Producer + Co-Director for Indie Web Series

Ethel England

Graphic Designer
Adobe Creative Suite

In the bygone era of pre-covid I wrote, co-directed, and produced a quirky web series about a mischievous teenager, Melvin, and his curmudgeon best friend, Ella-Louise. From crowdfunding to social media management, this series was emblematic of indie filmmaking, where everyone, including myself, wore multiple hats. Here's how I produced Melvin (with help) and how that's led me to working as a producer on other people's indie productions.

We built this set in half a day as NorCal weather snowed out our initial location. It's one of my favorite sets from the series.


At the time of Melvin I was working as a Creative Director at a production company, therefore, I had to pitch the script to the owner of the company in order to get the green light. It wasn't long after that we were planning for our Spring shoot. A crowdfunding campaign took up most our bandwidth, as I was sending emails everyday leading up to launch and everyday during. All the while updating social media and connecting with new crew members.

In true low-budget-indie-fashion we reused one location for multiple sets. This 70s style property became a pizzeria back office, a 1950s cozy kitchen, and a dusty parlor where espionage ensues.

Scope of Services

A lot of producing duties fell on my shoulder, and some duties were shared between my co-director and myself (these have an asterisk for reference) as we had different strengths. I had more experience with indie filmmaking, and he had more technical experience as a DP, editor, and photographer.

For the sake of brevity here's a list of tasks that pre-production called for:

  • casting
  • email marketing
  • social media management
  • first point of contact for cast
  • crew member sourcing*
  • crowdfunding marketing*
  • location scouting*
  • story boarding*
  • scheduling*
We took a day to do a table read, bond with the cast, and film some social media content with the actors. This material became a gold mine 💰 when crowdfunding.

Truly the most painstaking of the above tasks was crowdfunding. We timed it to be after casting so we could enlist our actors and their audiences to help with the campaign. This isn't always a possibility, as some actors simply want to act (can't blame em) while some want to be more intrinsically tied to the making-of. As a filmmaker I usually fall into the latter school of thought, and luckily for us so did our cast.

I was sending emails for a month leading up to the campaign and then everyday during, not to mention updating socials on a daily basis. My mind was fried, but it was all worth it because we met our initial goal and that catapulted us into production.

One of our most expensive props was this fake knife my co-Director sourced. Well worth it for the safety. In reality it's thick rubber, but on camera we can surmise it's very much a threat...👀


Cameras began to roll on an unusually cold March weekend up in the hills of Northern California. So cold that snow threatened to make a cameo. But spirits were high and we were excited to get working on a script I had sitting on my desk since last summer.

Although we were all freezing 🥶 on set this weekend, the fog and frigid rain made for epic shots.

A Unique Take on Marketing

A technique we used that truly helped us when it came to marketing was encouraging photos and videos. We had an open-phone policy on set (no intimate scenes in the script allowed us to do this, otherwise we would have respected the material with a closed set).

In traditional filmmaking, marketing really hits on the eve of a premier. It trickles onto commercials, social media, and print campaigns a few months prior to launch, and then blasts the media with a 2 week long advertising blitz leading up to premier, keeping the momentum going after the box office opens for another several weeks.

But indie filmmaking has changed that, and with a smaller production it makes sense to bend the "rules." Therefore, I opted for a marketing campaign that showed the making-of while we were making it. That may sound standard, but most productions don't use this strategy because audiences can get, well, bored. If you can't promise them a finished production soon, then why are you talking about it? We did get one troll on social media who didn't understand how long the process of filmmaking truly is 🙄 . But at the end of the day everyone else was jazzed about watching Melvin grow. They had real-time evidence that their donations were being put to work and that we would deliver on our promise. So many indie productions fizzle out in production, we understood that and really took care to gain and keep their trust.

From the dusty crusty schedules pinned to the back wall, to the portrait of two characters on the desk, this set was decked out with detailed props that informed the story just as much as any leading character would.

Plot Twist

Do you recall March of 2020? Yeah...about that...the shutdowns fell right in the middle of our production schedule 🫢, pushing our last weekend of filming to an unknown date. We all ached to get back to filming. We had no idea that we wouldn't see each other for three months. But there was a silver lining: we made improvements during our downtime and the series improved because of it.

During the three month hiatus I got to sit down (virtually) with our cast and discuss their scenes and characters. I even wrote a new scene that expanded on the connection between two of our supporting characters. With the extra time on my hands I sourced better costumes for Deb, a woman with an odd taste for 1950s fashion and espionage. These adjustments improved our production quality, and by the time filming was back on, we were excited to implement them.

Our breakfast feast got an upgrade thanks to 3+ months of pre-production (thank you covid) and a few stimulus checks 🤭


The social media marketing continued as my co-director worked on getting deliverables to our donors and editing the series. I found a wicked cool animator via Instagram, Melinda Mouzannar, for our title sequence. And wielded the power of TikTok to source a song to license for our theme: "Relax" by Florence Rose. I love research and pride myself on finding kindred creatives by deep diving on the internet, and that's what's led me to help other productions!

I reused this stunning still from a different scene and created a movie poster for our grumpy pizza manager's office. Production design can take your project from looking low budget to eye-catching maximalism. A lot of the props for the run-down office came from thrift stores or were created them from scratch. If you're going to splurge on a nice camera you might as well give it something cool to shoot 🤷‍♀️.

Producing Continues

The skills I learned from my own productions: marketing, casting, location scouting, grant writing, deck design, etc., have led me to produce on other projects. My experience and passion for filmmaking are what created Alchemist Drafts, my magical production company. I spend most of my days writing, sourcing crew, designing decks, and creating video content. It's not a bad gig 😏.

Melvin still holds a sweet spot in my heart. If you're interested in seeing the fruits of mine and many others' labor, you can watch it on YouTube:

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