"Life, After" screening this weekend—and more!

Wow. It's been a while since I've posted an update here. Whoops! No lack of exciting news though! Let me get you caught up on what's been happening with Life, After!

First up, the pilot episode of the show is screening this Saturday at the Brooklyn Web Fest! Come out and join us! (Tickets here.)

Next, we'll also be screening in the NYC Web Fest during my birthday weekend! (November 10-12) More details on that to come.

Finally, we've gotten a lot of great write ups. If you need other people to convince you to check out the show, then look at what A.V. Club, Decider, Hello Giggles, and Boing Boing had to say about it.

More frequent updates coming soon. I promise!

Erica

I'm in a McDonald's commercial!

Watch out for my appearance as the non-speaking best wife ever in a new McDonald's spot (especially if you're in the great city/vicinity of Cleveland)! Although, let's be real... You're far too busy catching Pokeman to watch television right now. So I'll make it easy for you right here:

#hashbrown

(Okay, now get back out there and catch them all!)

Erica

"Life, After" Pre-Release Screening and Party on Friday!!!

Ah!!! We're having a Life, After screening party in two days!!! (This is the part where I remind myself to breathe and that everything will be great.)

This will be the first time we're sharing the series with a real audience. Eek! I'll obviously keep you posted on when the series is totally finished and live online, but if you're in the New York area and able to join us on Friday, we'd love to see you! 

Friday, July 8th 2016 - Doors open at 8pm - Littlefield - 622 Degraw St, Brooklyn, NY 11217

The event is 21+ and will have a cash bar. WITH SIGNATURE "LIFE, AFTER"-THEMED COCKTAILS! Click here to view the Facebook event!

And now I need to tackle this to do list of things that must happen before Friday... Bye!!!

Erica

Work and Play

A few quick and fun updates!

I booked an industrial job, shooting next week. I'm excited to have another official SAG-AFTRA booking under my belt, so yay!

More exciting: we've picked a release date for Life, After. This is not 100% final yet, as things could change with our post-production schedule, but the current target date is July 11. So watch out for that! It's coming!

I had a really cool audition this week that merited a prep session with my acting coach. It was great getting to work on some exciting and fun material and to exercise those muscles, since I've been so deep in writer mode lately.

And finally, on a personal note, my fiancé and I celebrated our "-1st anniversary" this past weekend, which is a fun way to say that our wedding is in one year! We went into true New York staycation mode, which was a blast. (pics below)

Okay, that's all the updates for now. Looking forward to some more exciting stuff to share soon!

Erica

New Commercial Reel

Have you seen the commercials I've been in over the past year or so? Would you like to watch them all back to back, with primarily the shots including me? If you answered yes, should I be uncomfortable or flattered?

I've edited together a new commercial reel! Here it is for your enjoyment:

I'm running the Brooklyn Half for the third time on Saturday. (My fourth half marathon.) Wish me luck! I would say I feel tepid about my level of preparedness. While I'm planning to rely on the Hamilton soundtrack to get me through this year's race, I'm generally a big fan of listening to podcasts while I run... or while I do any sort of mundane or boring task, really. Since it's a topic that's come up in many conversations, here's a list of the podcasts I'm currently listening to (grouped together in a way that makes sense to me):

  1. This American Life, Serial, & Radiolab (the obvious ones)
  2. Planet Money & Freakonomics Radio
  3. Reply All, StartUp, & Surprisingly Awesome (all from the company Gimlet—check out all their other shows, too)
  4. NPR Politics, FiveThirtyEight Elections & On the Media (they help me make sense of this presidential election season)
  5. Embedded & Invisibilia
  6. Scriptnotes (This is a little inside baseball for screenwriting, but if you're a writer, it's really fantastic)
  7. KCRW's The Business (Also inside baseball for the film business, but a good way to stay up to speed on industry stuff)
  8. Fresh Air

If you're new to the world of podcasts or haven't heard many of those shows, check them out. Also, I welcome recommendations!

Erica

Write! Right?

Whew... I spent the past couple weeks pushing to get a new draft of my screenplay Scattering Jake written. And I did it! But I'm exhausted.

I did a page one rewrite. For those of you who aren't sure what that means, I wrote a full draft of this script last year (which was a quarterfinalist in the Academy Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships). Upon reflection and re-reading, I knew it had some big problems that I wanted to fix, and I thought I would embrace the challenge of completely rewriting the script from the very beginning. No copy/paste. No tweaking existing scenes. I wrote every single page as though I was writing it for the first time.

Sounds great, right? What a good exercise! I probably cracked it open and wrote a killer new draft! Wrong. I finished it, and I knew almost immediately that it wasn't working. In trying to make it more realistic and grounded, I lost the comedy and more importantly, the fun. It just wasn't working.

Now, the first draft wasn't perfect, but this new draft was definitely worse. Sure, there were some things I improved on. Some characters I made richer and more interesting. A few scenes I made more effective. But overall, this big rewriting exercise ended up being a way for me to prove to myself that the first draft was pretty good.

I made this somewhat frustrating revelation exactly two weeks before a final deadline I really wanted to hit for a big contest. I spent those two weeks "Frankenstein-ing" the different drafts, pulling the better scenes from each of them, writing some entirely new scenes, adding a brand new character into the mix. And somehow, I made the deadline.

Yay!!! 

As I've posted about in the past, writing is hard. It seriously sucks. It's miserable. But getting through it and being on the other side with a finished draft in hand is an awesome experience.

I don't ever want to write again. I quit forever. It's too much work and way too hard. But I can't wait to improve this script and start working on my next one. So I guess I'm stuck... Back to work!

Erica

"Life, After" is Picture Locked!

It's funny how you can make so much progress and yet feel like things are moving so slowly. That's how I would describe post-production. That movement feels a little less slow right now because we crossed an exciting milestone: we've picture locked all the episodes on Life, After! Yay!

Yesterday, our director (and my fiancé... scandal!) Paul had spotting sessions with our VFX supervisor and sound designer/mixer. Still a lot of work to do, but we're significantly closer to releasing the show, which is very exciting.

Otherwise, things have been good and busy. I was traveling recently for an engagement party and some wedding planning. Here I am pretending to be a bride on a visit to our venue:

I'm pretty confident that's how brides stand.

Okay byeee!

Erica

On Cleveland

As you may remember from my previous post, I spent less than 24 hours in Cleveland last week shooting a commercial (which also happened to be the commercial that triggered me to join SAG-AFTRA). I flew out Tuesday night, spent 7 hours in a hotel, shot the commercial (entirely indoors at one location) on Wednesday, and then went straight to the airport to fly back after we wrapped.

I'm including all of this mundane itinerary information to help illustrate for you that I am clearly now intimately familiar with Cleveland. I mean, I know it well. Really well. Like, I've seen it. All of it. Allow me to enlighten you with some of the lesser known facts about life in Cleveland.

ERICA'S GUIDE TO CLEVELAND

  1. There are people in Cleveland.
  2. These people wear clothes, eat food, and drive cars on roads. They use their mouths to talk. They pick things up with their hands. They walk on two feet. 
  3. There are buildings in Cleveland.
  4. Most, if not all, of these buildings have walls, windows, doors, and roofs. 
  5. Cleveland experiences both daytime and nighttime.
  6. However, at the Cleveland airport, it is always nighttime.
  7. Cleveland has at least one hotel.
  8. In that hotel there are such items as a bed, nightstand, alarm clock, desk, small couch, television, sink, closet, safe (for valuables), shower, and toilet. The water bottles are (surprisingly) complimentary.
  9. There is a train track next to the hotel in Cleveland.
  10. The weather in Cleveland is partly cloudy and in the mid 50s.

Here's a scenic photo that really sums up the trip:

Thank you for the memories, Cleveland.

Erica

I'm a SAG-AFTRA member!

Don't worry, credit card, that was just me joining the union. No big deal.

Don't worry, credit card, that was just me joining the union. No big deal.

Remember that time I officially joined SAG-AFTRA the day before flying out of town to shoot a commercial? I do because it was just this morning!

Very proud to have reached this milestone in my career. And looking forward to shooting my first job as an official union member this week!

I know in my last post I teased some exciting news. This isn't the exciting news, and unfortunately, I still can't post it yet. But I swear it's coming. 

Otherwise, we had a screening of Life, After two weeks ago to get some feedback on the edits. It went really well, and I'm excited to be nearing picture lock!

Okay that's all for now!

Erica

An exciting start to 2016

Despite my lack of new posts, there has been NO lack of cool stuff happening. Here's a quick catch up on the events of 2016!

Paul and Corinne watching rough cuts. Corinne doesn't need a chair.

Paul and Corinne watching rough cuts. Corinne doesn't need a chair.

First up, Life, After is moving along through post-production. Corinne and I have been reviewing the episode rough cuts, and we're hoping to have our first feedback/test screening in a couple weeks! I'm very excited with how the show is looking and eager to see it move onto the next stage... which is more post-production (specifically VFX and music). I'll keep updating on the show's progress, and you can follow along yourself on the Life, After website and Facebook page!

Rewrites, here we go!

Rewrites, here we go!

I'm doing rewrites on my feature screenplay, so that's also also keeping me busy. I had a writing professor at NYU who declared that a rewrite meant you literally wrote the entire script over again from the beginning to end. I thought that was crazy. Now, I concede that he was onto something, and I've started again with the empty page. I think it's definitely helpful to resist the urge to just keep tweaking scenes and copy/pasting things around and to make sure I'm really getting to the best version of the story. So we'll see how it goes!

On a personal life note, a little something cool happened over the holidays... I got engaged! My fiancé and I are really excited to be embarking on this next stage of the journey together (that was cheesy... sorry). If anyone wants to indulge in judgement-free wedding planning talk, I am ON BOARD. Also, I bought a dress. Premature, since the wedding isn't targeted until Spring 2017, but when it's the one, it's the one. 

I've got a super exciting piece of news coming VERY SOON, so stay tuned for that! Hope your 2016 is also off to a great start!

- Erica

We Advanced in Project Greenlight’s New Contest

Or “How I learned to stop worrying and love the worst picture of me ever published on the internet.”

Exciting news! Corinne and I submitted a pitch to a new contest from Project Greenlight, where the winner gets $25k to produce an original digital series. And out of the hundreds of submissions, we were one of the twenty to advance to the next round! Woohoo! A huge thank you to the very kind folks at Adaptive Studios for giving us this opportunity!

But of course, the universe dictates that for every good thing there must also be a bad thing. With that, here is the incredibly terrible thumbnail image for our pitch video:

Worst. Thumbnail. Ever.

Worst. Thumbnail. Ever.

Right now, the pitches are all open to a public vote, which will determine one of the five finalists. Voting ends on December 18th, so if you could take a minute to check out our project and vote for us, we would appreciate the support! (It literally takes one minute. Unless you actually watch the pitch video, in which case, it will take exactly three minutes.)

Disclaimer: This is just a very short pitch of a much larger idea! There’s a lot that we need to figure out about the show and world, and the video only reflects a small slice of that. (In other words, I feel vulnerable sharing things at such an early stage.)

https://www.projectgreenlight.com/contests/get-the-greenlight-digital-series-contest/nominees/colony

Thanks so much!!!

Erica

The Birthday Annual Review

Yesterday was my birthday, so I can now proudly say that I successfully survived another rotation around the sun. I feel somewhat mixed when it comes to birthdays, with experiences ranging from "I'm a princess! Shower me with gifts!" to "Holy crap, what am I doing with my life?"

Last year on my birthday, I wrote a post that was crazy long list of things I had done that year, and I thought I'd try that again this year. So here we go, in no particular order, an abridged list of things I did during the Earth's last orbit:

  • Wrote a web series about best friend ghosts with my writing partner Corinne called Life, After
  • Raised over $22k to fund Life, After on Kickstarter. (And also made these silly videos to go along with the campaign)
  • Filmed Life, After with an incredible team - 10 episodes in 7 days
  • Started an LLC and opened a business bank account with Corinne
  • Also made a very silly video series called DIY Friends for iaf.tv with Corinne (they're on my videos page)
  • Finished a first draft of a feature screenplay, Scattering Jake, that I actually like (although it still needs work)
  • Advanced the the quarterfinals of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting with aforementioned screenplay.
  • Submitted to four different contests/fellowships
  • Booked five commercials (Push Pops, Zaxby’s, Match.com, Twist, NFL Fantasy Football... also all on the videos page)
  • Auditioned for way more than five commercials and had a good number of callbacks.
  • Acted in two different educational video series
  • Acted in two different comedic web series (that were NOT created by me… haha)
  • Had a general meeting at a cable network with Corinne
  • Quit my part-time “survival job” of 7.5 years
  • Started practicing and performing with a new, super fun improv team called The Hounds
  • Took another Advanced Study class at UCB
  • Attended nearly 100 Bar Method classes (#obsessed)
  • Ran the Brooklyn Half, my third half marathon (and slowest time yet… it happens)
  • Became fans and season ticket holders of NYCFC with my boyfriend and attended a whole bunch of games at Yankee Stadium, two at Red Bull Arena, and one at RFK in DC with Paul’s parents
  • Went to two weddings and two (different) engagement parties
  • Visited Canada with my family and celebrated my grandfather’s 90th birthday
  • Celebrated Thanksgiving on a Delaware beach
  • Performed in the premiere of the Jazz Mass for World Peace that my mother composed
  • Did the most fun improv show of my life with Corinne and our friend Megan, wherein we came up with the phrase “Space Boat”
  • Made LOTS of Blue Apron meals
  • Had a terrible stomach virus (not related to the Blue Apron meals)
  • Watched too much (or not enough?) television
  • Hit snooze on my phone alarm an insane number of times
  • Became obsessed with Hamilton and have lost the lottery twice so far
  • Successfully did Escape the Room with friends, which is the most fun thing ever, and we're doing another one soon
  • Locked myself out of the apartment multiple times (thankfully, Paul works nearby, and Corinne has keys)
  • Had a wonderful birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant with friends

So here's to another year... and my final chance to make a 30 Under 30 list. 

I'm a princess! Shower me with gifts!

Erica

Back on Set

I spent all yesterday on set for a fun comedy web series pilot. We shot at the YouTube Space in NY. It's essentially a really amazing facility with studios that are available for free to YouTubers who have at least 5,000 subscribers. So let that be your new goal. Anyway, the shoot was fun, and the project should be very silly (in the best way possible). I'll obviously let you know once it's up. For now, here's your only teaser—a completely obscured and non-revealing picture of the studio.

In other news, I went in for a feature film audition today and have had a bunch of commercial callbacks recently, and of course Life, After is on its slow journey through post-production. So I'm keeping busy! I have some fun things I plan to share very soon, so definitely stay tuned. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend!

Erica

That's a wrap on "Life, After"

Holy cabooses! Last Tuesday, we officially wrapped production on "Life, After!" Why has it taken me so long to write about it? Well, it was only the most intense seven days I've had in a LONG time, so I needed a little recovery time. Now, a week out from wrap, life is almost back to normal, and I've reemerged into the outside world!

First off, I have to express some major gratitude. The week we spent shooting was only possible because we had the most incredible, hard-working amazing team and because of the wonderful, generous support we received from our Kickstarter backers, family, and friends. (See my very long thank you paragraph to the crew at the bottom of this post.)

I can't believe how much we got through in seven days. A party scene with background actors, an ambulance, locking off a street with an NYPD officer, special VFX shots. That's not even counting the more normal stuff like the number of cast and locations we were working with and the fact that we shot about 36 pages of content. 

I'm sure I'll be writing plenty more about this as the project moves through post production. We are aiming for a Valentine's Day release (fingers crossed!). For now, here are some photos from the shoot to enjoy.

Now for the long thank you list.

Tessa Treanor, our producer, is a goddess and has been such an amazing champion of our work for a ridiculously long amount of time. She was rocking some incredible behind-the-scenes magic during the entire shoot that made all of our lives easier. Paul Penczner, our director (and my boyfriend... scandal!), did an amazing job navigating through the insane amount of material and challenges the scripts presented and really gave it his all on very little sleep as we worked through the super tight schedule. So grateful for his hard work and support. Andrew Penczner, our AD (and Paul's brother... I know, I know, nepotism) was such a champion for coming in from Los Angeles with his amazing camera package and working his tail off filling in pretty much every other role on the shoot. He was a million places at once, and we couldn't have done it with out him. Matthew Troy, our DP, has been one of my closest friends and collaborators since NYU, and he really took a beating strapping on that heavy camera rig again and again during our long shooting dates. He worked relentlessly and was always fully present and dedicated to doing the best work possible. Abigail completely rocked the wardrobe department, and I will forever channel her ability to navigate a clothing store. Andy and Gabby did an amazing job as our art department. (Andy's shrine to us for one of the episodes is completely horrifying and hilarious.) Matt's camera team of Christie and Joann (and Maddie) were incredible. Our sound mixer Alan is the greatest (along with our boom ops Louis and Tarcisio). Super grateful for the invaluable production support we received from Nicki and Willy. The amazing Jess Troy cooked us two incredible meals, and the Caputo family came all the way out from Staten Island to bring us lunch!

I know I'm invariably forgetting people. I promise there will be more gratitude posts. For now, I will blame the fact that I'm still recovering. Thank you a million times over to everyone, and I will be sure to keep you all posted on our progress!!!

Erica

Yes, that's me in the Match.com commercial!

Your eyes have not betrayed you. If you saw a crazy girl rambling on about wanting to be wrapped in a white picket fence in a Match.com commercial, and you thought, "that looks like Erica," then you were correct. Very happy to have this silly, fun spot on air. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out here: 

I'd Like to Thank the Academy and the NFL...

My lack of posts lately in no way reflects a lack of exciting news.

Let's jump right in. I had the unbelievable fortune a couple weeks ago of learning that my feature film screenplay Scattering Jake is a quarterfinalist in the Academy Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships. Yes, that's "The Academy," as in, the one people thank when they receive an Oscar. I'll go ahead and let you know now that I did not advance to the semifinals, but I am still totally floored to have gotten this far. Here's why:

You may remember a post from last year about my challenges with writing. (If not, here it is.) I set a goal back in September to finish a script in time to submit to the Nicholl Fellowships along with two other opportunities that had the same deadline. I submitted with no expectation of any outcome, but rather as a way to overcome my writing demons, finish a project, and prove that I could achieve a goal with a deadline. This particular contest seemed like SUCH a long shot, with its thousands of applicants and the fact that it's really a contest for finished scripts and mine was going to barely be a finished draft. I paid extra to get the feedback from the readers, hoping that at the very least I could get some notes from outsiders and use those to help my revisions. I finished this draft two days before submitting, read it out loud way too late at night with my producer Tessa, and sent it the next day.

So maybe you can understand how CRAZY it felt when I got an email from the Academy that started with the word "Congratulations." Mine was somehow one of the 375 scripts to make it out of the first round of 7,442 submissions. 375 out of 7,442. Regardless of not making the next cut down to 149 scripts, I'm going to revel in this awesome piece of outside validation.

As artists, we all (or at least I) have to find a way to keep working despite the rejection, self-doubt, and fear of failure. No one deserves success. But when you've really worked hard and have found a way to keep going in the face of every good reason to quit, a little bit of positive reinforcement is a pretty cool reward. Before this news, I had been avoiding reading the script and working on it because I was sure it would be terrible, and I'd have to start over. Now, I'm feeling excited to dive in on those revisions and hopeful that maybe (just maybe) I'm on to something here.

How does the NFL tie in with this? It doesn't. BUT a commercial I filmed for NFL Fantasy Football is now up online! Check it out: 

I'll leave it at that for now. (This post is definitely long enough.) I'll be sure to share some updates on Life, After soon, so watch out for that. For now, here are some adorable pictures from a recent production meeting of our director Paul with our newly hired gaffer Bailey. (She's very creative.)

Erica

WE DID IT!!!

What a month! I feel like June was some sort of strange time warp, and I'm only now stepping out of it and trying to figure out where I am and what's happening. But it was worth it because "LIFE, AFTER" WAS FULLY FUNDED ON KICKSTARTER!!!

We took the Kickstarter money and moved to Mexico!!! Just kidding... We did, however, enjoy a celebration day (for free) at the beach!

We took the Kickstarter money and moved to Mexico!!! Just kidding... We did, however, enjoy a celebration day (for free) at the beach!

Woohoo!!!! 

I definitely plan to write more soon about the process of running the campaign. I learned a lot, and it was hard work, but the encouragement, kindness, and generosity we received from our 301 backers and from the additional friends who shared or supported us throughout the campaign was incredible. THANK YOU ALL from the bottom of my heart!!!

How can you continue to follow along with this project now that the fundraising campaign has ended? You can subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook, or check out our website! We'll be posting lots of updates as we move through pre-production and get closer to making this series a reality!

Erica

Kickstarter Update: Over $10,000!

Whew! Everything I've heard about a Kickstarter campaign being a full time job is completely accurate. But I couldn't be more thrilled with how things are going. As of this update, we've raised $10,284 towards our goal with the support of 118 incredible backers!!!

We also got an awesome write up on Bustle!

Here's a YouTube playlist of all the "Ghosts Can't" videos we've put out so far:

I have been so overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity that we have received. I was honestly a little terrified going into this campaign to be asking people to contribute, but it's become a really wonderful way to reconnect with awesome friends of past and present. Thank you to everyone for your pledges, for sharing the project, and for the kind words of encouragement. Here's to the next 17 days and reaching 100%!

Erica

"Life, After" Kickstarter Has Launched!

What a week! On Tuesday, Corinne and I officially launched our Kickstarter campaign for our upcoming series, Life After.

Here's our pitch video:

As of right now, we've already raised 30% of our budget! I'm so excited and humbled by the amazing and generous support we've received so far. Just gotta keep it going for 25 more days!

It's been a pretty crazy week, so I'm gonna keep it at that for now. I'll be posting updates as the campaign progresses. In the mean time you can visit our Kickstarter page, our Facebook page, and the official Life, After website. Good night!

Erica