Shopping for friends

by HRM on July 3, 2012

Berlin's new web series


Lacey Haynes, Her Royal Majesty’s contributing editor, went a bit Woody Allen in creating this new web series based in Berlin: she wrote it, co-directed it, and stars in it. But unlike Woody, Lacey and her team did all of this without a budget. From actors to editors to locations and crew, “shopping for friends” was created by a team of passionate and devoted volunteers and a supportive Berlin community.

Why did you want to make a web series? 

Vanessa (co-creator) and I had just wrapped a theatre production here in Berlin. We were a) trying to become friends with one another and b) trying to get a project on the go. We ended up acting in this Haptic film on a rooftop in Kreuzberg for some students. It was on Super 8 and we basically had to make out and be lovey with one another. This was a good post-play ice breaker and we decided after to embark on a creative mission together.

I had never even heard of the web series genre before Vanessa introduced me to it. She’s savvy about these kinds of things. We were both interested in digging into a project that was all our own and this seemed like the ideal way to do so: to create something designed for the web, something quick and snappy that would enable us to flex our skills, and that other people would hopefully enjoy while trolling the world wide web.


What are the benefits of the medium?

It’s actually a really great way to wet one’s feet. I have been working as a writer and as an actor but have rarely cross fertilized and performed my own work (save for a couple of nude feminist projects in uni). I wanted to know whether I was capable of making a film project – writing, directing, producing, -really doing all of the tasks. Vanessa has a background in filmmaking and acting so it felt like we had the skills in place to go for it.

The medium of the web series is open and forgiving. It can exist within any scope of budget and quality and the format can also be pretty self-prescribed. There are no rules, or at least none that we felt held to, and this really enabled us to explore. We financed the project on a budget of rocks and peanuts, so to achieve what we have, we’re really happy. As well, being able to release it on our own terms and reach an international audience, it’s really quite ideal for one’s first foray into the world of making films.


What was the process like?

The process was good and challenging. I feel like I slammed out the script within a month but we didn’t finalize it until just days before starting to shoot. We had a solid crew of six people, including Vanessa and I, plus other actors, extras and people on location. We were so fortunate to have a creative Berlin community behind us. We were given costumes by clothing shops, free use of locations, and a lot of talented professionals giving their time. We shot the show in the autumn of last year but didn’t finish the editing until just a month ago. It was amazing to me that five episodes of about four minutes each required over 70 hours of editing. The main editor David and I really slogged it out at the end but that was such an empowering experience. I realized that I knew what I wanted the project to look and feel like and that I could make that happen.

Managing expectations is also really interesting in a project of this nature. Everyone expects things from everyone else, and those expectations can either be met, not met or exceeded. It’s a learning experience for everyone involved – I mean we had two ex-MTV producers, Nick and Pawel, filming and assisting with directing. We had people with a lot of experience in their fields to people who were just learning their craft. When there is no money but a strong will to achieve professionalism and quality, you have to be resourceful. Plus you have to inevitably reach the point where you settle on some things just so you can give birth to the project.


How did you draw from your own experience? 

The show is about making friends. Everyone can relate to this. In Berlin, people are always coming and going – one day you’ll have a solid crew of amigos and the next, everyone will have ventured back to their respective corners of the globe. Vanessa and I talked about this a lot – the experience of making friends, keeping friends and letting friends go. I had referred to the process of going out and meeting people as shopping for friends – thus, shopping for friends the web series was born.

-Berlin launch party RIAS Bar, Kreuzberg – piano music, full viewing 05.07.2012 (doors at 8, viewing at 10)

-Online episode 1 launch 09.07.2012, 1 episode every Monday for 5 weeks.

All photos in this article are by Brigid Annand excepting the first, which is a still from episode 3.


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