By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act September 27, 2011 at 1:55AM
Starting today, and continuing on as a new weekly exclusive S&A series will be Mr Pete Chatmon's Queen Hussy Chronicles; of course, Queen Hussy being the title of his new web series, which we posted a teaser trailer for a couple of weeks ago.
The series, as Pete notes, will provide S&A readers with an inside look into the process of making a webseries, as told by an experienced film director making his first foray into the genre. The series will pull back the curtain to reveal the behind-the-scenes process of what is still, for all intents and purposes, a relatively new, though quickly blossoming (if unwieldy) platform.
As the site continues to grow, I'm always looking for ways to both entertain and inform our readers - a diverse group of people, whether they are in the industry (or working towards that goal), or not; whether they are film enthusiasts, or just simply curious; and everybody else who has made this site a destination of theirs, regardless of frequency.
And this felt like yet another good idea to incorporate into the site's content - not-so unlike the Filmmaker Diary Series we've been hosting with Matthew Cherry as he embarks on his feature film debut, which is now in post-production.
Pete Chatmon has been at this *game* for a number of years now, with a feature film and documentary on his resume, as well as his Double7 Images media+marketing collective; and thus, he certainly has had quite a bit of experience in all phases of production, from financing to distribution, and everything else between. Pete directed Kerry Washington and Zoe Saldana (names that come up around here often) before either of them became the household names they both are today!
So, this should be an interesting journey for all of us to take, as an experienced director makes his first attempt into the web series platform.
That's about it, in brief. But I think you get the overall picture.
So, without further ado, here's Issue #1 of Pete Chatmon's The Queen Hussy Chronicles:
Before I even dive in, I want to thank Tambay and the good folks here at Shadow and Act for the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with a community I am already heavily invested in. I check S&A daily (real talk!) and always find something entertaining, insightful, or that was just plain off my radar. After enjoying what my friend Matthew Cherry shared over the course of the making of his debut feature The Last Fall, I hope you'll benefit in some way from a peak under the hood and behind the veil into what goes into making a webseries. We've got a great behind the scenes featurette for you after the jump!
Those that know me know I cut my teeth on the film side of things. I attended NYU film school where my thesis short, 3D, starring Kerry Washington, Dorian Missick and Al Thompson went to Sundance in 2001, plus 25 other festivals around the world. I spent 5+ years raising over $500K for my first feature, Premium, starring Dorian Missick, Zoe Saldana, and Hill Harper. I followed that up with a feature documentary on the first black tank battalion in WWII, 761st, narrated by Andre Braugher. I've had the pleasure of working with some crazy talented peeps and the entrepreneurial hustle (read: I never hear 'no' as an answer) to find a community of folks interested in the arts and the value of varied black perspectives who were willing to financially support my endeavors.
BUT TIMES HAVE CHANGED.
A lot of "filmmakers" continue to thumb their nose at web content, but every last one of them watches Issa Rae's Awkard Black Girl with dreams of the success she's had via Kickstarter and developing a committed audience for an original voice. I used to be one of those cats, but when Hannelore Williams, Director of Production at our media+marketing collective Double7 Images came to me with the offer to direct her original webseries Queen Hussy, I jumped at the chance. I'd never done a period piece or something as heavily comedic/mockumentary in style, and I'm always one for a challenge to my aesthetic and skill set. At the end of the day, all of y'all will be the judge of how it turned out, but I'm feeling pretty good about what we have in store in terms of episodes and complementary content.
To be honest, it's been a very interesting change of speed. In the "film" world, my daily grind used to be knocking on doors to raise funds, but with the web we are essentially "mining for views" (that's my new term). And it's debatable what's a bigger investment in a world with so much media noise. In some cases, it may actually be harder to get someone to watch your video and spread the word to their network than it is to secure a $25,000 check. I'm not bullshitting because I've tried to do both, with varying levels of success based on the individual.
Having said that, I hope filmmakers and audiences alike who come across these posts find something entertaining and educational. With every new thing you try, the by-product of experience (mistakes?) should be shared with those who can most benefit. That's what's gonna be going down here in The Queen Hussy Chronicles. If you like what you see, let me know, and please leave comments and questions. I'll answer all I can, just like we do on our weekly podcast.
As artists, we should consider any platform an opportunity for success, study the game, and attack with cameras as our guns and writing as our ammunition. It's no longer about dedicating your grind to the "indie hustle" that results in finding a place in the "Hollywood system". F*ck that. We shot this series on pretty much my own equipment, got the talents of hungry artists who lent a multitude of creative expertise, and were able to do something, for better or for worse, without anyone's hand in the pot. The bottom line is once you find your audience, those industry folks and coveted sponsors just want to be a part of success and it won't matter that they didn't care at all when you started out. That's when you "overcharge 'em for what they did to the Cold Crush".
Stay tuned for the premiere of Episode 1 on October 2nd, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the behind the scenes featurette and the official trailer that Tambay posted a few weeks back.
President + CEO
Here's a behind-the-scenes featurette for Queen Hussy (Issue #2 next week Monday - and every Monday thereafter):