By Sahil Patel
Last night’s Big Screen Little Screen NY event, held at Magnet Media’s offices in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, was the 58th of its kind. Hosted by web video veteran Paul Kontonis, the September meetup featured five web series presentations from a diverse group of independent filmmakers.
If you were unable to attend, here is what you missed:
“My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours”
Presenter: Marlene Rhein
Rhein previewed the pilot of her romantic/comedy web series, “My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours,” which follows a young adult woman, played by Rhein, who has to move back home with her parents shortly after getting dumped by her boyfriend and losing her job.
“What if I had to move back home with my crazy parents? I thought that would make a great show, so I made it,” explained Rhein before presenting her video.
Rhein, whose career spans a small feature film and music videos for the likes of Amy Winehouse and Tupac (“I did Tupac’s last video before he died”), raised $10,000 on Kickstarter to make the pilot, which was shot in New York City area in two days. To date, the pilot episode has collected close to 130,000 views on YouTube. While the pilot episode runs for nine minutes, the remaining episodes span 5–6 minutes.
“La Ronde in Rounds”
Presenter: Tanya Perez
This sketch comedy series from Perez follows an interesting narrative thread inspired by an improv game called La Ronde. The show begins with two characters in the first episode. The next episode follows one of the characters from the first, and so on and so forth, until the series loops back to one of the original characters by the final episode. Perez has shot only two episodes of the series so far, both of which she previewed last night (12 episodes are planned in total).
“I originally started writing this in the IAWTV writers group,” she said, adding that she wanted to do something scripted after her first web series, which mainly involved her doing improvised shows with a friend.
Perez says she does not have a distribution platform picked out yet. When asked why she isn’t distributing to YouTube, she said she wants to avoid YouTube for now because it’s “a lot of work.” “After a certain point as a content creator, you really have to promote for the [show] to do anything,” she said, adding that she wants to finish shooting all 12 episodes before she focuses on building an audience.
In the meantime, Perez has submitted the two episodes she has shot to a short-form competition and a couple of festivals.
If you want to see some of Perez’s work, check out Netflix next year, when she will appear in the second season of Jenji Kohan’s prison dramedy, “Orange Is the New Black.”
“The Happy Mommy Hustle”
Presenter: Debra Kirschner
Kirschner screened episode five of an eight-episode series called “The Happy Mommy Hustle,” which she is distributing on YouTube.
The show is about two sisters — one a working mom and the other a stay-at-home mom. The show focuses on the tension between the two and the different kinds of struggles they face in their respective positions.
“I’ve been a filmmaker and a screenwriter for a while, but didn’t have much stuff online,” said Kirschner. “This is a way for me to build an online portfolio.” Kirschner added that if the opportunity presented itself to work with a studio or network to expand on these characters, she would be excited to do so. “I have kind of fallen in love with these characters and want to continue making these episodes,” she said.
Presenter: John Basedow
Yes, that John Basedow, the fitness guru who you probably saw on TV a bunch over the past decade.
At Big Screen Little Screen, Basedow showed off his new on-the-street-interview series “Culture Pop,” which focuses on asking everyday people about trending pop culture topics and stories. In the episode he screened, Basedow asked New Yorkers questions on everything from Amanda Bynes’ descent into craziness to those two people who went under the knife to look like Ken & Barbie. This episode so far has amassed over 250,000 views.
Basedow isn’t exactly new to the web video space. He has a deal with Zazoom’s “Buzz60” to do stories for outlets like AOL, NDN, and Dailymotion.
In what might have been the most compelling portion of the evening, Basedow revealed that he is repped by Maker Studios, which he says he signed with to build an audience for his videos.
“Talking to YouTube is like pissing in the wind,” he joked. “There is no rep you can speak with. Maker is able to broker brand deals for you. They can act as an agent once you get big enough on YouTube.
When asked to speak more about his relationship with Maker, Basedow admitted that the MCN hasn’t done as much as he hoped in terms of helping him secure deals: “Maker is good at getting you the direct deposit in your account the day it needs to be, but so far they have done nothing in terms of promotion, brand deals, and other things they promised before the contract was signed.”
Talking more about distribution and marketing for the show, Basedow says he is investigating working with outlets like Blinkx and is looking for sponsors. “If you have a show with which you can guarantee 200,000 views from an engaged audience, then [brands] will pay attention,” he said.
Since signing up with Maker, Basedow has changed the format of the show from covering three topics in each episode to talking about just one topic per episode. Maker also advised him to roll out new episodes on Mondays and Wednesdays.
“Adventures of Akeem”
Presenter: Tope Idowu
The final presentation of the evening was “Adventures of Akeem,” a comedy series that follows the antics of a “randy,” girl-obsessed African immigrant living in New York City. The show is meant to celebrate “interpersonal relationships” between people from different cultural backgrounds.
The show is written and directed by Idowu, and produced by Royalty Films (USA), Teewai-Gold Productions (Nigeria), and Steve Chow, who also plays the main character.
Idowu previewed the third episode of the series, which will be distributed via a standalone website where viewers can rent to watch each new episode. Interestingly, each episode of the series is designed to be a complete, self-contained short film. In fact, episode three ran for 20 minutes.