When you’re writing your scenes don’t you often picture the story as a movie? If you’re like me, I bet you often write your prose from the perspective of a camera’s lens too. Am I right? You zoom in. You zoom out. And don’t you know what the character’s look like? You picture them in your mind as you work, and sometimes you keep their photo next to your computer as you write.
How would you like to be a part of making your novel’s movie–even choosing the actors?
I am often looking for new ways of doing things, especially when it comes to marketing. I love creative thinking in my stories and business and consider myself a true entrepreneur.
When I created CACHE a PREDATOR’s book trailer I wanted a movie. I saw the book unfolding a certain way, but it didn’t make sense to spend big dollars on hiring a film crew to make the book trailer. So I settled for a still-photo type of book trailer. I’m very happy with what Cathy Helms (Avalon Graphics) did for me.
But when I saw the following book trailer, or the SALVAGED WEB SERIES, I LOVED it. I wanted to meet the creator and learn more about this whole idea of doing a WEB SERIES.
Here’s the definition of WEB SERIES according to Wikipedia: “A web series is a series of episodes released on the Internet or also by mobile or cellular phone, and part of the newly emerging medium called web television. A single instance of a web series program is called an episode (the term webisode has been largely deprecated).”
I believe that Stefne Miller is on the cutting edge of a new idea, a new way of marketing Attie’s story, and I wanted to share this idea with you. (I love that she’s a Christian author too.) Watch this movie and tell me what you think. This video has been viewed over 42,000 times. Stefne has created a MEGA BUZZ for her book in a short amount of time. Follow her and watch her results.
Interview with Stefne Miller
1. Please tell us about this series. What’s the premise?
The web series is based on the first seven chapters of my first novel, Salvaged, which tells the story of a teenaged girl who survived the car accident that killed her mother and best friend. She has moved back to Oklahoma and will be living with the Bennett family for the summer. It was the Bennett’s daughter, Melody, that died in the car accident. The story follows Attie as she deals with her grief, begins to live life again, and has to face her growing feelings for Melody’s brother, Riley.
2. Is the audience primarily teens?
While it is a story written for young adults, at least half of it’s readers/viewers are over the age of 18. It’s a simple love story that appeals to girls and women of all ages.
3. How many books do you have written for the series?
There are two books, Salvaged and its sequel, Rise.
4. Is each video one scene from the book?
No. Once we understood how much money we had to work with, what the budget would be, and how many scenes we would be able to shoot, I broke it down and found a place in the story that would be a natural break (or end of act). Then, I chose the most popular/loved scenes, and added other scenes around those – while also paying attention to fitting in back story, etc. Each 4-8 minute episde focuses on one to three scenes.
5. How many books do you have to sell to break even from your films?
With the budget that was used, I would have to sell thousands of books to break even. Originally, we didn’t create the project to sell books. Our production company created it to be a proof of concept reel for a possible tv series. It was only after we started the project that we decided to also release the material as a web series. Had I only developed the web series to tell the story and promote the book, we would have spent less money to do it.
6. Are you hoping that a film producer will option this book for a movie, or two?
We are hoping that a network or distributor will want to turn it in to a teen drama series that will either be on television, streamed over the web or distributed as a DVD series.
7. How many other authors are doing this?
I’m not sure. I haven’t found any, but that’s not to say that there aren’t any. Web series are the newest thing and a great way to reach a new audience. Although we had a larger budget than most would spend on a web series, I believe that this is a great visual way to get stories in front of an audience and could be done with less expense, and still have great entertainment value.
8. How long have you been writing novels?
I have been writing since 2009. So, I’m fairly new.
9. How many other novels do you hope to publish?
I have three books that I have not published yet. As of yet, I haven’t been able to find an agent or publisher and have published on my own, but I haven’t given up yet.
10. In what time frame?
I’m not putting myself on a time frame if I don’t have to. I am heavy into the producing role for the Salvaged series and I also wrote eight 40 minute scripts for a possible full Salvaged series, so my time is being spread throughout several creative outlets right now.
11. What words of advice could you give someone who might be interested in tackling this type of project?
Be prepared for a very different type of story telling. Turning your own novel into a script requires you to be able to take a step back and be willing to cut a lot, change things up, add new information, etc. Also, take an objective look at your story and determine whether or not the story line, location and action lend itself to a web series and what can be done with a very limited budget. A web series will likely have only a few locations and actors. And finally, do a lot of research into production. Anyone can feel free to contact me for more information.
12. How long did it take from inception to completing the first film?
I would bet that my experience is not the norm. I’ve had the idea for a series based on Salvaged for quite some time. In mid-March I shared my idea with my business partner, Paul and our Executive Producer, Teena, within a few days of each other. Within days after that we had funding, about one month later the script was written, the actors were cast, and the crew hired. The first week of May, we spent 5 days in a rented house, filming the series. From May to September, the series was being edited, music added and other aspects of post-production, and then finally released on Sept. 25th.
13. Who did you hire first to tackle this project?
My friend and business partner, Paul Morrell, is a director and editor in Los Angeles. He hired several crew members that he has worked with on previous projects.
14. Did you interview and decide who the actors were?
I posted a casting call on two websites for actors, then spent a week sorting through submitted photos, acting reels, etc. Once we narrowed down the list to 50-100 options per character, we held an audition in Hollywood. We were lucky to find all of our actors on that first day of auditions and did not have to have call-backs.
15. Or do you have a board of directors (so-to-speak) to help make the decisions?
We do not have a board of directors at this point. We would like to create a production company, so that we can work on other projects. We will have a board at that time.
16. What are your goals for book sales as a result of this?
Salvaged has been out for four years and for a self-published book, has done well. It is very hard to promote a book and maintain interest after four years, but this series has the ability to breath life in to it again. I would love for this web series to reignite interest in the book and increase sales in Salvaged and then have that bleed over in to my other novels as well.
17. Who along the way inspired you the most?
It will probably sound very cliché, but honestly it is my faith that kept me inspired to move forward even when it made no sense to do so.
18. Did anyone think you’re crazy for wanting to do this?
I think most people thought I was crazy for wanting to do this! But as Attie says in the second episode, “sometimes acting a little crazy is actually what keeps us sane.”
19. How did you find your financial contributor?
My financial contributor was a close friend who believed in the book and the messages contained within it. She also understood that we have a larger vision beyond even this series and that having a pilot/proof of concept reel was a necessary first step for all of those things coming to pass.
20. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would just encourage other writers to continue to think outside the box. There are so many other ways to get their stories in front of people and the best way to do it for one person might not be the best for another. Never give up. If there is one more thing you can do… one more thing you can try, then do that thing! You never know when that one more thing can be the exact thing and catapulted you into a whole new adventure.
What would you like to ask Stefne?
How many of you would like to see your novel as a series?