Britanny Portman speaks about school project ‘Hooked’ becoming a pilot

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Brittany Portman

Brittany Portman is an American writer and producer, with a strong background in acting and singing.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Portman’s love for New York and the theater scene began at age six, right after seeing “Annie” on Broadway. She immediately decided she wanted to be an actress. Her parents enrolled her in singing, dancing, and acting classes, and Portman made her debut in the Actor’s Equity performance of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Fox in Atlanta. She has performed in numerous theater productions, film and tv, including “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Beauty and the Beast,” three national tours of “Annie” and the national tour of “The Sound of Music.” Portman’s television appearances include, “CBS Today,” “One Life to Live,” “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” and “Macy’s 100 Year Celebration Extravaganza.” Her film credits include, “Stuart Little 2,” “Cody the Robosapien” 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, including the Tribeca Film Festival short, “Building a Relationship.” From there, she wrote and produced the web series, “Hooked,” which brought her numerous festival awards, including the most recent, the Atlanta Screenplay Awards. With an incredible team around her, Portman is focusing all her energy into making “Hooked,” the next big tv-show.

‘HOOKED’ is a comedy written & produced by Brittany and her production company Brittony Productions.

The show began couple of years ago as a school project that morphed into a comedy web-series. It came to life in 2018, when Brittany decided to create a show based on her own dating life. After shooting half a dozen mini-episodes, she edited it all together into a 25 minute film. The short received impressive feedback, winning lots of awards, including the February 2019 Top Shorts Film Festival, the Award of Excellence at the Global Shorts Los Angeles festival and the Award of Merit at the One-Reeler Short Film Competition.

Welcome to TV Series Hub, please introduce yourself to our audience?

Hi! My name is Brittany Portman and I’m the creator, producer and writer for HOOKED.

Before we even get serious, have you been asked the Portman (Natalie Portman) question already?

I’ve been asked that question so many times! Unfortunately, I’m not related to her.

Your career story is very interesting, how did Hooked start in school?

Hooked started out from my encounters with boys in college. The story that inspired the show was when I was a junior. I was in the library and met a guy. He invited me to his place for tea and literally twenty minutes after, he asked if I wanted to have my clothes on or off! It was the most bizarre encounter I had in school and I made that experience into a short film for a film production class. After hearing and seeing people’s reactions to the short, I knew that this had to be a television series.

It then went on as a comedy web-series, it shows your ambition, passion, and vision as a member of the industry. How did it transition to that?

It took several years to get there. For a long time, I didn’t know how to go about it. A little more than a year ago, I began acting classes in New York and I blurted out an idea that I’ve had for years. My acting coach liked the idea of HOOKED and encouraged me to pursue it. Soon afterwards, I learned about a producing class that would happen in my acting studio. In that class, I learned everything that I needed to know and I dove right into making HOOKED. I cast, wrote and produced the web series within a month and filmed for ten days. After editing was completed, I learned about several film festivals that would be good for our show. It then got accepted into festivals such as HollyWeb Festival and Garden State Film Festival and has grown ever since!

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Some BTS from Hooked

From there, you made a show out of it based on your life, how did it feel to expose yourself to the audience?

I wrote HOOKED years after all of the real stories happened to me. It felt very cathardic but it definately was weird at the same time to see other people reinacting my own experiences. When I told the actors that these stories were based on true events, they were shocked! I can look back at it and laugh about it and that’s how I was able to feel comfortable enough to expose myself. The real test was when I saw HOOKED at the first film festival at HollyWeb. It’s different when the cast and crew see it and are a part of it. It’s a completely different thing when an audience sees it and they don’t know you. Initially, I had butterflies because I didn’t know how they were going to react. Once I heard laughs, that’s when I felt more relaxed and got excited.

Would you say being true to yourself made the show more authentic and ultimately receiving the February 2019 Top Shorts Film Festival, the Award of Excellence at the Global Shorts Los Angeles festival and the Award of Merit at the One-Reeler Short Film Competition?

Being true to myself definately made it more authentic because I put the characters in very vulnerable places with what they would say or what they were thinking. If I wrote HOOKED without authenticity, it would’ve been much more superficial. There are some deep messages in this show that I feel like young girls can identify with. One of those messages that I exposed is the feeling of not being liked or being different. There’s always a point in someone’s life where they didn’t “fit in.”

Instead of releasing it online, you decided to shoot a pilot episode, when did you decide to do that and why?

I decided to do that after editing was completed. I heard about some great festivals from my director Tony Patellis. He told me about Garden State Film Festival and some of the bigger ones. I thought it could be an interesting route. Ten years ago, it wasn’t very common for web series to be online. Now, there are thousands of web series online. I thought that if HOOKED was shown at festivals it would be in a smaller pool instead of being somewhere on the internet.

How was shooting the pilot like?

Shooting the pilot was such an amazing experience. It was a lot of constant work in terms of creative and technical production. At the same time, I could watch my creation come to life which was a very unique experience, especially seeing some of the notable cast members was a dream come true to watch. I also got to be in the background at one point!

The cast has notable members, Jon Lovitz, Eric Close, Catherine Curtin & Andy Karl. How was it like working with them?

Amazing! They were all such sweet people and so gracious. I can understand why they are all so successful because every take that they did was top notch. They also made me laugh a lot on set which is always great. You want to be around people that make you laugh. It felt amazing how they put all of their effort into the roles and being very dedicated to the project. I didn’t know what to expect from working such amazing actors but it was honestly a dream.

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Some BTS from Hooked

How did you land them for your show?

I had the fantastic casting director Jen Rudin. She put me in contact with their agents or managers and guided us the entire time. Without her, it would’ve been much more difficult to get these actors.

Did you ever imagine reaching to the point you are at?

I never would’ve imagined this because this takes years to get to this point. I started HOOKED last year so it feels amazing to get so far this quickly. All that matters is that I’m enjoying the journey.

Another amazing aspect is how you self-funded your show. How did it all happen?

Part of the show was self funded but I also had help from family, friends and minor investors that believed in the show.

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Some BTS from Hooked

How did your production company, Brittony Productions, start?

Brittony Productions is a combination of my name & Tony’s name (director of HOOKED). We decided to partner up because we work very well together and we both have the same vision for HOOKED.

Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

I see myself creating more shows and hopefully HOOKED will be on television for many years!

Thank you for joining us, wishing you good luck for the pilot, before we end, what advice would you give to our readers as you have gone through it all?

My advice would to keep going. There will be road blocks wether it’s mental or physical but if you believe in your product, do not give up. Having a positive attitude goes a long way in this business and talk about your show in a positive way. The energy that you put out there to whoever you talk to goes a long way.

At the time of this interview, ‘Hooked’ had wrapped up filming.