Writing and producing web drama on a shoestring

My very talented friend Rachel Cochrane is busy writing and producing a web drama. She told The Crafty Writer how she went about it:

When I started scriptwriting 10 years ago, the only outlets for scriptwriters were the major TV & film companies, competitions, minor cash-strapped production companies and cumbersome commissioning processes.   With the advent of digital media I took the initiative to produce my own work.  I set up spoken word entertainment website listenupnorth.com as a showcase for my own radio plays performed by local actors and for other writers’ recorded work.

Recently I have added film to the content and I want to share with you the experience of making a pilot episode of my webdrama, Celia, a to-mirror monologue of a middle-aged woman and a mid-life crisis and how I aim to bring it to a more mature audience and fund it.


Rachel Cochrane, scriptwriterIf you want to make a film from virtually no resources then you have to factor this at the writing stage.  To strip away a reliance on lots of different scene changes, a cast of thousands and endless props will focus your mind on what the story really is about. For this reason, I chose to set the entire story of Celia in her bedroom, where with each episode we could view a different snapshot of her journey.

If the short film you are making is to be shown via You-tube, you also have to consider length (max 15 mins) per episode.


Writing is a solitary occupation but to achieve your objectives you have to leave your comfort zone, get out there and network. I met Shirley, camera, co-director and editor after gaining a place on a Creative Entrepreneur scheme at a local business school.  Penny, the actor, I met at a local theatre when she was performing one of the monologues written by the theatre writing group of which I was part.

Both Shirley and Penny brought so much to the production that I alone could never have achieved.  Shirley’s idea to use two cameras for Celia’s monologue – one to the side for addressing the audience, the other as if through a mirror for her private thoughts. Penny really developed the character, gave her a dimension beyond the page with mannerisms, subtext and body language.

Both agreed to work for free with the agreement that any profit made after expenses would be shared.  They also signed rights over to me so that effectively I became the producer of the work and would be able to promote and show it. I recommend that all agreements are made in writing at the start of working together to avoid any misunderstanding.


The pilot was funded with goodwill, my housekeeping money and the hope that it might attract sponsorship.  During the preparation, filming and editing, we kept a record of all expenses and time spent to use as a guide when planning a budget for the remaining episodes. I am now looking for funding by advertisers placing their logo on my film. I am going through a process of identifying potential companies who may be interested, initially for the pilot and then for subsequent episodes.  Potential for product placement will also be explored.

Again, a writer must be prepared to be out of their comfort zone.  There have been a few rejections so far and I am working my way through a list, starting with local businesses who may wish to target my audience.


Social media is now used by an older demographic but there is very little online entertainment aimed at this group, which I hope to attract to my webdrama, Celia.  Prior to this I am raising awareness through the release of Celia – The Trailer available to view through listenupnorth.com.

I am also planning a tour of local film clubs operating mostly from village halls, which would help me to reach a wider audience who do not necessarily use social media and also to gauge reaction to the film.  To do this I will need to obtain certification of the film from each local council where the film will appear or a single coverage from the bbfc which may prove costly.

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