Ashley: Welcome to episode #134 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplaypodcast.com. Today, I’m interviewing writer/director Christian Sesma who wrote the recent feature film, “The Vigilante Diaries.” “Vigilante Diaries” started out as a web series, a short web series they put together. And has slowly grown into this feature film. So we talked through that entire process, how he got the web series done. And ultimately how he was able to turn it into a feature film. So stay tuned for that.
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So, I’m now deep into production of my crime, thriller, feature, “The Pinch” We are shooting July 9th through July 29th 2016. So, I’m pre-recording a bunch of Podcast episodes in late June. So, I’ll be able to keep publishing the Podcast through July while I’m shooting the film. I’m going to try and put out updates through the various social media channels. So please follow me on Twitter, and that’s www.twitter.com/ashleyscottmeyers. Or like, SYS on Facebook, that’s www.facebook.com/sellingyourscreenplay. Or subscribe to our YouTube Channel, which is www.youtube.com/sellingyourscreenplay. And I just set-up a new InstaGram account, which is www.instagram.com/ashleyscottmeyers. I have someone who will be shooting some behind the scenes footage. So, I will try and get that posted to YouTube and Facebook as we are shooting. And I will have my cellphone, and just snap some pictures, and I’ll try and publish those on Twitter and InstaGram. So keep an eye out for all of that, and wish me luck. So, I will keep new episodes coming out through July. But I won’t be able to give real time updates. So, check out my various social media channels for those real time updates on “The Pinch.” And once filming is completed, I’ll be back. And I’ll give a full wrap-up of the entire process of shooting the film. So, that’s what I’m working on.
Now, let’s get into the main segment.
Ashley: Welcome Christian to the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me.
Christian: My pleasure, my pleasure.
Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you can give us a quick overview of your background? How you kind of got into the business, and how you got your first couple of professional credits?
Christian: Sure, pretty none, a pretty normal if you will? I mean, they, I’ve been living here as opposed to like me going to film school. Instead, I went to San Diego State University, where I got a degree in Anthropology, of all things. In the mean time I was always, you know, writing short stories. Having grown-up an absolute movie buff, and in the theater every weekend. A true story actually, in 2003 my appendix ruptured and I ended up in the hospital for about a month. And then in the hospital bed I started thinking. I ended up reading, Robert Rodriguez’s film school article and ended up reading Reynold’s from afar, and “My Crew.” And it inspired me to maybe pick-up a camera, and do a short film. Just for fun, just one of the big pivotal moments. I got inspired to do that. Again, I was inspired to do that. I had no formal training in screenwriting or film making. But I was inspired, ya know. Because there’s something realistic about go up and taking that story and putting some action behind it. Again, so, I picked up a small, call it a camera, picked up a bunch of screenplays. And I really, really liked it. And for me instead of trying to self-teach, I started teaching myself and my style of teaching, and my type of writing. Later I made a short film that was mention in a short film festival in Palm Springs, where I was born and raised. And that was kinda it, kinda, it was on after that. I mean, the short film, in 2006 I drummed up $15,000.00 – $16,000.00 family went through their friends and made my first full length feature film at that time. And it got bought by a small company. But it was put out on Blockbuster and Fry’s and stuff like that. And it’s been going well ever since, pretty much. It’s really been, you know, my film school, and early start. It’s been a very public life, to where all of the mistakes in the things I’ve done, often don’t show. You know, it’s really all out there through out the vary, you know, it’s very rare. Usually when you get a chance to make a film. Well, not always, but sometimes, you really learn the craft. And so, just the basics. Then you go out and you do a feature film and stuff. It’s either short or hopefully go out and start making another film. You know, it was kind of a trial by fire. Picking up and learning some stuff about film making and then making another film. And very Rodriguez.
Ashley: How many shorts?
Christian: It’s been going in the front.
Ashley: How many shorts? Yeah, yeah, how many shorts?
Christian: Two, I did two shorts.
Christian: A couple.
Ashley: Okay, and then you went on, okay.
Christian: One was called, “Recycled” and the other was called, “Things that Go Bump in the Night.”
Ashley: Okay the, what was the first feature? Okay, the one, “Six Thirty?” was it on IMDb?
Christian: Six Thirty, yeah, that was the one, yeah, a-huh. That small little thing we did. You know, like I said, in under $20,000.00 when it came out. Then I did another little film shoot. All, low-low-budget. I did a little horror thing. That’s where I kinda heard the term, “Learning the basics of film making.” But what I consider my true first “Indie Film.” Shooting here in 2010. Learned how to compete on and Indie film budget.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s dig into “Vigilante Diaries.” Let’s see, is that your most recent film, you wrote and directed?
Ashley: Maybe you can just start out by just giving me a log-line or pitch for it.
Christian: Oh, you want the pitch for it?
Ashley: Yeah, maybe you can give us, the log-line, or pitch for, “Vigilante Diaries?”
Christian: Yeah. So, “Vigilante Diaries” is about a street super hero. Followed by a documentary film maker. And basically he gets into basically with his headphones. With the super hero he discovers this strange crazy underground world of mob options, and mercenaries, and violence, and abrupt capital. And ends up doing hard and overall he did where a world once a world of chaos and violence.
Ashley: Yeah. So, this started out as the web series, correct?
Christian: Yeah, totally.
Ashley: So, maybe you can take us through that process of. Because there’s lots of screenwriters out there creating web content. That maybe you can take us through that process of having the web series. How did you actually get to the point where you found funding for the feature film?
Christian: Well, this web series came in between the feature film. So, Paul Fion the writer, and myself, were in between feature film projects. And we were looking, again, for something to kind of pass the time and keep our skills sharp. Arthur and Capital pass the time and keep our skills sharp. Arthur and Capital film makers here. Was just about doing and staying in practice. So, you know, we called up our buddy Jason News, and a bunch of interviews that seemed like. You want to go off and make this really unique crazy. This couple episode web series. About the stone again, it said. And the idea was to do it, a very graphic novel, hard video lines. And plummish itself story. But we didn’t do it until that. A company called, “Spill That” Came and offered us a few episodes. So the web series wound up not going anywhere, So, it was a web series, so we premeired here at Comic Cons was a lot of fun. We set-up and went the last two times. It was good, and that was it, it was now a year later. My producing buddy, who also made, when he was a financier and inched forward and said, “Hey, this made on a scene from Paul and I were laughing when we called him. Actually far more support. And they were like, Hey, you guys have 20 mintes? I just passed on a web series, why don’t you? Why don’t we shoot for another hour, and make a full length full feature movie out of it, “The Vigilante Diaries” This could really be crazy, so that was the start of what happened, and how they said it happened, how it came to be.
Ashley: Okay, just so now I understand this? You repurposed those web series and put them into the feature film? So, it’s literally some of the same footage? Or you re-shot everything from the start?
Christian: Well, no. Not totally from the start. At the time “Vigilante Diaries” had been a very trippie project. Where it’s a lot of the films. So, we shot like the movie back in 2014. And yeah, it was 2014. We used about 20, if we used the full web series footage right? Forget that, people watched the movie completely, and everyone loved it. And they immediately gave us the rights to do a sequel. Just so they could do a two-package deal. Then shopped for people overseas. And that’s where we discovered a need. London, Glasco, and other places like that. And so, on the way back from that trip. I thought to myself, we’ll get one of these main areas. A very unique thing to do. We took all the footage, and put it back to the original cut of and we went back all the way to the third act. It’s been this more work to the footage, and storyline. So, we abandon the sequel idea, and merged these two stories together. To make one crazy episode, action Indie. And actually that’s what happened. So we winded up with that short. I did a shot at the beginning and a shot at the ending. What the original web series footage became. It just became a two-minute flashing point. And for Jason Hughes kind of cut of all scenes with it.
Ashley: I see.
Christian: It kinda became everything. But the original “Vigilante Diaries” that was kinda part 1 after the scenes got cut, and all that. It was the first half of the movie.
Ashley: I see, now you had Jason Hughes involved with this. Was he someone you had worked with before on other projects. How did you actually come to meet him?
Christian: Yeah, Jason and I met on our first film, “Shoot to Kill” He was the lead in that. And you know, as we became great buddies after that. Oh, you know, we always wanted to work together. And you know Peter was also my lead as well. And that’s how that came about. Most of all, never think it can’t happen, that’s for sure.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Now take me through, you said you got some parts funding for this web series. How did you go about getting that? Obviously for the web series there’s not a lot of chance of recouping the money. So, it’s always difficult to raise money for a short web series and stuff. How do you get some financing?
Christian: At the time, it was a company called, Spill.com owned by couple of friends of mine. They were Crowd Funding idea at the time. In their respect, they had a number of great start up, and so they had a going into payment kinda style of it. Instead of doing it as a pure Indie film or whatever. What they did was put up the initial pay money. And based on that people, they would buy the episodes off of that. And a bunch in common. where they would get further fund, further episodes and that would help. And that’s how the idea made it anyway. So make you out a few dates would fund the episode and then after that, who was for a face off of the revenue. It was as if watching every day. That part was it. So, the model didn’t work. They had other projects, I’m thinking model gem same thought. And that’s what the whole production at one time could get it out. Along with the company itself.
Ashley: I see, I see. Now take us back even before that, you talk about these first two movies. It sound like at least the first one is “Six Thirty” is basically funded through friends and family, however you could scrape the money together. And at some point, you took that leap, where your actually bringing in funding. What kind of lead to that point? I mean, that’s the real point, the real jumping off point where people who are. You know, are sophisticated and are actually investing in your projects. Where was that point, and how did you make that leap from you know? just getting money, to getting it from friends and family, to actually having a professional company coming into that.
Christian: I think a person comes from actually having the body of the show actually marketable, and tangible. And actually being able to have them make some kind of profit, to you know. Or be sellable, frank at “Six Thirty” “Six Thirty” actually be sold. And actually on shelves. And take myself through a project, somewhere and do it my term. I couldn’t take it, hey, why don’t you go with “X” company and the next hundred guys wrong. It could be, do it $100,000.00 for an independent film, that’s unacceptable. I do think that whether you are a formal television, you definitely have something to show. It especially one from another, you know. Short films, something real, something to show, that you know, some entertainment, art, highly skilled art form that it is, even in a business sense, you have to really enjoy stuff. The fact that, the idea, that you are enter. You have to approach each movie, as your starting a business, that you have some comfort. You have to make sure it’s packaged correct. You know, your business plan is correct. What makes you sellable, what or why you think it will do well in the marketplace. You know, that’s just until you are involved to spend a million dollars. Are you a face to keep track of, things like that. It isn’t just about you and he making money, opportune things. You mitigate that compliment. Not only patience, you have to have a business mind on a certain level.
Ashley: So, how can people see “The Vigilante Diaries?” You know what the release schedule is?
Christian: Yeah, absolutely. The “Vigilante Diaries” comes out this Friday, June 24 and starts it’s release in Iceland. And then July 25 it’s heading onto ON DEMAND and then everywhere.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. And I always like to wrap up the interviews by asking guests to share with whatever he’s comfortable with in terms of social media. If you are on Twitter, or Facebook, you can mention those handles. Just so someone, lots of people can follow you.
Christian: Of course, obviously you can find me on Facebook. Christian Sesma, on InstaGram and Twitter and that’s @ChristianSesma that’s C-h-r-i-s-t-i-a-n.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect, and I assume “Vigilante Diaries” you have a Facebook and Twitter up for those as well?
Christian: Yep, a-huh, yep.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect, perfect. So, I’ll track all that down I will put it in the show notes, so people can click on over to that. I appreciate this, Christian, coming on and talking with me. Good luck with your film.
Christian: Thank you so much.
Ashley: I just want to mention two things I’m doing at “Selling Your Screenplay” to help screenwriters find producers that are looking for material.
First, I’ve created a monthly newsletter, sent directly to producers. Every member of SYS Select, can submit one log-line per newsletter per month. I went and Emailed my large database of producers and asked them if they would like to receive this monthly newsletter of pitches? So far, I have well over 300 producers who have signed-up to receive it. These producers are hungry for new material and happy to read scripts from new writers. So, if you want to participate in this pitch newsletter. And get your script into the hands of eager producers. Sign-up at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select.
And secondly, I’ve partnered with one of the paid premier screenwriting leads sites. So I can syndicate their leads to SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently I’ve been getting ten to twelve high quality leads per week. These are producers and production companies who are actively looking to buy material. Or are looking to hire a screenwriter for a specific project. You sign-up for SYS Select, you’ll get these leads Emailed directly to you several times per week. These leads run the gambit from production companies looking for specific type of spec. script. To producers looking to hire screenwriters to write up one of their ideas. There are shorts, feature films, producers looking for TV and web series pilots. It’s a huge aray of different types of projects these producers are looking for. And these leads are exclusive to our partner at SYS Select members. To sign-up, go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select. Again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select.
That’s the show, thank you for listening.