Hamilton based Laura Ellis (along with Amy Mcintosh and Leah Klein) have recently put out a trailer for a web series they are hoping to secure further funding for. “Pull Yourself Together” is a hopeful web series based in Hamilton that takes a comedic approach to dissecting the current “Self-Help/Self-Improvement” phenomenon, challenging society’s unrealistic expectations of success, and exploring the idea of achieving one’s potential without sacrificing one’s “unconventional” qualities along the way. The series dives into what it means to be arbitrarily defined (“millennial”) in a world where opportunities leading to even a middle-class life are out of reach.
The funding for the project came from a residency at the Factory media Centre. That residency gave the team enough funds to pay the cast/crew honorariums and to cover the costs of filming the pilot. From the pilot, the production team created the trailer and applied for the Independent Production Fund. Currently, they are in Phase 1 and will learn if they move on to Phase 2 by April 5th. We were able to catch up with writer and star, Laura Ellis, to learn more about the project.
Can you tell us about the team behind this production?
I started off with a small but mighty team of 3 people: myself, Amy McIntosh, and Leah Klein and we all took on so many roles which I not recommended, but sometimes what you have to do at first. I am the creator/writer/lead actor of the pilot, Amy is the Director and Editor, and Leah is the Script Supervisor and Art Director. So yeah, a lot of hats. After finalizing our cast and crew, we ended up with about 25 people on board. They worked tirelessly over 2 twelve hour days during the craziest snow storm weekend of the year. It was unreal and I’m grateful to all of them. I’m also really proud to say that 80% of our team consisted of women. That was really important to me.
After we filmed the pilot and had a first cut (draft) of the trailer, I went out in search of a mentor. IPF mandates that, if you are new to creating a web series, you need to have someone involved working in a mentorship capacity or in a key creative position. This is when I pitched to the production company “LoCo Motion Pictures” (Executive Producer Lauren Corber) and she was in. I’m grateful to have Lauren and her team on board. They’re actually so excited about the project that became our producers rather than just mentors.
What inspired the writing?
I was going through a difficult time in my life, and things seemed to be spiraling downward quickly. Not to mention, I am a “millennial” which apparently is interchangeable with “lazy” to a lot older generations regardless of the very real housing crisis, lack of jobs in our fields, and crippling student debt we’re left with. So, when I felt I had hit rock bottom, I turned to what I had made fun of for so many years: self-help. I read books (seriously I think over 3 years I’ve probably read over 50 self-help books), podcasts, affirmations, meditation, doing more drugs, doing less drugs, taking up yoga, journaling, vision boards – you name it. Ultimately, I found therapy which actually is what I believe gave me the confidence to attack topics that hit so close to home. So I guess, in a way it’s therapy too? I’m digging into the ugly side of trying to live up to societal expectations and continuously feeling like I was failing at yet another method or piece of advice. It’s about trying to redefine what success might mean or look like to you at different points in life, and what it looks like when you start to over examine your “good” and “bad qualities”.
What are your next steps?
We are hosting an event coming up on March 29th (7pm) at the Factory Media Centre. As part of our residency, we are holding a Screening/Panel/ and Networking event to support the Hamilton-based web series productions who are applying to IPF. We also hope to bring more awareness to the cool web series work that’s happening locally and share more information about the Independent Production Fund itself and our individual processes.
As I mentioned earlier, the “Pull Yourself Together” team is currently focused on getting the word out and securing funds from a number of sources. If that works in our favour, then we hope to shoot the season 1 (10 episodes) of “Pull Yourself Together” later this year/early next year. Right now, I’m just trying to enjoy the ride with no specific expectations, but I hope the rawness, authenticity, and ugliness of “Pull Yourself Together” is what will resonate with our audience and ultimately, be what makes it beautiful.