Angela Gulner of “Binge” on Producing Your Own Show
I’ve long been following the saga of Binge, a darkly funny and wildly original comedy about eating disorders. Its creator, Angela Gulner, has been hustling to promote her story and find a home for it. Now, she and the Binge team are crowdfunding so they can create a whole season of episodes. I asked her a few questions about what it’s like to produce your own show.
Read up, watch the pilot and contribute to the campaign to make it happen!
1. What are the advantages of producing your own show?
Full creative control! This is huge. It allows us to cast who we want and tell the story we want in the way that we want to tell it. It’s very freeing and exciting … within the budgetary limitations that indie producing comes with. If this show were at, say, HBO or Netflix, the likelihood that I could star in it would be very low, as I’m not a “name” — and we would probably have to fill many of the supporting roles with “names” as well. It’s really nice to be able to have freedom to cast who we want and work as a true collaborative team …. but if Netflix or HBO wanted to hop on board, I certainly wouldn’t say no!
2. What are the struggles?
Money. It’s so expensive to make good content. Most half-hour comedies have budget of $300K per episode, and we made our pilot for under $5K. It limits us in terms of locations, crew, and equipment … and we’d love the ability to pay everyone what they’re worth. Having a real budget allows flexibility and breathing room. And it’s tough on our DP to have a skeleton crew. There’s a certain indie rebellion in shooting for nothing, but we’re ready to work with some real budgets!
3. Why crowdfunding?
Asking for money is uncomfortable and icky and annoying … but if there was ever a project to crowdfund with, it’s BINGE. The community that has sprung up around the pilot is incredible. We get emails to this day from people all over the world who love this show and want to see more of it. So, we decided it was time to act.
Crowdfunding allows us to bypass the super, super slow Hollywood system and deliver a show to our community in a timely manner. We so desperately believe in this story. We have an entire season mapped out and it’s hilarious and sad and ridiculous and moving and we want to share it with the fans. This project has solidified my own recovery, and connected me to a beautiful recovering community. We felt we needed to give back. Crowdfunding is the quickest way to make that happen, and it allows the fans to participate in making the season happen! It’s strengthening our community as we raise money.
4. What do you hope to change about the dialog around eating disorders?
I hope to show that this illnesses deserve to be taken just as seriously as any other illness. They aren’t acts of vanity, or self-indulgence. They are real expressions of pain and suffering and they deserve to be seen as valid. 30 million people in the US alone suffer from eating disorders. EDs have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses and yet they are rarely talked about authentically in our culture or onscreen. Media is one of the most powerful agents for change because of its ability to reach a huge audience all over the world. Representation matters, and those suffering deserve to see their experiences represented and validated on screen.
5. What advice do you have for people wanting to write stories about eating disorders?
Just do it. There’s no wrong way. Your story matters. Whether it’s an essay or a script or a poem or a painting … tell your story!
6. How would you recommend others proceed who want to follow in the same footsteps and create their own show? Any shortcuts you’ve learned?
My biggest piece of advice would be to bet on yourself and prepare for success. When we launched the pilot, we had no idea if people would like it, so we didn’t really have a plan in place. We didn’t collect email addresses, we didn’t have a subscriber list, so when the show caught on, we were back-peddling to collect data. Always bet on yourself, and prepare yourself.