Proud native of Brooklyn, New York, and a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (BFA, Film & Television Production and Dramatic Writing), Bridgett Michele Lawrence is the creator, writer, director, and executive producer of romantic comedy web series The Value of Ex.
Since moving to Los Angeles, Lawrence decided to “greenlight” herself, rather than wait for Hollywood to give her permission to do what she loves. It has truly paid dividends. Since The Value of Ex was launched on YouTube in May 2014, the show has been invited to multiple festivals, including the American Black Film Festival, the HollyWeb Festival, and even the Raindance Web Fest in London, England. With the show already picked up for distribution by the new online streaming service KweliTV, and heading into production for season 2, Bridgett made some time to share the global journey of this festival-recognized series.
TYHB: The Value of Ex (TVOE) is heading into it’s second season. For the uninitiated, please explain the mathematics behind creating this successful web series.
BML: Four Ex Couples. One Goal. To find The Value of Ex.
The Value of Ex is a romantic comedy series following the misadventures of four friends as they attempt to navigate the murky waters between breaking up and moving on. Essentially, The Value of Ex is about what happens when you break up with someone but your heart refuses to let go. How do you handle those residual feelings that won’t let you move on, or worse, when you’ve moved on but those old feelings creep back up? In the show, the ladies are all confronted with men from their past and they must determine whether to give these relationships another chance or take the lessons they’ve learned and move on for good.
TYHB: There are four main “exes” that your audience gets to know throughout the series. Are there any storylines that stood out last season for the fans?
BML: They all stand out to me, but I might be biased. 🙂 I would definitely say the favorites from season one were the sassy, down-on-her-luck physical therapist, Jessica, and her ball-playing, womanizing ex, Antonio. You could just feel the passion between them. I think everyone is wondering if they will be able to keep their hands off each other in season two. The Terry and Tyler storyline seems to be quite popular as well. Plus, I think the ladies like to look at Terry. 🙂
TYHB: What were the main challenges of casting this series?
BML: Since (this) is an ensemble show, chemistry is of the utmost importance. No matter how great an actor is, if there is no chemistry, the relationships will not come across as believable. So during the casting stage, it was important to me to find actors that were not only right for their part, but fit in with everyone else. I wanted the couples to feel like real couples and the friends to seem like they really went to college together. When people watch the show, I want it to feel authentic, like these could be your friends or people that you know. Beyond the chemistry, I want the audience to fall in love with the characters and want to see more of them on screen.
The other major challenge with casting this show in particular derives from the mere size of the cast! The show has a cast of ten main characters, so as you can imagine the audition process was quite lengthy. I jokingly tell people that my next show is going to be about one character who stays in one room and only talks to himself. Lol! Perhaps I’ll call it, The Value of Being A Hermit.
TYHB: All jokes aside, TVOE has garnered international festival attention! Can you share any perspective about the differences in how your content was received by those varying audiences?
Our first festival was the American Black Film Festival which took place in New York. That was amazing for me, because of all the hometown love I received. Many of my friends and family who have believed in me and my dreams for a while were able to come out and support me at this major festival so that was awesome!
Later that year, when I went to London for the Raindance Web Festival, that was an eye opening experience. I received so much love from the independent community there. It showed me that the story I’m telling with my show is truly universal and people everywhere can love and appreciate it. As a woman of color, I got the sense that the fellow artists and creators of color were proud of me and what I was accomplishing in the states. It showed me that no matter where in the world we are, the desire and appreciation for diverse content is the same.
TYHB: This is your first crowdfunding campaign as a filmmaker and producer. Can you tell us what it is like to be in the middle of pre-production for Season 2 while you are crowdfunding?
One word. Crazy. Sometimes I feel like singing the Chaka Khan classic in my Whitney Houston remake voice: “I’m every woman, it’s all in me….” But seriously, there is so much that goes into preparing for production and there is so much involved with crowdfunding that to attempt to do it all at the same time is enough to make your head spin. I’m wearing so many hats that I have to interchange at a moment’s notice. Everything from revising the script, finding locations, approving wardrobe, making shot lists, rehearsing the actors, hiring the crew, planning the budget, etc. It all has to get done in a relatively short period of time. Then, on top of that I’m managing the fundraising campaign which comes with a whole other set of requirements and demands. The sheer promotion of the campaign and letting people know that you are raising money is a job within itself. It is a lot to juggle, but I am thankful for the help of two angels who have been so vital to the production and my sanity, Porscha Richards and Julienne Irons (who is also in the show) who have joined the team as producers for season two.
You can contribute to THE VALUE OF EX until Friday, June 17th, 2016.
More ways to connect with the project:
Tune in Monday, June 13th (Time TBD) for a special CrowdfundMonday Tweet Chat Interview with Bridgett from the set of season two!
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