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Creating an Independent Web Series: Lessons from Corporate Coffee

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Making an independent web series would surely sound fancy but tough given the cost incurred and hence we need to beproactive in trying to learn and understand from people who have done it or doing it. One such team is the makers of Corporate Coffee, an independent web series written and directed by Jeevithan   

Some excerpts from the interview

Let’s talk about the inspiration behind Corporate Coffee?

Initially, I was fully into short films and ads, and have long been planning for a  Tele film but then decided that I would venture into web series mainly because of the idea. Corporate coffee is about a girl working full time in a coffee shop but then she gets a job offer from a corporate, she decides to leave for the better, she thinks it’s is going to be great from there. But all is not well. There is love. There is competition. There is politics. How she copes up with the challenge forms the rest of the series.

How did you manage to shoot in an office?

Actually I am a Srilankan, So finding an office in chennai to shoot was near impossible. But with the help of my friends I went on a office searching spree. It was a very difficult part of the preprduction but fortunately Pradeep anna (CEO Hero Talkies) was very kind enough to give his own office for the shoot. The help was very crucial as this was going to bring cost and complexity down. We shot the office sequences in two different offices, one in Hero Talkies office and another  was of one my friend’s uncle office, but on screen it will look like as just one. 

What is the production value of the webseries?

 We actually planned for a minimal spending on the web-series, So most of the cast are my friends and friends of friends, the cinematographer Edwyn J Robert ( who does the editing too) and the music director Vignesh Baskaran  (who also takes care of the sound department) of the webseries are my close friends, so again the cost was brought down. And with costumes we sourced from the respective actors itself. 

Did you work on a continuous schedule or with gaps?

We shot the complete web series at a stretch of 5 days with minimal breaks about 5 hours a day, that was the time where the casts had to go home and come back after their refreshments.

Any critical production challenges you faced in the making?

Transport was the biggest issue faced during the production, As most of the cast were from different parts of the city, it was a tiring task to assemble everyone at one spot. We had to set up a vehicle that would pick all those who were part of the web series and that obviously consumed upto 3-4 hours a day, which I felt as a big backstroke during the making.

Usually Single location web series would give an entrapment feel. Do you think your web series has a compelling narrative that would make the audience sit through all the episodes?

Actually no. Corporate coffee is not just shot in one location. We have a coffee shop. An office, a bungalow and some scenes shot on roads. Each episode has a different location.

And given an independent project there are always challenges in female casting given their cost. Corporate coffee has many female actors. How did Jeevithan and team manage to cast.

Yes it is a very challenging process. The main character deepshi is a youtuber quite popular  in 1kg biriyani channel and then Aashika was a friend of my friend who is again a filmmaker. A couple of roles were done by again sisters and mothers of my friends. Not to forget one crucial but small role played by my friends’ girlfriend.

What is the cause of delay in the launch of your web series? And which platform have you decided to launch?

Actually the editor and music director are locked in a feature film and they are currently working on it, so I have been waiting for them to finish their commitments before getting here. Initially I was planning to launch the web series only on youtube, but now Pradeep Anna (CEO Hero Talkies) has told that we can first launch the web series in Hero Talkies, then on youtube.   
And to add on, I have been approached for a new web series and with the pre-production work  almost done, the teaser and the first look of the web series will be launched very soon.

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