Love sci-fi and fantasy films and web series, and want to know more of the behind-the-scenes stuff from your favorite indie projects? We have good news for you…
TFN has begun its exciting new Content Creators Interview Project, reaching out to the various filmmakers on The Fantasy Network in order to hear more about their personal filmmaking journeys. This is your opportunity to hear from the filmmakers themselves about your favorite shows on TFN. Each filmmaker has their own unique story worth sharing.
As an audience member, you see the final product on the website—a film or web series you enjoy—but you don’t always know what goes into the process of making it, or maybe what inspired the idea to begin with. To share that process and give you an insider’s look a the behind-the-scenes aspects of creating great stories, TFN decided to reach out to its content creators and provide another way for them to connect with you, their fans. TFN is all about building a community, and that means community between creators and consumers alike. Take a look at our first interview below!
Lakeisha Jackson is the creator of the web series Shiny New Things, which you can watch for free on TFN. SNT is about a future society that is controlled by The Faction, who puts strict rules in place to control the general population. Chase and Anna, who are feeling the pressure of The Faction, must decide whether to comply or fight.
We asked Lakeisha about her journey of creating this concept and putting on the screen for us to see. This is what she had to say:
- How did you get into filmmaking?
I got into filmmaking about three years ago, although I’ve been writing for ten years prior. I’d always wanted to go to LA and become an actress, and when that dream didn’t seem possible and “Hollywood” left Florida, I went to film school to see if I could learn more than what I already knew and find community.
Short answer: I didn’t. Not really. While I attended school, I wanted an internship on set…on anyone’s set, but there were none. So, I started throwing around ideas on what I could do to change that, and then I had a dream. And it wouldn’t leave me, so I wrote it down, developed the world and characters, and that’s how Shiny New Things the web series was born.
I reached out to several classmates, but only one was serious about craft and has been by my side ever since. Christopher Martell (1st AD and about a million other titles) and I got to work immediately, and that’s how my first attempt at filmmaking came about.
- What sparked your inspiration for this idea/world?
It came from a weird dream I had where these uber-rich people lived in sectors of a postapocalyptic city that overlooked a poorer sector. They employed these poor people to play loved ones they had lost in a war, and these people weren’t exactly treated nice or fairly.
There are a ton of details I can’t reveal yet becauseseason 2, lol, but the person in my dream had escaped his employer and was beaten physically and emotionally. He was frantically repeating the phrase, “We’re just their Shiny New Things.” It was vivid! I can still see the fear in his eyes, hear the brokenness of his voice, and it stuck with me. I can still hear that voice when I think about it. It was jarring, and so I had to write it down and make sense of it somehow.
- How much money did you raise? And how did you raise it?
Well, we had asked for $6,500 for the first few episodes during our crowdfunding campaign, but we were shy that amount and raised about $5,200. Of that, some credit cards didn’t go through, and other things were donations so we came out with about $3,200 at the end. We put a lot of effort into our crowdfunding campaign, posting content daily and trying to spread the word about the show. It was a lot of work, and I do about 95% of everything myself so when we’re filming, social media slips because I’m not there to do it. We’re fighting hard to keep the momentum, but Covid has made it a little hard.
- What do you wish you had done differently in your last film?
Really, there’s nothing that comes to mind. Every setback taught a valuable lesson that has placed me where I am now, and as tough as those lessons were, I’d rather have learned them than not. It’ll help me be better as my career continues.
- What mistake in your film do you see, but no one else does?
There’s a script and a spray bottle of OFF in the background of a scene. Luckily, the fstop gave me decent depth of field so it’s blurred, but I yell “Game of Thrones” every time I see it.
- What is the most rewarding part about making this particular film/series?
The cast and crew. I love each and every one of them. We’re like a family. We get upset or mad with each other like a family does, but when I call, they answer and they show up and they give 100% each and every time. Complete strangers extended kindness, their homes, businesses (Thank you, Barbara Ryan, and Annette and Ralph Farkas) and have become family. I love these people, and I want to do right by them for putting their trust in me.
- What advice about filmmaking do you wish you knew when starting out?
Stop waiting for perfect timing. That’ll never happen, and you’ll end up contemplating your dreams for ten years when you could have been creating and honing your craft. No fancy camera? Pick up your cellphone and film butterflies, moving cars, a storm. Find free stock footage and music and create something. Editing software like Industry standard DaVinci has a free version that is AMAZING. No more excuses. The time is now.
- What advice would you give to filmmakers going into sci-fi/fantasy?
Do your research. Make sure that something in your world resonates with what’s happening around people today. You don’t have to be in-your-face about it, but find something that makes people think, contemplate themselves. Making up cool sci-fi terms is cool, but make sure it’s rooted in some truth and science. Trust me, if you don’t, the reviews will mention it.
- What are your pet peeves in filmmaking?
People who talk about filmmaking and, when it’s time to actually do it, are suddenly busy. I get it. I love coffee. Sitting in Starbucks rapping about filmmaking is cool, but I’d rather skip the heart palpitations due to the caffeine and feel them when I see an awesome performance or frame or still from something I dreamt up and made happen.
- What other filmmakers are you inspired by?
There’s a ton. Sera Gamble, Ava Devernay, Viola Davis, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Wes Craven, John Hughes, I could go on…
- What is your advice on how to create a fanbase?
I’m still learning that myself, but I guess, be interesting. Post engaging stuff and do it often. Ask that fan base to share, and then follow up as much as you can.
- How are YOU set up so fans can get involved in future productions and help grow your community as it relates to your content?
Luckily, we’re a part of The Fantasy Network, and that tool is baked in. Whenever a viewer watches an episode, they can sign up to join a newsletter and help us get funded for subsequent seasons. We’re also on social media and have a website with information that people can get regarding the show and outreach!
- Does “star power” matter anymore? In your opinion?
I think it always will to an extent. What really matters is good storytelling. The plot, arcs, direction, music, audio and so much more. If you can get that right, and tug at people’s hearts, they really don’t care that the actor isn’t Leo DiCaprio. They will be fulfilled and your mission accomplished.
(Editor’s note: But if you do want a star, check out how filmmaker Colin Levy landed a cameo by Jude Law for his film,)
- Is there anyone that may make you starstruck?
Probably Martin Lawrence, lol. I love the sitcom Martin and still watch it and laugh like it’s the first time I’ve seen it.