By Evyenia Constantine
This year’s Chicago International Film Festival included a panel series called Industry Days. Last Saturday, the topic was web series, and how the distribution model impacts everything from funding to finding an audience.
One of the panelists, Sam Bailey, was on hand to discuss You’re So Talented, a series she co-executive produces, writes, directs and stars in. The series is available on Open TV, and follows Bea, an out of work Chicago actor, as she navigates her twenties and its inevitable dramas.
If the show sounds familiar, perhaps, in addition to being a fan, you (like me) have taken a class at Northwestern University with Dr. Aymar Jean Christian, who teaches an MSLCE course on digital television.
Dr. Christian created Open TV, a platform for art and television by queer, trans and cis-women and people of color. A Chicago native, Bailey said she noticed a need for her voice and a “hole for content of young people of color.” She believes Open TV is a great match for her show, connecting her creative work to an eager audience.
Initially, Bailey reached out to Dr. Christian in the hopes he would review her series, but the partnership grew; he helped her secure funding to finish production on season one. After production was completed, Bailey fielded other offers for distribution, but still believed Open TV was the best fit for her. “It really felt right,” she said with a smile.
Bailey told the crowd You’re So Talented began gaining traction online when the trailer went on Tumblr, and “someone major shared it.” Another reason, is the high production value and quality of the series, which began to attract a very enthusiastic audience of “film dudes in college.”
It wasn’t long before the industry began to notice. You’re So Talented was honored by this year’s Tribeca Film Festival as part of their New Online Work Program, and just this past week, the series received a nomination for Breakthrough Series-Short Form at the 2015 Gotham Awards. As the debut of season two approaches, clearly both Bailey and Christian have much to celebrate.
“I’m thrilled the Gotham Awards has joined the growing list of academies honoring excellence in short form storytelling,” Christian said. “These series are to long form TV what indie films are to studio films. They are a breeding ground for next generation, diverse talent, which You’re So Talented exemplifies so perfectly.”