Three years ago, I didn’t think I would be an active member of the web series community. Four years ago, I still thought I was going to write novels while working at an Oregon coffee shop near where I went to undergrad. At present, I live with four roommates in a much-too-small apartment in Brooklyn, making no budget web series in my spare time and then tweeting about them incessantly.
Because I didn’t know I was going to end up writing for the screen rather than the page, I took a grand total of three film classes in college, so when I decided to spend the summer of 2015 producing 3 web series, I was, to put it lightly, not prepared. Of those 3 web series, only 2 were completed, and of those 2 web series, Brains and Relativity.
I had a combined 3587 production rolls. That’s only a little bit over dramatic.
Let’s talk about Relativity first, a show written and directed by my good friend Chris Cherry. This show was filmed over the course of 2 grueling days with a grand total of 6 people: 3 actors and 3 crew members. For my part, I was an executive producer, the assistant director, the script supervisor, the media manager, the sound technician, a production designer and assistant editor. I also built the website, designed the episode thumbnails, uploaded all episodes and set up the end screens, wrote the press release, and then sent around the press release to a variety of web series friendly websites. And this was the easy series.
Brains is my baby. I love it and talk about it more than I will likely love and talk about my future children. People on Twitter may not know much about Brains or about me, but they sure as hell know that Bri Castellini created a web series about zombies called Brains. I’ve been thinking about the story of a girl dating during the zombie apocalypse with a neuropsychology slant for over 6 years now, and the fact that 2 seasons of it exist online plus two extended universe projects is something I’ll never get over. On Brains, I’m the creator, writer, executive producer, sound tech, assistant director, director for season 2 episode 8, lead editor and one of the production and costume designers. I also did the press release grind and one-woman-hype-master gig for this show, plus running transmedia accounts on Twitter and Tumblr, not to mention the official show accounts, website and both Indiegogo campaigns we ran. Did I mention I’m also the lead actress?
For the record, as proud as I am to see that all listed out, no one should do this. How did I do it?
Extreme multitasking and getting an office job. During that first summer, I was still an assistant manager at a coffee shop, which meant I was up at 4 am every day to open the cafe and anytime I was needed for a production thing, I’d have to take a bathroom break and furiously send emails from my iPhone. When I finally got an office job, things got considerably easier because I could keep my personal email open at all times and respond to problems/make call sheets/ schedule things much easier.
Ultimately, though, I managed to do all those things because I knew that if I didn’t, the shows would not get made, and I really really wanted to watch them. I also wanted to honor all the incredible work everyone else involved put into those projects- from the people who were on set with me every day for fruit snacks and thank yous, to the people who showed up to a public park at 7 am on a Saturday to put on zombie makeup and run around pretending to eat people.
Also, like, a lot of it was anxiety. As in, my brain (hey have you kids heard of the show Brains?) would punish me if I didn’t complete everything on the to do list as quickly as possible. That one’s not as fun, though, so let’s stick with this: I believed wholeheartedly in these shows, and would have done anything to make them possible.