Acting Business Boot Camp podcast

Episode 201: Interview with Christin Baker

0:00
43:59
Rewind 15 seconds
Fast Forward 15 seconds

About Christin Baker:

Christin Baker (A Baker Production) is an award-winning director and Emmy-nominated producer. She has been playing with video producing and storytelling since she was 13 after her family got their first VHS camcorder. She started out directing music videos, and SNL parodies with the neighborhood kids and moved on to start her own digital distribution and production company, tellofilms.com.

She is the co-founder of Tello Films, which focuses on stories for the lesbian/queer community. Tello is the first lesbian/queer network to receive an Emmy Nomination. The series Secs & EXECS has received a 2017 Emmy Nomination for Mindy Sterling, Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy/Drama Series. In 2019 the series "Riley Parra" received 2 Emmy nominations for actresses Liz Vassey and Carolyn Ratteray.

Christin is passionate about telling relevant and meaningful stories. Christin was early in the streaming content creation and founded Tello Films in 2009. She is an expert on distributing and creating original content (features, shorts, and series) as well as creating a platform for monetizing niche entertainment. Christin is also passionate about directing and was awarded Best Director for her work on Maybelle at the 2016 London Raindance Film Festival. Christin is a member of the Producers Guild of America as well as the Television Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Christin just wrapped directing her 4th Lesbian/Queer Holiday RomCom "Merry & Gay" and is working on the 2nd feature for her Thriller Franchise Scare BNB called "Scare BNB: Double Booking." That follows "Christmas at the Ranch," "I Hate New Year's," and "Season of Love," which was the first Hallmark-esque Lesbian/Queer Holiday RomCom.

Actors wanting to keep up with Christin as she develops and casts her movies can follow her on social media @christintello (Twitter and Instagram) and follow "A Baker Production" on Facebook.  

Actors making their own content and the power that has for them.

As a director and producer, I love when I know an actor has tried their own hand at making a project because their respect for what we're going through is significantly greater.

I think so much of acting is waiting to be called upon. Right? Like you go to an audition, you send in your tape, you send in your tape, and then you sit back, and you wait for someone to say yes or no to you.

And so I think any time you can put your energy into something active, that's like telling your own story, I think just energetically that helps you and puts you in your own action.

I always think work begets work.

If you can, it can be very helpful when the gender of the person you're acting with is the same as who's reading with you. 

Don't have the camera too close to your face.

So I've seen some audition tapes, and this is for people who are probably very green, who are listening to your podcast--I've had audition tapes sent in where no one is reading with the person on camera.

Do your best to have someone reading with you that that's going to give you, you know, something even if it's yourself.

I can sometimes tell within 10 seconds. And if the person isn't right, I move on.

The most important thing is to like make a choice, make a bold choice that I can see.

I'm an actor's director. I love playing with actors on set. I love that, like knowing if they can make a choice. And if I don't like that choice, I'll make a correction. But I know that like they're going to come to the table having thought about it and giving me something interesting.

Favorite qualities of actors who you love to work with:

  1.  I really love working with an actor who can make a quick pivot.
  2.  The eyes are so important, you can literally see that shift in the eyes, and it's absolutely like it's incredible.
  3.  I love actors when they have that instinct to move. 

What is the process of how you make an independent film?

  • You have to kind of figure out the business of it.
  • I wanted to get investors, meaning you have to set up an LLC.
  • Then you have to ensure that LLC owns the rights to the script in the movie and the project. And often, those LLCs will be called like the name of the film.
  • A crowdfunding campaign. For me, that was a perfect place to start.
  • Accredited investors

There are certain producers out there that have investors who are sitting out there waiting to invest in projects. And I know that sounds crazy. And I think it's like this magical fairyland, but it is true. And so when they get A-list stars or a big name, they can go back to their, you know, multimillion-dollar or billionaire pockets and go, "hey, we have Nick Cage. We need another $5 million, and those people will give it to them." 

If you don't have those people, casting an A-list star in your movie will not get you investors.

What it will get you on the backend is like press and a decent distributor. It lets you have those multimillionaire billionaire people. It will not get your money on the front end.

What do you think are other misnomers about raising money for film?

  • I have also heard people say to me, especially in the LGBTQ community, "Oh, investors aren't always looking for their money back, like they take it to a project they believe in."
    • Okay, so that's true for a few investors out there.
    • Do not go into a situation ever thinking investors only want goodwill.
  • Your first and most important job is telling a great story.
  • The second is to get your investors their money back because if you do, they'll give it to you again.

Words of wisdom to actors who want to make their first feature film?

  • The first one is to do favors for other people so that when it's your turn to make your movie, they will do favors for you.
  • Talk to people who have done it before and just talk to them and say, Hey, what mistakes did you make? What did you want to know? Who did you like working with?

Crowdfunding Mistakes:

  1. They ask for what they want and not what they can raise. 
  2. People always think, "if I hit my goal too early, people won't give money to me."
  3. Don't do T-Shirts!
  4. You should always have stretch goals in mind.

More episodes from "Acting Business Boot Camp"