Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Interview: MomCaveTV - Jennifer Weedon Talks About LIfe, Laughs and Building the Mom Cave; A Place for All Moms to Find Some Sanity

Stephanie Faith Scott, Jennifer Weedon and
Valisa Tate are the moms who built MomCave
Creativity abounds on the web, one just has to find it amid the clutter. The great thing about the Internet is the opportunity it gives to creative people. Jennifer Weedon is one of those people. Jennifer is a writer and producer, currently living in NYC, that proudly calls herself a "mommy blogger" and also has several award-winning webseries under her belt. 

In her spare time between working and being a mom, she is following her passion in the field of entertainment, writing, producing and starring in what is 21st century entertainment, web content -and shows of all sizes and shapes.  The channel is called MomCaveTV.

MomCave has a lot of funny stuff on it for parents; videos, tips and blogs.  The videos are all done in small, easy to watch bits, which according to the website, is because they "know that moms only have time to watch TV in few minute increments". Isn't that the truth.

Jennifer produces this "real mom" channel with two other local moms and a dad. Partner J. Sibley Law hails from Connecticut and is the Chairman of the International Academy of WebTV. Stephanie Faith Scott, another partner is a pioneering webseries producer with another female-centric series on her resume. Rounding out the group is Valisa Tate, who brings with her NYC advertising experience and creativity. Both are from New York.

I had the opportunity to meet Jennifer at an event where I was doing PR for a new series,  and I was interested in how she got started in this relatively new and yet to be conquered world of web programming.

Suzee: So, start from the beginning, what did you study to prepare you for what you do now?

Jennifer Weedon: Hmm.. when was the beginning? Begging reluctant cousins to be in plays I had written and then performing them in the backyard? Starting a theater group at my high school because they didn't have one and recruiting my mom to the adviser? Going to college to study acting against the wishes of my dad, and paying for it myself? (Thanks to the magic of student loans, I'm still paying...) It was worth it, not just for the education but also because that's where I met my (now) husband. We moved to NYC 17 years ago and both worked as actors. My husband also worked in film production and the two of us learned a lot from being on set and helping out with independent films.

Suzee:  I see you do a lot of acting. Is acting or writing your passion? How did that lead to a webseries?

Jennifer Weedon: Acting has been my passion since I was a child, but I've always written. After my son was born and still in that lovely newborn stage of taking multiple naps a day, I started writing about my ridiculous encounters with some of the other moms in my neighborhood. I also wrote about how out of place I was, living in a neighborhood I couldn't afford. Those stories became a few episodes of a web series called, "Slummy Mummy." My friend Stephanie invited me to bring the script to the International Academy of Web Television's Writers Group for a reading. I was terrified. But it got a great reception. That night, several people offered to work on it with me, most notably our Director of Photography, Kahleem Poole-Tejada. Then a producer approached me, saying "Slummy Mummy" gave him an idea for another mom-related show and asking me to create it with him. That show became "Double Leche." And within a few months, somehow I had gone from out of work mommy actress to the writer/producer/star of two web series.

MomCaveTV's web episodes were selected for the Independent TV and Film Festival. Standing L-R are:
Valisa Tate, Jennifer Weedon, J. Sibley Law and  Stephanie Faith Scott

Suzee: Webseries seem to be popping up daily, and they are getting recognized. Tell me about the Independent TV and Film Festival.

Jennifer Weedon: Both "Slummy Mummy" and "Double Leche" were selected for the Independent TV and Film Festival. The two shows had been completely separate productions, though there was some overlap in the teams. While we were at the festival, we (myself, Stephanie Scott, Valisa Tate, and J. Sibley Law)  decided to join forces and create a network of comedic shows for moms, and MomCave (www.youtube.com/momcave) was born. The following year, ITV Fest invited MomCave back to host our own event, complete with beer served in baby bottles (for the adults!)  by our sponsor Evenflo Feeding. It was awesome and a little surreal.

Suzee: So you started the production with the help of friends. Collaboration is key. Aside from that, what advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own web episodes?

Jennifer Weedon: I started because an awful lot of creative people were generous enough to volunteer. When I didn't know how to do something, I'd ask anyone and everyone...including Facebook! My advice to someone who wants to produce their own web series is to just START. That's the hardest part. Get involved with the local film-making community, offer to help others, and ask for help when you need it. 

"When I didn't know how to do something, I'd ask anyone and everyone...including Facebook! My advice to someone who wants to produce their own web series is to just START." - Jennifer Weedon

Suzee: What has been the response to these shows? Is there one that has the most fans? Why do you think that is?

Jennifer Weedon: Slummy Mummy has gotten the most praise in the industry as far as film festivals go. One festival called it "Louie for Moms" (after Louis CK's show.) That was an honor. I was most surprised at the response to our weekly live show, MomCave LIVE. If we miss a week, we have people tweeting us asking what is going on. We often have viewers commenting and tweeting during the show so it's interactive. And I was once floored when a woman at the local park "recognized" me from the show.

Suzee:  Being a mom of two, though my children are grown, I find it wonderful that you find the humor in motherhood! That's sometimes hard to do. Do you find this a good outlet? 

Jennifer Weedon: The only way to survive this is to laugh at it. If I didn't laugh, I'd probably have a drinking problem. (Though I do love a relaxing glass of wine AFTER the kid is asleep.) I have always had a tendency to be over anxious and depressed. But working on things that make me laugh, finding common ground with other moms, and just ADMITTING that I have no clue what I'm doing, has helped immensely.

Suzee:  Is there anything new we can expect from MomCave?

Jennifer Weedon: We're in talks with a few companies about creating content for them or them branding our existing content. We hope to add a few new shows in the near future. We'll keep interacting, doing our live show, and having fun.

SuzeeI have saved the best for last. Do you have a MomCave in your home?

Jennifer Weedon:  I wish. I live in a one bedroom apartment. My son sleeps six inches from my bed. The closest thing I have to a MomCave is my walk in closet, which I take great pride in filling with retro quirky thrift store finds. Of course, the floor of it is now covered in Tinker Toys and remote control cars...

I'd love to communicate that MomCave isn't a "how-to" or "parenting" channel. We like to call ourselves the ANTI-Pinterest of Parenting. We're a place where moms laugh so we don't cry. We'd love to add new shows and meet other funny mom creators. So, if you're reading this and you have an idea for a mom-themed web series, drop us a line!

Suzee: I will ask the question readers may be thinking now. Can someone make a living doing web programming like yours?

While I do it primarily because I love it, I treat it as a start-up business. I'm not able to support my family on the income or anything yet, but am working on strategies to do so. We are in talks with some brands and I'm hoping something will come out of it.

I think that a very select few will be able to make a living off making web series as we know them. Technically, shows like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards are web series, so people are definitely making a living off those. But as for us smaller creators, those who are both incredibly talented and incredibly lucky are sometimes able to make money through sponsors or branded content or  by selling a show to television. And some use their web series as elaborate calling cards for larger paying gigs.

To view MomCaveTV click here:

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