Rising Star Brittany Portman: “Take your time — do not rush to get your product done”

Take your time — do not rush to get your product done. If you’re having writer’s block, take your time and don’t feel the need to write for hours every day. I find it helpful to plot ideas down before writing scenes. Don’t put pressure on yourself because that’s when it gets stressful. I had the pleasure […]

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Take your time — do not rush to get your product done. If you’re having writer’s block, take your time and don’t feel the need to write for hours every day. I find it helpful to plot ideas down before writing scenes. Don’t put pressure on yourself because that’s when it gets stressful.

I had the pleasure to interview Brittany Portman. Brittany is an American writer and producer, with a strong background in acting and singing. Portman performed in productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Casper,” starring Chita Rivera, “High School Musical,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and appeared in three national tours of “Annie” and the national tour of “The Sound of Music.” Her film credits include “Stuart Little 2,” “Robosapien: Rebooted,” and “Bratz.” These days, Portman has stepped behind the camera, having developed a passion for creating, writing and producing. After earning her degree in Film Studies from the prestigious Barnard College, Portman began working on small projects and short films. From there, she wrote and produced the web series, “Hooked,” which brought her numerous festival awards, including the most recent, the Atlanta Screenplay Awards.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Brittany! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Atlanta, GA and my parents would always take me to see musicals there and in New York. I lived in Atlanta for a big chunk of my childhood and eventually moved up to New York at age 10 pursue a career in musical theatre and toured with the 30th Anniversary National Tour of “Annie” as Pepper among other tours such as “The Sound of Music” and different productions of “Annie.” I also dipped my toes into film and television playing extras on Stuart Little 2, Bratz, One Life to Live and more.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

As I got older, the parts started to become sparse. My mom was always encouraging me to explore the producing side and even when I was in the few movies, I did become more curious about that aspect of the business. When I went to Barnard College, I completely stopped acting and majored in film studies. I took a film production class where I had to write, direct, and edit my own short film. That’s officially when I knew that I wanted to be a producer!

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I would say that my career has come full circle. When I would perform, I loved performing to an audience and hearing their reactions. Being a creator and producer, it’s been more about the overall journey rather than the split second of excitement that I would get on stage. However, when the web series Hooked premiered at its first festival at HollyWeb last year, I felt that exact same quick excitement that I would get as a child. It was a mixture of butterflies and surrealism. After the screening, there was a Q and A with the filmmakers and going up there at that moment was even more exciting than I ever felt being up on stage.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

A big lesson that I learned is that you can’t prepare for everything! There will always be something that will come up and it can be a surprise. Hooked was my first endeavor as a creator and producer. There were things that now I understand why film production has. By far, the funniest mistake that I made was not realizing that we needed green rooms for the actors that weren’t in the same place as filming took place! We would scramble for places but luckily it all worked out since we filmed in New York City and there were multiple options.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We are now in the editing process for the now pilot Hooked which is very exciting! I saw bits and pieces of filming on set but now seeing it in full will be very exciting for me. I do have other potential projects in the works with other collaborators but it’s too soon to talk about it now. 😉

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

It’s very important to have diversity because in general, the TV industry is very male dominated and having a woman’s voice can change the tone of show and change the perception or sterotypes of women on television. Having more women be in the industry breaks barriers for our society as well!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Producing is not as easy as it looks! From my point of view as a kid, it looked like producers just watched the movie being filmed. I was way off about that! When I filmed for the web series version and now the TV pilot version, I understand the amount of work and countless hours of planning that go into making a TV show.
  2. There is no right way to do things as a producer. I thought there was a formula that everybody had in order to be the perfect producer. From my own journey, I learned that open communication and asking questions goes a long way. I was very honest with everyone last year when I told them that this was my first endeavor as a producer. Having said that, it helped everybody not get frustrated if I didn’t know a specific thing. Luckily, I had a wonderful and supportive team.
  3. Trusting your intuition goes a long way: As a producer, it’s very typical to get pulled in many directions. There will be side conversations that don’t get solved easily. What I found is that most questions that do come up relate to scheduling and putting it together creatively. What solved all problems is always going to the sources so that everything gets done faster.
  4. Being a producer doesn’t mean you need to be stressed out all the time! I find that if you have the attitude of being a problem solver instead of being a NO person, it helps with the cast and crew in any situation.
  5. Submitting to screenplay competitions can serve as in invaluable soundboard. I didn’t know at the time that the competitions give feedback! I found the feedback to be incredibly helpful not only as a writer but also as someone who can create new ideas even on the spot during filming. One cool thing that happened on set was that after reading a recent feedback, I thought of a one line change in the script. That one line alone created a whole new idea to explore for future episodes.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Take your time — do not rush to get your product done. If you’re having writer’s block, take your time and don’t feel the need to write for hours every day. I find it helpful to plot ideas down before writing scenes. Don’t put pressure on yourself because that’s when it gets stressful.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think there needs to be more education about the film/tv business and what it means to be a woman in the film/tv industry in colleges. I see that colleges mainly teach about film studies but there needs to be more emphasis on the actual business itself.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mom is the one person that helped me get to where I am today. She was the one that took me to see Broadway shows and movies as much as she could. When I told her that I wanted to be in show business, she was so happy and let me pursue my dreams fully. Even when I switched over to producing, she was so excited for me! In college, I made my first short film and even with that small of a project, she had so much faith in me and that has went a long way.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around for a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller

This is the best reminder that if you don’t take a minute or two to relax and not overdue yourself with work, you could miss so much in life and even miss some inspirations for your future projects.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Lena Dunham! She’s been such an inspiration for my work — especially with Hooked. She’s also a New Yorker at heart like myself.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on instagram @brittanyjportman and follow @hookedshow for more updates! On facebook, you follow the show as well: https://www.facebook.com/HookedShow/

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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