listen to the amount of work he puts in. Episode 15 has so many layers that it is a shame most won’t be able to truly experience the levels of his mix. If you need a sound guy. HIRE HIM!

Sean Reilly – A recent addition to the WGB crew, but he’s responsible for syncing all the sound (we typically record on two zooms and the camera), and doing assistant editing duties for Eric. A thankless job, but he’s been a lifesaver.

Peter Joseph, Tim Kelly, Sam Kane Kraft – The three responsible for the score of WGB. Those guitars and any other mix of music is from them. They don’t work together, so it is shitty of me to put them all onto one line. I would separate them out, but I’ll wait until Eric tells me who does what.

Akash Singh – Notice how we have some amazing locations on our budget? Akash has been amazing on letting us shoot at his locations that he and his family own across all of Los Angeles. If you’d like to use any of the locations seen in our series, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Akash if it is his spot.

Maggie Macdonald – She’s helped on set in a few instances, but most importantly she’s an awesome stunt coordinator and she was around to help us with our biggest stunt in the series.

Mark Nistico – A Director that didn’t mind helping out for a couple episodes when he was visiting LA. Next time I’m on the East Coast hopefully he’ll have some shoots for me to assist on in return.

If I missed someone, I’m completely sorry. Please let me know and I’ll add you to this ever growing list. To those who read the whole thing, now you know how many people it takes… and this was only an indie crew.

Some of the actors don’t have representation and some of the crew is looking for work. I would hire (or HIGHLY recommend) the cast and crew for anything in an instant. They have become like family and I want each and every one of them to succeed in this business. Thank you to each and every one of you. If you don’t know how much your blood, sweat and tears has meant to me, Eric and Adam, know this post is dedicated to you.

We will be having a screening at the Downtown Independent Theater on Tuesday July 17th at 8 p.m. It is free to attend and WGB won’t be the only webseries. This is a chance to showcase the cast and crew’s talent to the town, so hopefully they can all continue climbing up the Hollywood ladder.

Until next time…

Journey Into The World Wide Web

For those who have known me a while know I’ve gone down the web portal several times with a couple different projects. My first foray into the webseries realm was with a little series called Porntourage (NSFW). It doesn’t take much to guess what it was about as the title gives it all away. The series followed an up-and-coming actor, but not in Hollywood, but instead on the other side of the hill. I helped a couple people with on set production and even acted in the pilot episode as a one-off. The episodes were long, right under ten minutes, in a medium that seemed to favor those that were under the four minute mark.

It was a complete learning experience. Since the series had a niche market, we really hammered on the blogs and websites that catered to adult entertainment. Several months later (with too long between each episode) and three episodes in the can, there was a chance to take the series to the next level. There was a website offering the makers of the series some decent bucks to move forward, but it didn’t match with the future of those creators. So sadly the series died a slow death. We were notified of several industry fans, made the front page of AVN (Adult Video News for those who don’t know) and were able to take away a lot of knowledge to throw ourselves into the next project. Hopefully one my parents wouldn’t be ashamed to admit their son had any part of.

So around the time the WGA Writers Strike rolled around I helped with the series Mr. Hollywood. This series was simple to produce as we had only one location and it followed the vlog style that many YouTubers were becoming accustomed to. From his fictitious Mr. Hollywood Productions, Mr. H would rant or dole out advice on a wide range of subjects. At times it was rude, crude and downright offensive. But it was fun. We’d shoot 4 to 5 episodes in an afternoon, leaving me to cut the five plus minute cuts to shorter segments under four minutes.

As a Preditor (Producer/Editor) I was able to suggest rewrites, cuts, changes, etc. I helped create the flow and the pacing of each show along with James Waugh. Once we launched we were featured on the front page of Funny or Die and had modest success across other viewing platforms, but they were always our biggest fans. I can’t remember how many episodes we shot, but there are a couple that remained unreleased as the passion for the project seemed to die out of nowhere.

The best episode to put together was our Oscar Episode. Since I was the one who had seen most of the films at the time I was tasked with writing most of the episode. Since there can always be an upset at the Oscars, we shot a line for each and every nominee in all of the main categories. It was long, tedious, but a fun task. I placed a timeline together of the episode and as each winner was announced I cut out all the loser lines, never to be seen by anyone. It was a bummer as some of the could-be award winners had the better lines. Our last episode we dubbed the Bizzaro Oscars Episode and put together a list of alternate winners.

From there James was brought on to create some web content for a pilot that HBO had picked up created by Daniel Knauf. The series Honey Vicarro never made it to air, but the webseries with the obsession of actors was a fun and quick shoot and can still be seen on YouTube. Mara Marini was awesome and pulled off the whole series with out much support from any other actors. As this was around the time LonelyGirl15 was in the news for being fake, our series was quickly dismissed as being another fake webcam vlog and viewership plummeted. But it was another fun project while it lasted.

And that was all I did for the web for a while. I learned a lot and came away wary of the outlet as a way of furthering one’s career. Hell, there really isn’t money to be made in it, so if you’re going to put all this time and effort into it, why not at least get something out of it. I never jumped back in because each idea and concept was nothing new. It wasn’t anything that people would say “holy shit, look at what they’re doing!” The web has become a place where you throw several projects against the wall and hope something sticks. That isn’t a good business model at all. So I was waiting until something found me.

Later in 2011 Eric Goodwin came to Adam Morris and I with an idea for a webseries chronicling a group of individuals as they prepared for the end of the world. We fleshed out the characters and the storylines and it became something we decided to tackle. But this wouldn’t be just another webseries. This would be an ambitious effort for any and all that signed on. We set out a number of episodes to make and release within a year that showed a passion and dedicated bunch. The arbitrary number we came up with was forty broken up into two seasons. Even at four minutes an episode that would be almost THREE HOURS worth of content released within a year. Almost two feature films worth. And the other thing, we would do it for as little money as possible. We raised a little over $5k on IndieGoGo (which came out a little under that number once fees were taken) and we jumped in feet first.

We made sure we knew who are characters were and what they want out of life. We tackled the series like a regular TV series, outlining the first twenty episode season so we know where we want to end up with this cast of characters. Tonally it kind of hits all over the place, but following great shows like Curb and Eastbound they never sit within the same tone from episode to episode. Plus, with each set of our characters being unique, it allows us to play with tone and style. Eric has been great transferring that to screen, giving the three different story arcs a different look and feel.

The only problem we have is how to actually market this and who to target. Porntourage and Mr. Hollywood were easy. They had a clear cut audience and places that we could drop fliers and stickers. Wave Goodbye is a whole different model. This is more like TV and has a broad audience appeal. Those who love journeys like Lost are the ideal audience. There’s some mystery involved, but ultimately it is the characters hopefully you’ll care about.

The numbers are a little lower than I hoped for the premiere episode, but it has only been out 36 hours with only pushing it on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (does anybody even use it anymore?). As each episode is released, hopefully our numbers grow, as with weak and anemic numbers it will be tough to pull through all forty. At least at this moment we have ten in the can, eleven written and the first twenty outlined. We’re currently ahead of our production schedule, but I want to keep the passion high. Not necessarily for me, but for the actors (as they should all hopefully land some great roles after this showcase) and for our director Eric. They’ve all given so much time and energy towards this and I want to see their careers flourish off of this project.

So hopefully you’ll take the journey with Autumn, Sargent Mitch Preston, Leonard and our fourth character who makes a quick cameo at the end of episode two. I can’t give away his name yet, but eventually you’ll learn more about him.

In the end, what is this long-winded post about. If you want to make it in this crazy business, sometimes you just have to do things yourself. You may not get the results off the first project, but hopefully you’ll take something away from it and be able to grow into your next project. Find what you are passionate about as it will help make the project a million times better. And while money isn’t the greatest on the web at the moment, don’t do it for the cash, do it to make a name for yourself and those who are in your project. Once you create a project of quality that garners some heat, Hollywood may just come knocking on your door, even if you live in the sticks…

Also, if you have a webseries or short online, feel free to post it in the comments section. This is all about promoting projects so it doesn’t just become something you threw against the wall, hoping it would stick.