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Giving Thanks…Dando Gracias

There is no short-cutting to life. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now  is right on time.” ― Asha Tyson

Cast & Crew

Well, it’s finally here and we couldn’t be more nervous, excited, thrilled,  scared and anxious to deliver to you the first season of East WillyB.  It’s been an incredible journey and one that we are enjoying and  relishing each and every day.  Running a crowd-funding campaign is no  easy feat, and if you talk to anyone in the crowd-funding or fundraising industry, they’ll tell you that running one for $50,000 in 50 days is  madness. But, with the love and support of our fans, families and  friends, we did it.  We did it because you believed in the power of what we are creating and you saw yourself in our project. You’ve experienced this gentrification in your neighborhood, your best friend reminded you of Ceci, or you just really love anything that Flaco Navaja creates.  Whatever the reason was, you believed in us and we did it.

We are incredibly humbled by the outpouring of support and love that we have received from everyone because there were moments when we thought this wasn’t going to happen, and that we were going to fail. Launching a crowd funding campaign requires daily maintenance, tweeking, and optimism. It requires a calm mind and hopeful spirit that believes that anything is possible. It requires full support from our partners and loved ones in our moment of insanity. It is love.

Now, it’s here. And we couldn’t be more thankful to you for your support. This season is dedicated to you and to the American Latino who never gives up, finds possibilities everywhere and knows where they come from.  We are uniquely connected to each other by our heritage, regardless of where we come from or where we live. This show does take place in Everywhere, USA because we have shared experiences that you can relate to.

Our last request to you is that you please share our show and our story with all your friends, families, networks, co-workers, compadres, comadres, and beyond.  We are still on a journey and we hope you join us as we continue to spread the message of our show and our community.  Help us show the networks that these stories are going to be told with or without your support because they are worth telling. Independent Latino shows can be successful because we’ll make the successful through the help of our communities.

Muchisimas gracias, for all of your support. Enjoy the show.

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Latino Greeks: Are You Down With East WillyB?

Latino Greeks are prevalent in our communities. If you haven’t heard about them or what they do then listen up.  Latino Greeks are social and educational organizations that are modeled after the historic African American Greek letter organizations, better known as the Divine Nine.  I had the great pleasure of becoming a member of Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority, Incorporated.  Our sorority is younger than most since it was founded in 1994 but some organizations like Phi Iota Alpha have been around since 1931.  Other like the ladies of Lambda Theta Alpha have been around since 1975.

I have many friends who are Lambda Theta Nu, Sigma Lambda Gamma, Lambda Sigma Upsilon and Sigma Lambda Beta.  These organizations boast a 99% graduation rate among their members and serve as exemplary leaders in the community.  Although our organizations are often misunderstood or labeled as “glorified gangs”, they serve a purpose at our educational institutions and in our communities.  In times of need, Latino Greeks come together to support a cause and to create movements. During the 2006 May Day Immigrant marches, hundreds of Latino Greeks marched along side our community and served as their security detail. We march, we protest, we support our community because that is what we do. Education, community service and brother/sisterhood are our founding cornerstones.

There’s also a wild side to the organizations and we are competitive. Why not?  We’re social organizations too. We have our special chants, calls, strolls and step teams that show others who we are and that the party has officially arrived! Part of the college experience was showing up to a part in your letter jacket and strolling through the crowd to let them know that the “awesomeness” has walked in.  We have merengue strolls, salsa strolls, drop it like it hot stroll and many more!

Check out the brothers from Sigma Lambda Beta at a recent strolling competition and you can see what it’s all about.

So here is our challenge to you! We want to feature the best of the best Latino Greek organization on our show and we want you to show us what you’ve got!  The Latino Greek organization that raises the most money will win a spot in one of our episodes. You can chant, stroll, step and show your colors and pride on an international and historical show. With your help we will be the first ever Latino Sit-Com that was supported completely by their community. Don’t you want to be a part of that? Your organizations have until June 1st to show us who the top organization is.

Tweet us and say “(Latino Greek Org) is down for @Eastwillyb & will take on the #greeks4eastwillyb challenge! Help us raise the $$$ http://kck.st/HzE3MT

Like us on Facebook and have your brothers and sisters tag us on their posts to let us know that you have accepted the challenge and are down for East WillyB.  Get creative, make a video and we’ll feature it on our site!

We’ll provide a daily poll on our Facebook page that will update the leader board! For more information you can email jazmin@eastwillyb.com.  Let the games begin!

 

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TRAILER: Watch Manny Goes To Spain! We’re International!

We’re international! Today I have the pleasure of premiering the trailer for our new bonus episode “Manny goes to Spain.” The episode was filmed almost entirely in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It was the result of a co-production, but more importantly friendship, with Sandra Gonzalez Diaz and her Santa Cruz based film festival Movilfestawards. Thank you Sandra!

Yamin capturing the perfect shot!

            About three years ago I was touring the film festival circuit with my short film “El Ladroncito.” Filmed in my native Nicaragua, the film attracted the attention of the Miami Short Film Festival, whose director happened to be a fellow “Pinolero.” At the time, his festival had a partnership with Movilfestawards and “El Ladroncito” was invited to participate as part of the Miami Short Film Festival showcase. Needless to say, the simple fact that I was invited to present as part of the MSFF was honor enough, but I instantly fell in love with Santa Cruz, it’s people and culture, and knew that I had to return.

            When Julia and I began East WillyB, it was our mission to create a product that pushed the envelope of today’s understanding of technology and its influence on media. We were eager to work with like-minded people, and Sandra Gonzalez Diaz instantly came to mind. I had found my ticket back to sunny Tenerife!

            Sandra’s Movilfestawards specializes in screening only films shot on cellphones. It was a refreshing change from the usual film festivals I attended where you sit and wonder if the filmmaker poured $20,000 into a five-minute movie, or how they got their A-list actor. I was watching the democratization of the film festival, and more importantly, story. All the films looked similar. Of course you had your flourishes as people played with the medium, but for the most part what appeared on the screen was story, and after all isn’t that what we’re doing? Telling stories?

            So Sandra and I decided to tell a story. A fan of our series East WillyB, Sandra suggested that we shoot a special episode in Santa Cruz de Tenerife to coincide with the run of her festival. Of course I accepted, and we instantly agreed that we should film the majority of the episode with our cellphones in honor of our partnership.

            After an excruciating call where I had to beg super talented actor Johnny Rivera to come with me, we set out to produce undoubtedly East WillyB’s most ambitious episode. With cellphones in hand, Johnny and I shot in JFK, we shot on the airplane, and we shot all over the island of Tenerife. What resulted is a fun episode that plays with the abundance of new technology available to us.  If nothing else I hope it stands as an example of what is possible with todays technology, and encourages you to get out and film whatever, whenever. Thank you William Vela! Thank you Sandra! Thank you Julia and the amazing team of East WillyB!

            Now I just gotta figure out my excuse for getting back this year!

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TRAILER: Watch Manny Goes To Spain! We're International!

We’re international! Today I have the pleasure of premiering the trailer for our new bonus episode “Manny goes to Spain.” The episode was filmed almost entirely in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It was the result of a co-production, but more importantly friendship, with Sandra Gonzalez Diaz and her Santa Cruz based film festival Movilfestawards. Thank you Sandra!

Yamin capturing the perfect shot!

            About three years ago I was touring the film festival circuit with my short film “El Ladroncito.” Filmed in my native Nicaragua, the film attracted the attention of the Miami Short Film Festival, whose director happened to be a fellow “Pinolero.” At the time, his festival had a partnership with Movilfestawards and “El Ladroncito” was invited to participate as part of the Miami Short Film Festival showcase. Needless to say, the simple fact that I was invited to present as part of the MSFF was honor enough, but I instantly fell in love with Santa Cruz, it’s people and culture, and knew that I had to return.

            When Julia and I began East WillyB, it was our mission to create a product that pushed the envelope of today’s understanding of technology and its influence on media. We were eager to work with like-minded people, and Sandra Gonzalez Diaz instantly came to mind. I had found my ticket back to sunny Tenerife!

            Sandra’s Movilfestawards specializes in screening only films shot on cellphones. It was a refreshing change from the usual film festivals I attended where you sit and wonder if the filmmaker poured $20,000 into a five-minute movie, or how they got their A-list actor. I was watching the democratization of the film festival, and more importantly, story. All the films looked similar. Of course you had your flourishes as people played with the medium, but for the most part what appeared on the screen was story, and after all isn’t that what we’re doing? Telling stories?

            So Sandra and I decided to tell a story. A fan of our series East WillyB, Sandra suggested that we shoot a special episode in Santa Cruz de Tenerife to coincide with the run of her festival. Of course I accepted, and we instantly agreed that we should film the majority of the episode with our cellphones in honor of our partnership.

            After an excruciating call where I had to beg super talented actor Johnny Rivera to come with me, we set out to produce undoubtedly East WillyB’s most ambitious episode. With cellphones in hand, Johnny and I shot in JFK, we shot on the airplane, and we shot all over the island of Tenerife. What resulted is a fun episode that plays with the abundance of new technology available to us.  If nothing else I hope it stands as an example of what is possible with todays technology, and encourages you to get out and film whatever, whenever. Thank you William Vela! Thank you Sandra! Thank you Julia and the amazing team of East WillyB!

            Now I just gotta figure out my excuse for getting back this year!

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25 Days in, 25 Days Left= No Sleep

It’s no easy feat to run a Kickstarter campaign and it takes a great deal of courage, conviction, planning and love.

When the team sat down to discuss the type of campaign we would run, we knew we wanted to convey our story with passion and authenticity and show the challenges as well as our victories. I like to think that this is exactly what we have done so far.

We’ve spent a few anxious nights, waking up and checking our emails to see how many people have donated for the day. Some nights we can go back to sleep, other nights we continue to toss and turn with the thought of how far we have yet to go. But each morning we rise with a sense of purpose knowing that we can reach our goal.  We promote and respond to our fans and friends via our Facebook and Twitter accounts so that every backer knows how much we appreciate them and their support.  We can’t do this without the support from our networks and that is exactly why we decided to create our own Kickstarter campaign for $50,000.

We truly believe that our fans, family and friends can help fund this project because you believe in our vision to create a new powerful voice for the modern day young American Latino. We’ve seen our childhood neighborhoods gentrified and turned into boutiques and brasseries that cater to a different crowd.  No longer are our neighborhoods called the North Side or Sunnyside; instead our they  have names like LoHi, Highlands, SoCo, or BillyBurg.

There’s nothing wrong with change, but we are setting out to document the changes and the challenges that occur in these communities when our cultures clash. This is why we are hell bent on creating our first season of East WillyB.  It’s been a challenging 25 days and we have another 25 days to go. We’ve stayed up late at night with our writers, our producers have been busy creating new video updates, and our editing team has been busy finishing our episode in Spain. We’re working hard on our end to ensure that you stay updated on our campaign and feel involved in the entire process. This is as much your campaign as it is ours and we want you to feel a sense of ownership.

As we look to the next 25 days, we feel anxious, we feel nervous, slightly scared but excited. We took a giant leap knowing that our community will be there to help us reach our goal. If starting a Kickstarter campaign was easy then we’d all be doing it, but it’s scary and nerve wracking. Still, it’s worth it. It’s worth all the anxiety and the sleepless nights because we trust you.

Help make the next 25 days incredible by sharing our campaign with everyone you know. Email, tweet and post our video to all of your contacts and say:

“Support my favorite Latino webseries by helping them produce a full season via Kickstarter http://kck.st/HzE3MT!”

Tell everyone you know about our journey, show them our videos, and share the love. We are challenging the roles for Latinos on mainstream media by taking on the industry and creating our own programming.  We only have 25 days left to make a difference and we want you to be a part of our journey and a part of our success story. 25 days, here we come!

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A Lesson from NALIP: "I Hope You All Fail"

I’m writing this blog post at 4:45am. I have never woken up at this time voluntarily. I’ve also never raised 50K.- Julia Grob

I’m dying to share with you my recent experiences at the 2012 National Association of Latino Independent Producer’s (NALIP) Conference in LA, where I was invited to speak on a panel entitled “How to Create, Produce, and Star in your own Webisodes” as part of NALIP’s Actor’s Summit. First of all, I love speaking to actors about the journey of creating “East WillyB” because it’s so empowering. It shows actors that, despite the odds against your success, you can take matters into your own hands a create an incredibly empowering career for yourself.

I shared the stage with two of my favorite colleagues Mark Gantt (“The Bannen Way” on Sony Crackle), who frequently references being told “You’re not George Clooney,” and Ruth Livier (“Ylse”), who created an awesome series featuring herself as a Latina “Bridget Jones.” We’re all kind of obsessed with each other and are secretly working on a series (think “Big Love” meets “Rob!” HA!). What I love about speaking with these two fabulous actors is, while our experiences creating our shows have all been different, we each share a passion for taking the reins of our careers and molding them to fit our visions. We have created our own entry into an industry that constantly forces actors to be responsive, not proactive. We’ve changed the conversation and entered the room as creators, executives, producers, writers, AND actors, and our careers are stronger for it.

Needless to say, the panel was a huge success! (Read about it in more detail here) Actors came up to me all weekend telling me how inspiring and empowering it was to hear us speak. With the panel complete, I was most excited to hear one of my heroes and thought leaders, Robert Rodriguez, speak the following day at lunch. Here is a man who defied the rules of the entertainment industry, took matters into his own hands, and flipped the script. I was determined to meet him.

“I hope you all fail,” were the opening words Robert spoke, “because from the ashes of your failure, come your success.” (Did I mention this dude shot his first feature for $7000 he made selling his body for medical trials? Yes, he’s that badass.) These words could not have come at a better time.

While “East WillyB” can hardly be viewed as a failure, I’ve sat through meetings upon meetings with industry execs telling me “East WillyB” is not enough. “You need more views, more Mexicans, more friendly White people, more stars!” Robert Rodriguez’s success tells an opposite story. Just do it, keep doing it, and the industry will follow.

I did not get to meet Robert. I met his sweet assistant, who conveniently forgot her cards. But, with the recent major announcement that he is launching his own Comcast channel “El Rey,” and “East WillyB” going into production this summer on a bigger & better season, it’s only a matter of time before “East WillyB’s” failure turns into a smashing success. Robert: our line is open.

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