Illustration courtesy of Daniel Shaffer
Illustration courtesy of Daniel Shaffer

Wake Forest Alumna Starts New Web Series

Celia Quillian graduated Summa Cum Laude from Wake Forest in 2014 with a double major B.A. degree in theatre and communication.

She now works as an actress in the Atlanta area and a social-media marketer for a local business.

However, her passion is filmmaking, and she recently joined forces with her creative partner and friend, Shelli Delgado, to create a new web series – “Quarter Life*.”

“Quarter Life*” stars Quillian and Delgado as two women in their twenties working at an Atlanta-based magazine called Venus&Mars. The web series, which Quillian and Delgado hope to release by June 2016, is composed of 10-minute episodes and short videos shot from the perspective of the two main characters. The episodes delve into challenges that people in their twenties face — like online dating, fitness, strange coworkers and roommates.

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“The web series is made by millennials, for millennials,”  Quillian said. “In the marketing industry we call these people ‘quarter-lifers,’ and that’s where we got the name for the series.”

The Life section interviewed Quillian to go behind the scenes of her new web series and to find out about the challenges that young filmmakers and entrepreneurs face. Quillian also gives advice for those pursuing their creative passions and for those starting their own business.

What made you want to become a filmmaker?

I started making short promotional videos for the department of theatre at Wake Forest, and I really enjoyed that. But after I graduated, I figured I would go into public relations for a corporation or something and put the acting and filmmaking on the side until I made some money. The turning point came when I visited Los Angeles with my aunt, and she set up a meeting with a friend who worked as an executive for Paramount Pictures. He told me that he put aside his career in business to pursue his passion for film and television. Then, he asked me to list the things I wanted to do with my life from one to 10, with one being what I wanted to do most. Acting and filmmaking were at the top of the list, while public relations was fourth. So that’s when I decided to go headfirst into acting and filmmaking.

Where did you get the idea to start a web series?

While I was taking acting jobs in independent films and movies, I met Shelli as she was on tour as an actress in different theaters in the south. We found that we both had a good sense of humor and had this idea to create a comedy together. So from there, we brainstormed and came up with “Quarter Life*” as a side project to add to our acting portfolios. However, as we got more and more into production, we found that the series was more than a side project — it became a passion. Even though we spend countless hours a week filming and editing, it does not seem like we are working at all.

What challenges have you faced while starting your project?

Our first goal in production was to make a brand and to market our series. To do this, we dove into social media and crowdfunding websites to spread the word and create funds. Also, it became super important to reconnect with people from high school and college. They have been so helpful in spreading the word about the series and giving donations. The whole Atlanta area has also been really receptive to new artists and is full of talented people to cast for our series. With that being said, the challenge has been coming up with the money to keep the project going. We learned that you should expect to only have 30 percent of your budget as you start out.

How have you used social media to your advantage?

Social media is the biggest platform for marketing now — even bigger than television. So it’s crucial for someone to use social media efficiently to promote their artistic ventures and businesses. We learned that it doesn’t really matter how many followers you have, but rather how shareable you make your posts. By adding images to each of your posts on Facebook and Twitter, you immediately make the post more shareable. Facebook is a good site to use in order to promote events and to target specific groups. Atlanta has a lot of organizations that support local artists, so we post to their Facebook pages often. Twitter is a little harder because it is mostly text-based. However, we found that checking the trending hashtags every day and tweeting the hashtag puts you in the conversation. One time, our “Quarter Life*” twitter account got 50,000 retweets because we used the most popular hashtag of the day. Overall, social media has been the biggest key in spreading the word about our series.

How has Atlanta influenced you as an artist?

Atlanta has a rapidly growing film scene full of young, creative people. They come from all over the country because Atlanta’s a nice place to live, has a low cost of living and is an easier place to start than New York or Los Angeles. In the web series, it’s very clear that the setting is Atlanta, and the location sort of becomes its own character as we take advantage of the capturing film in the city’s beautiful green spaces.

Do you have any final words of advice for aspiring filmmakers and entrepreneurs?

I have learned to always cherish the connections you make and keep trying different things. You never know who you might meet or what you might do that will send you down a path that you never knew you would go down. That piece of advice is really at the heart of “Quarter Life*.”

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