Interview with Bri Castellini (Brains)

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  1. Could you tell us a bit about “Undead burrito Productions”? When was it started and what kind of films do you guys specialize in?

Undead Burrito Productions is the name I gave my fake production company when we started making my show Brains, because my director and an actor from a different show he was working on also had fake production company names to make the productions sound more legitimate. Since Brains, I’ve worked under the name a few other times, and eventually hope to register it as an LLC as I continue working on indie projects. Right now, the specialization is “things I write or produce with close friends.” The name is now associated with Brains and all its spin off properties, my short film “Ace and Anxious,” and my friend Chris Cherry’s web series “Relativity.”

2. Why don’t you tell us a bit about “Brains”? What’s the general plot and idea behind the series?

The shortest way I can explain Brains is the tagline “love, friendship, neuropsychology, and zombies.” Basically, it’s a found footage “vlog” series about a neuropsychology major, Alison Sumner, as she makes videos of her life on her college campus after a three-year zombie apocalypse. At first, she’s mostly focused on trying to seduce her crush, Damian, while simultaneously investigating whether or not he’s secretly a zombie. In this world, if a zombie eats enough brains on a consistent basis, they can appear mostly human. As the show goes on, it becomes much more a diary of her post-plague life and the lives of her friends and fellow students.

3. What inspired the idea for “Brains”?

The idea behind the series is that a few years ago I thought it would be funny to write a zombie story about a girl who studies brains and is also frankly unimpressed by the apocalypse. First it was a five minute play, then it was the first few chapters of a novel, then it was a short story, then it was an even shorter short story that got published in a literary journal, and eventually, it was this show.

4. What would you say is the most unique aspect of “Brains”?

Probably the way we use the vlog and found footage aspects. Most vlog-style web series right now stick to one room, and rarely move the camera from its tripod. We take the camera all over the place, and the fact that the footage is being uploaded to the internet and only a handful of characters know that is very important to the story itself. It creates a lot of dramatic irony and heavily influences the behaviors and decisions of the characters in the show.

5. Could you tell us a bit about the character you play in “Brains”? What is this character like and what is the most interesting thing about her?

I play the lead, Alison Sumner. She’s a neuropsychology student, a scientist, and obsessed with her five year plan. The apocalypse derailed her previous five year plan, but the world is starting to put itself back together and she couldn’t be more ready, at least in her own mind. Alison is basically me if I made slightly worse decisions. We’re both very detail-oriented, we like to plan things that can’t really be planned, and we sometimes value efficiency over other people’s feelings.

Alison’s the type of character whose confidence is infectious- she’s so sure of herself and her place in the world it’s hard to fully hate her, though she definitely has qualities worth hating, particularly in season 2. She’s so single-minded and organized that it can be hard to change her mind, which is sometimes a really good thing, and sometimes a really bad one. Playing her made me a more confident person in real life, so I’ll always love that most about her.

6. What qualities do you think make a great film, and could you give us a few examples of films that you would consider great?

Unpopular admission: I don’t watch that many movies, and I certainly don’t watch movies most people would consider great. I’m a TV gal all the way. That said, my favorite movie of all time is A Few Good Men, which I love because it’s a perfect blend of drama, comedy, hot people arguing, and quick, witty dialog. For me, what makes a great film is one that is honest and authentic without taking itself too seriously.

 7. On the opposite end, are there any films you enjoy as guilty pleasures? Movies that aren’t exactly great, but you like watching anyways.

Most of the films I watch would be considered “guilty pleasures,” but I’m not a huge fan of that term because I think people should be allowed to like what they like without fear of social alienation. Things like Easy A, Star Trek (2009), and Zombieland are movies I’ll watch over and over again, even if they aren’t considered cinematic masterpieces. I’m also a huge fan of the Captain America franchise branch of the MCU, and I’m weirdly obsessed with “What’s Your Number?” with Chris Evans and Anna Faris. Rogue One was probably my favorite recent movie.

 8. What advice would you give to someone who wants to create an independent project of their own?

My advice is the same no matter who asks me: just do it (copyright: Nike). Seriously. I have a weekly column about making a web series for the first time which you can read every Wednesday over at TVWriter.net, but the only way you’re going to get started is to start. Even if you don’t think you’re ready, because I definitely wasn’t. But now I have Alison’s confidence as well as some of my own, which I’ve used to continue working in the indie film arena.

 9. Where can we watch “Brains”?

You can find Brains at BrainsWebseries.com, with links to all the YouTube playlists as well as both extended universe projects, promo videos, blooper reels, an FAQ, and plenty more behind the scenes content.

 10. Where can we follow you to learn more about “Brains” and any projects that you and “Undead Burrito Productions” will be working on in the future?

We’re @BrainsWebseries on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr, and I’m @BrisOwnWorld on the same four sites. The best place to find out about new Undead Burrito projects is my website BriCastellini.com or my Twitter account, where I spend at least 18 hours a day. This is not a joke: I spend almost all of my time on Twitter. So come say hi!

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