How can you make a promising web series concept reach its highest potential? How can you improve a show that’s already a work-in-progress? What can you do to get it ready for audiences? Who can help you answer these questions (and more)? Enter the over 200 members of indie film collective Filmshop, who work constantly to help their filmmaking peers accomplish as much success for their individual projects as they hope to achieve for their overall careers. More information about Filmshop can be found on its web site (see link below).

With its existing chapters in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Filmshop’s newest branch has opened in another of America’s most diverse filmmaking communities: New Orleans. “This is the first time we’ve expanded beyond New York City, and the workshop will be moderated by three local filmmakers: Ben Donnellon, Carl Harrison, Jr. and Milo Daemgen,” says Hillary Nussbaum, who workshopped her series KEEP ME POSTED with Filmshop before its debut. Details on Filmshop’s New Orleans chapter are also available on the group’s web page.

All Filmshop branches will feature an ongoing series of special events, including curated screenings of productions created by Filmshop’s active members, and talks with acclaimed filmmakers. Past interviewees have included Marc Webb (director, (500) DAYS OF SUMMER, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3), and screenwriter Beau Willimon (HOUSE OF CARDS), to name a few.

Filmshop offers filmmakers from various genres the opportunity to refine and improve their works through an extensive peer workshop process. Held in the spring and fall, these 16 week-long sessions consist of in-person presentations of projects in development, followed by insightful feedback from other program participants. (NOTE: The application period for Filmshop’s New York and New Orleans Spring workshops has since closed, but submissions for the Fall sessions will start being accepted in the next few months.)

Inside a workshop session at Filmshop's South Brooklyn chapter. Photo courtesy Adam Waltner.

Inside a workshop session at Filmshop’s South Brooklyn chapter. Photo courtesy Adam Waltner.

Inside each workshop, Filmshop’s filmmakers cull from their experiences in multiple production styles, and pass the lessons they’ve learned from their past work onto current and aspiring creators. “Filmshop’s members work in a range of formats and genres, from VR (virtual reality) to animation, narrative to documentary, comedy to horror, and series to features,” Nussbaum adds.

Nussbaum describes the many ways that Filmshop supports and encourages filmmakers – including web series creators, such as herself – in all parts of the filmmaking process. “Even with a strong team around you, creating a web series can be a very solitary experience. Filmshop helps makes that aspect of creating a little bit easier, and you can learn from the knowledge of fellow members who have done it all before: writing, crowdfunding, producing, releasing, etc.”

As an example of Filmshop’s work, Nussbaum illustrates how sharing KEEP ME POSTED with her fellow filmmakers would improve both the series and her creative skills. “I brought KEEP ME POSTED to the group in a really early stage – I had only written the first few scenes of the pilot, (and) the rest was just an outline,” she says. “The group gave me some really great feedback, and I got a sense of what was resonating with them, as well as what wasn’t quite landing, and what needed more work.”

Nussbaum not only developed KEEP ME POSTED with the help of her peers, but she also connected with people who worked to put the series on film. “In a subsequent season, I brought in the full series script (the scripts for all three episodes), and workshopped those,” she adds. “I also met the series D.P. (director of photography) in the workshop – I had seen (and liked!) his other work, and based on the feedback he gave about KEEP ME POSTED, I could tell that he got what I was trying to do and had a perspective that would enhance the project.

Nussbaum isn’t the only web series creator who’s received a boost from taking part in Filmshop’s personalized group workshops. SNOBBY ROBOT also spoke to the minds behind four other outstanding shows – PAIR OF NORMALS, SWIPED TO DEATH, ALL-AMERICAN KIDS and DIVISION STREET – about how their partnership with Filmshop prepared them to succeed in making their own productions. 

“The idea (for PAIR OF NORMALS) probably wouldn’t have even happened without the help of Filmshop,” comments series creator Jason Hood. “The workshops helped me with a previous web series, which allowed me to learn the basics of making a series. Later workshops helped me refine the script through script readings with the group and helping me develop a crowdfunding strategy.” 

A filmmaker presents his work during a recent workshop session at Filmshop's North Brooklyn chapter. Photo courtesy Adam Waltner.

A filmmaker presents his work during a recent workshop session at Filmshop’s North Brooklyn chapter. Photo courtesy Adam Waltner.

Documentary filmmaker Rebecca Israel (producer, ALL AMERICAN KIDS) explains how her activity in one of Filmshop’s workshops benefitted the development of her new series.

“With the help of Filmshop, I was both able to workshop the concept, treatment, and trailer for my web series (ALL AMERICAN KIDS) and also do a practice pitch with (veteran TV series packaging agent) Jim Arnoff as part of the Filmshop Labs [a daylong conference for Filmshop members].

Filmshop’s talented participants helped SWIPED TO DEATH creator Kabir Chopra hit upon the right format for his idea. “I wrote the first draft of SWIPED TO DEATH as a web series, but when I brought it to Filmshop, I was conflicted (on) whether it should be a TV series or a web series. I liked the fun, fast-paced nature of a web series, but I wanted to have the allure and marketability of a TV series. After presenting to the group, it became crystal clear – this story had to be a web series. I think I knew that all along, but having the script workshopped helped reaffirm that.”

Constructive, insightful feedback from Filmshop’s groups motivated DIVISION STREET creator Traven Rice to make that series’ concept even better. “I workshopped my web series, DIVISION STREET, from the earliest stages of just a look-book and simple story arc ideas,” she recalls. “The enthusiasm and responses I got in feedback encouraged me to continue fleshing it out. Plus, it’s a community that is full of resources, talents and various contacts – which only enhances the project when you ask for help.”

Nussbaum, Israel and Chopra did that during their time with Filmshop, as did Rice and Hood. “Through Filmshop, I was able to find 3 fantastic producers who helped me bring the project to life. Most of the major crew positions, like production designer and cinematographer, were filled by Filmshop members as well,” says Hood. “My producer, director of photography, 1st assistant director, sound mixer, art director and production assistants on the shoot all came from Filmshop,” Rice responds. “I’d gladly work with any and all of them in the future.”

Members of one of Filmshop's two Brooklyn chapters discuss their works-in-progress. Photo courtesy Nikolai Basarich.

Members of one of Filmshop’s two Brooklyn chapters discuss their works-in-progress. Photo courtesy Nikolai Basarich.

“Filmshop is great in that it gives you many opportunities to screen your work and create new content,” he says. “The PAIR OF NORMALS pilot was selected by a jury to screen at Filmshop’s Breakthrough series, an industry event, with feedback from director Marc Webb – who loved it! – and glowing testimonials from other industry professionals.” 

“In the last two seasons (of Filmshop), I got to watch VR (virtual reality) short films, rough cuts of feature films, and pitch videos for documentaries. When you get exposed to such a diverse body of work, that’s what helps you grow,” he says.

New entrants to Filmshop’s program can succeed as much as those interviewed in this story have, but the tools for achieving that success are the same: “I think the most important thing to have going in is a vision,” Hood remarks. “Know the kind of story you want to tell and think about the big picture. The community and co-leaders will help you hammer out the details and make it happen!”

“Filmshop is more than just a place to make movies,” adds Chopra. “The group is so generous. It’s really easy to ask for help if you’re shooting a last-minute short, or if you need an extra set of eyes on that script. But you have to keep that generosity going. The more you give back to the community, the more the community gives back.”

For new members, I would suggest: have clear goals set for yourself, take your weekly and seasonal goals seriously, and stay focused,” Israel advises. “I would also say to get involved, and to meet people – both in your group and outside – by attending events and just being engaged. Also: give, give, give, and (the group) gives you back so much more. I think the key to success in filmmaking, as in many things, is just connecting with people.”





Connect with Filmshop at [email protected].

Jason Hood’s Filmshop page:

Hillary Nussbaum’s Filmshop page:

Traven Rice’s Filmshop page:

Rebecca Israel’s Filmshop page:

Kabir Chopra’s Filmshop page: