by Justin Samuels
Ingrid Jungermann is co-creator of the award-winning Web series The Slope, as well as F to 7th, a “Homoneurotic Web Series.” Originally from Palm Bay, Florida, she is a thesis student in the Film Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Justin Samuels: What originally got you into the film industry?
Ingrid Jungermann: My first film job was as a casting assistant for the Tim Burton film BIG FISH. I learned a lot on that film – and John’s August’s screenplay, before things were altered/shot/edited, was pretty much perfect. That script was an inspiration.
The set hierarchy also struck me. The director sets the tone. I wanted to set my own tone because I understand how people feel at the bottom of the barrel. Most of my jobs have been there.
JS: What do you think new media specifically does for filmmakers?
IJ: It’s true freedom. You call the shots, and what you wind up is imperfectly yours. I’m a firm believer in disappearing into your own head — working out all the details and seeing how that comes off rather than sharing the process with a lot of people. That said, I’ve learned how to give and take notes, and I had to experience intense insecurity – a creative breakdown. I had to fail numerous times to understand how I needed to work.
I will continue to fail and move forward. New media provides a space to do that and try again, all the while making public your artistic flaws. It proves that online audiences don’t necessarily need slick – they just need personal; they need a voice.
The trade-off is that you don’t make money on it. There are companies popping up that will offer royalty structures, but that’s far from making a living. If you want to make money, there will always be some sort of creative compromise, and that’s okay as long as you’re prepared to give up some freedom.
JS: What was your goal in doing Web series? Is your Web series an end to itself, or your wanting to build up a platform for other things as well?
IJ: The goal with THE SLOPE was to practice, to make something fast and hard. We wanted to have fun and get our work out there without waiting on a festival to reject us. With F TO 7TH, my goal — along with practicing — was to build a platform for a television series or feature film.
JS: How do filmmakers use new media to either make money or launch mainstream careers?
IJ: There is no money unless you want to pitch a show to a company like Above Average, but even then, it’s ultra-low-budget and you’re not going to pocket much. You also have to pitch an idea that caters to their audience. Another way is to do branded content, which I think could be cool if you plan it before you start writing. For example, if I believe in animal rights, I don’t mind writing an F TO 7TH episode where one of the characters talks about or works at PETA.
Another way is doing what I mentioned before and signing with companies like Indieflix, who offer producers small royalties, wider distribution and some marketing opportunities.
JS: You’ve spoke on the need for filmmakers to make money from their work. What are the best ways to do this, new media–wise?
IJ: Besides the above, I would say – write yourself and the producer(s) into the budget. When you do your Kickstarter or Indiegogo or Seed and Spark campaign, along with crew and food and equipment, etc., you should say – I need to get paid.
There is a very flawed attitude toward paying the very people who make content – that it’s shady or selfish. People think the filmmaker’s payment is: You get to make your work. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I go broke to make this stuff, and yeah, my work’s out there, but that means I won’t make more stuff until I work another job I don’t like so I can go broke again to make more stuff. And you know who has accepted that process? Artists.
This country generally doesn’t believe in supporting artists financially, and I’ve always thought if you don’t respect the arts or education, you’re screwed. Thankfully, there are the Sundance and IFP labs, Tribeca All Access, Cinereach, Chicken & Egg, Astrea, etc. – companies that are extremely supportive and invested in filmmakers’ futures. But everyone I know applies for those, so best of luck.
JS: Do you think the Internet has broken barriers for LGBT filmmakers and other talent?
IJ: Yes. LGBT filmmakers — any filmmakers — were at the mercy of film festivals. Understandably, festival programmers are into coming of age and coming-out films – those stories are important and I get it – we still have a long fight ahead of us. Go, Minnesota.
There’s a “but” in there. With breaking down barriers comes a whole lot of crap — LGBT or otherwise. A lot of lazy scripts because the director likes to go with the flow and “improv.” A lot of bad comedy with bad actors. A lot of heavy drama about 20-something lesbians who judge other 20-something lesbians at 20-something lesbian parties. A lot of gay men who have hot sex and more hot sex and then text about it. Each is own, but all that bores me and I think it bores the kind of audience members I want to have a drink with.
I’m ready for the “LGBT” to be dropped from LGBT filmmakers and for all of us to be challenged and rewarded by the same rules.
JS: Were you excited when you joined the WGA?
IJ: Super excited. I still don’t know what it means, but I love it.
JS: What sorts of things should we look out for from you in the future? Any feature film or television plans, or do you intend to stick with new media?
IJ: I’ve written a feature film based on F TO 7TH, but it’s a crime comedy. It’s sort of a Brooklyn Murder Mystery – same tone and characters as the show, but with more sadism. I’m talking to producers now and hope to shoot within the year.
But I don’t like to place all my bets on one thing, so I’m working on a TV version and working on another feature. New media is always there for me, so if I get inspired and we find production funds for a season two, I’m all about it.
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Justin Samuels graduated from Cornell University with a BA in History. After working in financial services for three years, he worked at various temp jobs before deciding that he liked writing. Justin has published four books and filmed three documentaries, which are available on Amazon.com. He continues to work on his screenplays, and he is taking graduate classes at Lehman College.