Artist interview: Filmmaker Skyler Barrett
Skyler Barrett is the creator and head writer for the webseries Reckless Juliets.
Reckless Juliets is a deftly produced web series about teenage girls and their complex lives and friendships. Where did the idea come from?
I came up with the story for "Reckless Juliets" around 2009 while I was attending film school in Los Angeles. As a screenwriting major, I was trying to think of a story for my first feature script. I've always loved writing for women, especially teenagers, and noticed that there was a lack of material for strong, female leads in that age group. So, I came up with a story about a teenage girl named Carmody who found her older sister after she'd committed suicide due to a lifelong struggle with mental illness. The story began two years after the suicide and focused on the lives of Carmody and her three best friends. I wanted the script to be flashback heavy showing the sister's illness through a younger Carmody's eyes. The feature never came to fruition as there were too many characters to facilitate a two-hour film. In early 2016, I wrote a seven page Pilot and decided to take the leap and tell the story on the web instead, hoping to sell an hour long Pilot to networks later.
Who is the audience for the series?
The age group varies. Girls thirteen to seventeen or late-teens. Women in their twenties and thirties. Men have also given great feedback on the show. The audience keeps expanding.
You’re still shooting, is that right? Where is the project up to? When do you expect to finish production?
We are still in production. Seven episodes have been shot and there are ten in the season. Two minisodes are also scheduled to be shot. Finishing everything will depend on funding (of course).
How have you funded the series?
Crowdfunding, donations through family and friends, and self-financing.
You went to IndieGoGo for support, how has that worked for you?
It worked great.
Has the IndieGoGo campaign grown your community at all?
The crowdfunding campaign didn’t really grow the community, but it helped people find out more information on the show and learn more about the actors and crew.
You are across a number of social media platforms, which one has the most audience engagement for you?
How have you built your followers on Facebook?
Promoting the page and the promo videos, which have done really well. Word of mouth too.
You’re keeping your Facebook followers updated with a heap of behind the scenes posts, are they reacting well to that?
Definitely. People like seeing what’s going on behind the scenes on our shoots and in post-production. I like to keep them updated so that they can take the journey with us. Having a set photographer (Sam Sherdel) has also been crucial to the success of the series. There's always new content to post and we gain new followers every week.
Tumblr is a place that many teenagers feel at home, has Tumblr been important for Reckless Juliets?
It’s getting there, though our audience is bigger on Instagram. I post gif sets on Tumblr that have gotten some attention.
The web series has gathered an impressive number of nominations and awards, is that part of your marketing strategy?
Absolutely. It’s crucial for a web series to submit to festivals. The more people in the industry that know about the show the better.
Reckless Juliets deals with the dramas, the highs, and lows, that many teenagers experience. How have you incorporated some of those themes in your marketing material?
The video promos that we’ve posted are usually geared towards teenagers with fun music and some of the funnier moments in the series.
At what stage did you sit down and develop a marketing strategy for the series?
That's hard because we're such a small, micro budget production and can't afford a marketing wiz. I use social media to market and tag the posts appropriately so that more people can find us. Posting funny gifs has helped tremendously.
Have you stuck to that strategy or has it evolved as you’ve moved through production and into post-production?
It’s definitely evolved between when the Pilot was released in August 2016 to now.
Where to next for Reckless Juliets?
Finding the money to shoot the rest of the season, and possibly distribution.
After you’ve finished on the festival circuit where do you hope to take the series?
I’m working on an hour long Pilot to pitch to networks next year. The content will stay in the same vein, so ideally networks like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or Starz.