Sam Bailey is a writer, actor, filmmaker, and the creator of You’re So Talented, a web series that follows a Chicago artist in her twenties named Bea.
In addition to working on her web series, Sam is the co-founder of Our Names Are Sam, a collective production duo that highlights women and people of color. She is also the Digital Art Director at VAM.
In short, she works hard.
I talked to Sam via email about her beginnings in producing and her success with her web series.
When did your interest in producing and directing begin?
It began when I started You’re So Talented. Kinda out of necessity, right? I didn’t know anyone who’d sign on for something like this with a girl who had no experience, so I did it myself. The production team that came together for it had no idea what they were getting into either. We just all dove in head first. Also, I’ve always kinda had a problem with authority and being told what to do. On another level I was probably always meant to do this, I just didn’t know it!
Can you tell me a little bit about how you decided to write and direct a web series?
I was in a very stagnant place in my career when I decided to write You’re So Talented. A series of events leading up to that time had me questioning every single decision I made in life: romantic, artistic, career. I didn’t trust my gut — it was really weird. Everything scared the shit out of me so I kinda retreated and forced myself to write. I didn’t know what it was going to be when I started but I did feel a strong obsession to get it done. I had no background in film, besides being a consumer of it, but I knew it wasn’t a play, I knew it wasn’t a film — a web series was a happy medium. Maybe, in my head, I thought it was a safer medium. Directing was a natural progression. I pretty much co-directed the first season because I didn’t know what I was doing. By the time I was planning to do the second season, I knew I had to fully do both. I didn’t think anyone could tell that story in the way I felt it needed to be told better than I could.
What are some of your favorite online web series that you would recommend to our audience?
Polyglots from Amelia Um is my favorite show right now.
Where did you come up with the concept for You’re So Talented and how did you come to the decision to make each episode fairly short? How do you think the time length affects the viewer?
I was doing a fellowship at Second City and surrounded by all these amazingly funny people who were making comedy in really interesting ways. I was also consuming some of the old stuff where comedy wasn’t as quick as it is today. You could sit in a moment and that build up is just as funny as a black out. While that space ultimately wasn’t a place I could thrive, I took so much of what I learned there and applied it to my writing. You’re So Talented’s episodes are fairly short but I think they pack a punch. They’re dense. The comedy is a little less flashy and a lot more lived-in. Also, the amount of money/time it takes to make a five minute anything is crazy. Especially because everyone on the team is really dedicated to bringing their best: our shoot schedules are long and post-production is even longer. I do think the shortness of the series allows people to binge it really quickly, but also leaves them wanting more, hopefully.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is interested in creating a web series?
Find a team of people you enjoy working with and go make shit. That team can just be one other person (shout out to my creative partner Sam Lee who is dope A. F.), or it could be larger. But you gotta have your people that you can depend on because its a lot of work.