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How Two Hysterical Women (and Indie TV Creators) Moved Ahead in the Industry

Updated: Jan 22, 2022

We are actors who met playing best friends on an independent pilot. Nora was the cinephile-best-friend and Whitney was desperately trying to find a man she once met while trying not to pee her pants.

Although that pilot hasn't been ordered to season, we learned some very important skills. Whitney learned that she will freeze to death without a hat and Nora learned that acting continuity with bangs is a real skill! But most importantly we left the shoot inspired, and believing that making our own pilot was attainable.  We were excited by the idea of "making your own work" and wanted to write the characters that we were excited to play. Writing together (often at the Think Coffee on 14th street because Whitney is an Uptown girl and Nora is fiercely Brooklyn) became a productive ritual where we learned that we had both the perspective and the voice necessary for telling a story. Our collaborations started small, from a web series to a short film to a second short film. But we craved more, and what’s incredible about working with a creative partner is that it’s double the enthusiasm and double the (wo)man power. So we did what felt logical...we wrote a pilot for the heck of it. 

Hysterical Women was born out of a post Devil Wears Prada fever-dream (would die for Meryl’s white hair in this film). It's a a post-#MeToo narrative about gender politics in the workplace ...but subverted by humor. The first draft was the craziest sketch the world should never see. But after a very helpful table read and a few drafts later, we decided it was ready to shoot! From the script's inception to being picture-locked, the process took about 10 weeks. The beauty (and semi tragedy) of independent filmmaking is that you don’t have the checks and balances of a studio and you can just decide that it's time to shoot. We find a lot of filmmakers waiting until it's "ready," but we've found that it's never really going to be ready. Done is better than perfect, and you have to say "yes" to yourself over and over, even when everyone else is telling you to stop. We had only 3 days to film, with donated locations and basically no money. But what we lacked in funding we made up for in creativity and with the most talented, scrappiest cast and crew you could possibly imagine.  The pilot came out great. And we could honestly say, without even an ounce of self deprecating sarcasm, that we are proud of it. Our expectation was to hopefully get into one or two small festivals in New York. However, much to our surprise we were accepted to a plethora of incredible festivals across the country where Hysterical Women was nominated for and won some awards.  But by the summer we were pretty done with the festival circuit. We were still proud of the piece but didn’t know if there was going to be a real future for Hysterical Women. The festivals had been great for us, and a lot of fun, but we still didn't really have access to "The Industry." We didn't know how to move forward and thought maybe Hysterical Women had run its course. But Whitney saw a news article about Catalyst's rebrand from ITV Fest, and applied semi on a whim. We were having a year of saying “yes” to opportunities, and ignoring our bank accounts. So when Philip called to tell us that Catalyst accepted us, we said “hey what the heck we should go to Duluth!” And thank goodness we did.  Nora had never been to Minnesota, and Duluth really delivered on midwestern charm. But more importantly, Catalyst was a festival where it finally felt like creators and decision makers could actually meet. We met agents and heads of television departments- actual people with the ability to further our careers- AND THEY HAD ACTUALLY WATCHED OUR WORK. The conversations we had were able to go so much further than pitches and loglines, and into season trajectories, character objectives and artistic goals. We were connecting with people that we never would have met otherwise. And because of the destination-style of Catalyst, we had the opportunity to continue these conversations and truly develop relationships; learning who shared our artistic sensibilities and who truly understood Hysterical Women. It was so refreshing and we walked out of these meetings with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and hope (....kill corny but totally true).  We didn’t win any awards but we walked away with a relationship with agents which, despite our competitive spirit, was probably the biggest win we could have imagined. After Catalyst, we met with them and decided to sign across the board! We really celebrated at Cheesecake Factory after that! We're excited for what the future may bring and know that we are in a much, much better position of getting where we want to go because of Catalyst. We are continuing to connect to filmmakers and producers through Catalyst, and our agents are pitching and elevating our projects as we develop our portfolio. We are currently taking meetings about Hysterical Women, as well as some of our other pilots, we are finding financing for our first feature, we are auditioning with our new agency, and we launched a podcast (the podcast is also called Hysterical Women and is available now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts)!


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