Collaborating To Create a Web Series – Spidcast 8

Cooper Harris

Brendan Bradley

We are back with another exciting Spidcast episode this month (listen in below and subscribe on iTunes) with a focus on collaborative filmmaking. For May’s show we feature two filmmakers and actors who are both actively producing original web series. These two individuals are doing interesting things within the new media space, and it was our pleasure to have Cooper and Brendan on the show.

Enjoy May’s Spidcast show below!

Cooper Harris is a talented actor and web series creator of the pilot RELAPSE (embedded below) which won the Top Audience Award at the recent Celebrate the Web competition. The RELAPSE web show has been rumored to be fully produced in the near future, which is exciting news to its already established fan base. Cooper discusses her show and Squatters, and how collaboration means everything when it comes to getting things accomplished.

Brendan Bradley is the creator and lead actor of break out hit, and award winning web series Squatters (episode 1 embedded below). Season 2 is in full development now, leaving viewers anxious for its release in the upcoming future. Brendan talks about appreciating team members, how he leveraged collaboration to create his entertaining show, and gives a sneak peak into Season 2 of Squatters.

If you’re interested in sponsoring next month’s Spidcast show with a product or service you sell that’s filmmaking related, then please get in touch. If you have something to say with regards to what Cooper or Brendan talked about, then please post a comment below to continue the conversation. Thanks for listening, and be sure to share this show with anyone in your network who can get value from its content!

Full Show Transcript Below

INTRO

Michael: Hi. I’m Michael London and welcome to Spidcast, the future of collaborative video production brought to you by Spidvid.com. On this episode, we’re visiting with Brendan Bradley from New York City. He’s a writer, director, and creator. I bet you’ve seen some of his work and probably not known it. He has some interesting insights to share. And we’ll also visit with Cooper Harris. She’s an actress and producer of web content as well, including not one, not two, but three web series, plus some feature film work she tells us about as well.

First up is Brendan Bradley. Brendan, welcome to Spidcast.

Brendan: Hey, Michael. Thanks for having me. It’s great to be on the show. It really means a lot and it’s been great having “Squatters” actually on Spidvid. So for all the fans out there that has been watching the show, thank you so much for tuning in.

Michael: Tell us a bit about you and your story.

Brendan: I’m the creator of an online series called “Squatters”, which you can find on Spidvid and at Squatterstheseries.com. You can also see me in the recent “Video Game Reunion” on Comedy Central’s Atom.com, “Jeff and Robbie Fail History”, which is a “Subway” web series, and a new series called “The Game Room”.

Michael: And how did the collaboration benefit “Squatters”?

Brendan: Michael, film’s an incredibly collaborative medium because they’re just so many moving parts. There’s this great expression, “it takes a whole village to raise a child”, which I know is kind of cheesy but “Squatters” is my baby. But I couldn’t have begun the project without my incredible team that supported me every single step of the way.

I made “Squatters” because I wanted to have a calling card as an actor and a writer, but the further in the process I got, I realized there are editors like Scott Turner and costume designers like Jenny Green, and cinematographers like James Rhodimer, and composers like Morgan Pearse; all these people who also want to make a name for themselves in their own departments, in their own creativity, and so let them. Bringing a larger team and collaborating with them and letting everybody bring their vision to the project just helped everything rise up and raise the bar.

Especially in the web area, it is so tempting to just do everything to just do everything yourself and act like a one-man band, but I always try to surround myself with these many talented and intelligent people as I can and allow them to put their stamp on the project and then take credit for it. But seriously, I think that’s ultimately what helps “Squatters” stand out, is so many phenomenally talented people all bringing their vision and putting their stamp and having their own ownership over the project.

Michael: Great managers hire the right people and let them do their job. So tell us, Brendan, how did you attract the big names that you had in the first season?

Brendan: Over the years, I have actually been very blessed to work with some extremely talented actors who I have been lucky enough to stay friends with. There’s just nothing more satisfying than creating an opportunity to play with your friends or people that you respect. So most of the roles in “Squatters” were actually offered to people that I’d worked with before or I wanted to work with.

I met Erik Scott Smith who plays Alex Selkirk on a short film and we’ve become real life best friends, which really helped with that banter between Hank and Alex. Sandeep Parikh from “The Guild”, he actually hired me for my first commercial in Los Angeles and my first web series, the “Legend of Neil”. I really just returned the favor to him. But then there’s people like Christiann Castellanos, who plays Ramira or Matt Moy, who plays Hung, the delivery guy, who we actually held auditions in Los Angeles and New York and they had practically no credits on their resumes at the time and immediately after they shot “Squatters”, they really just started exploding, which makes me feel really good that I’m not the only one who noticed how talented they are.

To tall the actors out there, the advice I can take away with becoming involved especially in the web world, but even in the independent film world that I’ve experienced is, be reliable and fun to work with and just stay in touch and you will get hired again. But it’s all about cultivating those relationships.

Michael: An absolutely great lesson on networking as well. What did you learn from the first season that you’re applying to season two?

Brendan: God, we learned so much during the first season of “Squatters” that really just helped the show kind of evolve as we went. We shot off and on for over a year basically whenever I could save up enough money to continue shooting. And in that time, everything changed, with the web space changed, new media contract’s changed, the cameras that everybody was using changed. It’s such an exciting and fast-paced medium and I’ve really learned something new every single week.

The first thing I’m bringing to season two from the experience of season one is just to shoot everything all in one chunk with a set budget just to make it less stressful for my entire team—the cast, the crew and everybody. Just get everybody there for a month and do it right.

The other thing is people don’t necessarily find your show on the first day or the first episode. It’s something I’ve really learned that I’m trying to apply to future episodes is that the second season of “Squatters” will be a lot more self-contained and really push the boundaries of Alex squatting in that office and Hank really exploring New York City and really driving those two-story lines as far apart as we can.

Michael: What did you find was the best way to promote and get attention for the web series?

Brendan: I have to credit Felicia Day here who I worked on “Legend of Neil” and she said to tell a story that is true to you and make a show that you want to see and instead of trying to cater to what you think an audience wants. I personally love shows like “Psyche” and “Scrubs” and “Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, and “Squatters” is a hundred percent my sense of humor the way I like shows to look, the characters I invest in—all of it. I think that allows me to be totally honest with the audience. If you like what I like, you’re going to love “Squatters”. And if you don’t, no hard feelings. There’s a lot of other great shows out there.

We’ve had some support from sites that we uploaded to like Dailymotion and Blip and Stay Tuned TV. My entire PR strategy was allowing a hundred people in the cast and crew to just promote their work and feel proud of the final episodes because I really think that personal touch is what matters.

I get dozens of emails, Facebook invites, tweets, you name it, every single day and they’re all so vague. When a friend really reaches out to me and says, hey, I’m really proud of this, will you check it out? I will always take the time to watch and even comment or vote or whatever it is that can help that video and that creation. That’s been kind our key in promotion, as just being completely sincere about “we love the show”, “we’re proud of the show”, and we think the people who are like us and our friends and family will love it. It’s really helped us kind of find even a wider audience beyond our immediate circle.

Michael: Alright, Bradley, here’s the million-dollar question and of course, all pun intended, what are some tips to get the most out of a limited video project budget?

Brendan: I have to say be good to your people. I cannot stress it enough. I don’t think there’s a project in the world that couldn’t use more money or more time. The budget is always going to be limiting. If you treat your team well, they will work with you and they’ll bring their A-game every single time.

“Squatters” was burden. No one asked me to make that show. Everyday the people even showed up, paid or not paid, that was a favor to me and I really tried to honor that as much as possible by respecting what each department needed on the set and trying to give them a feeling of ownership over a piece of the project. I think that is ultimately the key to collaboration. You choose the people who bring out your best and want to bring their best to the work.

Michael: And can you give us a bit of a sneak peek into season two of “Squatters”?

Brendan: I would love to give you more than a sneak peek. The fun part about the internet is, like I said, it’s always evolving and we’re always kind of seeing what’s next. I’ve been involved with a lot of other projects over the past six months, but “Squatters” is still happening and still being worked on and I think at this point, all I can safe-fully say is we’re going to really try to keep going bigger, faster, and funnier. Really getting both Alex and Hank to fully explore those environments more like I was saying earlier. Let the love interest develop, get Alex really exploring the office and that environment, get Hank really exploring New York and a lot of other temporary housing solutions not just the comfortable pillow tops of a lot of ladies all over the city. And hey, drum roll please, maybe even resolve the bet. We’ll see how far we want to go with that.

The recent exposure like the Indie Intertube Awards and the Clicker Awards, we hoped that those will help us find financing or a sponsor that will really help us bring that next level of production to the show and to our fans. Fingers crossed everybody, for the Streamy Awards to hopefully get some love to my amazing team that just made the first season happen and really had supported me every step of the way.

In the meantime, I hope everyone will go check out episodes on Spidvid and Squatterstheseries.com. Make sure you let us know what you think and we’re also at @squattersseries on Twitter. Follow us and harass us and we just are so appreciative that people are out there watching. Thanks for having us on today.

Michael: You are so welcome and thank you, Brendan Bradley.

BREAK

Michael: You know how challenging it is to produce quality videos without the help from others who have the skills and talent you need. Well, Spidvid let’s you find the individuals you need for your video production project so you can create the internet’s next big viral hit. Visit Spidvid.com. Click the signup link and reserve you spot within our collaborative video production community today.

Next up is actress and web producer, Cooper Harris. Cooper, welcome to Spidcast.

Cooper Harris: Absolutely my pleasure. I’m excited to be here.

Michael: Tell us about how you broke into the web series world?

Cooper Harris: I broke into web series world kind of on a fluke. I and my producing partner had done numerous online commercials basically and we sold in to companies like Post-it Notes, Kimberly-Clark, Krazy Glue, and from there, since we’re both actresses, it kind of made sense then to transition into scripted content. That was right as the whole web series thing was really breaking two years ago. That’s kind of how it happened.

Michael: Cooper, how has collaboration help with the web series pilot?

Cooper Harris: I think collaboration is key in any project or any thing, but especially for web series, especially if you have a lower budget because to try to do everything yourself, it never turns out as good as what we’d hope. So I think bringing out other people whose creative vision fit yours is a really good idea. That way, you can all just fill in the chinks that inevitably will come from not having as much money as you’d want. “Squatters” was created by Brendan Bradley and I jumped on board and we produced the whole thing together from start to finish. I remember the very first reading, it was a really exciting thing to be kind of just put together and then from there, a year and a half later, we have the show.

Michael: Do you have some tips that you can share to get the most of out of a limited budget project?

Cooper Harris: Favors. That favor thing. I really do think also time management and planning, they say you can’t have the whole (league) trifecta production. You can have a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of quality, but if you’re missing one, you have to make up for in the other department. We do not have a lot of money for “Relapse” the kind that we just did (which won) “Celebrate the Web”. We also do not have a lot of money for “Squatters” either. So it was really crucial that we really planned it all out kind of even to the minute and also collaborated with people who had exceptional vision and equipment.

Michael: Now, you’ve mentioned “Squatters”. Tell us a bit about that.

Cooper Harris: Yes, “Squatters” is a web series created by Brendan Bradley and produced by myself and executive produced by Frank Kramer, who came on at the end and was generous enough to give us some finishing funds. Another example of, at least, monetary collaboration. It was really great to have him.

It’s a story about two roommates in New York who made a bet to live without paying rent for a year. It’s really fun. It’s a comedy. Dailymotion picked us up. We are to date, I believe, their number one original comedy, which is really exciting. We have everybody in there from Ryan Sypek from “Wild Fire” to Sandeep Parikh of “The Guild” and “Legend of Neil”, Tony Janning, and of course, I’m in it as Julie, the female lead, and I play an up and coming—actually, she’s a lawyer and she is kind of the girl who’s always getting away from Hank.

Michael: What did you find was the best way to promote and get viewer attention to a web series?

Cooper Harris: First of all, you want to have a really kick-ass show. That’s just kind of the basics so that when people do watch, they feel excited and not like you’re wasting their time. At least for “Relapse”, “The Celebrate the Web” pilot we did later, we were able to get a lot of kind of big YouTube personalities and people with large Twitter followings, definitely influencers, to watch the show like it and then tweet about it, which got up a huge number of votes which was how “The Celebrate Web” competition worked.

I think that was really successful for us. But again, it all hinders on having a really good and intriguing product that you’re showing people. Definitely Twitter. Facebook’s great. I actually send around good, old-fashioned email chain to my mother and all my tradition fans and North Carolina. Definitely drawing on the families, the old friends from back home who get excited to seeing what you’re up to out in California.

Then we had amazing success with “Squatters” in terms of—Tubefilter was very generous on their coverage and took a keen interest. They actually kind of broke the original sneak peek of “Squatters”. They were the first publication to do anything on it. We had a lot of feedbacks from that. Definitely targeting the online web media places. It’s really good .New Teevee, of course, Tubefilter, all of those, they’re really good.

Michael: You just mentioned something exceptionally important, that is that it all falls back in the writing and a good product.

Cooper Harris: Yes, definitely. It’s really important that when you’re pushing something, it’d be good. That sounds so basic but if you’re going to (inaudible 00:15:15) you want to give them something back. You want to reward them for the six minutes they’re spending by great writing or release fun, maybe unexpected casting choices, stuff like that. People they’ve seen in other places. Humor is always good or that tension. You got to give back.

Cooper Harris: Cooper, it’s been a bit of a challenge to pin you down for this interview. I mean that in a good way because you’ve been so very busy. Tell us where do we see you next?

Cooper Harris: I have so many different things going on. It’s a hard thing to juggle in my mind. I have a really exciting show coming up called “Mighty Woman” and that will touchdown, if you’d like to say, because she’s a superhero, in a couple of months. Of course, I also have “Relapse” coming up which is “The Celebrate the Web” pilot, which is very exciting. It sounds like it’s going to be a show. We can’t announce anything officially just yet, but that’s definitely in the works.

And a really fun, not on the web series field, but in traditional film, I have a romantic-comedy coming out called “Amy Alyson Fans”. It’s really fun because I think it’s one of the first films that really pays homage to the online phenomenon. It uses real YouTube video bloggers, like real YouTube stars in a film talking about this actress who is quickly rising to fame on the internet. It’s kind of a fun, blending, cross-platform project. I play the actress, Amy Alyson, so that should be really great. We’re screening at the (DCA) in two weeks.

Michael: Art imitating life there.

Cooper Harris: Exactly. It is kind of art imitating life.

Michael: And how about your web address? Where do we see you online?

Cooper Harris: Cooperharris.net.

Michael: Cooper Harris, thank you so much for being with us today.

Cooper Harris: Thank you so much and I really appreciate all that you guys are doing for the online video space.

Michael: Thank you for listening to our Spidcast show. We appreciate your time and attention. You can now join the conversation at Spidcast.com or on our Spidvid blog. And you can join our collaborative filmmaking community at Spidvid.com. Tune in next month for another entertaining and informative episode of Spidcast.

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