While text messages and social media are both effective means of communication, many people use those tools to create the illusion of a charmed life that doesn’t actually exist. The new comedy KEEP ME POSTED illustrates that through the stories of three lifelong friends (played by Terra Mackintosh, Maya Deshmukh, and Kim Blanck).
The show’s introductory 3 episode season was created by Hillary Nussbaum and produced by Pitch Her Productions, a company dedicated to providing opportunities for women in film and TV.
With all episodes of the series now streaming on the show’s main web site (see additional links below), KEEP ME POSTED stars Mackintosh as the highly organized yet romantically conflicted Ali. Despite having started a new life with her new fiancé (Aaron, played by Matt Webster), Ali soon wonders if being in a committed relationship is all that she hoped it would be – and if she will ever attain the ideal life she’s sought.
While satisfied with her new career, and thrilled with the opportunity to stay close to her best friends, Kavita continues a futile chase for something that’s just as valuable: true happiness. Now that she’s pursuing a writing career, Becca must finally learn to start being realistic about her chances in life and love – and to stop playing it safe if she wants to succeed in both.
Early in the development of KEEP ME POSTED, Nussbaum focused on the offline journeys of her protagonists.
“The show started as a series about three childhood friends trying to stay close while their lives moved in different directions,” she says.
“I started with the three characters, developing their distinct personalities and situating each one at a critical transition point. The idea was that each would be struggling with something her friends weren’t dealing with, and would have a hard time opening up to the others for support.”
While the arcs of KEEP ME POSTED’s three core characters include each other’s unique struggles, Nussbaum incorporated an important element that made their stories more poignant. “As I wrote, I included texts and social media posts to keep things realistic, but quickly realized that communication wasn’t just part of the story – it was the story,” Nussbaum remembers.
The ways that those friends communicate, and the negative social impact of technology, would boost KEEP ME POSTED’s story. “The friends’ reliance on their smartphones was what was keeping them from really connecting,” says Nussbaum. “It created a barrier that made it even more difficult for them to open up to each other. From there, I tweaked the concept and the script to focus in on the themes of communication and connection.”
Those themes, as well as the arcs of her characters, come with a high degree of realism. “The characters’ broader struggles, as well as some of their actions and social media posts, are drawn from life,” Nussbaum comments. “I wouldn’t say that any one character or any one arc is based on me or my life, but there are definitely little pieces here and there. The show foregrounds the story of three imperfect female characters and explores the nuances of their friendship.”
In 2017, social media and texting has become as much a part of life as death and taxes. While all four are here to stay, web series have occasionally made digital communication a part of their storylines. KEEP ME POSTED, though, looks at that topic in a refreshingly well-rounded way.
Says Nussbaum: “Other series have included texting and social media, or have shown their impact in a heightened, comical way, but I have yet to see any other shows that focus on and critique those modes of communication in a way that is grounded and relatable.”
Hollywood has its gatekeepers and its tastemakers, but the Internet has been a powerful tool for independent filmmakers like Nussbaum; talented artists who have already used the web to shatter the previously closed boundaries of an industry that’s mostly been unwilling to take chances on undiscovered content and creators. While she worked on the idea for KEEP ME POSTED, Nussbaum realized that her success didn’t have to depend on the decisions of others.
“At the time, I was writing sitcom pilot and spec scripts and sending them to contacts, submitting them to festivals. I was getting a positive response, but I was still waiting for permission; for someone to tell me, ‘ok, you can be a writer now,” recalls Nussbaum. “At a certain point, I realized that I didn’t need permission. I could just create something. It took meeting a few inspiring filmmakers, and joining Filmshop, a filmmaker collective, to come to that realization.”
Nussbaum is equally awed by those who, like her, have also charted their own paths to filmmaking achievement. “I am inspired by other indie creators – there are so many talented, driven people out there who are working hard to bring a wide range of stories to the screen,” she remarks. “They’re refusing to let Hollywood gatekeepers determine the fate of their careers, and they’re supporting each other whenever they can, which is something I also try to do.”
Committed to authenticity as a storyteller, Nussbaum is also determined to give women in film the same opportunities for success that she now experiences.
“I strive to tell honest, relatable stories, and that includes creating nuanced, realistic female characters,” she says. “In general, I make sure to support fellow female filmmakers and crew members – I am always open to sharing tips/advice, and I look for ways to connect people who may be able to help each other or who may want to work together.”
Sharing those same objectives is Pitch Her Productions, which made KEEP ME POSTED with a predominantly female production crew. “Pitch Her Productions and I made sure that qualified women were in the mix for all key (production) roles,” replies Nussbaum. In addition, Pitch Her’s efforts to boost the work of women on both sides of the lens doesn’t stop on the set.
“Pitch Her Productions is great about connecting and advising women in film and media,” Nussbaum replies. “They host networking events and panel discussions. They just launched a screening series to promote work by female filmmakers, and an episodic lab to create opportunities for female DP’s (directors of photography) and directors.”
With all 3 episodes of KEEP ME POSTED committed to camera during an 11 day shooting schedule, the length of those episodes (20 minutes, on average), and the demands of working within that time period, would require a more specialized approach to getting the on-set activities completed.
“We block shot all three episodes over 11 days, which means we grouped and filmed scenes by location, rather than in chronological order,” explains Nussbaum. “So we’d do all of the office scenes together on one day, all of the bar scenes on another day, and so on. It was hectic, and things changed at the last minute, but that happens with any production.”
Much to the benefit of the show’s production and on-camera personnel, Nussbaum and her team planned for such unforeseen developments. “We did a lot of organizing and prepping in advance, so we were able to adapt and trouble-shoot when necessary, which kept things running relatively smoothly,” she adds.
Nussbaum’s experience in making KEEP ME POSTED yields some important lessons for filmmakers new and old: “Surround yourself with a strong team, and be open to advice and collaboration,” she says. “Be more organized than you think you need to be – production can be crazy, and being organized means that you’ll be able to adapt when necessary. Creating content takes time, effort, and passion. As a creator, you’ll be doing more jobs than you expected. It’s challenging, but so rewarding – and don’t forget to have fun!”
The ways we connect may change as much as the ways we live, but great storytelling never does. In that regard, Nussbaum feels that watching KEEP ME POSTED will have as much of an impact on viewers as much as making it has had on her cast and crew.
“The series may be about a trio of millennials, but it tackles broader themes that should resonate with anyone who’s seeking honest friendships and genuine connection in a world that’s increasingly filtered through screens,” Nussbaum says. “I hope it sparks some conversations and encourages people to be a bit more honest in their own lives. I also hope it helps create opportunities and opens doors for everyone who was involved.”
KEEP ME POSTED compellingly examines how technology that’s meant to unite people can end up separating even the closest among us. “At its heart, KEEP ME POSTED is about the difference between staying connected and truly connecting,” notes Nussbaum. “We know that much of what we see on social media is heightened, filtered reality, but we don’t often think about how that impacts the way we interact with our friends.”
In a deeper sense, KEEP ME POSTED also shows how the same people who decide to shield themselves through the glow of a digital screen can choose to confront the problems they hide from by engaging in the simple act of face to face conversation.
“It’s one thing to curate the image you’re presenting to the world; it’s another thing to leave those filters up when you’re interacting with friends,” Nussbaum says. “Many of us hide behind our phones, sending a chipper text rather than admitting that we’re struggling with something. I wanted to draw attention to that fact; to remind people that it’s okay to be open and vulnerable with those you’re closest to.”
(NOTE: Nussbaum says that she soon hopes to add closed-captioning and subtitles to KEEP ME POSTED.)
For more information about Pitch Her Productions, visit:
ON THE WEB: www.keepmepostedseries.com