Let’s say you have a super creative and talented friend that comes up with an awesome short series and a game plan to produce it...
...so you say “yes” to life and hop on board!
Let us tell you the number one lesson we’ve learned from our many years of producing, directing, DP'ing, editing, acting, and so forth in numerous short films, pilots, web series, and so on: production is the fun part.
Production is the lights, the camera, and the action. Everyone is hyped for production: writing the script, casting the actors, drafting up a storyboard and shot list, and showing up on set with the great crafty and endless supply of coffee, calling “action” and “that’s a wrap!”, and even sometimes (if you’re lucky) exporting the final cut from your 2013 MacBook Pro that takes on average 8-13 hours to export but really would only take 15 mins on the right computer.
But no one prepares for the post- post-production slump. You sit back proudly and look at your beautifully sound-synced and color graded finished film and wonder, “What now?” Our experience planning the premieres of our recent web series The Walkers can a whole lot of insight on what comes next.
How We Started
When we first started She TV Media, we had been working together on various projects over the course of 6 years. We loved working on set together, and we both knew the frustration and disappointment that came with an unfinished project-- a project that no one could or would watch.
So, we came up with a plan to prioritize the final destination before we undertook a new project. Whether the production team was just the two of us or in collaboration with
other production companies that we were co-producing with, we made the future goals a strong part of our pre-production meetings. We asked ourselves a series of questions:
What are our big-dream goals for this project?
Netflix? HBO? Amazon Prime? You never know if you don’t try. As a female-founded start-up, we want to push boundaries in every way possible. This includes pushing ourselves to dream big.
What is a realistic goal for this project?
A smaller streaming site? YouTube distribution? Whatever happens, we want to stretch the impact of our work as far as possible. This means we may need to adapt to options that are more readily available for us to access viewers.
Are we going to put this project into film festivals?
This question launches into a whole lot of important logistical details beyond initial filmmaking: How will we pay for the application fees? How many festivals? More importantly, which festivals are the smartest for this project?
Are we going to have community screenings?
We try to center social justice and women’s empowerment in as many of our projects as possible. What would be our goal for a local screening? Where can we host the screening? Who would we want to come? How much would this cost us? What are the benefits?
The Walkers is a comedy web series about a group of misfit witches entering the realities of adult life: filled with parties, drugs, and the occasional demonic possession.
We were brought onto this project as Co-Producers by Lisset Mendoza, the series’ Creator/Writer/Director. Natalie DP’ed and Meredith AD’ed on the project as well. Over the course of a few weekends, we filmed the first three ~6-min episodes. Post-production took about two months with three different editors, and voilà! We had ourselves the pilot episodes of the series.
Once the project was finished, we sat down with Lisset to go over our goal conversation for the series. Lisset’s top goal was to build an audience. From there, our focal point became a YouTube distribution. However, the series was temporarily using copyrighted music, and we knew we wouldn’t be able to publish on YouTube leaving it the way it was. We needed an original music composition.
We decided to have an OC Premiere to gauge the audience’s interest and get any feedback for the series before we hired a composer. We brainstormed locations in Orange County for a screening and one location in particular made it very easy to move forward: The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana.
Orange County Premiere
On June 6th, 2019 at 8 pm, we held our first public screening of The Walkers. Lisset headed up the scheduling and logistics plan with the Frida Cinema and we advertised this event to our closest friends and family (people not in the film industry), who ended up being a majority of our audience. We had 20 people RSVP on the event page and over 100 people showed up to watch the series. About 10 people were random visitors off the streets who saw the crowd and joined in. All ticket sale proceeds were donated to The Frida, which is a non-profit arthouse cinema.
Overall, the screening was a surprise success! We wanted to see if this show would have an audience and we were overwhelmed with the turnout and responses from everyone who attended. We left that screening with a renewed confidence in the project, a pile of feedback questionnaires, and a bunch of text messages from our LA friends who couldn’t make it down to the OC asking when the “LA premiere” was going to be.
Los Angeles Premiere
As October approached, we began planning our Los Angeles premiere. We wanted to strategically plan it around Halloween/Day of the Dead since the show is about a gang of badass witches. This time, we would head the planning, scheduling, and logistics of the screening.
We knew just the right location: The AllBright West Hollywood. We had become founding members of the new AllBright a few months earlier and the West Hollywood building was newly opened. It was classy AF, a great central location, and the screening room was the perfect balance of intimate and grand, seating 60 people in total.
Our goal of this premiere was to fund the hiring of our music composer, Hempel&Firmont. We figured out the ticket price needed to match our composers’ fee and managed to sell out completely for the screening within 2.5 weeks! Tickets were sold out almost a week before the event date.
And on November 1st, 2019 we celebrated Día de los Muertos with an LA Premiere of The Walkers. Our audience consisted mostly of colleagues and friends in the film industry and we, again, received feedback questionnaires, which helped us to make any final changes before adding original music.
We left that screening with enough funds to hire our awesome composers, and an overwhelming feeling of pride and accomplishment in our work together.
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Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a project you need produced. Whether you're in Los Angeles, Orange County, and beyond, we’re happy to collaborate with you. Remember, individually we are capable, but together, we rise.
Natalie & Meredith