Meet the stars of “Booked” – A New Webseries From Cast It Talent

Booked Webseries
Every Actor wants to be “Booked.”  Ali and Sarah want to take you along with them on their journey.

Of all the ways the internet and modern technology have shaped the life of today’s actor, perhaps one of the most exciting is the newfound ability to create and produce our own content. A far cry from the days of waiting to be “discovered” in the perfect role- or, if you did have an idea for a show, needing to spend many thousands of dollars to get your dream from paper to screen- today’s affordable technology, coupled with easy and readily-available distribution channels (think YouTube) have totally changed the game.

Meet Sarah Chang and Ali Hinds, the writers and producers behind the new web series, “Booked”

ES: What is your background in the film industry?

SC: I’ve been an actor and writer for many years. I did a lot of theatre in college and post-college, which eventually forayed into TV/film/commercials. In recent years, there was a point in my acting career where I was only doing commercials, and what Ali and I found was that there was so many hilarious situations within the whole struggle of booking a commercial audition, whether it’s what you’re asked to do or be, or the whole drama of running from day job to audition to audition while dealing with LA traffic. As for other projects, I recently wrote, produced, and acted in a festival-bound short film called “Alice”, and have had the opportunity to be in some great TV shows recently, including “Transparent” and “Rizzoli and Isles”. I also have a strong background in new media, having worked at Maker Studios and Fullscreen, and watching the rise of self-created content. Speaking of new media, I’m also scheduled to be in the pilot episode of “Kings of Con”, a web series created by Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict in a few weeks.

AH: I’ve been writing short films and TV shows since I was a kid, but really started taking it more seriously when I entered film school at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Writing has always been my first love, but then I became interested in development and spent some time working for HBO Documentaries and Sports in New York and then HBO Original Programming in Los Angeles. From there I freelanced a lot for different studios and production companies…then got married and knocked up!

ES: Is this your first foray into creating your own content?

SC: I’ve done some online videos after many years of promoting other people’s content at Maker Studios, but really started ramping up this year by doing a whole series with “Booked”. But I found I also love traditional media and getting my film, “Alice”, made was a good balance to our short but sweet “Booked” vignettes. I’m also currently writing a feature film.

AH: I’ve been writing pilots for a long time. Last summer, I also put up a moth-like storytelling showcase called “Tits, Gigs, and Kids”, which turned out to be a big hit. I got some traction with a comedy pilot, “Two for One”, over a year ago but it never got a development deal. This is my first web series.

ES: Could you give us a quick synopsis of what this series is about?

SC: It’s loosely based on our own experiences, and follows the trials and tribulations of being a commercial actress.

AH: As Sarah mentioned, it’s about what actors go through to try to book a commercial. I think commercial auditioning is different than other types of entertainment because it really depends on what the client is looking for — a certain look, style, etc. — and sometimes has nothing to do with you, personally. But it can be tough not to take it personally!

ES: Ha- that is definitely the truth! So, what gave you the initial idea for this series?

SC: Ali and I met on the set of a USAA commercial last year and we just hit it off. I couldn’t stop laughing at her stories and shared some of my own experiences as an actor, and I’ve been itching to do more of my productions so I suggested we do a web series. It was one of those things that felt like it was up in the air, but I reached out her later on and somehow made it happen.

AH: I’m new to acting. I fell into it about a year ago. I happened to book a “real people” Chevy commercial last April. It got a lot of run time and people started suggesting that I pursue more commercial acting. So I sort of thought I’d give it a college try and just see what happens. From that point, I’ve booked 7 other commercials and have been on quite a few auditions. It’s always such a funny experience for me not being really “in” this industry until now. As a writer, I found myself in so many odd situations at commercial auditions. From being asked to “stroke wood” (which is what one of our episodes is based on) to being asked to dance and cat walk strut IN SLOW MOTION with confidence while fake paparazzi take my photo. It’s just been comic gold for me as a writer. So when I met Sarah and started sharing these experiences with her, I told her as a writer person, I feel like there has to be a story or a web series here. Which she quickly agreed and said she too has been really feeling the need to write and create her own content and suggested we collaborate. Then sure enough, right after the New Year, I got a text from Sarah basically saying “are we going to make this happen or what?!” And we met up, I poured my guts out to her, and she’s been stuck with me ever since.

ES: What sort of equipment (ie, camera, editing software, etc) are you using?

SC: We started out in Ali’s apartment, with one camera stand and the other behind the camera. Once in a while, my husband would come and hold the boom, because the sound was all over the place. We learned quickly how to get what we needed and slowly expanded, getting more help from friends, both on and off the camera. Cast It has been instrumental in helping our production and supporting us in this crazy process.

AH: We have been shooting on an old Canon Rebel in my apartment. I even shot episode 2 just with my iPhone because I was literally going to a fitness audition and thought it was ridiculous how hard it was to try to change in my car in tight spandex material discreetly, and thought, “I should be capturing this ridiculousness!” Initially, we just wanted to run and gun it and see what happens. We weren’t as concerned with production value — which drove me crazy being a person who went to film school and worked with studios! But Sarah offers me a good balance. She’s all about just getting the work done and not being self-conscious about it, getting your voice out there. Now we’re trying to step it up a little more with our production and definitely will with Season 2.

ES: In creating a single episode, how long does the process take from start to finish?

SC: It started out that we would shoot one episode on the weekend and then edit it that week. We’ve figured out how to shoot a few episodes in a day, but editing is always a longer process, especially with more actors, crew, more complex storyline, etc. We try and keep it simple because Ali and I still have to juggle the other parts of our other lives- including day jobs, auditions, other projects, families, etc. We’ve gotten the actual shooting down, so we don’t do that many takes and move through the production day pretty quickly.

AH: We usually write out the scene or outline it first and share with each other for notes, and then on the actual production day try to bang out as much as we can. We’ve found that while shooting if we try to overthink it, we lose the spontaneity and authentic funniness. So a lot of it is simply improv.

ES: What has been the most challenging about the whole process? Most fun?

SC: Staying in it when we come across one production challenge after the other. There was one time we were trying to get through shooting a number of episodes, we were working with adorable kids, and we had been through a number of takes and took a break. I turned off the mic because I thought we were going to break for a while and the next take was gold, but we couldn’t use it because we had no sound. Ali and I joke- there’s always something, it’s just about navigating it as gracefully as one can. Which sometimes is not so much, but hey, we do the best we can.

AH: As Sarah mentioned, the production part has been most challenging and post-production. Since initially it was just the two of us, it took some juggling. I’m also not the most technical person in the world, which was hard when we’d run into editing challenges and other production issues. The fun is just having fun! Sharing our stories with each other and the banter between us as we film, especially when one of us is playing the Casting Person behind the camera.

ES: So then, lastly: if you could offer any piece of advice to someone interested in embarking on the journey of creating their own content, what would it be?

SC:  Find people and something you’re interested in and start making things together. The hardest part is getting over one’s own expectations and thoughts on the finished product, but that’s not actually what matters in the end. The best part about making this series with Ali and all the other wonderful people we get on the show are the times we make each other laugh.

AH: Don’t get caught up in what you think the response will be. Just get your voice out there. Sarah has really been helping me with this. I’m sure I’ll still get completely heady and overthink everyone’s opinions as we launch with Cast It, but I’m trying really hard just to “own” our content and kick fear in the face. Everyone has a story. Sometimes even the same or very similar storylines, themes, set ups, etc. But only you can tell YOUR story! So tell it!

Thanks so much for your time, ladies! You can catch the latest episodes of “Booked” every Friday on Cast It Talent!

** Cast It Talent is proud to sponsor “Booked” the Webseries and way of life for Actors.  Today, actors have are able to write, shoot, and distribute their own content and take control of their careers like never before.  We believe that creating content empowers the actor in ways that were never possible.  Let us know what projects you are shooting.  Maybe you’ll be the next Cast It Talent webseries.  Watch new episodes every week on Cast It Talent!

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Elizabeth Elizabeth Sekora is an actress and classically trained soprano living in Los Angeles. She has 24 years of experience in theatre, film, opera, television, and voiceover work, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

One Comment

  1. Elaine Ballace
    Posted July 8, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    How do I get BOOKED on BOOKED? Check out YouTube CAMP ELAINE, especially THE AUDITION!!

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