Annie Takes Off is an exciting new webseries by some pretty fabulous people. I think many of us will be able to relate to the show just from the description provided on their Kickstarter page:
When Annie Smalls’ life falls apart — with men, her job and just about everything else — she has had enough and decides if she wants her life to get better, a whole lot better, she better make some big changes! So, she writes a list of the “50 MISTAKES I AM NO LONGER GOING TO MAKE FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR” so that after the year, she’ll be in a much better place…she hopes! And because her new career, discovering new design talent throughout the globe, involves constant air-travel, each of the mistakes she has vowed to herself that she can no longer make, must be dealt with one at a time on each flight she takes. And now that she’s on an airplane and has nowhere to run, it’s that much more challenging for her — and a lot funnier for us.
If you are a fan of webseries, a fan of great entertainment, or perhaps a fan of both, I think you will be impressed with the list of names involved in the project. Personally, my interest in projects such as this has been growing since the typical television networks started to rely so heavily on reality shows and it has become so difficult for traditional television series to find a lasting place on our schedules. I have come to know Mark Gantt’s work in particular through Twitter, which led me to being able to conduct a short interview with him about Annie Takes Off.
The Kickstarter campaign has been very successful and only has a few days left but you can still head over to the page if you would like to be a part of this experience. I think you will find there are some great rewards being offered and there is a nice feeling of satisfaction that comes along with being involved, even in a small way.
Q: I know that you are very involved in Indie Entertainment. Why do you feel these projects are important for artists as well as fans of entertainment?
A: Well, to be honest it comes more out of necessity over an altruistic belief that indie is better than mainstream or ‘studio’ productions. I’m sure if I was getting daily invites to come and join the Hollywood Studio party I wouldn’t turn it down. So it really comes out of the need to want to create and not wait for an invitation. When I first came to LA I had a very warped idea of how I thought it would go, fame and fortune would come quickly. As time went on and that didn’t happen, I was forced to look at the real reason I wanted that kind of success; I want to be liked, no sorry… loved, adored and part of the cool crowd. There I said it, I wanted it for all the wrong reasons. So when that realization hit home, I had to find it in myself to push past any fears I had about just going out and doing what I truly love doing – telling stories. I think the web over the last few years is having a similar transitional phase like Sundance did in the 80′s and 90′s. There, you saw the breakout of the indie filmmakers. I’ve been a big fan of auteurs like Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh. I think they all have very distinct voices and found ways to tell stories that they wanted to see themselves. That’s where we are now on the web. People are getting the opportunity to make things that they actually want to watch, not what an advertiser or stock holder thinks will sell soap or make money.
Q: In the changing environment of entertainment, Social Media has become a very important tool. What are some of the best ways you have seen Social Media harnessed and what advice would you give to someone interested in getting a project out there?
A: When I see a successful project flourish online, one of the consistent threads is a creator/filmmaker who loves telling the story they are telling. They are coming from an authentic place of story telling and the desire to tell their story and entertain the audience. When you have that kind of passion and conviction, people sense that and can connect with the world, the characters and want to engage with others about it. It’s such a great time for filmmakers to not only reach a larger audience but even more specifically a larger niche audience. If I like vampire stories, I’m gonna find Vampire Mob, if I love gaming I’m gonna find The Guild or Mortal Combat. And I’m going to find other people who like those types of shows and want to share about that world, and tell others about it. As the filmmaker you get a very unique opportunity to engage with your audience and find out what’s working and what’s not. So if you’re doing a second season, you can improve things and tell deeper stories because the audience is invested and feel like their voices are being heard. Same goes for successful crowd sourcing campaigns. They are very clear and transparent about what they are doing, why they are doing it and are passionate about what they are doing. Creating any project takes super human effort and each phase of the project will challenge your belief in yourself and the project. So the more I feel that a project is going to get made no matter what, the more I’m willing to back and tell more people about it to help get it made. At the end of the day, you’re not going to appeal to everyone, and you don’t need to. If you know who your audience is and are possessed to tell your story, like in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he(they) will come.”
A: I’m currently executive producing a new multi-platform series called Annie Takes Off, created by Sybil Temtchine and Steven Peros. We are raising funds on Kickstarter to shoot a sizzle reel, directed by Perry Andelin Blake, best known as Adam Sandler’s production designer and director of Masters of Disguise with Dana Carvey. Annie Takes Off is a funny & touching digital series that takes place on an airplane. When Annie Smalls’ life falls apart — with men, her job and just about everything else – she’s had enough and decides that if she wants her life to get better, a whole lot better, she better make some big changes. So, she writes a list of the “50 Mistakes I Am No Longer Going To Make For An Entire Year” so that after the year, she’ll be in a much better place, or so she hopes. And because her new career involves constant air travel, each of the mistakes she has vowed to herself that she can no longer make, must be dealt with one at a time on each flight she takes. And now that she’s on an airplane and has nowhere to run, it’s that much more challenging for her — and a lot funnier for the audience. The result is a 10-15 minute digital comedy series that can be shown as in-flight entertainment, a branded series, have it’s own website and multiple web outlets around the world. The multi-platform, multimedia scope is even larger, including the lead character’s blog, twitter account, book, app, TV series and of course a movie franchise. So from both a distribution and creative standpoint, there are many ways for us to reach and engage with the audience in a more organic way.
Q: Will the audience be treated to on screen appearances by you?
A: There will definitely be an appearance by me in the sizzle reel and if I have my way, with the success of Annie Takes Off, there will be a spin-off variation that features a similarly engaging single male traveler, who will cross paths with Annie and both will be affected in positive ways they could not have imagined. I mean after all, much can happen between destinations. I’ve also just finished shooting a pilot presentation for a super natural online tv series created by Matt Lutz, called The Program, that I produced and starred in opposite Robert Forster(Jackie Brown, The Bannen Way). We’re taking a similar approach by extending the world into a graphic novel, TV series and mobile app.
Q: Do you think traditional entertainment outlets will begin to look more closely at projects such as these, or have you seen that they are already turning their attention in that direction?
A: I think traditional outlets are starting to turn their direction towards these types of shows. Yahoo is distributing a series now called Suit Up, by Fox Digital Series that will also be available on Direct TV in January of 2013. So I think at the end of the day, TV anywhere is what it’s going to be about. TV isn’t going away and isn’t going to be replaced by an online series, but there are more opportunities for established talent to create their own shows without the constraints of a studio or network
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