Typing Faster

January 26, 2011

Web Series Week: Pretty in Geek Creator Elize Morgan

Filed under: Uncategorized, Web Series, Working — petertypingfaster @ 9:16 am

As promised, today’s follow up post is an interview with Elize Morgan, writer / creator / actor of the upcoming web series Pretty in Geek, transmedia superstar working with the team of Tights and Fights: Ashes! and all around digital media consultant. Hopefully y’all get a little something, something out of our conversation!

TypingFaster: Intros – Give me the bio, you know the drill!

Elize Morgan: I’m a transmedia and TV 360 writer from Toronto Canada. With a background in TV from the Canadian Film Centre, Elize also has an MA in TV/digital interactivity. She has completed a webdoc about biking 2000 kilometers in Europe, is a transmedia story producer for Tights and Fights, and is currently filming her webseries Pretty in Geek. She also likes pie.

TF: Tell us a bit about your projects (PiG, Tights, whatever else you’ve got cooking)

EM: Currently I’m producing/acting/writing/creating (right, showrunning is that term) a webseries called Pretty in Geek (http://www.prettyingeek.tv). We’re filming right now. Pretty in Geek is a series about a group of tabletop RPG gamer girls and the LARP (for those not in the know: live action role player) guy who wrecks up their game. It’s a fun, frothy comedy with lots of hair pulling. I’m also working as a transmedia story producer on Tights and Fights: Ashes, a series about vlogging superheroes in Toronto. And there’s a couple of super secret projects coming up.

TF: Why a webseries?

EM: The thing about webseries to me, over TV or film or other medias, is that you can make a show you’d never have a chance to otherwise. You can hit a niche audience (like the Guild or Red VS Blue with gaming) that would normally never get to see themselves by other mediums. So thus we have girl gamers (a long-thought non-existent species. We’re changing that), or people who play WoW, or a guy who gets sucked into the Legend of Zelda. It’s a fun, immediate medium in a lot of ways. Drama also works fairly well, as you can also show things that wouldn’t get play otherwise, in the case of web drama Anyone But Me (which hits the LGBT audience and has a very devout fan following).

You also get to see sides of things you might never in TV or film, as everyone ends up doing more than one job. And, for those who have been in development hell, it’s nice to be able to get something up and running in less than five years.

TF: What are some of the biggest conceptual differences between developing a series for the web and developing a regular old TV concept?

EM: Beyond the obvious, it’s usually shorter (though not always!), developing for the web, for the very successful properties, instead of aiming for a wide audience, you really aim niche. The web loves to see itself, its people, and loves to create communities. So my advice to anyone is to create something that hits a niche audience. The most successful web-to-TV properties did just that – like Riese and Sanctuary – and were very successful at it. But, beyond that, it’s no different than creating a TV concept. The characters have to be real, the world has to be interesting. Just because it’s online or “web only” doesn’t mean that the quality is lower. Ruby Skye PI is a great example of a show that is very high quality, was made for web, and for a niche audience.

TF: What kind of ideas lend themselves to web series? What kind don’t?

EM: I may have answered this a bit more already, but one of the key things that I think works for web (and let it be reiterated: no one really ever knows “what works” fully – be it for TV, web or film), but a strong webseries is something people can jump into easily (they often don’t start at episode one), is short and pithy, and hits a niche audience.

A great web show can be a drama, comedy, or experimental series (the NFB have a few great examples there). All of the above have been made successfully. It helps if you have a recognizable star, but you don’t need one. Sanctuary and Riese, of course, had Amanda Tapping. The Guild, Felicia Day, and a variety of others. Red VS Blue had a bunch of friends who wanted to make something funny… and did.

A great web concept is not, however, a cut up film, an ill defined market (this just needs thought), or something you can’t make on your budget.

TF: Tell us about the development process for PiG? How long? How many rewrites? etc.

EM: Pretty in Geek was in development for about a year and a half to day of principal photography. It was bumped back, admittedly, because I had a documentary project last summer, and GopherX was shooting Tights and Fights: Ashes in the fall of 2010.

The thing about web is that a lot of people may assume there aren’t as many rewrites going into it as opposed to television. Because we had a lot of time in lead up, we did just as many if not more rewrites on Pretty in Geek. The concept changed a lot in development, but it was a great process all told, and I’m especially grateful to have had Scott Albert on board as our EP because he is a fantastic story editor.

Closer to the final rewrites, there were many fantastic writers who came in to help with punch up and with going over story beats.

TF: Tell us about selling / landing an EP. How’d it come about. Advice. etc.

EM: I happened to luck into it, as I had met Scott Albert at some of the writer’s functions in Toronto – including the web version of WWTV – and had mentioned the concept to him in passing when we grabbed a coffee. I had pretty much thought it would end there, but GopherX had just brought on an associate producer, Courtney Wolfson, who took a shine to the concept. From there, we had a few meetings and went into developing and fleshing out what had basically been a logline into a full series.

TF: What about branding at the development stage. How early did you start developing a following for your projects.

EM: As early as possible. Pretty much once you have an official logo that fits and works with the series get your social media up – don’t push it yet, but make sure you have them. Around the stage where you’re shooting, put up production pictures, tell your friends, tell your mom. Tell the crew and cast’s moms. Get your facebook and twitter pages started so that once you do have your pilot up and running you have someone to tell that you have a pilot going.

Developing community is slow, so knowing your brand/marketing plan (i.e. who your audience is) from the beginning is key. Take your time, make a plan. And right before you launch any episodes launch a facebook ad that targets your exact audience. It works for pretty much any budget (including the $20 your mom lent you), and you only pay if someone likes your page.

TF: Tell us a bit about what it’s like being a writer / creator during production. How involved are you. etc.

EM: I happen to also be acting in the show, so I am very involved. This is fairly common in web. I’ve heard of a lot of different set ups. Most writer/creators are also producers on set, so you’re putting out fires while also directing, acting, making sure people are fed, and holding the boom if need be.

I’m also helping with craft, and am heavily involved with production meetings. I have creative control over art, wardrobe and the like with our very talented director Vivian Lin. So while things are very busy, but it is also really exciting.

TF: Any advice for an aspiring webseries creator?

EM: At the risk of getting a C&D: Just do it. Really, figure out what you need to do to get it done and go and make it. Having an EP, or a production company, that knows what they’re doing is great, but there’s so few that have strong web success, so get a team together that’s strong make sure you trust them, and make your series.

I also have a blog over at http://www.elizemorgan.com/ where I share a lot of advice on this, from other creators and the like, so feel free to drop a line over there if there’s any other questions!

TF: Thanks so much for answering my questions! Good luck with the rest of production.

Later this week we’ll be talking with Producer Courtney Wolfson and Director Vivian Lin to get their respective takes on the process of putting together a web series. Thanks for stopping by!

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