10 Things Web Series Actors Should Know

10 Things Web Series Actors Should Know

We watch a lot of films and web series here in the Screening Room, but since we’ll never manage to watch everything, every so often we try to reach into the community and find out what the filmmakers and creative types who produce all of this great content are watching. While we’re there, we try to pick their brain about another topic near and dear to their hearts. This edition we are talking to web series actors and asking them:

As compared to working on more traditional, commercial projects, what would you tell someone who wants to get into web series / independent film?

If you’re in a big hurry, scroll to the bottom for the readers digest version.

Annemarie Pazmino – Actress – Compulsions

As compared to working on more traditional, commercial projects, what would you tell someone who wants to get into web series / independent film?

I would tell them go for it!! Web series and Indie films have the potential to be just as good, if not more so, than some of the bigger budget films. Just because a project has a smaller budget doesn’t mean that everything is sacrificed. As a young actor, it’s possible to land a large budget film and have a role that isn’t really something you can put your teeth into. Often times Indie films and web series can offer an actor something that isn’t necessarily mainstream but really fun and enticing. The awesome thing about Indie projects is that there usually isn’t such a need to make a large amount of money to reimburse the large budget and so projects that people really believe in, are able to get made.

What has been your biggest challenge with your current project? What other web series have you been watching for inspiration/entertainment during production.

My biggest challenge on Compulsions was the shooting schedule. It was probably one of the fastest shoots Ive ever been involved in. When your moving so fast, things can feel a little hectic but the crew and the cast were all so amazing that it really felt like everything was going as smooth as was possible within the time that we had. I’m really excited to see how the show turns out.

I have to say I was watching my co-stars web series for entertainment. Craig Frank is on two other web series called The Crew and Craig and the Werewolf. He is so funny and talented, I was a fan from the very beginning.

Citations

Compulsions
Sorority Forever
Shoot the Hero
Annemarie Pazmino

Eden Lake – Actress / Model

As compared to working on more traditional, commercial projects, what would you tell someone who wants to get into web series / independent film?

You probably aren’t as monetized as a network/studio project. That’s OK, you just have to run a tighter ship. Have shot lists, qualified crew who know their jobs, and things like extra battery’s, extension cords, bottled water & Kleenex.

Anyone willing to spend their time as cast or crew on your project is likely giving their time freely, for a stipend, or for a nebulous percentage if the project is ever profitable. Treat their time as valuable. Just because a crew member is cheap, doesn’t mean they’re worth slowing the whole shoot down. If one person is sandbagging, have the balls to fire them.

Respect actors schedules, try to shot load in a way to maximize all characters time on set to completed scenes. Be honest with yourself and the actors about how long the commitment will be to your project. Don’t set unrealistic call times – don’t call actors at 2 if you won’t have anything set up until 5 unless they have sfx makeup to do.

When you cut an actor significantly out of the final edit, give them a couple of their best ‘cut’ scenes for their reel. Credit actors accurately.

Have an extra plate of cookies for when you go 5 hrs over and no one is bitching but you are all starting to fade.

Say thank you.

What has been your biggest challenge with your current project? What other web series have you been watching for inspiration/entertainment during production.

I’ve been cast in a lot of shorts for festival submission lately. Its nice in that I can move on to new roles and have diversity in character options.

But…I have had one ‘neverending short’ that’s been 1 day from completion for 3 months now. That’s the one hardship with indie filmmakers…lack of resources/funds sometimes cause things to take longer than maybe they should.

I have empathy though, I am so far behind schedule myself on my own production schedule I can’t even begin to explain it… Move 80 miles, dog dies, transmission pukes… It happened to me this summer too.

So, I’m going to edit a short that’s web only in the next couple weeks due to equipment available at the time I shot. Then I’ll film two shorts for festival submission that are already cast. Shooting a social documentary & writing a 5 min serial will round out the winter.

That and I’ll stay committed to ‘Empty Reflection’, the never ending short. Its good film karma.

As for inspiration, I watch clips all over. From YouTube & mainly through recommendations, links, and mentions from other sites like twitter feeds & magazines I read. I am also browsing your site and filmannex.com to see what’s coming out of other countries etc.

Citations

“Empty Reflection” Director Chris Allen
Eden’s Company, Core 98
Model Mayhem

Judalina Neira – Actress – Blogging Badly

As compared to working on more traditional, commercial projects, what would you tell someone who wants to get into web series / independent film?

It’s a super flooded market and a HUGE undertaking. Before you go and create your own vanity project just for the sake of…vanity… make sure you have

a) a great idea,
b) a target audience that wants this content and will watch it,
c) the wherewithal to see it through from inception to completion,
d) a marketing plan that’s above and beyond putting it on youtube and pushing it onto your already exhausted friends,
e) the funds or access to equipment to shoot it at a quality that will appeal to an audience
f) a release schedule

I’ve acted in a few different web projects – some still haven’t seen the light of day. Others were edited within a week of shooting and got me my footage already (of course, I far prefer those!)

Enlist the help of your cast and crew. You cannot promote a show on your own, nor should you try.

What has been your biggest challenge with your current project? What other web series have you been watching for inspiration/entertainment during production.

Money is always a problem… with “Blogging Badly” we want to launch with at least six episodes in the can, and sorta “blew our load” pulling favors to get the pilot and first two episodes shot. Luckily, we’ve really jumped head first into our target audience community (attending tech conferences, being active on Twitter, etc) so we have viral footage to work with until our launch date.

It takes 10 times longer to shoot, edit, create a website, build a following than you think. We’ve been so attractive to investors, crew, cast, etc because we treat it like a business. Our entire first season is scripted already. I send episode samples along with an 8 page marketing kit on the show that has an entire page on “Revenue Streams” including a section on branded content, product placement and merchandise.

I have friends over at “DuckNCover” who’ve been a huge help/lots of free advice. (Plus webseries guys pretty much cream themselves when they meet a cute girl who wants to talk about their HVX200.)

Just booked Spike TV’s “1,000 Ways to Die” which will be airing this spring.

I’m on Twitter @BloggingBadly and @TheJudalina

Citations

IT Casting
Join the Mosaic
Operation:Nightshade
Blogging Badly

Al Ghanekar – Actor – Reservation

As compared to working on more traditional, commercial projects, what would you tell someone who wants to get into web series independent film?

Take enough time to ensure that individual episodes have enough content to stick with people until the episode next week, but not so much that it loses the audience’s attention. A five minute video, used to be the sweet spot, however now that viewers are getting used to watching full-length shows online, more time can be added to each episode.

What has been your biggest challenge with your current project? What other web series have you been watching for inspiration/entertainment during production?

[My biggest challenge is] getting into my character’s mindset in regards to where the current scene fits chronologically into the story. I try to make it a point not to know any more about the overall story than my character.

This is a pretty unique web series. The ones that I have scene are mainly comedies. However I watch cop movies and cop shows like Numb3rs and Fringe, to help study characters’ demeanor. It helps when you’re playing a black ops agent.

Citations

IMDB
Demo Reel

James Nalitz – Actor – Reservation

As compared to working on more traditional, commercial projects, what would you tell someone who wants to get into web series / independent film?

1. Actors do not go before the camera because they crave anonymity. Working in a web series guarantees immediate planetary exposure upon release of the first episode.

2. Since you’re not in every episode and episodes are usually under 10 minutes, you can always fit shoots in around other work. So when an auditioner asks, “What have you been working on lately?”, you always have a current project.

3. Working with an ensemble cast and crew for months or perhaps years enhances everyone’s performance.

4. More than most other vehicles, a web series gives the actor ownership of the role. Portraying the same character through multiple episodes leads you to believe you know him better than the writer (who is busy with all those other characters), “Don’t you think John would do it – say it – this way?”

What has been your biggest challenge with your current project? What other web series have you been watching for inspiration/entertainment during production.

With episodes that follow maybe in the same or next day but shoot weeks or months apart, actors must be attentive to their look. Hair length and color may change from season to season but not from episode to episode. Actually, my biggest challenge has been logistical. When the series started, I lived about a half hour from production offices. Now I live about 7 hours away. They have been very considerate about combining my scenes over a couple of days to limit my travel.

Other online content to check out: g14’s earlier weekly shorts which, while primarily individual shorts, includes mini-series Stone and MacGregor, Joey and Hiroko and Jeff and Toaster. Also, a more recent production that cracks me up: Ken Arnold’s ParaAbnormal.

Citations
Where’s Duff
Capital Artists, North Carolina
IMDB

Craig Frank – Actor – Compulsions

As compared to working on more traditional, commercial projects, what would you tell someone who wants to get into web series / independent film?

If you want to get into webseries or independent film, go for it! It may be the only time you get to express YOUR creativity. I hate it when people throw studios under the bus, but, at the risk of sounding like I am, there are times when executives make decisions based on what they feel will sell tickets. With webseries/independent films, you’re normally hired based on your ability and not on previous box office success or how many albums you’ve sold. And, if nothing else, you’re working the muscle. It’s a learning platform for those who understand that success is never final.

What has been your biggest challenge with your current project? What other web series have you been watching for inspiration/entertainment during production.

Not to brag, but with Absolute Disaster, I normally have multiple projects at any given time. And, for some odd reason, people think I’m talented, so they offer me parts in their projects. That, in itself, is a challenge. I’m always looking for subtle differences in the different characters that I play and I don’t normally have a lot of time to fully develop them. I often feel that certain characters are underdeveloped and based mainly on instinct rather than a journey. But until (if) I have the opportunity allotted to those like a Daniel Day-Lewis or a Forest Whitaker, I’ll have to either learn how to work faster or hope that people continue to believe in me.

As for the second part of the question, I’m a big fan of “Dorm Life,” “2/8 Life” and anything from Big Fantastic. That being said, I’m really bad with watching other webseries. I’m more a fan of traditional film and television.

Credits

IMDB
Absolute Disaster
The Crew
Compulsions

Stephen Evans – Actor – Moxie Spendlove

As compared to working on more traditional, commercial projects, what would you tell someone who wants to get into web series / independent film?

Be flexible, acting in a web series might take a lot of time. Your every spare moment could be spent filming or you could be done in a day. It depends a lot things going smoothly. Things almost never go completely smoothly. Be prepared to also become part of the crew. If you’re on set you’re probably going to be holding something or moving something, maybe helping out with wardrobe changes and makeup. The best thing about working on a web series though is just how different it is than a normal show. A web series can be about literally anything if someone has an idea they can turn it into a web series. It really opens the door for so many different types of roles.

What has been your biggest challenge with your current project? What other web series have you been watching for inspiration/entertainment during production.

The biggest challenge I’ve had is the large breaks between filming. I’ve completed about a third of my filming for season two of Moxie Spendlove but due to cast and crew having jobs and lives we shoot on a “when do you have time?” basis. Which means it’s sometimes over a month between scenes. It’s also awful to go months without a real haircut while trying to keep your hair consistent with a scene you shot two months ago. Thankfully though the bulk of my scenes left to film are with myself. Of course that creates its own new set of challenges. Split screen acting is unlike anything I’ve ever done but the director’s been really supportive.

Other web series I’m watching:

The Guild, There Will be Brawl and Dorm Life have been my staples. I of course can’t wait for Riese the Series, every preview I’ve seen looks amazing.

And here are two credits for things I’ve been in that are available online

Citations
Magic Paintbox (as Chip)
Moxie Spendlove (as Pervin Mercury)

Readers Digest Version

1. Often times Indie films and web series can offer an actor something that isn’t necessarily mainstream but really fun and enticing.

2. Quite often the shooting schedule will be much faster than a commercial project.

3. Make sure everything is prepared on set: shot lists, crew, and even things like food and water.

4. Understand that there is a chance that the project will be delayed or may never see the light of day.

5. You need to be willing to help promote your own work. Without a huge marketing budget it’s the only way it will be seen.

6. It’s going to take ten times longer to shoot than you expect it will.

7. Since you’re not in every episode and episodes are usually under 10 minutes, you can always fit shoots in around other work. So when an auditioner asks, “What have you been working on lately?”, you always have a current project.

8. You need to be attentive to your look. Since shoots can take place days, weeks, or months a part you need to pay attention to ensure continuity.

9. More often than Studio projects, you will get hired onto a web series because of your talent rather than how many “tickets” they believe you will sell.

10. Be prepared to also become part of the crew. If you’re on set you’re probably going to be holding something or moving something, maybe helping out with wardrobe changes and makeup.

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