Media is changing. Producers now have the power to create their own quality work without hundreds of thousands of dollars and the greenlight of a well-established production company.
Professional-looking cameras are now accessible at consumer-level prices; the Internet provides many opportunities to raise money for a project, and outlets on which the project can be distributed. Four young LA women took advantage of this. The web series OR DIE TRYING is a product of women who had a vision and believed in it, and they are currently reaping the benefits.
What sparked the idea to create a web series, and the storyline of ODT specifically?
Myah Hollis: The idea for OR DIE TRYING actually originated from a concept for a short that Sarah and I were developing. We wanted to tell the story of a day in the life of a writer and actress living in LA, and the ups and downs of pursuing that kind of lifestyle. A few weeks later, Jenny Austin (who plays Amelia in ODT) and Sarah were discussing potentially doing some type of project together. The three of us met one day and decided to restructure the concept for the short into a series and brought Chelsea London Lloyd onboard to play Bailey.
Can you explain what the process has been like? What has been the best moments of production? The hardest moments?
Sarah Hawkins: It’s been quite a journey from inception to our current post production status–a lot of strategy, a lot of personalities, a lot of love and endurance. We’ve gone from producing a trailer to set the tone and aesthetic, to a crowdfunding campaign on Seed&Spark, to production, and now onto post!
By and large, the best moments have been seeing how well our crew worked together, and the pseudo family that formed by the time we wrapped, as well as seeing how our audience deeply relates to the story we’re creating not only onscreen but through its fruition off-screen as well. In regard to the hardest moments, for me, it’s dealing with ego, because there is just no room for it when your team is working 12 hour days, executing 70+ pages of dialogue in 5-6 days. It also puts a sour taste in your mouth when everyone else is there working day in and day out for noble reasons, for a cause, for believing in the project, etc., so we made a conscious effort to pick the very best people, as people, not just by talent alone, and I think it paid off.
How has working with a crew of mostly women been? How do you think it would have been different if most of your crew were men, as it usually is with most productions?
SH: It’s been great! I think the fact that the series is about women in film really made it that much more special to work with a predominantly female crew. In regard to men, we love men too! I think as women in this industry, we need men just as much as our fellow ladies. We need them as fellow advocates and allies, as references and referrals.
Why do you think it’s so important for women to be producing and directing?
SH: I think it’s important for women to be in above-the-line positions to not only solidify a story getting told with a female perspective, but to also advocate for hiring women below the line. How will your web series address the problems and setbacks for women in film?
MH: It’s never my intention to address the setbacks that all women in film experience, because honestly there are just too many and each person’s experience is always a little bit different. My goal was to focus on these particular women and their unique experiences, both in the industry, and in their personal lives. It just so happens that you can’t be a woman in this industry without experiencing setbacks that come with the sexism, discrimination, ageism, misogyny, etc. that has been systematically ingrained in this industry. So it was less about showcasing those issues and more about being authentic and transparent.
Can you tell me more about each character? What can we expect from them?
MH: Amelia Tinsley is a journalist, struggling with her identity and her sense of purpose, and trying to get herself back on track. Bailey Rosenberg is a comedian who is totally in tune with who she is and what she wants, but is having opposing expectations forced on her by her mother who wants her to live more traditionally. Ellie Hansen is an indie actress who is disinterested in the idea of fame at the expense of art, even though she’s constantly being pressured to “sell out.” Raegan Thomas is the creator and co-showrunner of a TV show who, although she’s doing very well professionally, is dealing with things in her personal life, and she doesn’t really have the ability to compartmentalize the two. Each character is trying to achieve a sense of balance between two dueling aspects of their lives.
What do you hope that people will take away from your web series?
MH: I hope that people take what they need from our series. Whether it be inspiration to create their own work and tell their own stories, or just the reassurance that it’s okay to be imperfect and to not have everything figured out. We wanted to tell a very human story that is filled with the ups and downs that we all go through in life, and I hope people can see a little of themselves in these characters.
What are the next steps for you?
SH: We are currently in post production of OR DIE TRYING, Season 1, with a company called Hot Pixel Inc. To help with finishing funds on ODT, we’ve just launched a new Seed&Spark campaign to show audiences how far we’ve come and how close we are to wrapping up the show.
Those interested in progressing the narrative on women in film with us, can contribute to our campaign here. Stay tuned as we make our way through post production and plan our release at @ODT_series and at odtseries.com.