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Recent CalArts graduate Samantha Hatch (Film/Video MFA 10, BFA 07) has turned her 20-minute thesis film, Sands of Mexico into a web series. Hatch finished her graduate project one semester early and under budget, so she used the extra time to write, produce and shoot the now 40-minute web series.

Filmed in Manzanillo, Mexico, the story opens on recent college graduate Daniel (Will Green [Theater MFA 10]), who’s at a crossroads in life, still reeling from his mother’s death. Hatch collaborated with a number of other current CalArts students and alumni in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

On the Sands of Mexico website, she explains why she chose to show the work on the web rather than another medium or venue:

Currently this media is in its infancy. Most of what is available is in a single-genre based context. Also, much of what is out there is poorly written and has low-production value. What I am trying to do, is take the media to the next level… With interesting setting, richer characters, more engaging stories. I believe this will set a new standard for web content. The first two episodes were shot on HDV (high-definition video) and the last 4 were shot on the Canon 7D full HD camera.

Samantha Hatch interviewed by IndieGoGo

6Q with Samantha Hatch of Sands of Mexico

Samantha Hatch, director of the webseries Sands of Mexico, unearths us the lessons she learned while campaigning on IndieGoGo. Even though she didn’t reach her goal amount, she raised enough money to cover travel costs of filming her webseries on location.

Q1. Tell us about your project… your inspiration and goals!

My project is called Sands of Mexico the Web Series. The project started because I needed to make a thesis in order to get my MFA degree from Calarts in Film Directing. Every student needs to make a thesis movie in their third and final year and it must be approved by a committee of faculty members. I finished my thesis a semester early and decided to expand Sands of Mexico into a web series. The story is about a guy named Daniel who is at a cross roads in his life. He just graduated college and he is in a long term relationship and he is unsure what his next move in life will be.
The best part about the series is that he must find himself within the beautiful backdrop of Mexico. My goal was just to finish it and do it in such a way that I could be proud of myself. I want people to watch the series and like it. I guess those are simple goals. But when I started they seemed rather large. I did graduated from Calarts with my MFA in May 2010.

Q2. What was your funding campaign all about? Who should care and why?

I think the people who should care about my project are those that want to see better web series on the Internet. This was a big undertaking. It was not a small goofy video I made in my basement. I wanted to make a web series that would not be looked at as a joke. I wanted to show that the Internet is a great place for independent artist to show their work, because often the distribution is the hardest part. The Internet makes it easier. It takes the power into the hands of the artist.

Q3. How did you reach, engage and involve others? Your DIWO tactics, please!

I think the best way to reach others is to complete all the steps that Indiegogo offers on their site. I put video, images, and kept people informed. I was chosen a few times as the project of
the day. I reached out to family and friends. I think IndieGoGo is great because I was able to have people put money in that were from all over the US. It was easier then them mailing me a check. I think the type of perks you offer are important. One of my favorites was to give people producer credits or thank you credits. Because it didn’t cost me anything to add people to the credits. I also offered people a DVD of the first two episodes. This was the only project I ever asked people for money. I think that is important. You can’t just beg all the time for support. You have to choose what projects matter to you and go for those. I also think that giving people a heads up on how you plan to spend the money shows them you have a working plan and know how to be fiscally responsible.

Q4. You did well on your campaign on IndieGoGo. Congrats! What worked? What didn’t work?

Smaller donations worked better. I had a large perk for a one weeks stay at the villa in mexico where we shot, but nobody chose that. The biggest things I got money from was the $20-$50 perks.

Q5. Any surprises or especially fun moments during your campaign that you’d like to share?

I’d have to say that campaigning is not really fun. It’s the hard part about making art. But it does make you think more clearly about the budget. It makes you ask yourself, how much do I really need to make this work?

Q6. Any tips / advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs, creators and project leaders like yourself?

Be smart with your budgets. Technology these days is so advanced that you can find a way to shoot most things for cheap. Plan ahead. And don’t give up. When I was in high school I sent Sally Field a movie I made. She wrote me back and gave me the best advice in this industry. “First you dream. Then you work. Hard.” Just as a side note, my first job in the industry was four years ago and it was as a PA for the TV show Brothers and Sister. With Sally Field. So life comes full circle, for sure.


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