Let’s talk about the idea for the web series. It didn’t come all at once, but rather a sort of slow realization, like falling in love or that dream where you’ve been speaking in front of a crowd and slowly piece together from their reactions that you are not wearing pants.
While I was talking to Jay, I mentioned that, “I’m not good at girl.”
I don’t like Sex in the City. I don’t drink cosmos. I’m not crafty. I’m poorly skilled at sewing. I don’t want to birth one million babies (though babies are great). I started to reflect on whether or not anyone else might feel the same way, or if my introverted “lonely me” attitude was convincing me that it was, indeed, just me.
Somewhere after this conversation, I realized that this was the very topic to start with for a web series, because I had so many ideas that I thought it would lend itself well to something episodic. I already determined from my experiences watching a film being made that I needed to get off my ass and try it myself, and things just started piecing themselves together from there. I knew that I wanted it to be comedic and center around four women. I think the number four came naturally to me because I had just wrapped a musical stage comedy with four women in December, and the dynamic was really great. My co-stars were all smart and talented women, and it was the most fun I had ever had in a production.
I brainstormed episode ideas with my husband, and throughout the day, we kept adding more and more to the list. While reviewing my Guerilla Filmmakers Handbook I remembered that I should pick settings that wouldn’t be costly to produce in, so I decided the first episode would be a sleepover party. Adult female sleepovers are designed with a lot of expectations that I certainly can’t meet all the time, so I designed the ultimate awkward adult sleepover, complete with annoying dietary restrictions, adult coloring books, signature cocktails, sexy pajamas, and more that even Pinterest couldn’t save.
As I brainstormed with my sister Amy, she politely reminded me that for a series I needed some sort of overarching theme. At the time, I couldn’t describe it more articulately than, “There are four women who find themselves in these situations where they don’t know how to act. And it’s feminist or something.”
Mike had told me that with the saturation of so many films on the market, I needed an idea that would set me apart, that would make my work unique. This is tricky, because my inner nihilist tells me that no one is truly special and that this is a fool’s errand. Instead of embracing my unique and wonderful self, I’m exploring a topic that is really prevalent today, this recent shift in anyone giving a shit about feminism. This shift in encouraging women to get involved in career sectors that are imbalanced, including entertainment (remember that Sony hack? People still care about that) tech (oh what a gender gap there), executive business roles (Sheryl Sandberg telling us to lean in) and more. I think we are on the edge of some real change, and lots of women are dealing with the inevitable identity crises that have ensued – how are we to roll up our sleeves and become CEOs when we are taught as children to behave like a lady and not make a fuss?
So maybe my idea isn’t revolutionarily unique, but it certainly is timely.
I was bursting with excitement walking around with this idea, but I know from past experience that if I didn’t take action while I was feeling this way, it could get replaced with other seemingly more important things in my life. I knew I needed partners to keep me accountable and keep me excited about pushing this forward. I saw how Jay had his writing partner of Brian, and imagine that they keep each other going on their screenplays.
I also needed someone who had the first goddamn clue about how to film something.
My good friend Andi came to mind instantly when I first started jotting down ideas for the series. She’s smart, brave, artistic, and amazing with a camera. And my husband and I just so happened to have lunch plans with her and her husband Dustin the following weekend (part of everything falling into place). I was really nervous about how to pitch her the idea, so I brought my notes in case I completely blanked as I was trying to describe this concept to her. Luckily, my pitch was met with a huge smile and triumphant YES. Dustin mentioned that Andi had been just talking about wanting to do more filmmaking.
At lunch, we talked through the idea for the first episode, and we were instantly jotting down more ideas of how characters would react, what other episodes we could do, and other themes we could touch on. I walked away feeling more confident that this was an idea worth pursuing and that people would like it enough to join me.
My next recruit was my friend Anne, who I had done one other show with and just so happened to be married to my husband’s childhood friend. She had followed me on Twitter recently, so I practiced the proper netiquette of following her back, and I’m so glad I did. Her feed was chock full of hilarious one-liners, and I was giggling maniacally to myself as I read through each gem. Anne also has experience filming web series, so she brings a lot to the table as far the process and her ability to improvise. When I told her about the sleepover episode over the phone, she said, “So like, we’ll try and braid each other’s hair and fail miserably? I love it.” That very same idea was scribbled on the pages of my notebook from an earlier brainstorm.
Riding high from my new recruits, I met my best acting buddy Birch for coffee the next morning. We had this coffee on the books for a while, so we caught up on life and family for a while, and I worked up the courage to bring the series into the conversation. I really wanted Birch to be excited about this because she was one of my co-stars in the musical comedy I mentioned above – we work really well together, and she adds an amazing dynamic to the group. I gathered enough chutzpah to bring it up, and the excitement was back. During our conversation, I mentioned how I really valued her perspective as a mother of two boys, because Andi, Anne and I are all childless. Birch and I talked about how women are held to bizarre expectations, but mothers are held to an entirely unique and weird set of standards. I really want to be able to explore that in this series, because hey, a lot of women are mothers, and I will get to know my friend a bit better!
With my cast of four women, I feel ready to move forward, and we are meeting this weekend as a group to get started. First Andi and I will be meeting tomorrow for lunch, which is great because I see her as my partner in this gig. Then I’m doing the impossible and making a vegan gluten-free brunch for the cast on Sunday, where we will finalize the schedule, talk about our characters, talk about the show ideas and the preferred method of filming (are we doing improv? are we scripted?) and more. If there’s time, we’ll even do some shooting of some b-roll.
This is happening.