I happened to get lucky this week and discovered a new web series before it even premiered. Now you can, too.
I’m actually a big fan of web series, ever since Dr. Horrible. I mean, I’ve checked out Sorority Forever and The Lake. Web series are like candy, and the recession has been my Halloween.
Our newest treat is Making Secrets, a web series based on the website Post Secret that premieres this Sunday, September 6. The show takes Post Secret postcards and recreates the stories around them–hoping to discover how the feelings expressed became secrets in the first place.
I was able to talk to Andrew Kaberline of B Cast Entertainment, who had a major role in the making of this show. We’re talking writing, producing, and directing the show. He shared some great insights on just how they decided on the (sometimes difficult) subject matter of the show, why Post Secret, and even how they created a dolly effect from a car.
You are the co-writer, co-director, and co-producer of Making Secrets, is that right?
I’m the only writer, but other than that, it is totally correct.
Well, tell me a little about it in your own words. I’ve seen the site, which is great.
Oh, thank you very much. I was shown Post Secret—I found out about it when I was, I think it was my freshman year of high school. And the only reason I ever found out that it existed actually was, um, there was a postcard with a valedictorian medal on it from my high school, and someone wrote on the lanyard, “I cheated a lot.” And it caused a…stir in our school, and everybody else, when they found out about that, was focused on, “Oh my god, the valedictorian was cheating.” I think I was the only person who said, “Well, this is a really neat website. Let me go check this out.”
But I’d been looking to start a production company with my friends that would allow me to show all my creative efforts because recently in the college theater department, you don’t usually get to write or produce your own things. And I thought about something that would be a new, original, kind-of fresh idea, and I thought there’s Post Secret. And the best part about that website is that you never really know how any of the secrets became secrets, and that’s what I’ve spent most of my time speculating about when I read that website. So I thought, well, that’s a great idea for a show… And now, that’s really how it came together.
How many people are involved?
Oh boy. Well, there’s five or six of us that are producers. We had a rotating crew of about six people. And then, I think we ended up having about between forty and fifty actors on the project. There were a lot more other people that were supposed to be involved, and either had conflict schedules and such, but it’s really a collaboration of a lot of different people.
[Read more after the jump!]
Have you had any contact with, like, Frank of PostSecret.com?
I sent Frank an email to what I believed is his email address; it took me a while to find it. I haven’t got anything back yet. You know, Frank’s a busy man, so either I sent it a completely wrong email and someone’s very confused as to why I sent them, or he just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. Hopefully, hopefully, he does get back to me. Hopefully, he is proud of the work we’ve done about his work. I’d hate for him to not like it. [laughs]
Yeah. The postcards you use in the show, those are actual ones from his site, I assume? Or did you make those up on your own?
I’m trying to think how many we use. Four per episode, and there are six… So there are 24 postcards. Twenty-two are real. Two of them, we kind-of doctored for our own usage, but they were still based on real ones. The two of them that aren’t real, um, we have one that says, “I cry whenever I read my daughter’s poetry.” It’s kind-of a bittersweet smiley face, so it’s kind-of a happy spin. And the real one was a much sadder, bleaker one that says, “I cry whenever I read my son’s poetry.”
And then we doctored another one that said, “I wish that my life would be interesting enough so that David Sedaris could narrate it.” We went along trying to do a scene about David Sedaris, and we realized, man, we can’t make ourselves sound like David Sedaris at all, so we switched that to Morgan Freeman. But besides those two, uh, every other postcard is an actual, authentic, straight from the Sunday Secrets.
So you actually, to use your term, “investigate” some pretty heavy stuff in each episode. How did you handle that, and why did you choose those particular secrets?
We had been preparing—or I should say, I had been preparing—to write a full-length play about Post Secret for a while. I didn’t even consider doing a show until recently. But I had been spending about a year collecting and saving secrets that I thought would be interesting to tell a story about, or ones that I thought were so ambiguous that they needed explanation. And I think, you know if you’re going to make a show that really captures Post Secret, you know, all the funny, funny kinda quirky ones are good, but so much of that site is really depressing, really serious subject matter, and I felt like we needed to at least have a touch of that.
I think there’s a lot of places that, um, we had a big pile of about 140 secrets and we chose from for those 24, and we had ones that we really really liked and said, you know, I’m not sure with the level of production costs that we have that we can do something this serious justice. So there were some about topics like abortion that we left out. There were a few about sexual abuse that we left out. Because those are both really heavily prevalent themes on Post Secret. And I think maybe, maybe when we get more confident in ourselves as dramatic presenters, we may touch into that category, but for our first venture we thought better of it, because we would really hate to present a really serious subject matter in an after-school special sorta way. We don’t want to turn it into Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell being addicted to pain pills. That would have been awful.
But there was a long, long, rigorous process of picking which postcards were going to go in and which weren’t. There were actually a lot of scenes that we wrote, um, that didn’t make it into the show. But if we have a second season, who knows. They might come back.
So right now you have a six-episode season and they’re once a month starting September 6, right?
How’d you choose that schedule?
Um, we were looking at the models of both unsuccessful and successful internet shows and tried to emulate what we thought the successful shows were doing. Mostly we took a lot from the show We Need Girlfriends, which was recently bough by CBS. They had an eleven-episode run, and they premiered episodes on the first day of every month, and we thought, well that’s a good way to space out the short show over a period of time, so we could gather our popularity and have new content to release while we’re working on other projects. And we decided that Sunday would be the best to debut those because that’s the same day that Post Secret updates their website, so we thought, well, hopefully people will go to Post Secret, say, hey it’s Sunday and remember that our show is on, and vice versa. So that’s our marketing scam on why we released our videos on that day.
I’m a huge fan of web series and would love to devote more time to them actually. What are your favorites—or which ones have you really watched other than We Need Girlfriends?
Uh, well, We Need Girlfriends is notoriously all of B Cast Entertainment’s favorite web series, and we hope more people will watch that when it comes on to CBS in the upcoming year. But we looked at a lot of ones that were awful, and a lot of ones that were good. We were watching especially The Guild, which I know has got a lot of popularity over the years. And Quarterlife and shows like that that translated. We watched some of the web series that are funded by bigger networks, so like…Clark and Michael and shows like that.
And I think we decided really early on that we only had a little bit of money to do this project with and we decided, you know, we’re not going to have the budget to compete with a lot of these web series because, you know, they might be web series, but a lot of them put a lot of money into their production, and we said that we’re not going to have that same luxury. So let’s purposely try to make it a, like, a homey-feeling show, something that looks like it could have been made by people with more ambition than they have equipment. So we intentionally tried to make that our niche, and I think we successfully made it feel quaint while still being watchable. Because I think that’s the problem with a lot of those other low-budget shows is they don’t pay attention to audio and things like that, and what may be a really good show becomes unwatchable.
Tell me a little bit more about the challenges you had since you had a smaller budget and since you are a younger group that’s putting this together.
I should clear up right now…when we say that it was a no-budget, zero-budget show. That’s a little bit of a lie. There was $35 spent on this show, and that was on tapes for our camera.
But the big difficulty with working with such a young group of actors, I think, was—well, first, was we wrote in a good amount of adult roles, and it was difficult because we knew we weren’t going to find adult actors. It was difficult to find kids who could look like adults in comparison to other kids. So it was a lot of mixing and matching of heights, and playing around with makeup. And besides that, the only equipment that we had for this show was a Canon XL2 camera that we were borrowing from someone who didn’t know we were borrowing it from them. And we had one boom mic and we had one of these three-setting lights that we would use if we needed more or less light in the scene. So a lot of the challenges was coming up with creative ways to, um, to fill in for things like dollies or tripods. There were a lot of atlases that were used as tripods. And, um, there were a lot of dolly shots that were shot by putting a car in neutral, and having me push it, which is an awful idea because I’m a small guy. I don’t have large muscles. So that was really the challenge in the shooting…
The time that we shot the show in, was such a small time to do a six-episode show—we shot it in about a month. So that meant shooting every day, shooting a lot in one day. And then not having the time to really storyboard everything like we should have, so it was a lot of on-the-fly directing, which, uh, which became a real hassle in editing.
Interesting. It should be interesting to see how all this comes out…As a viewer, I don’t think anyone will really know that the dolly was actually not a dolly, or a tripod was missing, so it should be interesting to see how that comes out.
I imagine you’ve seen a good bit and you’re excited to see how this has all come together.
Oh, I am. It’s been an entire summer’s work of dedication, and I know there’s moments—because I’ve seen the final product—I know there’s moments where it kinda comically is apparent that we are a no-budget show, but I think there’s real, real good moments of, like, promising filmmaking in our efforts, because this is the first time that me and Marlo Clingman, the other director, have ever directed film. We directed a lot of theater; we’re new to film, and, uh, we quickly were learning as we were filming. But I’m really excited to see people’s reactions to it, and I think it’s the kind of show that’s made for everybody. I don’t think it offends very easily. I think it’s pointed sometimes and comedic at others, but hopefully everyone else will feel the same way.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell your upcoming viewers?
Just to, um, support the indie art projects they can, especially us because we are like—the web series market is indie filmmakers. We are like the indie version of indies. We’re that small. But I think at times like this where the economy is bad and there seems to be a million things to worry about, art is very very important, and I wish that everybody would go out to their local comedy clubs and go on the internet, and really support people who are trying to make the world lighter.
Also, look for more projects from B Cast Entertainment this summer and fall. We’re doing some live theater, maybe some sketch comedy, and possibly a documentary.
Well, great. I look forward to seeing it, and it was really great talking to you.
Yeah, thank you very much.
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Don’t forget to check out Making Secrets on premiering this Sunday, September 6! You can check out the trailer and all the episodes as they post on their youtube channel.